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Martinez: Catching won’t be a deal-breaker

04.03.10 at 11:37 am ET
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Speaking before the Red Sox‘ final Grapefruit League game, against the Nationals at City of Palms Park Friday, Victor Martinez said that he doesn’t feel like he will have to make sure that there are promises in his next contract that makes sure he remains a catcher.

“I don’t think I’m going to have to say that,” Martinez said. “I’ll just play where they need me to play. I just want to help my team win every night. If my body lets me catch, I’ll be more than happy to do it. I really like the position and I prepare myself to catch every day.” Martinez has expressed his preference for catching in the past, and will be serving as an everyday backstop this season for the first time since 2007.

Martinez told the Boston Herald that he won’t be discussing a contract extension during the season. ‘€œDuring the season, I really have enough to worry about, just playing the game,’€ Martinez said. ‘€œI don’€™t want any distractions.’€ The 31-year-old is in the final year of his contract with the Red Sox, who will be paying Martinez $7.5 million in ’10.

Hilson the headliner for Opening Night festivities

04.02.10 at 7:41 pm ET
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Grammy nominated singer/songwriter Keri Hilson will sing the national anthem on Sunday night as the Red Sox open the season against the Yankees at Fenway Park.

The R&B singer known for her hit song “Knock You Down” is a somewhat curious choice, given that she was, shall we say, less than stellar in her performance of the anthem at the Atlanta Hawks-Los Angeles Lakers game Wednesday.

It is certainly a far cry from recent years, when the likes of the Boston Pops and Harry Connick Jr. serenaded the crowd.

The festivities also will include a flyover from the “Green Mountain Boys” of the Vermont Air National Guard, who will kick things off with a flyover of two F-16 fighter jets. But the real fireworks will be on display when the two teams take the field and re-ignite their rivalry for the first time in the 2010 season.

Read More: keri hilson, national anthem, Red Sox,

Beltre might be moving on up in lineup

04.02.10 at 10:59 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — In the final Grapefruit League game of spring training, Friday, Terry Francona is trying something out — hitting the right-handed hitting Adrian Beltre between David Ortiz and J.D. Drew.

“That’s something it’s kind of obvious I’ve been thinking about all spring,” Francona said. “It’s like, OK, where are we best? Do we hit them back-to-back? Are we helping the other manager make one move? They’re throwing a lefty today, so I figured we’d go ahead and look at it.”

Francona noted that he doesn’t want to get caught up with changing the lineup on a day-to-day basis contingent on match-ups. With that in mind, here is how the projected Sox’ starting lineup matches up against Yankees Opening Night starter C.C. Sabathia: Jacoby Ellsbury 1-10; Dustin Pedroia 1-15, Victor Martinez 2-11, Kevin Youkilis 5-17, Ortiz 7-26, 2 HR, Beltre 1-13, Drew 2-10, Mike Cameron 6-13, Marco Scutaro 6-17.

“I don’t want to get into a habit where you’re looking at the matchups, like Cameron’s got good numbers against Sabathia, and bouncing guys around, nightly, because of how they’ve done,” Francona said. “I don’t think players like that.”

– Francona said that Josh Beckett could go upwards of 100 pitches Sunday night, although his game might be determined more on how difficult it was for the pitcher to make it through the game rather than the number of pitches.

Jeremy Hermida will play a few minor league games Friday in his quest to come back from a hamstring injury. It is expected that Hermida will be ready to go come Opening Night, but Josh Reddick stands at the ready just in case there are any setbacks.

– The plan is to have both Boof Bonser and Alan Embree throw in minor league games Saturday. Daisuke Matsuzaka is slated to toss 60-65 pitches in coming in relief of Tim Wakefield in the Sox’ exhibition game against the Nationals in Washington D.C. Saturday. Embree will head to play with Pawtucket next week. The PawSox’ opener is April 8.

Schoeneweis makes team, deals with family issues

04.02.10 at 10:13 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Speaking before the Red Sox‘ final Grapefruit League game, against the Nationals at City of Palms Park, relief pitcher Scott Schoeneweis confirmed that — barring any last-minute waiver claims or trades — he will be on the team’s Opening Night roster.

It was a big step back to normalcy for the 36-year-old lefty, still dealing with the fallout from his wife’s death last May. Gabrielle Schoeneweis was found unresponsive in the couple’s Arizona home on May 20. An autopsy determined that an overdose of cocaine and lidocaine caused her death.

Schoeneweis, who was pitching for the Diamondbacks at the time, put baseball on hold for a short while in part so he could spend more time with his four children, now aged 15, 8, 6 and 18 months. He returned to the team the following month but struggled badly, leading to a stint on the disabled list so he could deal with depression and parenting issues.

In his meeting with the media Friday morning, Schoeneweis talked about how making the team affects his family. He’s been getting child-care assistance from his mother, a native of Newton.

“It’s been a rough last 10 months or so,” he said. “There’s many times I didn’t know if I would be able to play, whether I wanted to play, whether I could play at all. At least for the time being, at least I could take solace that my family stuck by me, everybody is doing well, I’m doing well because I kept battling. I grew up going to Red Sox games, so it’s a pretty special thing. I’ll be pretty excited.

“There have been a lot of things that have been misconstrued with some of the comments that have been made. I wasn’t upset with the Brewers [who released him last month]. I was just disappointed with my situation in general. I dealt with stuff that was beyond my control. There’s no blueprint for this. I don’t know what the best decision is. It’s not like I can call up Joe Blow from 2003 and say, ‘Hey, when your wife died how did you go about it?’ This is all new to me. It’s also one of the reasons I really wanted to play this year to see how I could handle it, how my kids could handle it. Physically, it would be a shame if I wasn’t playing. I wasn’t ready to go. This is a very sudden thing. Nothing led up to it. There’s no injury. There was no diminishing of skill sets where I couldn’t get jobs. A tragedy happened and I had to deal with my family first and I had to put my family first even more so than I would normally do anyway. It was just kind of that disappointment of, ‘How did I get in this situation.’ If this didn’t work out I knew I could go home and I did everything I could and I tried as hard as I could. I felt like at least I could have that.

“I really enjoy the game. I really enjoy coming to the ballpark and I really realize how much I like being a baseball player. But any decision I make and whatever I do I’m doing the best I can considering the circumstances. My kids are excited, and as long as I see stuff like that and know they’re in good hands when I’m gone for short periods of times, it will all be great. I’m going to miss them, and I’m sure they’ll miss me a little bit. But this is what I do. Daddy is a baseball player. I’m doing this not because I have to prove anything. I’m doing this because it’s my job. I have to go back to work. I have to go back to regular life. I’m doing it for them for years to come.”

Schoeneweis had an April 15 opt-out clause in his contract that stated if he wasn’t on the 25-man roster by that date he could become a free agent. Joe Nelson, who will start the season in Pawtucket, has an opt-out date of June 1. Both pitchers threw one scoreless inning Thursday and were told of the news after the game.

“Normally I would jump at the chance and say, ‘Oh great. Red Sox. That would be awesome. Can’t wait to get there,’ ” Schoeneweis said. “I had to take a day, sit [the kids] down and tell them. I didn’t want to pick them up from school and just say, ‘Daddy’s not a Brewer anymore. Daddy’s a Red Sox. I’m leaving tomorrow.’ I just can’t do that. I’m not 19 anymore and I’m all they’ve got left.

“Like I said, I do the best that I can and I think it’s paying off because they’re doing great. I’m doing great. I miss her, and the kids miss their mom, but they’re very happy kids and they’re thriving. As long as I continue to see that, I know I’m doing all the right things.”

Shortly after Schoeneweis spoke, Red Sox manager Terry Francona addressed the decision to add the lefty as the final pitcher on the team’s 12-hurler staff and have Nelson and Alan Embree start in Pawtucket.

“I don’t know if I can flat-out give you one thing because I don’t think that would be fair to [Nelson],” Francona said of if there was a key factor in making the decision. “We’re looking at organizational depth, and lefties. We went around the room, let everybody have their say. It was a tough decision. It was a very tough decision. And I think Joe will be pitching for us.”

Schoeneweis earns Red Sox’ final spot

04.01.10 at 9:29 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — According to a team source barring any last-minute waiver claims or trades lefty Scott Schoeneweis has earned the final spot on the Red Sox‘ roster. The 36-year-old fills out the Sox’ pitching staff, which will carry 12 hurlers. Schoeneweis beat out Joe Nelson, who will likely start the season in Triple A Pawtucket, but will join the Red Sox for their exhibition game in Washington D.C. against the Nationals Saturday. The 25-man roster has to be turned into Major League Baseball by 11:59 p.m. ET Saturday.

The news was first reported by ESPN.com.

Both pitchers appeared in the Red Sox’ 5-3 win over the Twins Thursday, with neither giving up a run in an inning of work. One factor working against Nelson was that he didn’t have any options, along with an opt-out date of June 1 (when he can become a free agent if he isn’t on the 25-man roster). Schoeneweis’ opt-out date is April 15. Scott Atchison, who also made the team, does have options. The Atchison move allows the Red Sox’ flexibility when Boof Bonser (groin) is ready to pitch, while the team would have no guarantees that Schoeneweis — who was signed to a minor league deal — would stick around if asked to go to the minors.

Tom Verducci on D&H: Why the Sox might miss the playoffs

04.01.10 at 9:24 pm ET
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Sports Illustrated senior baseball writer Tom Verducci visited the Dale & Holley Show on Thursday to discuss Roy Halladay as he prepares for his first shot at pitching in a pennant race, the shape of the American League East, and the issues facing the Red Sox with Mike Lowell and David Ortiz.

Verducci believes that, in an extremely competitive AL East, the Sox might miss the playoffs, insofar as the Rays appear to have the depth of talent to displace Boston in the hunt for the postseason.

“Tampa and Boston are on pretty equal footing, but when you match them up head-to-head in their 18 to 19 games the Rays have to get the edge. To me it’€™s because one of the things I don’€™t like about the Red Sox is that good right-handed power pitching can shut down that lineup,” said Verducci. “You look at the Rays, the way they match up, they have right-handed power pitchers in that rotation. We saw it last year with them and they also turn their games into a track meet against the Red Sox, and that’€™s going to happen again this year. I think the head-to-head match up is going to favor the Rays and that is going to be the difference between the two teams when it comes down to the Wild Card.”

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

I had no idea how motivated Roy Halladay was until I ready your article?

I think he is the best pitcher in baseball and a lot of people think that, and rightly so. He’€™s never pitched a home game in the United States up until now. He hasn’€™t pitched in the postseason, he hasn’€™t gotten a lot of attention. You ask any hitter in baseball who has faced him and they know. It doesn’€™t take long to figure out what kind of stuff he has. In terms of who he is and what drives him, he’€™s kind of been the best kept secret in baseball because he’€™s never been on a team that has been close to making the playoffs. He’€™s never even pitched in a pennant race, let alone the postseason.

How close did the Red Sox come to acquiring him?

They never got to the point, at least with J.P [Ricciardi], where there was a concrete or firm deal to counter on. He was asking a lot and rightly so. He was waiting for someone to blow him away and get the best pitcher in baseball for not one pennant race but two, and it didn’€™t happen. The Red Sox were in it, the Angels, the Yankees were sniffing around there, the Phillies obviously. It never got to the point where there is a deal on the table that could get done.

How do you view the Red Sox offseason moves?

I like what they did. I think this is what they are doing in a plan B. In a perfect world David Ortiz would still be a monster hitter. Jason Bay may have signed off on the protection of the contract for the knee situation and Lars Andersen would have had a good year and would have been right on schedule to add him to the major league offense this year. None of those things happened. That was the perfect scenario and they saw that there was a drop in run production on the table, so what do you do about it? I think they did the best thing that you could do and they got some pretty good pitching and you put very good defense behind it because they were one of the poorest teams in baseball last year. There is no doubt about that. I don’€™t think it was going to get any better, it wasn’€™t an anomaly. I like what they’€™ve done defensively. The pitching staff will be better. I still question whether they have enough offense, but I think the run prevention angle of it you will see it have results. This team can go get the ball with anybody.

What are you hearing about the Josh Beckett contract negotiations?

I’€™m hearing that they are very close, it may be something they get done prior to Opening Day or maybe even right after that. They are far down the road here. It will be a four-year deal. I’€™ve heard a lot of people say, ‘€œHow does John Lackey get five years and Josh Beckett four?’€ The difference is with Lackey the protection was about the elbow and a lot of people in baseball are not too worried when an elbow goes bad, you can fix them and a lot of times better than ever. Beckett’€™s deal is more shoulder related, not that he has anything that can go any day now, but that’€™s his history. Every pitcher, you pitch long enough there are a couple of parts that aren’€™t as good as new, and for him it’€™s the shoulder. If the shoulder goes on the pitcher, you basically have lost the pitcher. It’€™s tough to get guys back. The Diamondbacks are going through that with Brandon Webb. The Yankees when through that with Chien-Ming Wang, the medicals were so bad that they didn’€™t want to bring him back for $4-$5 million. I think that’€™s the difference. In terms of projecting out health it’€™s easier to give options to a guy with an elbow [problem] and if Beckett goes down with a shoulder you don’€™t have him anyway.

Will Mike Lowell be in a Red Sox uniform on Sunday night?

I think he is still going to be with the Red Sox. I don’€™t think Lowell has shown enough physically for someone to go off and sign off on this guy, obviously at a reduced rate. The Red Sox will have to pick up a big chunk if they want to move him. I think people need to see more. He wasn’€™t moving that well in spring training for people to say, ‘€œOK he’€™s my everyday third baseman or he’€™s my everyday first baseman.’€ I actually think it could turn out that the best thing for the Red Sox, because there is a place for him on this team. He hits good pitching. You can bring him off the bench. You can platoon him. If you need a fill-in for a week, a day, a weekend he can play third or first base. If David Ortiz starts slowly you can give him at bats against left-handers. I think there [are] spots for him but also Mike Lowell has to understand that he is not an everyday player. It’€™s a hard thing to admit, it’€™s a hard thing for a guy to accept ‘€“ not that he should accept it ‘€“ but certainly be more realistic about it and accept what that role is with the Red Sox. I don’€™t know if he is there yet mentally. If he does get there I think the Red Sox have themselves a great bench player. If he doesn’€™t get there maybe they are better off finding a place for him to play.

Do you think there could be a shuffle with the top three teams in the American League East?

That’€™s a good question, and I think the Rays have been overlooked a little bit. We are so used to Yankees and Red Sox, Red Sox and Yankees, and rightly so. They tend to be a little bit of an afterthought. But the two best teams that I saw in Florida were the Atlanta Braves and the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays would just keep coming at teams in spring training. You look at spring training won-loss records and the teams with the better won-loss records are the ones with the better depth. It’€™s the guys coming on in the fifth through eighth innings, that’€™s where you are winning and losing games. When the Rays brought guys in there was no dropoff from their starters. That’€™s why they were winning all those games. Here’€™s the difference to me, and right now I have them as the Wild Card and the Red Sox out of the postseason, I think they are all very similar and the Yankees are better, but Tampa and Boston are on pretty equal footing, but when you match them up head-to-head in their 18 to 19 games the Rays have to get the edge. To me it’€™s because one of the things I don’€™t like about the Red Sox is that good right-handed power pitching can shut down that lineup. You look at the Rays, the way they match up, they have right-handed power pitchers in that rotation. We saw it last year with them and they also turn their games into a track meet against the Red Sox, and that’€™s going to happen again this year. I think the head-to-head match up is going to favor the Rays and that is going to be the difference between the two teams when it comes down to the Wild Card.

Are you surprised how well Jason Varitek has made this transition to bench player?

I am a little surprised and it’€™s a great point you bring up because I didn’€™t know how well it would turn out. He’€™s been not just the Captain nominally but the way he runs the stuff the way he prepares for a series in a game, we all know about that. We all know the value of that. If you are not the Captain you are the captain’€™s assistant, it’€™s a little bit different. None of us knew how he would accept that, I give him a lot credit for that. Looking at the Red Sox. I always thought a key point for Terry Francona running this team is what happens with Jason Varitek, David Ortiz and Mike Lowell. You are talking about three guys who are great players and great influences in the clubhouse, and as your responsibilities diminish it’€™s hard to have the same kind of responsibility in the clubhouse. It changes the entire dynamic. Varitek has seemed to make it very easy on Terry Francona. I still think there are issues with the other two.

For instance, David Ortiz, if he gets off to the same start as last year he’€™s not going to get that much room. You are going to look up in May and Jeremy Hermida or Mike Lowell are going to be getting those at bats. What do you have if David Ortiz is sitting on the bench? He’€™s basically a pinch hitter at that point. What impact does he have in the clubhouse? I’€™m not saying the guy is going to start the way he did last year but if it does happen I think it will be handled a little bit differently because he’€™s a year older. It makes things tricky on the manager so at least one of those questions about when your core players transition to your part-time players and the difficulty that comes with those.

Do you think a backup player can be a captain of the team?

Yes he can. I wouldn’€™t rule it out, but it would be difficult. It’€™s sort of like pitchers being the heart and soul of the team in terms of leadership. You can have your personality run through your pitching staff, you saw the Braves do that in their earlier years. I’€™ve always thought that the position players set the tone on a team. It’€™s hard to do that if you are not playing. If you are a David Ortiz and you are not playing everyday and your own situation requires so much maintenance, I think it’€™s hard to have that kind of impact. You are the same person, you have the same leadership skills but the soap box you are standing on isn’€™t nearly as big, and I think its becomes difficult.

Do you think Mariano Rivera will slow down?

I don’€™t see it coming, I really don’€™t. I think he will walk away rather than the game telling him to walk away. You look at the age, he’€™s 40 years old, and you say there is going to be a decline here. We’€™ve been saying that for a couple years and that’€™s based solely on his birth certificate, not what’€™s been done on the field. One, he takes great care of himself, he always has. It’€™s not as if he got religious about it late in his career, he always has. He has very good discipline about getting his rest and the things that he eats. So he’€™s got the same body, pretty much, that he had a 27 or 28. The other thing you look at is he’€™s a great athlete. You look at the guys who are able to last a long time, they are generally good athletes who repeat their deliveries and nobody does it better than Mariano. Go to a Yankee game early and you could watch him shagging balls in center field and you are thinking, who is this kid they brought up to play center field? He can go chase them down with Curtis Granderson or anybody else on the team, athleticism helps too. He knows his body so well, he doesn’€™t throw much in spring training. He doesn’€™t throw many innings. If you are going to get Mariano it’€™s going to be in April. We have seen that before in other Yankees vs. Red Sox series. We say, ‘€œThis is the year he slows down.’€ And I guarantee you it’€™s going to happen again. Somebody is going to get to him in April and people are going to bring up his age. It’€™s just the way he operates. It generally takes him longer than most guys because he doesn’€™t throw a lot in spring training to kind of preserve his bullets. So that’€™s the time to get him. You got to get him early. After that I don’€™t know if he is human because he goes on and on like a machine.

Can any team in the National League beat the Phillies?

I don’€™t think so. I think they are what the Braves were in the ’90s. If you want to win the pennant you have to go through the Phillies and I really like the Braves, I mentioned them earlier. I think Jason Heyward is the real deal. He is a game changer. All my years covering baseball when you talk about guys creating a buzz in spring training and I’€™m not talking just a media buzz, but when you talk to other players and coaches, I’€™ve never heard this kind of wow factor other than Albert Pujols in 2001 and Ken Griffey Jr. in 1989. It was the talk of any camp you walked into. I think that’€™s how good he is and how good he is going to be. I think the Braves are a plus 90 win team who are going to push the Phillies, but I still have a lot of respect for a team who has a lot of guys in the prime years of their career and now have the best pitcher in baseball. I’€™d be surprised if somebody took out the Phillies, especially in a postseason scenario, because they aren’€™t just good they are a very, very tough-minded team. They would be right at home in the American League East I’€™ll tell you that.

Read More: David Ortiz, Josh Beckett, Mariano Rivera, mike lowell

Catching up with the Red Sox’ GM

04.01.10 at 1:13 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein stopped by to answer a few questions. Here is the transcript of the media briefing:

(On Scott Atchison) ‘€œAtchison, we’€™ve known for a while that he’€™s made the club. He’€™s done a really good job.  He’€™ll be the 11th pitcher and we’€™re still working on the last spot. ‘€œ

‘€œHe’€™s pitched really well from the first day of camp, before we even got into games, he’€™s been impressive. We’€™ve developed some trust in him pretty quickly. He always brings the same stuff to the mound. Hasn’€™t really had execution percentage ‘€“ has weapons for righties and lefties. Has an ability, with that cutter, to always get off the barrel, even if he’€™s behind in the count. He’€™s had an impressive spring. He’€™s a great guy. We think we can help us so we feel really good about having him in our pen.’€

(On Junichi Tazawa’s recovery time) ‘€œTypical Tommy John time-line. You’€™re looking at 10 to 12 months, but we’€™re usually a little conservative. If he does it soon enough, there’€™s a chance he could have a Spring Training next year and pitch next season … Sprain means tear. I gave away our secret. It could mean a small tear.’€

(On scouting Atchison) ‘€œWe followed him. Jon Deeble, Craig Shipley, both those guys did a real good job with Atchison. I just read Deeble’€™s report again a couple of weeks ago and it’€™s exactly what we see now. I think he learned a lot in Japan too. I think he learned how to vary the break on his breaking ball a little bit. Tightened up, can get it in on lefties.  Spread it out a little bit against righties with swings and misses. He was one of the better relievers in all of Japan last year. at the time, we signed him, we were excited. We thought it was coup to be able to sign him for basically the league minimum with some options. Despite his age and his strange journey, we thought he could be a useful guy. We probably anticipated him being a guy who would start in Pawtucket and then come up but he was so sharp right from the get-go and he emerged out of that group.’€

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Atchison ready for his first Opening Day

04.01.10 at 12:46 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Scott Atchison has only been to Fenway Park once, visiting as a member of Wareham of the Cape Cod League in 1996. That, however, is one more major league Opening Day he has attended as a big league pitcher.

Sunday night, Atchison will not only double his trips to Fenway, but breaking his Opening Day drought, as well, having been told he will break camp as a member of the Red Sox’ bullpen.

“I think as a player that’s the goal,” said Atchison, who was officially informed he made the club Thursday morning. “I’ve been up multiple times but it’s not the same feeling as it is breaking with the team. You’re with them all spring, you get to know them and then you go to Triple A and maybe join back up later. But I feel like I’m part of the team like this. We’ll do the ceremonies and I’m sure for the first day it will be a little different and exciting and and being a part of it, but after that it’s just playing baseball again.”

Other commentary from Atchison prior to the Sox’ game against the Twins at City of Palms Park:

(When he found out) “I kind of had an idea. He’s like, ‘It’s not final, but things are looking good.’ I had a little bit of an idea going into today, but when you’ve never made one until you’ve made one for sure it’s hard to believe. It was a good spring and I felt like I showed them what I can do and I’m glad I have this opportunity. Now I have to go do my thing up there if I’m going to stay there.”

(The biggest change he made since last time in the big leagues) “My slider is the biggest adjustment I made from when I was here to going over there and coming back. I really had been constantly working on that pitch. It’s a pitch I’m comfortable with and I feel I can throw on any count, even behind in the count. It gives me something else to throw besides a fastball. That’s what you have to do, especially with quality hitters. That’s the biggest change from before I was here and then coming back.”

(On why he chose the Red Sox) “They told me I was going to compete for the job and have a chance. They put me on the 40-man roster, and that a big thing because I knew I was going to get a good look. They told me ‘It’s up to you to show us what you got.’ I just tried to do my best and show them that I’ve maybe improved from before, hopefully threw well enough to make the team and it has worked out.”

“Most of the teams were doing the minor league invite, but Boston just jumped ahead and said, ‘We want you. We really want you. What are you looking for?’ They made a good deal and they offered me what I felt was the best opportunity to make the team and in my case if you don’t make the team where are going to get a chance to get called up at. This is a team that is always in the playoff race, because if sometimes teams aren’t they aren’t going to bring up an older guy like me so I want to make sure I was in the situation where you know you’re going to be in the race and get an opportunity if you don’t make it. They expressed there would be a good chance to make the team and that was a big thing for me.”

(On his role) “I’m happy to be here. If they call down I’m happy to be here. If they call down me and want me to get up it doesn’t matter what the situation is, I’ll go in and give everything I’ve got.”

(Team in Japan try to keep you) “They definitely did. With family issues, and I still felt like this is where I wanted to play and felt like I could play and play at this level. I wanted to take that shot again. With my daughter and different things, that was definitely part of it. We’re very excited to be back and I’m glad it’s all worked out. I’m ready to get the season started and show what I can do.”

Atchison told he is officially a Red Sox

04.01.10 at 10:30 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Terry Francona told reporters prior to the Red Sox‘ spring training game with the Twins at City of Palms Park that Scott Atchison has been told he has made the team.

Atchison, who turned 34 Monday, impressed the Sox with his ability to throw strikes throughout spring training. He pitched in 10 games this spring, giving up two earned runs, striking out six and walking a pair in 12 innings of work.

“We like his strike-throwing ability. Three different pitches. Change speeds. His regular season started about a month ago and he knew it but he did a good job. He attacked the strike zone with all his pitches,” said Francona of Atchison, who will pitch in a minor league game Thursday. “I don’t think we see that changing … I think right from the get-go he was certainly on our radar. He just pitched so well, and it was fun to watch that. I think we felt we had a guy who had a chance to make our club.”

As for the final spot in the bullpen, Joe Nelson was told he will be going with the team to Washington D.C. for its exhibition game Saturday against the Nationals, but there is no definitive commitment for the righty to make the Sox.

“He’s still deep in the mix, we just can’t tell him something we don’t know yet,” said Francona of Nelson.

The team will also take another took at lefty Scott Schoeneweis in its game with the Twins Thursday to evaluate him in a Red Sox uniform. Schoeneweis has pitched in two games with the Sox, allowing three runs in 1 2/3 innings.

“We’ll try and get as much of a look at him as we can in our camp and being respectful of the fact that we’re leaving tomorrow,” said Francona, who also announced the reassignment of pitcher Fernando Cabrera to minor league camp. “(Schoeneweis) is a veteran … try and make some decisions.”

As for the fourth reliever in the mix, Alan Embree, Red Sox are trying to arrange for more of a look at the 40-year-old, who has allowed 10 earned runs in 2 1/3 innings with the Sox after getting a late start. Both Embree and Schoeneweis has opt-out clauses that would allow them to become free agents if they aren’t on the major league roster on April 15. Nelson’s opt-out is June 1.

Atchison had spent the last two seasons in Japan pitching for the Hanshin Tigers. He had signed a deal with the Red Sox in early December, 2007 before deciding to go overseas a few weeks later. Although some believed his performance in Japan could have led him to a pay day of close to $3 million a year, he chose to return the United States (where he will make $430,000 this season), in large part to ensure medical treatment for his daughter.

Callie Atchison was born with a rare condition called ‘€œTAR’€ (Thrombocytopenia-absent radius), which is characterized by the absence of the radius bone in the forearm, along with a dramatically reduced platelet count. It is a problem that promises to improve, but also requires specialized medical attention at this stage.

‘€œWe feel more comfortable over here,’€ the 6-foot-2 righty said in Februrary (click here for the story). ‘€œThe medical stuff over there was good but it’€™s not the same.

‘€œShe’€™s done really done well, never had a problem with her platelet. She uses her hands great. It’€™s unbelievable to see the things she does. She still needs to work on different things and it really is restricted because the radius is the inside bone so the thumb is very weak. They get better. She will always have a little different use of her hands compared to the person with normal hands. It’€™s nothing major, but we just felt a little more comfortable being over here.’€

Atchison last pitched in the big leagues back in 2007 when he appeared in 22 games with the San Francisco Giants. He also spent parts of the ’04 and ’05 seasons with the Mariners.

Besides his ability throw strikes, Atchison points to the evolution of his slider as a big reason for his recent success.

“I was curious to see how it was going to translate this (spring) because when I went over (to Japan) my slider was my third-best pitch. It was improving over here and getting to the pitch I wanted it to be. But over there it took off,” Atchison explained earlier this week. “I feel like so far this spring I’ve been able to use it the way I wanted to use it.

Tazawa scheduled for Tommy John surgery

04.01.10 at 10:15 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. ‘€” Red Sox pitcher Junichi Tazawa will have Tommy John surgery on his elbow, manager Terry Francona announced Thursday morning from spring training. Tazawa, who suffered a sprain of the ulnar collateral ligament, met with renowned specialist Dr. James Andrews, who will perform the surgery Tuesday at his facility in Birmingham, Ala. The 23-year-old Tazawa was called up to the Sox last August and went 2-3 with a 7.46 ERA.

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