Part Four: Assess the bullpen options

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Part Four: Assess the bullpen options

4) Assess the bullpen options.

As intrigued as they are with the promise of Andrew Miller, he can hardly be counted on to start the season with the major league team. For now, the Sox have few spots set in the bullpen beyond Jonathan Papelbon and Daniel Bard.

FoxSports.com's Ken Ronsenthal reported Monday that the Sox are sending signals that they would be willing to move Felix Doubront (right), but some baseball officials have heard the opposite -- that the Sox see Doubront as an important part of the 2011 staff. Doubront could be a late-inning, lefty compliment to Bard, or, in the event of injury or a trade of Matsuzaka, the team's fifth starter.

Either way, the Sox need relief inventory. The problem is, most of the best free agent relievers (Scott Downs, Grant Balfour) are Type A free agents who will 1) cost the Red Sox a first-round pick as compensation and 2) require a multi-year commitment.

The latter goes against Epstein's instincts, believing, as he does, that middle- and set-up relievers are too inconsistent and unpredictable to deserve multi-year deals.

With the need to upgrade the bullpen, he may have to suspend that theory for at least one deal. And, given that Beltre and Martinez appear headed elsewhere, the Sox stand to get first-round picks back in compensation, easing the blow at least a little.

Previous: Make alternate plans for catcher and either first or third base

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Saturday's Red Sox-Blue Jays lineups - Ortiz returns

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Saturday's Red Sox-Blue Jays lineups - Ortiz returns

David Ortiz is back in the starting lineup after a night off and Chris Young is in left field for the Red Sox in the second game of their three-game weekend series in Toronto.

The Blue Jays won the opener 7-5 behind two home runs from Josh Donaldson. Rick Porcello (7-2, 3.47 ERA) is on the mound for the Red Sox, opposed by the Blue Jays' Marcus Stroman (5-1, 3.89).

The lineups: 

RED SOX 
Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Travis Shaw 3B
Chris Young LF
Christian Vazquez C
---
Rick Porcello RHP

BLUE JAYS
Jose Bautista RF
Josh Donaldson 3B
Edwin Encarnacion DH
Michael Saunders LF
Justin Smoak 1B
Russell Martin C
Devon Travis 2B
Darwin Barney SS
Kevin Pillar CF
---
Marcus Stroman LHP 

Knighton not worried about Deflategate: 'We have enough on our plate'

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Knighton not worried about Deflategate: 'We have enough on our plate'

FOXBORO -- Patriots defensive tackle Terrance Knighton has been on three different teams since the Deflategate controversy was sparked on the night of the AFC title game in 2015. But that doesn't mean he's immune to receiving questions about Tom Brady's ongoing saga. 

Meeting with reporters after Thursday's OTA session, Knighton was asked if he was surprised by the buzz that still surrounds Brady's legal situation. Earlier in the week, Brady filed a petition for a rehearing to have his four-game suspension overturned, and the Patriots organization filed an amicus brief backing their quarterback.

"All I was thinking about that year was losing to the Colts," said Knighton, who was a member of the Broncos two seasons ago. "I wasn't really worried about what was going on. I don't really feed into that. I just try to handle what I have to do in the building. We have enough on our plate as it is. That'll handle itself. 'Terrance Knighton' is not anywhere in the documents so it doesn't have anything to do with me."

As was the case during last preseason, with Deflategate hearings hanging over Brady's head, the Patriots quarterback didn't appear at all distracted by the continuing proceedings. He went 9-for-14 in 11-on-11 and 7-on-7 periods during Thursday's practice, working with a group of offenive weapons that was without tight end Rob Gronkowski and receivers Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola. 

Knighton said on Thursday that Brady has ben equally impressive off the field in the short time he's been able to spend with the future Hall of Famer. 

"[Conversations hav been] a little bit about our past playing against each other, me getting the better of him, him getting the better of me," Knighton said. "He's won that matchp more times than I have, but it's always good to be around guys like that, pick their brain and see what type of professional they are.

"Playing with a Peyton Manning and a Demarcus Ware, you learn a lot from those guys, Hall of Famers. I'm just trying tp pick [Brady's] brain, and just watch him out of the corner of my eye, and see how he prepares and how me moves around."