Red Sox Notes: John Farrell Pinpoints Second Tier Of Starting Pitchers

FORT MYERS, Fla. — And then there was one.

With Allen Craig reporting to camp Sunday, only one of the 57 players invited to Boston Red Sox major league spring training has yet to arrive: David Ortiz.

The full squad isn’t scheduled to report until Tuesday, with the first official full-squad workout scheduled for Wednesday. Most of the team already is in Fort Myers, though, and Ortiz likely isn’t far behind if a recent tweet is any indication.

Red Sox pitchers and catchers again worked out on the back fields at JetBlue Park on Sunday. Several position players also participated in drills.

Let’s run down some notes from a good ol’ Sunday in the sun.

— Craig’s role is unclear, but the 30-year-old sounds motivated. He said upon arriving that he feels like he has something to prove in spring training and that he still views himself as an everyday player.

Craig also downplayed the trade rumors that have been swirling since the end of last season.

“That’s not something I really think about,” Craig said. “I’m focused on where I’m at right now. I’m wearing the Red Sox uniform. That’s where I want to be. That’s what I’m focused on, just being a good teammate and competing and playing hard when my name is in the lineup.”

— Red Sox manager John Farrell said Craig will see time at first base, left field and right field this spring.

That likely puts to rest the idea of Craig playing some third base, which Farrell recently indicated was a possibility.

— Farrell again downplayed the importance of having an “ace.” He did so by defending the five starters currently in tow.

The Red Sox’s starting rotation is fairly obvious, with Clay Buchholz, Rick Porcello, Wade Miley, Joe Kelly and Justin Masterson expected to fill the five spots. The order, on the other hand, is up for debate, though the Red Sox have an idea as to how things might shake out.

“There’s already a plan that’s on paper, and yet we’ve got to make sure some things come to life and hold true to form before we get to that point,” Farrell said.

— So, who is the next man up if/when something goes awry in Boston’s rotation?

Well, Farrell indicated that the second tier of starters consists of six pitchers, all of whom will be competing for the designation of “No. 6 starter,” so to speak, this spring.

The six: Henry Owens, Brian Johnson, Eduardo Rodriguez, Matt Barnes, Edwin Escobar and Steven Wright.

— You probably noticed Brandon Workman is not included within the second tier of starting pitchers. That’s because the Red Sox still fully intend to groom him as a reliever this season.

Farrell said Saturday that Workman and recently acquired veteran Alexi Ogando each could have a “major impact” in Boston’s bullpen this season.

— If Hanley Ramirez and Shane Victorino are the starting left fielder and right fielder, respectively, where does that leave the rest of the Red Sox’s outfielders?

It’s a difficult question to answer because there are a lot of variables at play. According to Farrell, it’s not as simple as saying, “Player A is competing with Player B for Position C.”

“You’re talking about two different guys with their skill sets. So at some point, the skill sets start to separate people out and the role that they would be vying for,” Farrell said with regard to a potential roster competition between Craig and Mookie Betts. “Allen’s a proven major league player that has dealt with some injuries. His defensive versatility puts him in a different category.

“I appreciate the want to kind of narrow things down and pit one against the other, but that’s not our view right now. We’ve got to answer a number of questions over the next seven weeks to arrive at the initial 25 guys.”

— Outfielder Quintin Berry played first base during infield drills. It was rather surprising, but one probably shouldn’t read too much into it at this point. The Red Sox were rather light on position players Sunday.

— Goose Gregson, a pitching coordinator in the Red Sox organization, was his usual vocal self while hitting balls during drills. Among the highlights were him constantly referring to Henry Owens as “Big Foot” and dropping a “Last of the Mujicas” reference when Edward Mujica took the hill.

Thumbnail photo via Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports Images

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