Red Sox's goal to repeat -- the process from 2013
Before first full workout, Farrell highlights need to bottle mindset from title run
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- If the Red Sox are to repeat as World Series champions, they know that the most important thing they need to repeat is simply the process that got them there.
There has been an organizational effort -- from ownership to the front office to the manager to the players -- to keep last season's Yearbook closed and to start creating new memories.
But the fierce attention to detail is something the champs are determined to keep exactly the same.
As is their customary tradition, the Red Sox preceded Thursday's first full-squad workout of Spring Training with a team meeting.
"We just got out of a meeting with John Farrell, and I think that as much we appreciate what happened last year, the focus is on 2014 -- what we're going to do now," said Red Sox chairman Tom Werner. "The team has come to work and John Farrell said, 'Let's think not about the last out of the World Series last year but how we approach the year. How we approach the first day of Spring Training.' I think as much as we can sort of appreciate what we did last year, we're all focused on today and tomorrow."
Farrell's speech was the main event of the team meeting, and his message was echoed by general manager Ben Cherington.
"To get back to a mindset that was from the first day of Spring Training last year and not the most recent memory, which was a great one, but to recognize that there was a lot of work, a journey that went into getting that final out recorded in Fenway," said Farrell. "I think as you've been around the guys since they've reported, the conversation, the talk is about what we do today, and not what's happened previous. In a nutshell, that was probably the overall message."
"We're going to chase winning," said Cherington. "We're going to chase the process. We want to be the best prepared team and focus on today. It may not be as interesting to read about or talk about, but that's what we believe makes us good, so that's what we're going to focus on."
Last year at this time, the Red Sox were determined to get back to that type of focus after going through a rough patch late in 2011 and all of '12.
The external vibe around the Red Sox at this time last year wasn't exactly a positive one.
"Last year, I think people thought we had taken a stupid pill," said Werner. "What John said is true. This is an extraordinarily close group of guys who almost, to a man, they came to work early this year. They're prepared, they're focused. Obviously, we're very proud of what we did last year. I think John said it right today -- the focus is on today and tomorrow and getting off to a good start in April, and we'll see how we do."
There is a lot of reason for optimism. With an impressive veteran core returning and a bumper crop of top-flight prospects in camp, the organization is looking for another period of sustained winning, much like the one that took place from 2003-09.
"I think our focus has to be to put competitive teams on the field every year," said Werner. "It's obviously a challenge. We have a mark on our back this year. But I don't think we're thinking too much beyond getting the team prepared and getting off to a good start. Our goal is the same -- just to see if we can be competitive on Labor Day and see if we can play postseason baseball."
Farrell's ability to give his players a resoundingly clear message is one that served him well all of last year, and it should be a big plus again this season.
Of course, Farrell's message can go further with a group that includes seasoned players like Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, David Ross, Jonny Gomes, Shane Victorino, Jon Lester and John Lackey.
"I think we have a lot of guys with a lot of personal pride who are working every day and not looking too far ahead," said Lackey. "I think that makes it easy motivation. Just worry about trying to get better today and see where you end up at the end."
The determination the Red Sox became known for last year could be seen in Thursday's "ragball" drill, in which pitchers were trying to out-do each other with their prowess in catching screaming line drives.
"Believe me, we had action going on there," Lackey said. "I think that's the personal pride thing. We like to get after it. We like to compete. We ride each other, motivate each other. I think all of that comes together in a great clubhouse atmosphere, obviously. We legitimately have some great friends on the team, and we have fun together."
For the Red Sox, the fun is all in the process. And if that process should end the way it did last year, it will turn into euphoria.