FORT MYERS, Fla. -- An infield drill had just ended on one of the back fields at Fenway South a couple of days ago, when a spontaneous chalk talk session started between two of the best at their crafts.Mitch Moreland won an American League Gold Glove Award last season for
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- An infield drill had just ended on one of the back fields at Fenway South a couple of days ago, when a spontaneous chalk talk session started between two of the best at their crafts.
Mitch Moreland won an American League Gold Glove Award last season for his defensive excellence at first base. There are no such trophies for coaches, otherwise Red Sox infield instructor Brian Butterfield would have a case full of them.
This is Moreland's first season with the Red Sox, and it gives him the opportunity to join Butterfield, who has built a strong reputation for his work with infielders over his 38 years in professional baseball.
"We've definitely bounced stuff off of each other," said Moreland. "We talk about what I like, what he likes. It's been a fun few weeks and I think we can get a lot accomplished."
It was hard to hear exactly what Butterfield and Moreland were saying to each other during their chalk talk, but the enthusiasm from both was evident via the hand gestures and defensive stances that ensued.
"He was asking me questions on things that I teach on first-base play," said Butterfield. "And it grew into, 'I want to know what you believe in and what you've been taught and how you would teach.' He's very knowledgeable. He's been around good people. He gladly took the floor and he showed me some of the things he tries to live by defensively. It was really beneficial to me to hear that point of view because most of the first basemen that I've had over the last 20 years have been right-handed."
As good as both of them have been, the union could make Moreland a better defender and Butterfield a better coach.
"I've spent a lot of time over there with him just kind of talking, trying to get a little bit of a game plan together to go through the season," said Moreland. "It's great. He's always picking you up, always trying to help you get better day in and day out. I've already asked him about two or three things. I'm looking forward to spending the full season with him and seeing what we can get done."
After the first full-squad workout of Spring Training, Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts offered an unprompted "Wow" when talking about what it was like to throw to Moreland in drills.
"I think that Mitch has gained a great appreciation from his teammates by the way he goes about his work on a daily basis," said Butterfield. "It's funny going around the diamond and talking to all the other infielders, how appreciative they are of a guy that works like that and is able to handle himself around the base.
"He's just a baseball player. Everywhere I go, he's received rave reviews from his teammates as far as the person he is, the preparer, the teammate. The conversations we've had already are just above and beyond."
To Butterfield, it says something about Moreland that he still has such a thirst to get better, even as he comes off his first career AL Gold Glove Award.
"So cool," Butterfield said. "Every day he wants to be on top of what we're doing team defense-wise. He asks questions. He's a willing contributor to anything he may have that will make us better. Those kind of guys are worth their weight in gold. We're trying to absorb his knowledge as much as what we're watching."
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.