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PawSox Hot Stove: Meet the Prospects

01.22.10 at 3:34 pm ET
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On Saturday, Jan. 23, the Pawtucket Red Sox will host their 33rd Annual Hot Stove League Party at McCoy Stadium. New PawSox manager Torey Lovullo will be in attendance, and several Red Sox minor leaguers (potentially including Casey Kelly, Ryan Kalish, Jeff Natale, Randor Bierd, Kyle Weiland, Junichi Tazawa and Felix Doubront) are expected to be available for photos and autographs.

The event will run from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Enter the ballpark through the entry tower in left field. The 2010 Hot Stove Party will once again be held inside the McCoy Clubhouse and batting tunnels. Food and drink will be served. Fans in attendance can purchase regular-season tickets at the McCoy Box Office, which will be open for walk-up business.

The PawSox have also partnered with the Rhode Island Chapter of the American Red Cross to raise monetary contributions for the Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund during the Hot Stove League Party.

Red Cross workers will be stationed at the main entry tower at McCoy throughout the free Hot Stove event.

‘€œThe PawSox are proud to team with the American Red Cross Rhode Island Chapter to, in our small way, help the people of Haiti who have gone through indescribable devastation in the past week,’€ PawSox president Mike Tamburro said. ‘€œWe want to provide PawSox fans with an opportunity to contribute in any way they can and we thank them for their consideration.’€

‘€œWe are thrilled that the PawSox are helping us ‘€” and the citizens of Haiti ‘€” out in response to the catastrophic earthquake that has devastated that nation,’€ said Bruce Rutter, CEO of the American Red Cross Rhode Island Chapter. ‘€œThis is just another example of the generosity of the people of this area and we thank them for their continued support.’€

All monies collected during the PawSox Hot Stove Party this Saturday at McCoy Stadium will be donated directly to the American Red Cross Rhode Island Chapter.

Read More: casey kelly, jeff natale, junichi tazawa, kyle weiland

WEEI.com Hot Stove Chat w/Merloni, Bradford and Speier

01.21.10 at 11:22 pm ET
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Just four weeks remain until the reporting date for Red Sox pitchers and catchers in Fort Myers, and the group that will be in spring training has been all but finalized. WEEI.com’s Lou Merloni, Rob Bradford and Alex Speier will be stopping by the Virtual Pressbox to take your questions about what’s taken place over the past few months and what to look for entering spring training, from the departure of Jason Bay and arrival of John Lackey to the new Sox lineup and the emphasis on pitching and defense.

Join them here on Friday at noon!

Red Sox Hot Stove Chat

Bay breaks silence regarding Red Sox negotiations

01.21.10 at 8:45 pm ET
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Speaking at length for the first time about what happened in his negotiations with the Red Sox, Jason Bay explained that a huge hurdle was a disagreement between the Red Sox and Bay regarding the health of his knees and right shoulder.

Bay confirmed the report by Peter Gammons that he had agreed to a four-year, $60 million deal with the Red Sox in July, but that it had been retracted by the Sox after the team deemed that there too many concerns with the results of his physical. ‘€œThat,’€ the outfielder said, ‘€œis just one-tenth of the story.’€

According to Bay, the Red Sox came back with an offer of two guaranteed years, with two more years that were contingent on Bay’s health and productivity (all at $15 million per season). That deal also would have included the agreement that Bay have knee surgery following the 2009 season.

Bay and his agent, Joe Urbon, would seek out an independent physician in late August for a second opinion. That doctor deemed Bay in much better health than the Red Sox’ medical team had determined. In November, the two sides sent the MRI taken in July to an agreed-upon physician, who also reported that Bay’s health shouldn’t be a concern. The final Red Sox offer to Bay, which was delivered on the first night of the Winter Meetings, was for three guaranteed years with one year contingent on Bay’s health and productivity (also at $15 million per season), without the request to have any offseason surgery.

For the complete story of Bay’s negotiations with the Red Sox click here.

Red Sox sign five to minor-league deals

01.21.10 at 9:17 am ET
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According to the latest Baseball America Transactions log, the Red Sox have added five more players to minor-league deals. Those players are:

–RHP Chad Paronto: The 34-year-old right-hander and native of Haverhill, NH, appeared in six big-league games for the Astros in 2009 after producing a 1.39 ERA in 51.2 innings for Triple A Round Rock. In parts of seven big-league seasons, Paronto has appeared in 177 games (all in relief) with a 4.32 career ERA.

–RHP Scott Patterson: The 30-year-old split 2009 between the Triple A affiliates of Oakland and San Diego, forging a combined 3.96 ERA while striking out 72 in 63.2 innings. He has made four big-league appearances, all in 2008, allowing one run in 4.2 innings.

–RHP Kelvin Pichardo: Pichardo, 24, has never pitched above Double A in his professional career. The right-hander has struck out 310 batters in 295.2 innings while forging a career 3.26 ERA. He was suspended for 50 games in 2009 due to the use of a banned substance.

–2B Ray Chang: The 27-year-old Chang hit .297/.385/.414/.799 while splitting 2009 between the Pirates’ High A and Double A affiliates. Chang has spent most of his minor-league career at shortstop, but has also logged time at second and third.

–3B Christian Colonel: Third baseman Christian Colonol, 28, joins the Sox after seven years in the Colorado Rockies‘ system. He hit .279/.348/.386/.734 in Triple A last season (his second straight at that level), and is a career .285/.355/.427/.782 hitter.

The same Transactions log noted that the Sox have released right-hander Matt Goodson, shortstop Zach Borowiak and outfielder Brad Wilkerson.

Read More: chad paronto, christian colonel, kelvin pichardo, ray chang

John Farrell breaks down the Sox pitching staff on D&H

01.20.10 at 3:17 pm ET
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With Truck Day right around the corner, the thought of another Red Sox season is getting closer. John Farrell called into Dale & Holley on Wednesday to talk about the upcoming Red Sox season.

Farrell discussed Jonathan Papelbon‘€™s offseason and what he expects out of the star closer in 2010. He also touched on the acquisition of John Lackey and what that means to the Red Sox starting rotation.

Farrell was believed to be a top candidate for the Cleveland Indians‘€™ managerial job, and he talked about how he was flattered but decided to stay with the Sox.

‘€œI’€™m honored to be here, and humbled that other teams would have that kind of interest,’€ he said. ‘€œThere might come a point and time in the future, but I think for multiple reasons moving from the Red Sox it was not the time.’€

A transcript is below. To listen to the interview, click here.

Are you getting anxious to get the season started again?

It’€™s usually about Dec. 1 actually. I think this time of year everybody is looking forward to Spring Training and some warmer weather, we’€™ve dealt with sub-freezing temperatures long enough.

Is it possible that Jonathan Papelbon didn’€™t know about the Red Sox signings this winter?

Well, I’€™m not going to dispute what his responses were, but the one thing that makes Pap so affective, above and beyond the elite performer and the physical abilities that we all know, is his ability to not dwell on yesterday and to go out and perform today. The criteria for a good closer is to have a short-term memory and in this case it might be applying in a different way.

Is Papelbon a guy you expect to hit the ground running when you get to Spring Training?

Without a doubt, and that’€™s the case every year he comes into Spring Training. The fact that he, Manny [Delcarmen], and Ramon [Ramirez] all got their deals done and out of the way, it’€™s one less distraction that they have to contend with when Spring Training begins. Pap, I know with conversations with him after the season, is motivated. The last outing that he had is a strong learning experience for him. His game awareness and his pitch selection will continue to grow from that stand point. Because of that, he uses it as a driving force throughout the winter not so much that he’€™s going to come in and make up for his last outing in the first day of Spring Training, but to be a driver and he holds himself to such a high standard that he’€™ll continue to do what he needs to not only adjust, but to be a closer that everyone wishes they had.

Will he be showcasing the splitter and slider that he used to have, because he didn’€™t really throw it a lot last season.

Those pitches are still there. The consistency in which he throws his split for strikes needs to improve. There’€™s no doubt about that. What we’€™ve seen, because he likes to bury that pitch below the strike zone a lot of hitters read it on the ball right out of his hand, and because he’€™s become so predominately such a fastball pitcher, any pitch that has a different release or a different type of spin to it hitters are going to take it. Where we’€™ve seen his slider become a little bit more of a weapon for him. There were times during this past season where he didn’€™t have his overpowering fastball, he didn’€™t go to it, but when we look back and magnify the game against the Angels there was a little bit of emotion in there, a little bit of adrenaline that he continued to thrive on and because of it some pitches leaked back over the plate against left-handers. Whether it was [Bobby] Abreu, [Erick] Aybar that ended up allowing them to score those three runs to go ahead, but I think that experience in and of itself will allow his awareness to continue to improve and inside that game situation the pitch selection follows that.

What happened with Papelbon’€™s command of the plate last year?

I think you have to look at last year as two separate seasons inside of one. There was an adjustment with his delivery in Spring Training to get his legs more involved to distribute the workload and the stress throughout his body more evenly. Which it did. It happened to take away from his overall fastball command. Around the midseason point, in mid-June and the latter part of June, it was a readjustment with his hand position that took him back to a similar delivery in ‘€™08 and we saw his command improve pretty dramatically. That’€™s where we saw more swing and misses, more called strikes with better location to let his fastball take over. We didn’€™t make the change because he was feeling something in his shoulder. We went back to a delivery that was pretty evident in ‘€™07 early on, but these adjustments are pretty common place for guys always looking to get the edge, always looking to stay one step ahead of their opponent, but in his case the fastball command in the first half of the season wasn’€™t as sharp as the second half, which he got back to.

How close is Daniel Bard being a type of pitcher that you could rely on at the end of a game or to close out games, and what is the next step for him?

He’€™s still a work in progress. As strong as he was last year and the flashes of dominance that he had for pretty good stretches, he went through four to six weeks where he was a strikeout weapon, a dominant power arm in the back of the bullpen, then in the first two or three weeks in August things caught up to him a little bit. He was challenged in a couple of situations where it didn’€™t pan out well. But I think the most encouraging thing is he showed resilience from a mental stand point to go back out and right the ship so to speak with performances that were very strong after some tough outings. I think we overall we are in such a good position to have he and Papelbon at that back end, to have the ability to strike people out, to shut down a threat late in the game.

Do you and Francona have a plan for how Tim Wakefield will be used?

We do. We have an idea going into Spring Training that I don’€™t want to say is a complete wait and see approach, but given the surgery that Tim had in the offseason in which he has recovered very favorably, he’€™s in a throwing program that’€™s got him out to 120 to 150 feet, which is where all of our pitchers are at this time of year. We want to him to show that when Tim gets on the mound he’€™s able to take those bullpen sessions and ultimately gain assignments without any extra rest needed. I think as we go through Spring Training we will have an idea of where he stacks up. He has pitched out of the bullpen in the past. Obviously we can’€™t discount the bulk numbers and the very strong performance he has had for us. We all know that as we plan for a full season, we are going to need seven or eight starters to get through the year. To have six bona fide big league starters is a luxury at this point in time.

How serious were the talks with the Cleveland Indians about their vacant manager position?

It’€™s a situation like this. I think everyone who is a coach at the major league level has aspirations and desires to take on greater responsibility. I have those, but it became a very simple response to me. I had agreed to a contract that has some provisions in it and when I gave my word and signed to that contract I felt it was important to fulfill that commitment. I deal with a guy in Tito every night, where we think a lot alike about the game. We share a lot of the same values as far as life and the game itself, and I’€™m also very aware that the Red Sox is a very unique opportunity, and to be involved in this is something I don’€™t take lightly. I’€™m honored to be here, and humbled that other teams would have that kind of interest. There might come a point and time in the future, but I think for multiple reasons moving from the Red Sox it was not the time.

What did you say about the addition of John Lackey when the Red Sox were thinking about making a deal for him?

I think we felt that to bolster the rotation was a main goal of ours. John was certainly the head of the class as far as starting pitchers on the market. The fact that we landed a bon a fide bit league pitcher with a tremendous amount of success, a very consistent track record, postseason experience, World Series experience, he fit for a lot of obvious reasons. As time has gone on here in the offseason and getting to know him through phone conversations, one-on-one sit down conversations in Boston last week, his defensive nature and his work ethic is going to fit in very well with the guys that we have on this team and hopefully with this pitching staff. This has been a great addition and it really deepens our rotation one through five, and the fact that we can send a top of the rotation guy to the mound on most, if not every night, I think it a luxury and strong point for us at this point.

Lackey’€™s reputation of not being able to pitch a Fenway Park is no longer an issue, is it?

No, it’€™s not. He spoke openly about that when we had a chance to talk. Early on in his career he tried to change his approach of attacking hitters taking into account the Green Monster. When he finally came to the realization, you know to heck with that Wall being over my right shoulder, I just got to go and attack hitters as I’€™ve done in any other ball park. That’€™s when he’€™s seen his success at Fenway come to what it’€™s been over the past couple of years. It was a learning experience. It’€™s a very unique envioronment to learn for a visiting pitcher, but the fact remains is that he can’€™t change his approach that gives him success at other ballparks just because he is pitching here at Fenway.

Have you found yourself telling other pitchers what the proper approach is when they pitch at Fenway Park?

It’€™s a great point, and it kind of builds off what John Lackey was talking about. Coming into this position and having a chance to talk to Jason Varitek. To the person who doesn’€™t experience many games at Fenway you would think that would come in to play and even Tek would talk openly that we can’€™t change the approach just because that wall is there. You have a lot of room out to center field and right-center field that you can use to your advantage and certainly to straight away right field. The line drive that could be homeruns in other ball parks you benefit to that hit being held to a single. I think as long as you stay focused and committed to executing from pitch to pitch, it’€™s the pitchers that don’€™t maintain that mental focus that it affects more than the other guys. This is what we have evolved to, with new people coming into Fenway and to the Red Sox, but you learn that it can be as much as an advantage as it is a detriment.

Is there a philosophical change to pitching and defense this year?

I don’€™t think so. I think every intent is to put the best team on the field day-in and day-out as we can. Because Jason Bay is with the Mets and because we did not sign [Mark] Teixeira, I would not say that our offense is going to be average or below average, quite the contrary. If you look at the addition of Marco Scutaro, who’€™s a solid big league player, who I think is a solid average to above average offense performer at shortstop. If we can get a little bounce back out of [Adrian] Beltre from what he’€™s had in his history to go along with Victor Martinez with us for a full season. We’€™ve got very good offensive performers. With [Kevin Youkilis] at first and [Dustin Pedroia], this is a very solid lineup from top to bottom and when you can combine that with some improved defense, and as long as we can go out and execute like we can from a pitching stand point, this should be a very exciting year here in Boston.

What does the defensive upgrades mean to the pitching staff?

That you don’€™t’€™ have to necessarily pitch for a strikeout every time. Not to say that guys are still into that mind set, but I think there were times when guys thought that they needed to get a strikeout maybe otherwise when they don’€™t. That can be a little bit of catch-22. The pitcher feels like he’€™s got to do more things that he has to, and usually when that happens, good things don’€™t happen. We may be playing some closer ball games, where it’€™s not just a lop-sided offensive game on a given night. But I think you are seeing a more complete player coming back in the fold and a team that is more solid in all three areas: offense, defense, and on the mound being the one that wins out over the long haul.

Read More: Daniel Bard, Indians, John Farrell, john lackey

Papelbon not heading to a hearing

01.19.10 at 2:06 pm ET
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Jonathan Papelbon has a one-year deal in place with the Red Sox that would be in the neighborhood of $9 million. (Update: The deal is for $9.35 million, with Papelbon getting a $50,000 bonus for 60 games finishes — he finished 59 in 2009.)

The parameters of the deal evidently were reached just prior to the noon deadline for the two sides to exchange arbitration figures, as was also the case last year.

Papelbon would become the highest paid closer with four-year service time, surpassing Eric Gagne’s mark of $8 million annually. Some other comparable contracts earned by four-year closers were Bobby Jenks ($7.5 million), Mariano Rivera ($7.25), and Francisco Rodriguez ($7.1). Rodriguez would make a record $10 million in his third year of arbitration eligibility.

Multiple reports also suggest relievers Manny Delcarmen and Ramon Ramirez have avoided an arbitration hearing by agreeing to one-year deals with the Red Sox. It would leave outfielder Jeremy Hermida as the only arbitration-eligible player on the Sox to not have inked a deal.

Cross King Felix off the list

01.19.10 at 11:14 am ET
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According to multiple reports, right-hander Felix Hernandez agreed to a five-year, $78 million deal with the Mariners that will keep him in Seattle through the 2014 season. The agreement was first reported by ESPN.com’s Keith Law; terms were first reported (via Twitter) by reporter Francisco Blavia. (Hat tip to the invaluable MLBTraderumors.com.)

Hernandez was 19-5 with a 2.49 ERA in 2009 for the Mariners. He finished second in Cy Young voting to Kansas City’s Zack Greinke.

The 23-year-old (he turns 24 in April) would have been eligible for free agency following the 2011 season. Now, however, it appears that he will remain with the Mariners for the foreseeable future. Hernandez is 58-41 with a 3.45 ERA in his career. His 58 wins through his age 23 season are the most by any pitcher that age since Dwight Gooden amassed 91 between 1984-88. Hernandez is also the 12th pitcher since 1901, and the first since Gooden, to strike out at least 800 batters through his age 23 season.

The Sox made a run at Hernandez at the trade deadline. Boston contemplated a deal to part with several top prospects in a package headlined by Clay Buchholz, but ultimately, Seattle decided to keep the right-hander, whose career has commenced in historic fashion. When it became clear that a deal for Hernandez would not be possible, the Sox elected to proceed with a deal with the Indians for Victor Martinez. Now, it appears that Hernandez will remain with the Mariners for the longer haul.

With many of the top young pitchers in the game (Greinke, Hernandez, Josh Johnson — not to mention Jon Lester) now locked up to long-term deals, Sox GM Theo Epstein’s point about the relative difficulty of acquiring starting pitching versus an impact bat at the trade deadline bears consideration.

“We may not score 900 runs, but I think we have a chance to hit. And if it turns out that’€™s the one area of the club that could use improvement, we’€™re certainly open to doing something in the middle of the year. The last two trading deadlines we’€™ve been able to acquire Jason Bay and Victor Martinez,” Epstein said earlier this month. “We believe it’€™s true that it’€™s easier to acquire a quality bat mid-season than it is to acquire a top of the rotation starter. In the offseason, it’€™s usually the opposite. So we’€™re pretty happy with where we are.”

The Sox’ signing of John Lackey, then, would seem a response to those market dynamics, with the Sox having spent money (but not prospects) to acquire one of the better pitchers in the game. The team improved its pitching at what it deemed to be the most acceptable cost this winter, and now retains the prospect resources to look to upgrade the lineup during the regular season (if such a move is necessary).

The $15.6 million annual value of the reported deal would be the largest ever for a pitcher with fewer than five years of service time.

Read More: felix hernandez,

Gammons: Sox reduced Bay offer over health concerns

01.18.10 at 6:30 pm ET
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According to Peter Gammons on NESN, the Red Sox and Jason Bay had agreed on the framework of a four-year, $60 million deal in July before an MRI raised concerns about both of the outfielder’s knees. As a result of those concerns, Gammons said, Sox ownership reduced its offer from four years to two.

Gammons suggested that the dispute illustrated the need for an independent medical staff in the majors, since there is sometimes distrust by players about the health findings of doctors who are employed by a team.

“You had the same thing here with Jason Bay, when he agreed to the four-year, $60 million deal near the end of July and then the MRI showed some problems with both knees,” said Gammons. “Ownership wanted it to be two years and he had to prove that he was healthy to be able to make it four years, and he wouldn’€™t sign. This is no reflection on [Red Sox team physician Dr. Thomas] Gill and the Red Sox doctors, because they are probably the best in any sport. But the fact is, there becomes this disconnect where the player says, ‘€˜Is he doing this for the owners or is he doing this because of my knee?’€™ That independent panel, I think, will almost certainly be a compromise that the owners will make.”

To see the NESN video clip, click here.

Read More: jason bay, knees,

Four Red Sox file for arbitration

01.16.10 at 9:20 am ET
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Jonathan Papelbon was one of four Red Sox to file for salary arbitration Friday, joining 124 other major leaguers in declaring they were eligible for the process. Also filing from the Sox were outfielder Jeremy Hermida, and relief pitchers Ramon Ramirez and Manny Delcarmen. Tuesday is the deadline for teams and players to submit salary figures for arbitration.

No Red Sox player has reached an arbitration hearing in Theo Epstein’s tenure as Red Sox’ GM, with Papelbon having avoided the process last year by agreeing to a one-year deal for $6.25 million, a record amount for a first-year arbitration-eligible pitcher.

Hermida avoided arbitration in his first year of being eligible, last year, signing a one-year, $2.25 million deal. This will be the first time Ramirez or Delcarmen are eligible for arbitration.

Red Sox sign seven to minor-league deals

01.15.10 at 4:14 pm ET
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The Red Sox announced the signings of seven minor leaguers via press release. All seven of the players — four pitchers, two infielders and an outfielder — received invitations to spring training. Here is the press release:

The Red Sox today announced the signings of seven free agents to 2010 minor league contracts. In addition, all seven players have been invited to Boston’€™s Major League Spring Training camp as non-roster players.

The seven free agents are right-handed pitchers Fernando Cabrera, Edwin Moreno and Jorge Sosa, left-hander Brian Shouse, infielders Angel Sanchez and Gil Velazquez, and outfielder Darnell McDonald.

Cabrera, 28, spent the 2009 season in the Boston system, posting an 8.44 ERA (5 ER/5.1 IP) with eight strikeouts and four walks in six relief outings over two stints with the Red Sox. In 43 relief appearances with Triple-A Pawtucket, he recorded a 1.71 ERA (10 ER/52.2 IP) while going 0-3 with 22 saves, the second-highest total in the International League. The right-hander has pitched in eight games out of the bullpen for Leones de Ponce in the Puerto Rican Winter League, going 2-0 with three saves and a 5.14 ERA (4 ER/7.0 IP). Originally selected by the Cleveland Indians in the 10th round of the 1999 First-Year Player Draft, Cabrera is 8-7 with one save, a 5.12 ERA (99 ER/174.0 IP), 193 strikeouts and 96 walks in 131 Major League relief appearances over parts of six seasons with the Indians (2004-07), Baltimore Orioles (2007-08) and Red Sox (2009).

The 29-year-old Moreno made his Major League debut with the San Diego Padres in 2009, going 1-3 with a 4.84 ERA (12 ER/22.1 IP) in 19 games out of the bullpen. He also made 39 relief appearances with the Padres Triple-A Portland affiliate, tallying a 3-3 record with 10 saves, a 4.17 ERA (21 ER/45.1 IP), 40 strikeouts and 20 walks. After the season, Moreno pitched for Leones del Caracas in the Venezuelan Winter League and went 1-0 with 12 saves and a 3.12 ERA (6 ER/17.1 IP) over 16 games in relief. Signed by the Texas Rangers as an international free agent on February 13, 1998, he will be in his 12th professional season in 2010.

Sosa, 32, pitched in the Washington Nationals organization during the 2009 season, including 18 games out of the bullpen for the Big League club. He was 2-1 with two saves and a 6.45 ERA (16 ER/22.1 IP) in those outings while going 1-2 with three saves, a 2.79 ERA (15 ER/48.1 IP), 53 strikeouts and 13 walks in 20 appearances (four starts) for Triple-A Syracuse. Following the season, Sosa went 4-2 with a 3.83 ERA (17 ER/40.0 IP) in nine starts for Tigres del Licey in the Dominican Winter League. Signed by the Colorado Rockies as an international free agent on June 23, 1995, he has a career 42-50 Major League record with seven saves and a 4.72 ERA (386 ER/736.0 IP) in 272 games (88 starts) over parts of eight seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays (2002-04), Atlanta Braves (2005-06), St. Louis Cardinals (2006), New York Mets (2007-08) and Nationals (2009).

Shouse, 41, went 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA (14 ER/28.0 IP) in 45 relief outings for the Rays last year. He was on the disabled list from May 25-July 26 with a left elbow strain and made four rehabilitation appearances with Single-A Charlotte, collecting one save and a 2.25 ERA (1 ER/4.0 IP). The left-hander previously pitched for the Red Sox during the 1998 campaign and was 0-1 with a 5.63 ERA (5 ER/8.0 IP) in seven relief appearances. Originally selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 13th round of the 1990 June Draft, Shouse has a career 13-10 Major League record with six saves, a 3.72 ERA (145 ER/350.2 IP), 233 strikeouts and 118 walks in 467 relief appearances over parts of 10 seasons with the Pirates (1993), Red Sox (1998), Kansas City Royals (2002), Rangers (2003-06), Milwaukee Brewers (2006-08) and Rays (2009).

Sanchez, 26, hit .305 (137-for-449) with 29 doubles, four triples, six home runs, 60 RBI and 67 runs scored in 126 games for the Toronto Blue Jays Triple-A Las Vegas affiliate in 2009. He posted a .970 fielding percentage (17 errors/569 total chances) in 116 games at shortstop and also made 10 appearances at second base (0 errors/58 total chances). A native of Puerto Rico, he has hit .318 (41-for-129) in 38 games for the Indios de Mayaguez in the Puerto Rican Winter League. Selected by the Royals in the 11th round of the 2001 First-Year Player Draft, Sanchez played in eight Major League games with Kansas City in 2006 and hit .222 (6-for-27) with an RBI and two runs scored. He appeared in four games at both second base (four starts) and shortstop (one start) without committing an error (46 total chances).

The 30-year-old Velazquez played in six games for Boston last season, making appearances at shortstop (four games) and third base (two games) while going 0-for-2 at the plate. He hit .193 (56-for-290) with three home runs and 18 RBI in 93 games for Triple-A Pawtucket, including appearances at all four infield positions and left field. Originally selected by the New York Mets in the 14th round of the 1998 First-Year Player draft, Velazquez has appeared in nine Major League games with Boston over the 2008-09 seasons, going 1-for-10 with an RBI.

McDonald, 31, hit .267 (28-for-105) with six doubles, one triple, two home runs, 10 RBI and 12 runs scored in 47 games over two stints with the Cincinnati Reds in 2009. In 73 games with Triple-A Louisville, he batted .314 (88-for-280) with 22 doubles, seven triples, nine home runs, 40 RBI, 42 runs scored and eight stolen bases. His seven triples ranked tied for fourth in the International League. Following the season, he hit .378 (28-for-74) with six homers and 20 RBI over 19 games with Naranjeros de Hermosillo in the Mexican Winter League. A first-round selection (26th overall) of Baltimore in the 1997 Draft, McDonald has a .231 average (34-for-147) with seven doubles, one triple, two home runs, 11 RBI and 15 runs scored in 68 career Major League games over parts of three seasons with the Orioles (2004), Twins (2007) and Reds (2009).

All of the free agents are on the Pawtucket roster.

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