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Rich Hill on the side and other notes from the first Red Sox workout

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  February 15, 2011 01:36 PM

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FORT MYERS, Fla. Rich Hill is throwing sidearm exclusively now. It was something he and John Farrell talked about last year and he has decided to adopt it.

Hill is not dipping down as much as Mike Myers used, but he's clearly coming at hitters at a different angle and he believes that can make him an effective reliever.

"It's very natural to me, I feel comfortable doing it," he said.

So while instead of that sharp over-the-top curveball he once threw, he had what the pitchers call a "frisbee" curve.

Hill is working on bringing his fastball inside to the righthander and using a change-up, too. He doesn't want to be limited to being a lefty specialist.

As the Red Sox look to refine their bullpen, Hill could be an interesting weapon. Imagine the trouble a hitter would have after facing Jon Lester for seven innings and then have to deal with Hill coming in from a sidearm angle.

Here a few other notes from the first day:

RHP Jason Bergmann (shoulder) has been shut down. RHPs Brandon Duckworth and Tony Pena Jr are being limited to defensive drills and won't be throwing bullpens for at least a few days. The physical testing detected some shoulder weakness.

Carl Crawford is flying to Fort Myers tomorrow and will be in camp on Thursday.

Terry Francona was running the "rag ball drill" with the pitchers. They use soft baseballs to simulate line drives back to the mound. Francona was firing the balls and Josh Beckett took one off the face.

"I hope somebody got that on video," Beckett said. "Because he'll be hearing from my lawyers."

Beckett (and several others pitchers) have commented on how Jarrod Saltalamacchia is catching a lot like Jason Varitek and has even adopted some of the same mannerisms. Part of that is Salty having worked all winter with Gary Tuck. Another part is Salty has long looked up to Jason.

"He does things like Tek now," Beckett said. "There's not a better guy to follow if you're in that position. That's a good guy to look like."

After the workout was over, it was interesting to see Salty pull up a chair in the corner of the clubhouse where Beckett, Lester, Clay Buchholz, John Lackey and Tim Wakefield have their lockers. He's making it a point to get to know the pitchers.

It's far too early to tell how well Saltalamacchia will work out as the starting catcher. But effort will not be an issue.

Jose Iglesias would prefer not to conduct interviews in English, at least not yet. Today, when he was seeking a teammate to interpret for him, Adrian Gonzalez volunteered.

While that may not seem like a big deal, it's not every day you see a superstar player help out a 21-year-old kid who was in AA ball. It speaks to what kind of person Gonzalez is.

The Red Sox have a batting practice pitcher named Ino Guerrero, a former minor leaguer who likes to talk about his accomplishments back in the day. The players love to give him a hard time about it.

When Dustin Pedroia slugged a few home runs in batting practice today he turned and said, "Hey, Ino, thanks for flying out and working with me this winter."

Beckett admitted he fell too much in love with his cutter last season and that played a factor in his poor performance. He still plans to use it, but only in certain situations.

More Beckett: He said he spent a lot of the winter doing "core stability" to strengthen his back.

A bunch of reporters gathered around Darnell McDonald this morning. He literally answered more questions today than he did all last spring. "You guys didn't even know where my locker was," he said.

McDonald is not assuming he has a spot on the team. But his ability to hit lefties and play all three OF positions would certainly be a plus on this roster. He can pinch-run, too.

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