By Sean McAdam
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- In 2010, the Red Sox pitching staff made 21 errors, the most of any staff in the American League. Toward that end, in the first pitchers and catchers workout Tuesday, the Sox focused on pitcher's fielding practice (PFP) and what the Sox label "game awareness."
The latter, explained Terry Francona, is "just talking. And it's just what it sounds like -- walking through some of the things that are important to us, trying to slow the game down when the game speeds up on pitchers. It's just a way to to talk about things that are important to us.
"We do so many drills, but there are some psychological things and some things they need to think about that we want to spend time talking about, including situational approaches, holding runners at second when we"re not in a bunt play, slide-stepping, why we"re slide-stepping . . . "
As for the team"s unusually high error total on the mound, Francona couldn"t offer one primary reason.
"I think the biggest reason is the game starts going too fast," said Francona. "You see a ball bounce off a pitcher's shin, and they run over to try to make the play and instead of planting their feet, they try to made the play sidearm and fire it away. Throwing balls to first base, we (at times tried) to be too quick. We were sloppy and we made too many errors, too many things happened that don't help you win games."
Despite the issues, the Sox didn't hold much PFP during the season.
"The reason we don"t do it too much,"" Francona said, "is you can"t do it full speed in-season. The times when it really helps is when guys have their arms loose and they can throw the ball full speed and run, and the guys can't do that during the season. So doing it is almost a little bit of 'cover your ass,' instead of helping. So we don't do it a lot."
After tests revealed that Brandon Duckworth and Tony Pena were exhibiting some shoulder weakness, the pair were held out of throwing Tuesday and will undergo further testing.
Typically, pitchers are tested in the spring to provide a baseline for future comparisons during the season and Duckworth and Pena were "a little bit on the weaker side on strength," said Francona. "When they're on the lower end of that spectrum, we just want to a little bit of testing to make sure there isn"t something there that shouldn"t be there."
Also, Jason Bergmann has been shut down "for the near future," according to Francona, "until we can kind of get a better grasp" on some pain in his shoulder.