Bobby Valentine hit the ground running and hasn?t stopped since. Everything at spring training thus far has been systematic and done with a purpose; including the video footage looped on the six clubhouse televisions.
Valentine had Red Sox video coordinator, Billy Broadbent, produce different training videos to reinforce whatever the subject of the day will be; from pitchers? fielding practice to hit and runs to outfield relays and even the bunting game.
The continuous loop is Valentine's way of providing some positive reinforcement about why the fundamental drills are important. They are an attempt to help rebuild a strong foundation for the Red Sox players. Bobby knew a highlight reel is worth a thousand of his words, though, and it would be another way to get the players? attention.
"They were looking at it," Valentine said, praising Broadbent?s work. "I like video as a teacher."
On the walls of the clubhouse are inspirational quotes from a pair of Red Sox Hall of Famers. One of them is a reminder of the importance of fundamentals.
"Ballplayers are not born great. They're not born great hitters or pitchers or managers, and luck isn't a big factor. No one has come up with a substitute for hard work," read the words of Red Sox legendary outfielder Ted Williams.
Valentine believes in hard work and has been very hands-on.
Once all players reported, scheduling was rigid and demanding. They have been subjected to a variety of drills that last into the midday. "He?s trying to get as much out of every minute on the field as he can," said GM Ben Cherington.
Valentine moves from field to field, watching as many players as possible. He's very vocal, constantly making suggestions and telling them what's expected. He seemed to take notice of everything.
"Just getting to know people," he said. "There?s something different going on at every field, it?s a different fundamental. So we?re jotting down strengths and weakness, figuring out how we have to continue the workouts."
With Spring Training games starting, we will soon find out if this approach will lead to more wins in 2012.
"I'm just coaching," Valentine said. "I think these guys want to be the world champions. I just thought if they can work on a fundamental, a technique now, they can already have a foundation of what they might be asked to do."
That foundation has been set and the work is being done. With fundamentals on the mind, the Red Sox players are ready to hit the field. If they need some inspiration, all they need to do is look above their lockers at the words of another Red Sox great, Carl Yazstremski.
"I think about baseball when I wake up in the morning. I think about it all day and I dream about it at night. The only time I don't think about it is when I'm playing it."