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Red Sox Weekend in Review

03.28.11 at 7:55 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — It’s down to the end. The Red Sox are packing up the clubhouse at City of Palms Park as they get ready to break camp on Tuesday following their final two Grapefruit League games.

The team made several moves over the weekend to whittle the roster towards the 25 players who will open the year on the big league roster. Here is a look at the transaction-filled weekend.
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The Red Sox’ Rollie Fingers?

03.27.11 at 4:38 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — It’s just policy.

Like most organizations, the Red Sox have a number of rules about appearance that their minor leaguers must follow. Some govern the appearance of a player’s uniform — no baggy pants, no untucked shirts. Others govern aspects of personal appearance, including a prohibition on beards or goatees.

It’s a very standard aspect of most organizations’ approach to player development. While teams don’t want to strip their players of their individuality, there is a desire to create rules that help to establish expectations for the professionalism of player conduct.

Not all teams implement such standards. The A’s famously have permitted their minor leaguers to make the 2004-05 Johnny Damon look clean-shaven by comparison. But by and large, the rules are part of baseball’s old-school tradition; enough coaches come from that old-school tradition that it can benefit players to follow them.

That said…While the Sox have the rule in place preventing their minor leaguers from growing beards and goatees, prospects are perfectly free to grow mustaches. And some Sox minor leaguers are trying to seize the opportunity for hirsute pursuits in noteworthy fashions.

Josh Reddick has often featured a lip warmer in his minor league career (though he was told by then-Portland manager Arnie Beyeler to shave it immediately and to shed a mohawk when he received his first big-league call-up). Of the players currently navigating the minor league complex, Lucas LeBlanc and Tyler Wilson have cultivated what the American Mustache Institute might describe as momentous mouth gardens.

But of the impressive mouth brows featured in camp this year, it would be difficult to find one superior to that proudly worn by pitcher Caleb Clay. Read the rest of this entry »

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Lester on Opening Day honor: ‘I don’t think I’m any more important than the other four guys in our rotation’

03.27.11 at 4:12 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Red Sox left-hander Jon Lester had his final spring training tuneup for his Opening Day assignment against the Rangers on Friday. In a camp game at the minor league complex, Lester — facing a lineup primarily of Red Sox Double-A and Triple-A prospects — allowed five runs (four earned) on nine hits (including a two-run homer by Luis Exposito) over five innings. He struck out five and walked none.

While the line was less than perfect, Lester said that he was pleased with the effort. He had a chance to work with all of his pitches, and while there were some well-struck balls, a number of hits were of either the broken bat or grounders-finding-holes variety.

“There’€™s always things to work on. I was able to do that today. On a lot of pitches I threw, I felt like I threw pretty good and didn’€™t get the results I wanted. A lot of broken bat hits off the end. Made one mistake to a guy (Exposito) that’€™s pretty strong, hit the ball a long way,” said Lester. “I felt like overall it was better than what the results showed as far as hits. That’€™s a positive thing.

“Pitched out of some jams, had some errors, kind of overcome that, learn how to deal with that,” added the left-hander. “I think it was pretty good as far as preparing for a season. Kind of everything that could happen in a game happened.”

Now, Lester is done pitching in Fort Myers, where he went 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA, 16 strikeouts and seven walks in 16 innings in Grapefruit League play, while also making a pair of starts at the minor league complex. His next assignment will occur against the Rangers, when Lester gets his first career Opening Day assignment.

The 27-year-old views that start as an honor, albeit one that he tried to downplay. Read the rest of this entry »

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Can this be the best offense in Red Sox history?

03.27.11 at 3:21 pm ET
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No one worries about the lineup.

Jonathan Papelbon? A concern. Josh Beckett and John Lackey? The people seem to have some doubts as to whether or not this was $140 million spent wisely.

But the lineup? This offense? Forget it. The fans are buying. Sure, Jarrod Saltalamacchia isn’t Johnny Bench and Marco Scutaro isn’t even the Marco Scutaro we were expecting, but that’s being greedy. A healthy Jacoby Ellsbury, Carl Crawford, Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz?

The one question about this offense seems to be this: How good can they be?

Some are speculating that this could be the best offense in franchise history. So I decided to take a look at how this offense matches up — position-by-position — with the 1950 Red Sox, one of six teams in major-league history to score 1,000 runs.

(I considered the 2003 Red Sox also, but went with the 1950 group. There was more offense in 1950, so I’m not sure scoring 1,027 runs is more or less impressive than the 2003 team scoring 961. But the 1950 team averaged .77 runs per game more than any other team in the league that season. There were three teams within .77 runs of the 2003 Red Sox.)

Catcher: Birdie Tebbetts/Jarrod Saltalamacchia

1950: What’ll we have first, I wonder, another 300-game winner with the first name Gaylord or a major leaguer with Birdie for a nickname? The 37-year-old Tebbetts was the weak link in the 1950 lineup, which meant all he did was — at age 37 — set career highs in home runs (eight), batting average (.310) and OPS (.821, 53 points higher than any other season in his career). Again, that .821 OPS — which was 62 points higher than the average AL player in 1950 — was the lowest total among any Red Sox regular that season (Tebbetts played only 80 games). Not a fair comparison, really, (teams in the AL averaged 5.04 runs per game in 1950 vs. 4.45 per game in 2010, a huge difference) but an .821 OPS would have been fifth on the 2010 Red Sox.

2011: I just don’t see Saltalamacchia putting up numbers anywhere close to what Tebbetts was able to do in 1950. There’s just no evidence to back that up. And the Red Sox clearly don’t expect it and are fine with that. I’m guessing Theo and Francona would jump if offered a .250/.325/.730 season from Saltalamacchia. As for Varitek, who knows? He was terrific value as a backup before injury last year, but we are talking about a 39-year-old catcher here. I expect he’ll be more productive than Saltalamacchia, but the two will fall way short of Tebbetts performance in 1950.

First Base: Walt Dropo/Adrian Gonzalez

1950: Dropo, a 27-year-old rookie (he was a college basketball star at UConn, chose baseball, and then spent a couple of years in the minors buried behind Billy Goodman), went on to have a 13-year major league career. He would never come close to matching his efforts in 1950, a season that saw him lead the league in RBI (144, tied with Vern Stephens) and total bases (326). His .961 OPS for the season — third in the AL behind Larry Doby and Joe DiMaggio — was 203 points higher than his career total. Look, he benefited from hitting fifth in an historically stacked lineup, but Dropo had a great season by any measure in 1950, winning Rookie of the Year (beating out Whitey Ford, who went 9-1 for the Yankees) and finishing sixth in MVP voting. He would finish 26th in MVP voting two years later and never place on a ballot again in his career, which ended with the Orioles in 1961.

2011: Provided Adrian Gonzalez is fully healthy — no lock at this point, I suppose — it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he finished the season in the .300-40-130 range. Why not? Gone are days of Petco Park and being stuck in the middle of a lineup filled with Tadahito Iguchi’s, Jody Gerut’s and Chase Headley’s. In 308 at-bats on the road last year Gonzalez hit .315 with 20 homers, 59 RBI and an OPS of .980. He’s my MVP pick for 2011, and I think he’ll be better than Dropo was in 1950, which is no small feat.

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Red Sox notes: Matt Albers, Dennys Reyes play waiting game at Ed Smith Stadium

03.27.11 at 2:36 pm ET
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SARASOTA, Fla. — The only word Matt Albers and Dennys Reyes got from the Red Sox Sunday was that they were scheduled to pitch Sunday.

And pitch they did, each getting some work in the Red Sox’ 10th straight spring training loss, a 4-3 defeat at the hands of the Orioles.

Albers allowed his first two walks, and first run, of spring training, giving up a run on three hits over 1 1/3 innings against his former team. Reyes gave up an hit and a walk in his inning of work, escaping without giving up a run.

Both relievers are finalists to fill one of the final two spots in the Red Sox’ bullpen heading into the final days of spring training. Neither have options, and both are on major league contracts (after the team purchased the contract of Reyes Saturday).

“I’ve been through this a few times before, dealing with Houston and the last three years in Baltimore. I didn’t make the team until the last couple of days. I’ve kind of been through it before,” Albers explained. “It’s in the back of your head even though it’s coming up here pretty soon. You just try and put it out of your mind and just go out there and pitch.”

Asked if having options was a positive or negative in his world, the righty responded, “It’s tough to tell what’s going to happen. There’s a few different things that could. Don’t know if it’s a good thing or bad thing, it’s tough to say.”

Reyes credited his early struggles — which included another leadoff walk — for the afternoon partly on the exaggerated height of the bullpen mound.

“I think I’m ready,” said the lefty, who may pitch again Monday to work on back-to-back days. “Hopefully I make it.”

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Terry Francona: Buck Showalter’s comments were ‘out of line’

03.27.11 at 12:21 pm ET
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SARASOTA, Fla. — After initially tempering his comments regarding Orioles manager Buck Showalters quote in Men’s Journal magazine insinuating that Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein’s success was a product of his team’s payroll, Sox manager Terry Francona offered some pointed comments about the situation.

“I got asked that the other day in Jupiter and I hadn’t seen it, I got it like third-hand, so I kind of joked about it a little bit. Then I read it. Actually, I was kind of aggravated a little bit,” Francona said prior to the the Red Sox’ spring training game against the Orioles at Ed Smith Stadium. “I don’t think that’s anybody’s place. I mean, that’s my boss. I was actually kind of aggravated a little bit. It’s not the end of the world. I just thought it shouldn’t have been done.

“I can’t say I sat here and thought about it a lot, but I can’t see a reason to do that. I don’t remember him beating us that much. Maybe he was looking at a different schedule.”

When told the Orioles did go 3-3 against the Red Sox down the stretch of the 2011 season, Francona quipped, “Way to go.” The Red Sox split their 18 games with the O’s in 2010.

“I just thought it was a little bit out of line,” the Sox manager added. “I don’t he would be appreciative if I said something about [Orioles GM] Andy [McPhail], which I wouldn’t. It’s none of my business. And for the record I think Andy’s really good.”

Showalter was quoted in the magazine article as saying, “I’€™d like to see how smart Theo Epstein is with the Tampa Bay payroll. You got Carl Crawford ‘€™cause you paid more than anyone else, and that’€™s what makes you smarter? That’€™s why I like whipping their butt. It’€™s great, knowing those guys with the $205 million payroll are saying, ‘€˜How the hell are they beating us?’€™ ‘€

Since the story surfaced, the Baltimore manager has said the comments — which also criticized Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter — were taken out of context.

“I didn’€™t really say it in that [context]. I was talking to a guy, like most people, just joking around whatever, here it is, what are you going to do?” Showalter told reporters in Sarasota. “I can’€™t even remember how or when of if, but I think if it was said about, you know, in context with the Yankees and Red Sox, OK, you’€™ve got your answer.

“Maybe it is envy or something on my part. But obviously, you all know what I think of Derek and the success the Red Sox have had. Hopefully, we can get to their level one day.”

Bobby Jenks lets a trophy slip out of the Red Sox’ grasp

03.27.11 at 12:44 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — To understand spring training, it was worth watching — and then talking to — Bobby Jenks on Saturday night.

The reliever had been terrific through his first six outings of spring training. He was almost, he joked, unnerved by his success, suggesting (somewhat erroneously) that he is typically terrible in spring training. (He was bad in 2006, 2007 and 2010; good in 2008 and 2009.)

Jenks hadn’t given up a run in his first half-dozen appearances in a Red Sox uniform. That changed in a hurry on Saturday night.

The reliever would later tell manager Terry Francona that he felt “blah.”

“That’€™s what it looked like. Everything just looked a little flatter today than it did all spring,” Francona said. “Maybe the pressure of the Mayor’€™s Cup just got him.”

Francona was speaking of the “competition” between the Red Sox and Twins for spring training superiority in Fort Myers. The Sox had claimed the trophy in each of the last four years. When they gave an 8-3 lead to Jenks in the ninth inning, they seemed assured of running the streak to five straight.

But that didn’t happen. With assistance from a pair of walks and an error by first baseman Aaron Bates, Jenks gave up six runs in an inning of work. The Mayor’s Cup was lost, and the Sox had dropped their ninth straight spring contest.

And no one around the Sox seemed to think it was anything more than amusing. In spring training, preparation for the season is all that matters. A nine-game losing streak, and the Mayor’s Cup, are relatively meaningless to players and coaches. Jenks spoke with a broad smile of his poor outing.

“Healthwise, good still. Just one of them days. He was bound to show up one of these times. Couldn’€™t scale through a whole spring training without blowing one big one,” said Jenks. “Just one of those days where nothing was clicking. Mechanically, something was off on each one. Just all in all, it was a bad day.”

Asked about whether he understood the magnitude of his defeat, that it meant the Sox had lost three of five to the Twins during this exhibition season, Jenks acknowledged an awareness of the stakes.

“There was a rumor floating around here that it was an important game,” he said. “It was close [to the 2005 World Series]. Same adrenaline run.”

He left the mound after his inning of work at City of Palms Park to boos from the sellout crowd. That, too — the passion for a game in which the consequences have no bearing on the year — struck Jenks as amusing.

“I’€™ve got to get these fans back. I’€™ve got to get my Fort Myers people back on my side,” he said.

His opportunities to do so are few. The Sox have but one game left in Fort Myers on Tuesday. Until then, at least, Jenks will have to wear his defeat. It would appear that he will do so with little discomfort.

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Minor Developments: Reddick on his spring, Hassan on his roommates, Workman changes agents

03.26.11 at 11:29 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — The injury was nothing serious, Josh Reddick noted. It was simply a matter of soreness that had left him unable to play for a couple of days, nothing that should impede the start of his 2011 season in Triple-A.

Even so, Reddick was plenty spooked when he felt even a hint of discomfort in his left side, around his ribs and oblique. After all, an oblique injury sidelined him for a lengthy stretch of the 2009 season, and so Reddick was on high alert as soon as he felt something in that region of his body.

“I shut it down right away,” said Reddick. “I just wanted to be safe with it and not go down that road again.”

The injury did indeed prove insignificant. Reddick was able to enter the game on Saturday as a pinch-runner for David Ortiz, and he went hitless in a pair of at-bats. The Sox wanted him to stay in big league camp while returning to health. That accomplished, the team optioned Reddick to Triple-A Pawtucket following Saturday’s game.

Thus concluded what has been an interesting big league camp for Reddick. The outfielder (who turned 24 last month) had been one of the most impressive spring performers for the Sox in 2009 and 2010, hitting .423 in ’09 and .390 a year ago. This year, after a strong start, he struggled in limited playing time, hitting .162 with a .538 OPS.

“I think we had 10 outfielders in camp,” noted Reddick. “The consistency of at-bats was there the last couple years, but they weren’t there this year, which is fine. I’m not complaining at all. I just looked at it another way. The last two years, I did really well. Last year especially. Then I went into the season and fell into a crater. So I’m hoping to revamp that this year. Do terrible in spring training and come out and rake during the season.”

Though his results might not have demonstrated it, Reddick said that he felt more comfortable in Sox camp this spring than ever before, in part because the signing of Carl Crawford during the winter removed any questions he had about his role.

“I think it helped relax me a little when we signed CC,” said Reddick. “It took my mind off of things, like coming in here and thinking of winning a starting position, which I wanted to do, but obviously, they don’t think I’m ready for that yet. They went and did that, had all these guys on the roster.”

Even so, it seemed fair to wonder whether Reddick allowed the signing of Crawford to raise questions about what his long-term future in the organization might be. But the versatile outfielder — who got off to a dreadful start in Triple-A last year, but then was a force after the All-Star break for the PawSox — said that he was never given pause by the addition of a left-fielder on a seven-year, $142 million deal.

“With C.C. signing, it wasn’t that big of a deal to me,” said Reddick. “They haven’t trained me to be a left-fielder in the big leagues. So it really wasn’t a concern. Then again, I’ve played it a couple times when I’ve been up there. I can definitely play all three (outfield positions). I guess I took it as a positive that they just want me for right field instead of center and left. Whatever it takes to get up there and stay there, I’m willing to do.”

–Catcher Tim Federowicz and outfielder Alex Hassan were excited about their spring training rooming situation. Though Federowicz and Hassan went to rival schools at UNC (Federowicz) and Duke (Mass. native Hassan), the two are good friends after having spent 2010 together at Hi-A Salem. They were planning on rooming with a pair of top Red Sox prospects. But, when Casey Kelly and Anthony Rizzo were traded to San Diego, Federowicz and Hassan were left scrambling.

Everything worked out fine in the end, with Federowicz and Hassan linking up with another pair of top Red Sox prospects: first baseman Lars Anderson and outfielder Ryan Kalish.

Though Anderson and Kalish were drafted in 2006, Federowicz in 2008 and Hassan in 2009, all four are close in age. Anderson and Federowicz are 23, while Kalish and Hassan both turn 23 this week. That being the case, Hassan quickly befriended Kalish and Anderson when he was in Pawtucket during a brief assignment in 2010.

The dynamic between the four players is interesting. Federowicz and Hassan — drafted out of college — are both hoping to play in Double-A Portland for the first time this year; Anderson and Kalish — high school selections — will open the year in Triple-A after finishing 2010 in the majors.

“Sometimes they say they think that I seem older because I went to college, sometimes I think they seem older because of they’ve been in the majors,” noted Hassan.

Hassan is an intriguing prospect. He’d pitched during most of his baseball life, and most teams (including the Sox) scouted him for the 2009 draft as a pitcher. But in the Cape League the summer after he was drafted, he impressed the Sox more as a position player, and so they made the decision to develop him as an outfielder.

The 2010 season marked his first full year as a position player. He started dreadfully, hitting .140 with a .507 OPS in 12 games in April. But from that point on, he enjoyed tremendous success in Hi-A Salem. From May through the end of the year, he hit .308/.409/.488/.897 with seven homers, and he showed steady improvement as the year progressed. In the second half, he hit .332/.431/.534/.965 with six homers.

–Right-hander Brandon Workman, whom the Sox selected in the second round of the 2010 draft and signed on Aug. 16, hours before the deadline, for an $800,000 bonus, changed agents. He had been represented by Kevin Hubbard during negotiations with the Red Sox, but switched recently to Jeff Berry of CAA.

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Dennys Reyes says he is recovered from 2011 forearm strain

03.26.11 at 7:44 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Left-hander Dennys Reyes was among a group of lefties that was scrambling for jobs in the days leading up to spring training. The 33-year-old nearly agreed to a deal with the Phillies earlier in the offseason, but when that fell apart (Reyes said earlier in spring training that the deal fell apart over contract terms), he was left to search for minor league deals.

Reyes was among a group of a few different left-handed specialists whom the Sox were considering in the days before pitchers and catchers reported. According to a source familiar with the Sox’ thinking, the team viewed the 33-year-old — who has a 2.63 ERA and an average of 65 appearances a year since 2005 — as the option with the most medical risk but the highest upside. The Sox elected to sign Reyes, issuing a minor league deal that would feature a $900,000 major league salary with incentives that could push the value of the deal to $1.4 million.

Reyes suggested that it was a forearm strain late last year that dampened his market during the offseason. But, on the day that his contract was purchased — thus guaranteeing his $900,000 salary — he suggested that he was pleased to emerge healthy from spring training.

“The thing last year, I ended up being hurt at the end of the season. That’€™s the main thing. I think I signed a minor league deal because of that,” said Reyes. “I had a strained muscle in my forearm, but I think I showed them that I was healthy. I had a three-week rehab after the season, and I think I showed them that I’€™m healthy and can pitch at this level.”

Though his contract was purchased by the Sox (on the strength of nine innings in which Reyes has allowed three earned runs, striking out eight and walking four), Reyes has been made aware that he is one of four pitchers competing for the final two Red Sox bullpen spots. He acknowledged that his uncertain roster spot is on his mind, but based on his prior experience dealing with such situations, he is focusing on his work on the mound rather than on what the Sox might decide to do.

“The last four or five days get tougher. You get to the park, you get used to being around the guys. It is hard, but at the same time, you understand that this is a business,” said Reyes. “You think about it a few times during the day when you’€™re in your room. But not really [when you’re pitching]. If you start thinking like that, you’€™re done. … You don’€™t have control [of the contract].”

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UPDATE: Red Sox purchase Reyes’ contract, but still deciding on Opening Day bullpen

03.26.11 at 3:24 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Hours before the deadline to make a decision about whether he would opt out of the minor league contract he signed in Jan., the Red Sox purchased the contract of left-hander Dennys Reyes, thus adding him to the 40-man roster. That said, manager Terry Francona also suggested that the move does not mean that Reyes necessarily has won a spot in the team’s Opening Day bullpen.

“The season hasn’€™t started yet. We still have some guys in camp and he’€™s one of them. We still have decisions to make,” said Francona. “Everybody likes the movement [of Reyes’ pitches], his track record, his ability to compete. That’€™s kind of what we told him.”

The move gives the Sox more time to decide which two of the four pitchers still in competition (Reyes, Matt Albers, Hideki Okajima and Alfredo Aceves) for a spot on the Opening Day roster will be with the club on April 1. The Sox, said Francona, will make their decision based on what is not just in the Opening Day interests of the Sox, but also the team’s depth for the long haul.

“I don’€™t think that it’€™s a pitchoff,” said Francona. “I think it’€™s maybe more of us trying to determine where we best set up, not only for now, but for down the road, and how to go about that.”

Of the four pitchers still competing, the Sox can option Okajima and Aceves to the minors while keeping them in the organization. Reyes and Albers both are out of options, meaning that other teams would have the opportunity to claim them on waivers if they are not on the Opening Day roster. In terms of long-term depth, then, the Sox would likely be in their best position if they were to retain those two while stashing Aceves and Okajima in the minors, though if the team determines its best bullpen featured either Aceves or Okajima, they would not necessarily let contract status constrain them at this point.

Francona suggested that his theoretical preference is always to have two relievers, but that given the ability of his late-innings setup men — Daniel Bard and Bobby Jenks — to retire both lefties and righties, the need for a second lefty is somewhat diminished.

“I would say that it’€™s always nice to have two [lefties], just because it saves wear and tear on the one,” said Francona. “[But] we’€™re not taking Bard out when a lefty comes up. … And you can’€™t have a 14-man pitching staff. Sometimes you have to make those decisions.”

Reyes has allowed five runs (three earned) in nine innings for a 3.00 ERA while striking out eight and walking four this spring. Traditionally, he has been a matchup left-hander, though Francona said that he has also shown at times an ability to retire righties — as he did last year, when Reyes was uncharacteristically ineffective against lefties (.307 average, .862 OPS against) but tremendous against righties (.177, .481) — that could make him more than a “matchup guy.”

Before it was disclosed that Reyes’ contract had been purchased, the left-hander said that he is sympathetic to the Sox’ position in deciding the final composition of the roster.

“They have great pitchers, great pitchers competing. I think it’€™s a hard decision,” said Reyes. “It’€™s a hard thing for them to say. We’€™re going to have to wait.”

Okajima has allowed four runs in six innings (6.00 ERA), striking out six and walking one this spring. While the deception involved in his delivery has diminished as a result of the league’s familiarity with him, Francona suggested that the 35-year-old can still be valuable when he locates his pitches.

“When he pitches like he can, he’€™s terrific,” said Francona. “He doesn’€™t have a lot of margin for error because his velocity is what it is. When he’€™s hitting his spots and changing speeds, he’€™s actually terrific. If he hangs an offspeed pitch or he doesn’€™t locate his fastball, he gives up sometimes a long one. But he manages the running game. the game never speeds up on him. So there’€™s a lot of good things there.’€

Albers (3 runs in 11 1/3 innings, 2.38 ERA, 13 strikeouts, no walks) has been able to get swings and misses with increased frequency this spring owing to his increased comfort in using both his slider and curveball as complements to his two-seamer to both sides of the plate. Albers said that he dusted off the slider in 2010, and became more adept with the pitch as the year progressed.

Aceves (6 runs, 13 1/3 innings, 4.05 ERA, 4 strikeouts, 3 walks) has the potential to be a versatile multi-innings reliever.

Reyes, for his part, made clear that he would love to pitch for the Red Sox in the coming season.

“I signed over here because I wanted to play for a contending team and be in the playoffs,” he said. “I think this team is in a great position to do that.”

In order to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Reyes, the team placed right-hander Junichi Tazawa — still recovering from Tommy John surgery — on the 60-day disabled list.


–Francona said that Josh Reddick has been dealing with some soreness in his right side. The team would like to get him healthy and ready for game activity before sending him to the minors.

–Minor league pitchers Jason Rice and Blake Maxwell will join the Sox on their trip to Houston for an exhibition game on Wednesday.

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