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 Fridayâ€™s 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 wonâ€™t 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.
â€śWeâ€™ll have a bunch of staff meetings with all the coordinators and members of the coaching staff, getting day-to-day updates on players. Weâ€™ll get together in a room with the input of [Sox general manager] Ben Cherington and [assistant GM] Mike Hazen,â€ť Crockett said via phone Friday. â€śAt 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€ť
Asked to provide a general sense of the vibe inside the war room, Crockett noted that while itâ€™s ideal to have everyone who partakes in these behind-closed-door discussions on the same page, such is not always the case.
â€śThere are decisions that are contested and hopefully we make a decision on those discussions one way or another,â€ť he said. â€śOnce the decisions are made everybody moves forward together and in agreement.â€ť
Besides the crystallization of Bostonâ€™s 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.
â€śItâ€™s an ongoing evaluation process that goes back to last year. Thereâ€™s no absolute determining factor, but [prior to departing for Fort Myers, Fla.] you have some general concepts on how things might work out,â€ť Crockett said. â€śDepending on the guy, itâ€™s also balancing how much emphasis is based on performance during spring training.
â€śYou 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€ť 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. Thatâ€™s why Crockett and his staff plan to abstain from making any serious decisions until nearing the deadline.
â€śWeâ€™re not going to make any final decisions before [the first week of April] because while youâ€™re 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 canâ€™t control,â€ť said Crockett. â€śWeâ€™re 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€ť