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What happened with the Red Sox: Sunday

03.22.10 at 6:50 am ET

The big news Sunday could be found by going down Edison, across Shoemaker, over to Colonial, across Six Mile Cypress, and finally into Hammond Stadium. That’s where the Twins were popping whatever champagne bottles were left over from the Jack Morris Era in celebration of Joe Mauer agreeing to an eight-year, $184 million deal (with all the fixings, such as a full no-trade clause).

How does that affect the Red Sox? Having gone under the assumption that Mauer was going to re-sign with the Twins, Alex Speier had already broached the state of the Sox’ catching future a few weeks back. You can find that story by clicking here. The column, “Sox Caught With Uncertain Future Behind The Plate” also includes a video interview with WEEI.com’s Lou Merloni asking minor league catching instructor Chad Epperson about the organization’s catching prospects:

The Red Sox would have undoubtedly made a play for Mauer if the catcher somehow became available, and would do so with some level of confidence they would be able to close the deal. (Again, assuming the hometown Twins weren’t a factor.) But that dream sequence has come and gone thanks to the Twins’ willingness to pay the catcher $23 million per season for the next eight years (after this one). For those wondering, a press conference has been called for Monday at 7 p.m. to announce the deal.

– Looks like the Red Sox’ will be relying heavily on Maxalt once again. (Known last season as “The Pill That Could Save The Sox.”)

This time the medicine had left closer Jonathan Papelbon feeling “lackadaisical,” leading to a horrific outing against the Astros at City of Palms Park. Coincidentally, the outing came on the same day it was officially learned that Twins’ closer Joe Nathan would have to undergo Tommy John Surgery, ending his 2010 season.

The pair of news items offered our man Alex an opportunity to look at how intertwined the two closers are, and what Nathan’s news might mean in the long run to Papelbon. A few things from the column to look at:

– Since Papelbon took over closing duties here are the two relievers’ scarily identical numbers:

Papelbon: 1.74 ERA, 151 saves, 10.6 Ks per 9 IP; opposing hitters have a line of .190/.243/.284/.527 against

Nathan: 1.73 ERA, 159 saves, 10.9 Ks per 9 IP; .180/.241/.285/.526

– Here is a quote from Twins’ manager Ron Gardenhire the day before Nathan was hurt:

‘€œ[Keeping closers healthy] just depends on how you use them. If you’€™re going to take a closer and start stretching him out to two innings here, two innings there, save 50 games a year, you’€™re going to wear a guy out pretty quick,’€ said Gardenhire. ‘€œWe’€™ve been fortunate enough to give him one inning at a time rather than the two.

‘€œLast year we were in a battle for our lives. The only way we were going to make it, we stretched him out a little bit. You know what? He was still as good as they get, and he will be, if you take care of him.’€

– Here is a chart:

Papelbon addressed the issue regarding how Nathan’s setback might affect his future when talking just after the Twins’ closer went down with the elbow problem, and how people shouldn’t identify the position as part of the problem:

‘€œIt’€™s part of the game. It’€™s every sport and it’€™s part of every game,’€ he said. ‘€œPeople are going to get injured, it’€™s just part of the game. I don’€™t know if guys are more injury-prone than others. I don’€™t know if you can say that. It’€™s like any sport, basketball, baseball, football. When you give out a long-term deal you’€™re have to hope he stays healthy and do everything you can to keep him healthy.

‘€œYou can look at position players, pitchers, basketball players, football players, hockey players, no matter who you are and no matter what sport you play, you’€™re always one pitch and one circumstance away from an injury. All you can do is prepare the best you can and keep your body as healthy as you can and the rest is up to the big man.’€

– Red Sox Chief Operating Officer Sam Kennedy fired back after a report in the Boston Herald stated that the team had a bevy of tickets still unsold for its season opener against the Yankees, saying:

‘€œTo say that there are 6,300 tickets still available for sale, there may be. There may be more than that on the secondary market. The Red Sox do not control sale of the secondary market. We control the primary market,’€ said Kennedy. ‘€œWe have been surprised and humbled is probably the right word to use by demand for tickets on the primary market.

‘€œAs of this morning, we’€™ve sold just over 2.6 million tickets on the primary market for Red Sox games for 2010. In 2009, we sold virtually the identical amount. We’€™re tracking just about where we were last year at this time.’€

For Kenendy’s full reaction click here.

Daisuke Matsuzaka finally threw to hitters in a real-live game (albeit minor leaguers). Thanks to Mike Petraglia, we not only get a report from the 32-pitch session, but up-close-and-personal video of the outing to go with it:

Dustin Pedroia worked out at shortstop Sunday. No, he’s not going to play there, but after watching him, both Marco Scutaro and Tim Bogar think he can. Click here for the story.

– How Mike Lowell (who played third base for the first time this spring) might be affected by the return of a Rule 5 pick. Click here for the story.

– How Jason Kidd prepared Joe Nelson for the reliever’s current predicament. Click here for the story.

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