GLENDALE, Ariz. — Manager Robin Ventura’s message to his team was more pointed than usual. And why wouldn’t it be?
What Ventura saw on the field the last three years was tough to watch.
“It was very direct,’’ Ventura said. “It didn’t take a long time to say it.’’
The gist of it was play clean, fundamental baseball.
“You want to make sure they understand,’’ Ventura said. “We didn’t enjoy the way we played the last couple of years. We have a group that can be fundamentally sound, and it’s vital for us to be successful.’’
Ventura addressed the squad before the first full workout Tuesday.
Asked if his tone was different than usual — the Sox are coming off three consecutive losing seasons — Ventura said, “It was just different. That’s about as far as I’ll go, but they understood where I was coming from. You don’t want to beat it into the new guys because they weren’t here [last season]. But tone-wise, the guys who’ve been here in the past, they understand where I was coming from.’’
Be careful out there
Right-hander Matt Albers was limited to 37„ innings because of a pinkie injury suffered in the bench-clearing brawl with the Royals. When he returned after surgery, Albers found a groove and reeled off a scoreless streak of 22„ innings, one out better than Jake Arrieta’s streak.
“I really hit my stride,” said Albers, who was re-signed to a one-year, $2.25 million deal with a club option for 2017 in January after posting a 1.21 ERA. “I really started throwing my changeup a lot more, threw it for strikes, and that helped me against lefties.’’
Albers, who had battled back from shoulder soreness last offseason, didn’t throw a punch during the fracas and thought he simply jammed the pinkie. Next time benches clear, Albers might keep his distance.
“I like to get in the middle of them, but I’ll probably stay out of it,’’ he said.
Albers, Nate Jones, Jake Petricka, Zach Putnam and closer David Robertson would seem to have the inside track on bullpen spots with Zach Duke and Dan Jennings as the two lefties. But Daniel Webb and Tommy Kahnle have big-league experience, and former No. 9 overall pick Jacob Turner, who’s competing for a spot in the rotation with Mat Latos and Erik Johnson after signing a $1.5 million deal, will have to stay on the 40-man roster to avoid going on waivers.
“There’s a fight for some spots in there,’’ Ventura said. “We do have a pretty set bullpen, but there’s a couple of wild cards, depending on the route we want to go: Do we want more innings out of that spot or cover it with using more guys consistently?”
‘Jacked up’ Jones
The Sox are not stacked with power arms in the bullpen, but they have one in Jones, who profiles for the eighth inning. Jones was feeling healthy, far removed from Tommy John surgery and throwing what Melky Cabrera claimed was 100 mph in live batting practice Wednesday.
“The first couple of guys, I was pretty jacked up,” Jones said.
“I felt good and healthy and smooth.”
This and that
Shortstop Jimmy Rollins, signed to a minor-league deal Monday, is expected in camp Thursday and will wear No. 7.
Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf turned 80 Thursday.
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