3/11/2014 6:12 P.M. ET
Red Sox try 'Call the Count' over PA system
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The first pitch was delivered by John Lackey at 1:06 p.m. ET on Tuesday, another in a long line of sunny, pleasant days at JetBlue Park. Shortly after catcher David Ross gloved the pitch, public address announcer Ted Fitzgeorge announced subtly to the crowd, "Ball, 1-0."
This was an experiment by the Red Sox that might gain steam. Then again, it might not.
"That's a bad idea," said Lackey. "Whoever did that hasn't been between the lines."
"Call the count" was the name of the gimmick, which has been debated around by some Red Sox executives for a while. The Red Sox deployed it throughout Tuesday's game.
"It's based on a point of view that so much of baseball, especially in recent years, focuses on the count," said Red Sox executive vice president Charles Steinberg. "Is it a 1-2 pitch? Is it a 3-2 pitch? And you want to achieve the balance of information, this time in an aural form that complements the visual form to which you're accustomed."
It didn't seem to be a huge hit with the players, but bench coach Torey Lovullo, who managed the split-squad game at home, was understanding of the process.
"We know it's an experimental process," Lovullo said. "This is the time to try it while we're down here. I don't think everyone's going to have the same opinion. I'm very traditional and it was a little bit different from what we're used to. This is the time to try it, and if it works for the fans and their entertainment value, that's what it's all about. Moving forward, I don't know which direction we're going to go with that, but all in all, it could have been a distraction for different guys depending on where they are and what they're doing during the course of the day."
"There's been spirited debate about this for more than a year at Fenway Park," said Steinberg. "Rather than continue to debate it in the abstract, you recognize that a Spring Training game might be the ideal place to give it a try. Now whether it's well received, that may be evaluated on a one-day basis, one-inning basis. We'll have to see whether it makes it until "Sweet Caroline."
Even though the idea didn't seem to take off, the Red Sox might give it one more try.
"If it's overwhelmingly negative, we'll have colleagues who say, 'Well, that was too small a sample size. Let's try it again.' It's light, it's informal, it's intended to be, ironically, a traditionalist's move," Steinberg said. "In my opinion, the degree to which it works is the degree to which it is a gentle zephyr that taps you on the shoulder and whispers to you versus an interrupted, unwelcomed vocal intrusion.
"And part of that may depend on the PA announcer's deliver. That may vary PA announcer to PA announcer. If you imagine Dick Flavin with his avuncular or grandfatherly texture, it may be a gentle touch. If the late Bob Casey from Minnesota were announcing it in Minnesota, I don't know. We'll see if, like Brussels sprouts, it's an acquired taste."
Before going through with it, the Red Sox checked in with Major League Baseball.
"The clubs know and Major League Baseball knows," said Steinberg said. "Their main point was to make sure the umpire has made his call first."
Lackey said it didn't distract him personally, but he could see how it could be annoying in a certain type of situation.
"For me, it's not that big of a deal, because I'm not that worried about throwing strikes," Lackey said. "But I could foresee a situation someone that's struggling to throw strikes, that's pretty much beating the guy over the head. He realized it was a ball. He doesn't want to hear it again. That's a bad idea."
Lackey fine with delayed start to spring
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- John Lackey, who made his first start of Spring Training on Tuesday, had no qualms with the Red Sox taking a conservative approach with him during camp.
At the age of 35, Lackey knows there is no sense in wasting bullets in March.
"I think it's a good idea," Lackey said. "We worked pretty deep into the season last year, had a pretty good workload. I think with the veteran guys that we have, I think it will be kind of good for us. We need to do what we need to do to get ready."
Lackey gave up four hits and three runs over 2 2/3 innings against the Marlins. He walked none and struck out three.
"It's a little different to go three innings for the first time in the stadium or whatever," Lackey said. "That's probably the only thing [different]. I've kind of done this before, so it's probably not quite as different for me as it is for everyone else."
Last spring, Lackey was coming off of Tommy John surgery, making every start an event. This time around, he's just another veteran pitcher getting ready for a season.
"I thought he was good," said bench coach Torey Lovullo, who served as acting manager in the split-squad game against the Marlins. "He ended up making some pitches in his final inning that ran his pitch count up, but overall for the first he stepped on the mound, his fastball was downhill. He located it and I think the idea for him was to get his legs under him and make those types of pitches. I thought he was good."
Carp continues impressive spring campaign
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Put Mike Carp in the game and he hits. Ever since the left-handed hitter joined the Red Sox a year ago, that is pretty much the way it has worked.
In Tuesday's game against the Marlins, Carp went deep for the third time this spring, and second time in three days.
Once again, Carp projects to play a bench role this season for a team that has David Ortiz at designated hitter, Mike Napoli at first base and Daniel Nava and Jonny Gomes as the left-field platoon.
"The best thing about Carpie is that he can sit on a pitch and hit it. He can look for a pitch and address it and drive it," said bench coach Torey Lovullo. "He was sitting all over the first pitch he saw from a left-handed pitcher who made a quality pitch. He just put a better swing on it. Doesn't surprise us. Anything Mike Carp does out there can be exceptional."
Peavy ready to make spring debut on Thursday
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Despite his unfortunate mishap with a fishing knife 10 days ago, Red Sox right-hander Jake Peavy is on track to make his Grapefruit League debut on Thursday.
Peavy will go in sequence with the other members of Boston's rotation who have pitched for the first time this week, following Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester, John Lackey and Felix Doubront.
The laceration of his left index finger proved to be a bit of a nuisance for the veteran, but not a significant obstacle in getting ready for the season.
"The stitches were removed two days ago, so that wound is healing up," said manager John Farrell. "He still needs some padding on the finger inside the glove. We fully expect him to be on the mound Thursday. You might see him use a little different glove, a little bigger glove just to give him more webbing to catch the ball in. No, we don't see it being a hindrance to his pitching."
The way the rotation is tentatively lined up, Peavy would make his first start of the season on April 4 against the Brewers, which is the home opener.
"Much like we've seen Clay [Buchholz] and Jon Lester go to the mound with three innings, that's the goal on Thursday [for Peavy]," said Farrell.