FORT MYERS, Fla. – The problem with not moving Alfredo Aceves this offseason is that the more incidents that pile up on his resume the harder it gets to move him and get something decent for a very good pitcher.
The Red Sox brought so many character guys into camp, got rid of Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, but they failed to move out the player who accumulated that the most disciplinary problems on the team last season -- Alfredo Aceves.
Aceves made a mockery of John Farrell’s camp on Sunday with his lobbing of the ball into home plate during batting practice. It was the first “incident” from a player in the Farrell era, and it comes as no surprise that Aceves was the culprit.
Aceves was upset last spring training when the team informed him he would not be a starter. Bobby Valentine immediately identified him as the closer when Andrew Bailey went down with his thumb injury.
And while the good times lasted for a while when Aceves amped up the velocity to 97 mph early in the season, there were blown saves, blown leads, and blow-ups with Valentine that once again painted Aceves as a malcontent.
The team suspended him three days for conduct detrimental to the team when late in the season he was passed up for a closing assignment for Bailey, who had returned to the team. In his disgust Aceves took his jersey off in the bullpen and whipped it against the bullpen wall.
Later, after Aceves had returned from his suspension, he sidestepped Valentine on the mound and walked around him after Valentine came out to yank him after a poor outing. The team elected not to discipline him, much to Valentine’s shagrin.
And now this.
Farrell certainly knew he might have his hands full with Aceves. There were plenty of warning signs that his strange behavior might be an ongoing issue throughout the season and no matter who was in charge.
Aceves was “talked to” by both Farrell and pitching coach Juan Nieves and eventually started throwing at normal speed, and the issue was “addressed,” according to Farrell.
The issue that gnaws at Aceves has not gone away.
He is still not going to be one of the team’s five starters unless there are injuries.
He’s also not going to be the closer. So he’ll be what he was in his first season in Boston and in his Yankee career – a long or middle man. This just isn’t going to satisfy Aceves, who told me when I wrote that he wanted to be a starter because starters make more money, “I want to be a starter because I have four pitches.”
He does have that.
The situation here is never going to be satisfactory for Aceves and with it will come problems.
While this incident was relatively minor, (“Alfredo being Alfredo” according to one Red Sox front office person) it’s a reminder of last season and the problems which existed.
Is he worth the trouble?
The Red Sox made the decision this offseason that he was. We’ll see if their patience will be rewarded or whether bigger issues develop.