Here Are Takeaways From Red Sox’s Behind-The-Scenes Spring Training Video

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February 20, 2020

The Boston Red Sox seemingly are making behind-the-scenes access a priority in 2020, and that’s a good thing for baseball fans hoping to get a closer look at what life is like in the big leagues.

The Sox on Wednesday released their first of what’s hopefully an “On The Field” series where they went behind the scenes with a handful of players at the team’s spring training facility in Fort Myers, Fla. The 13-minute video features mic’d-up players going through their paces at workouts early in preparation for the 2020 season.

Here’s the video with some takeaways below.

— First of all, enormous sunglasses appear to be all the rage this year. Michael Chavis (the star of our show), broke out the old-school Oakleys for camp and immediately felt self-conscious about the size of his shades, culminating in a conversation with Bobby Dalbec about whether he needs to downsize.

“They look wide,” is a very kind, borderline political response to the question, Bobby.

As wide as Chavis’ sunglasses might be, they pale in comparison to what Christian Vazquez wore.

Those shades led to a good exchange between Vazquez and presumed backup Kevin Plawecki.

KP: “You’re ready to go skiing, bro. You’ve got the goggles on.”
CV: “Ready for the champagne this year.”

— Jason Varitek is already part of the coaching staff, but there’s a reason some hoped he’d land the manager job with Alex Cora gone.

“Any one of us will be with you guys at any point in time,” Varitek said. “We’re here to help. We’re here to get better. We’re here to push the limits. We’re going to challenge you to try new things. It may not work, but right now we’re going to. We’re gonna try to get through everything to make you guys prepared to play your first spring training game and then from there to be prepared to play your first game in the regular season.”

— It’s interesting to see and hear all the little ways these players work on their craft in a given day, and it’s clear the catchers are busting their butts day in and day out. In addition to catching pitchers’ bullpens, the catchers also get in some receiving fundamental work — “We’re gonna practice everything from all different angles,” Varitek tells Vazquez. Of course, there’s also some hitting, all while working to improve relationships with the pitching staff, which we see with Vazquez pumping the tires of new starting pitcher Martin Perez.

Vazquez loves Perez’s sinker and cutter, which he relays not only to the southpaw himself but in a brief conference with Varitek.

JV: Sinker, cutter, you remember seeing him.
CV: Yeah, I got in a jam, a jam (got jammed) with a cutter.

Good memory. Perez jammed the heck out Vazquez with a 90 mph cutter back on Sept. 5 that led to a weak popout to first.

— Classic first day of school reaction as first base coach Tom Goodwin, who also works with the outfielders, introduces Pillar to his new outfield brethren.

“Waddup, Kevin,” says Andrew Benintendi, breaking an otherwise uncomfortable silence.

— You might wonder what these guys talk about while getting in their work. Apparently old Disney movies like “Mulan,” if Chavis is involved. His seamless, immediate transition from praising the soundtrack of a 1998 animated Disney film to telling an invisible, nonexistent base-runner “You’re out” is sneaky hilarious.

— Plawecki and Vazquez had an interesting exchange about plate approach when playing at Fenway Park, and how the Green Monster — which seems like an advantage for the hitter — might actually work against batters, especially from the visiting club.

KP: Is your approach different when you play at Fenway, to anywhere else?
CV: Not really.
KP: You can’t think about the wall?
CV: No.
KP: You start pulling everything. … Do you find, like, other teams when they come in —
CV: They want to pull everything. Uh-huh.

Maybe that’s a lesson Vazquez learned the hard way. His batting average at home jumped more than 60 points from 2018 to 2019.

— Couple of glove things that stood out: While playing catch, Chavis tells his throwing partner he’s trying to break in a new glove. That glove appears to be an infielder’s glove. Later in the video, when he’s shagging balls in the outfield, he’s (appropriately) wearing an outfielder’s glove. Chavis didn’t play any outfield last season, but he even admits earlier in the video that it was a consideration. That seems to be on the table entering this season, and it would make sense for him to be as versatile as possible.

Also, when Chavis is shagging balls in the outfield with Dalbec, it’s worth noting Dalbec is wearing a (what appears to be) brand-new first baseman’s mitt. He’ll get a chance to compete for that job this spring.

— “I definitely like to think that playing in Fenway 81 games is going to help me out,” Pillar said at one point. We tend to agree.

— Hitting coach Tim Hyers explains to Vazquez at one point, “It’s like a thud compared to a crush.” It’s a weird sport, man.

— Luis Tiant gets the last word, talking about Jim Rice with Vazquez and Xander Bogaerts.

“(Rice) doesn’t run. He hasn’t run in 100 years.”

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