Addressing the outfield not a priority for Cherington

Addressing the outfield not a priority for Cherington
December 7, 2011, 5:50 am
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DALLAS -- Right field, apparently, can wait.

That was the message Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington had Tuesday evening, as he addressed a number of his team's needs for 2012.

Clearly, most of Cherington's focus for now is on pitching -- both the starting rotation and the bullpen, and specifically, finding a closer to replace Jonathan Papelbon.

The team has shown some preliminary interest in free agents Michael Cuddyer and Carlos Beltran, but Cherington hinted that filling that positional need was not a top priority for now.

"There are free agent options and trade options," said Cherington. "Some of the things we're looking at might happen a little bit later in the off-season."

Cuddyer reportedly has an offer to return to Minnesota for three years, 25 million. Beltran, a switch-hitter, has yet to receive much in the way of formal offers, but is unlikely to be available in a few weeks when the Sox turn their attention to the position.

The Sox could also use a right-handed hitting outfielder, given that nearly every other outfielder on their current 40-man roster is lefthanded: Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury, Ryan Kalish and Josh Reddick.

"Right now, if Opening Day was tomorrow, (Reddick) is probably in right field," said Cherington. "We'll see what happens the rest of the winter."

Of Reddick, Cherington added: "He took another step in his career (in 2011). We think he's going to be a very good major league outfielder."

Reddick played in 87 games last season, hitting .280 with seven homers and 28 RBI. He played 56 games in right, many of those in the second half when J.D. Drew was sidelined with injuries.

Reddick underwent a surgical procedure after the season to repair a wrist injury, but is expected to be 100-percent by spring training.

Reddick is ahead of Kalish on the depth chart because Kalish missed most of 2011 with injuries -- first to his shoulder, then to his neck.

"Kalish has a little bit more to overcome physically," said Cherington. "We think he's going to be a really major league player, too. He's still recovering physically and should be playing in spring training, but he's probably got a little bit more work to do.

"He'll be rehabbing, but by the time he gets to January, he'll be able to do a lot of stuff. It shouldn't inhibit him in a significant way as far as preparation for the season. He'll be a little behind from a playing standpoint."