FORT MYERS, Fla. -- It's T-minus one and counting to Tuesday’s first official workout by Red Sox pitchers and catchers, with the Sox medical staff administering physicals to those players who had not yet undergone one. Position players will undergo the same drill Thursday, with the first full-squad workout Friday.
Here are Monday's highlights:
John Henry weighs in: Red Sox principal owner John W. Henry sat down for an interview with the assembled media Monday and fielded lots of questions about a potential sale of the team, a possibility he has been refuting for months and did so again in strong terms here. He talked about the team returning to a philosophy it had strayed from in recent years -- presumably, re-emphasizing building from within rather than outspending everyone else -- and noted that statistical analyst Bill James is being given a greater voice again after being de-emphasized in recent years.
He remained loyal to Bobby Valentine, calling him a “great manager and great baseball mind,” but said in retrospect Valentine was the wrong man for the team he inherited. Henry said you can blame him and the other owners for that move, but said he believed Valentine should manage again.
Henry was, of course, asked about the book co-written by manager Terry Francona and Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy, which this week held the No. 2 spot on The New York Times’ best-seller list.
“I read parts of it and was wondering why [Shaughnessy] was so kind to me. Generally, he’s not that kind. I thought he was unfair with Tom [Werner] and Larry [Lucchino]. You have a Hall of Fame CEO. I was told there were 100 references to Larry but not one positive. Is that true?”
Shaughnessy interjected a “No."
Henry made another reference to the book when asked how hard it would be to win the fans back.
“The Francona book is selling," he said. “You guys [media] are still here and the fans are still coming."
Winning, he said, will be the restorative.
Dempster's debut: New pitcher Ryan Dempster made his first appearance in camp and held forth for the obligatory picnic-bench interview. Give Dempster time: He’s known to be an insightful and often funny interview, but in his first formal sessions hasn’t strayed far from the standard script: Happy to be here, looking forward to new teammates, new city, new challenges, etc.
Manager John Farrell said he is looking for Dempster to give the club 180 to 200 innings. Dempster has pitched 200 innings or more in four of the last five seasons.
"I like to provide consistency. That's something over the course of my career that I take the biggest pride in -- I try to take the ball every fifth day for as long as I can, and go out there and give my best effort," Dempster said.
Dempster has pitched in the big leagues 15 seasons, and gone to the playoffs only twice, in 2007 and 2008. On both occasions, his team, the Chicago Cubs, were swept in three straight in the division series. At 36, his chances of going to the World Series are dwindling, but he insisted that Boston's losing record last season did not factor in his decision to sign with the Sox.
“Anything that happened last year, no matter what team you're on, that kind of goes out the door," he said. "You look at a team like we have, we finished in last place last year, but things can turn around in a heartbeat. We have a lot of really qualified players, guys who have had success, been on winning teams, and we know what to do."
Early birds: Dustin Pedroia and Will Middlebrooks were both early arrivals Monday, and worked out on the field. Jacoby Ellsbury also flew in Sunday night, but did not come to camp. Ellsbury and Pedroia flew in on the same plane, and Ellsbury tweeted Sunday night that their plane was struck by lightning. That could not have sat well with Pedroia, who has a great aversion to flying. “He mentioned it," Farrell said about the lightning strike.