There are organizational meetings followed by player evaluations with a round of office powwows involving high-ranking team officials. Welcome to the portion of spring training where filling out minor-league rosters starts to take on a more serious tone.
Regarding the composition of the 2012 Pawtucket Red Sox, the Red Sox took some of the guesswork out of the equation with Fridayâs announcement of optioning pitchers Junichi Tazawa and Clayton Mortensen along with catcher Luis Exposito to Triple A. As first-year BoSox farm director Ben Crockett cautioned, final decisions regarding who will break camp with a corresponding affiliate wonât be made until a couple of days leading up to Thursday, April 5.
Such a date is noteworthy due to the parent club opening in Detroit while Pawtucket, Double-A Portland and Single-A Greenville also usher in new campaigns.
âWeâll have a bunch of staff meetings with all the coordinators and members of the coaching staff, getting day-to-day updates on players. Weâll get together in a room with the input of [Sox general manager] Ben Cherington and [assistant GM] Mike Hazen,â Crockett said via phone Friday. âAt the minor-league level we have to see how the major-league team shakes out; obviously that always has some sort of trickle-down effect.â
Asked to provide a general sense of the vibe inside the war room, Crockett noted that while itâs ideal to have everyone who partakes in these behind-closed-door discussions on the same page, such is not always the case.
âThere are decisions that are contested and hopefully we make a decision on those discussions one way or another,â he said. âOnce the decisions are made everybody moves forward together and in agreement.â
Besides the crystallization of Bostonâs 25-man roster, which may or may not include shortstop phenom Jose Iglesias, Crockett laid out plenty of factors that go into moving minor-league players around like pieces on a chessboard.
âItâs an ongoing evaluation process that goes back to last year. Thereâs no absolute determining factor, but [prior to departing for Fort Myers, Fla.] you have some general concepts on how things might work out,â Crockett said. âDepending on the guy, itâs also balancing how much emphasis is based on performance during spring training.
âYou also want to place players at a level that gives them the best opportunity to challenge themselves, but also gives them a chance to succeed,â Crockett continued.
Of course unforeseen episodes between now and Opening Day merit watching, which in turn would make the decision-making exercise even less of an open-and-shut case. Thatâs why Crockett and his staff plan to abstain from making any serious decisions until nearing the deadline.
âWeâre not going to make any final decisions before [the first week of April] because while youâre playing [exhibition] games, injuries or change in performance happens or change in major-league needs happens. There are a lot of last-minute factors that can unfold that we canât control,â said Crockett. âWeâre barely halfway through our games in minor-league spring training so guys definitely have quite a bit of preparation left to do to get ready for the season.â