FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox will have 57 players in camp for spring training once everybody comes together. Bryce Brentz may be the most grateful of the bunch.
Brentz was on the list to attend camp last year but accidentally shot himself in the left leg while cleaning a gun. The Red Sox, angry at his carelessness, retracted their invitation.
Brentz was added to the roster for four games but was left with a feeling of missed opportunity. Instead of advancing his career, he was left apologizing for a mistake.
“It was a crazy thing. But that’s life. I had to own up to it,” Brentz said Monday.
It was the start of a frustrating season. Brentz played in only 82 games for Triple A Pawtucket because of surgery on his right knee in July. He hit .264 with 17 home runs but had an on-base percentage of only .312.
“I got hurt sliding, just a freak thing,” he said. “Even that was kind of crazy. I got food poisoning and had to delay the surgery for a week and a half. I got back from surgery in five weeks but it took seven weeks altogether.”
The Red Sox added Brentz, an outfielder, to their 40-man roster based largely on his power potential. The former supplemental first-round pick out of Middle Tennessee State has hit 71 home runs in four minor league seasons.
“I don’t want to be labeled as a power hitter. I want to be a good hitter with power,” Brentz said. “I need to work on being a more complete player. It’s a good tool to have but one thing isn’t going to get me to the big leagues.”
Brentz is working on pitch selection and working deeper into the count. It’s an organization-wide goal for the Red Sox.
“It’s not taking pitches necessarily. It’s making sure you swing at a good pitch,” he said. “You want to be a tough out no matter what happens. It’s being selectively aggressive.”
Now that he’s finally in camp, Brentz plans to gather as much knowledge as he can from the veteran players and coaches.
“I’m not going to say much. I feel like I’ve got a lot to make up for and I can only do that by my actions,” he said.
Red Sox legend Luis Tiant is one of the greatest players to come from Cuba. That could make him a bit of a mentor for 28-year-old righthander Dalier Hinojosa, a Cuban in camp on a minor league contract.
Hinojosa is from Isla de la Juventud, a few hours from where Tiant grew up.
“He’s a good kid,” said Tiant, who at 73 thinks everybody is a kid. “We had a little talk and we’ll talk some more. I told him I would go watch him throw.”
Hinojosa will work initially as a starter but could contribute most as a reliever in the majors. He defected a year ago after pitching in the Cuban National League for Guantanamo.
It pays to win
The Red Sox drew a crowd of 1,400 to their first workout. The crowd last season on the same day was 370. The Sox also had a larger crowd of media. ESPN broadcast from Fenway South and several other national media representatives were on hand.
Twist of fate
A.J. Pierzynski twisted his left ankle and skipped some conditioning drills after the workout. Manager John Farrell said the team’s plans are for Pierzynski to start 100-110 games with David Ross picking up the rest. “It’s an estimate. That’s the breakdown we saw,” the manager said. “That’s a general estimate.” . . . Jake Peavy was scheduled to see a specialist for his bruised right hand before he is cleared to throw. Peavy, who was injured over the weekend, feels improved. “We just want to make sure everything checks out fine,” Farrell said . . . Veteran reliever Francisco Cordero, who was signed to a minor league contract Sunday, can earn $1 million if he makes the major league team. Cordero could be on the field as soon as Tuesday once he passes his physical . . . Farrell mentioned that Grady Sizemore also would play left field along with center during spring training. There are signs that the Sox may ultimately see Sizemore as more of a reserve outfielder if he makes the team, at least initially . . . Lefthander Rich Hill, who is attending to a family issue, has yet to arrive in camp. The same is true of lefthander Jose Mijares, who is having visa problems leaving Venezuela . . . Jackie Bradley Jr. signed about 100 autographs outside of Field 1 after his workout.