Boston Red Sox reliever Alfredo Aceves spiced things up a bit in the club’s training camp yesterday by serving up slow balls during live batting practice instead of actually throwing pitches. The result was a talking-to in two languages from pitching coach Juan Nieves and manager John Farrell, and the subsequent completion of the exercise in proper fashion.
Back home, however, what passes for controversy this gentle spring began to swirl, as columnists and callers started to agitate for Aceves’ ouster. After all, they argue, this latest incident simply continues the pattern of bad behavior he exhibited last season and runs precisely counter to the Era of Good Feeling that the Sox front office is working so hard to install.
But wait, the defenders reply. Aceves has great stuff and can fill many important roles. He also doesn't cost a lot, and it's crazy to dump him because of one foolish episode in a single meaningless activity so early in spring training that games haven't even yet begun.
So far, the ballclub's reaction has been to chalk this up to “Alfredo being Alfredo” and leaving it at that. And in fact, that's probably the right reaction here on February 18. But the situation warrants monitoring as the weeks roll forward, especially as it relates to the reaction of the other players in the clubhouse.
One suspects that the wheels came off so completely last season because the folks in uniform didn't do an especially good job of policing themselves. This can be expected to change given the recruitment of so many “character” guys during this past off-season, for this is precisely why they were recruited in the first place. Whether this change has any effect on Aceves remains to be seen, of course, but if it doesn't, it says here that his time on the Red Sox will likely come to an abrupt end.