Spring training is not about wins and losses, it’s about progress. What I mean by that is, there’s three tiers of players: 1) the young guy trying to get established, 2) the established player, 3) the old guy trying to fit. Each one of them has nothing to do with wins and losses. Spring training is about development in those three categories. We would like to believe it’s important that your team is 5-0 in spring training, as opposed to being 0-5, but at the end of the day it’s about the three categories of players.
Let me explain.
If I’m a young player, trying to make an impression, trying to make the team, this is my spring training because the established, veteran guys are playing in the World Baseball Classic. They’re gone. If I’m on a team that has a player in the WBC that plays my position, I have to capitalize because I’m in front of the big league manager every day. And the longer I’m in front of him, the better off I am.
If I’m that established player, spring training to me is getting ready for that bell to ring in April. I want to make sure I have my swing right – I’m gonna take a couple of at bats then I’m going down to the lower fields and I’m working on base hits. And honestly, I don’t know if we won or lost that game we played until I check the board the next day to see what hitting group I’m in. You’re gone. You come out of the game in the 4th inning, and they play another couple more hours – you’re already at dinner before that game is over.
For that veteran guy, like Pedro Martinez, this is a very important time in spring training. You have to show people what you can do and that’s why the WBC is important. It’s high level competition and teams are going to use that to evaluate. That’s why the Red Sox signed Matsuzaka when they did, because he pitched so well in the WBC. If you think it’s not important, it’s important. It’s important because it is great scouting ground where all the top scouts know they got all the top talent in the world in these four different regions. And if they want to go scout a player, this is when they go. If they want to see if a kid from Korea can really compete, then they’re going to watch him play. If someone wants to see if Yu Darvish is really as great as they say, when else are they going to see him compete on stage in international competition and really know if he can get major league hitters out.
It’s a very interesting spring.