Losses bring Sox closer to protected draft pick

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Losses bring Sox closer to protected draft pick

BALTIMORE -- As the Red Sox limp to the finish line, each additional loss only adds to their embarrassment.

Following their 9-1 drubbing at the hands of the Baltimore Orioles Friday night, the Sox inched closer to the real possibility that they will record a 90-loss season for the first time since 1966.

But all is not -- you should pardon the expression -- lost. Because each loss also makes it more and more likely that the Red Sox will earn themselves a "protected'' pick in next June's amateur draft.

Under terms of the new collective bargaining agreement, a protected pick means a team doesn't have to forfeit its first-round pick should it sign a top free agent this off-season.

Ordinarily, the teams with the worst 10 records in Major League Baseball would qualify for protected pick status. But because the Pittsburgh Pirates failed to sign their first-round pick in last June's draft, they will get an extra compensation next June, knocking the team with the 10th worst record out of the protected class.

That means that the bottom nine teams will qualify. After Friday's loss, the Sox have 88 losses with five games to play. Six teams -- Cleveland, Minnesota, Miami, the Chicago Cubs, Houston, and Colorado -- all have 90 or more losses.

The teams the Sox must worry about are the Toronto Blue Jays, who have 88 losses as well, and the Kansas City Royals, who are right behind with 87 losses.

However, unless the Sox go on some completely unexpected hot streak in their final five games -- doubtful, since Friday's setback was their seventh in their last eight tries -- the Sox likely can't be caught from behind and forced out of the bottom nine finishers.

The Red Sox haven't had a Top 10 draft pick in the first-year player draft since they chose outfielder Trot Nixon seventh overall in the 1993 draft.

It's highly unlikely that the Sox will be involved for either of the top two free agents -- pitcher Zack Greinke or outfielder Josh Hamilton -- but there could be interest in other free agents who reject qualifying offers from their present teams, thus making them subject to compensation.

Sox hope to bring David Ortiz back to Boston for new role

Sox hope to bring David Ortiz back to Boston for new role

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. -- David Oritz’s time in Boston as a player is over. He continues to say there’s no Brett Favre-type comeback, no matter how many people ask him.

However, that doesn’t mean his time with the Red Sox is over.

Sam Kennedy, Tom Werner and Dave Dombrowski are heading down to the Dominican Republic to tour the team’s academy on the island to see what changes, if any, need to be made.

Ortiz will join them on those tours.

“He’s just a good guy to go to the Dominican with,” Kennedy said. “We thought it’d be great to catch up. Haven’t seen him since before the holidays.”

But the front office members intend to exchange more than just pleasantries and stories from the holiday season. One goal on the trip is to bring Ortiz back to the organization as an employee.

“Yeah that’s something on the agenda,” Kennedy said. “We’re gonna talk about what he may or may not want to do. He did say after the season let’s just talk in January. He was so overwhelmed and tired so it’s a good time to start those conversations.

“I know he has a lot of plans, broadcasting, a lot of businesses he’s involved with and we’ll see what he’s up to. But we hope to cement something so he’s a part of the organization.”

What role that is yet to be determined. Assuming he doesn’t pursue a broadcasting career.

“I truly don’t know what’s on his mind,” Kennedy said. “He’ll obviously be good at whatever he decides to do, but I would hope that we could create a role where he has influence in the baseball operations side, he has influence in marketing, as an ambassador. A lot of our alums we’ve found really enjoy working with young players. Pedro [Martinez] is a perfect example of that.

“So we’ll see what he’s interested in doing, but I have heard him talk about broadcasting in the past and I think he’d be great at it if he decides to do it.”

Swihart, Wright fully recovered for Red Sox' spring training

Swihart, Wright fully recovered for Red Sox' spring training

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. -- Dave Dombrowski told reporters at the Red Sox Winter Weekend at Foxwoods both Steven Wright and Blake Swihart are ready to go for spring training.

Wright suffered a shoulder injury from sliding back into second as a pinch runner against the Dodgers in August, ending his All-Star season far too soon. The knuckleballer went 13-6 with a 3.33 ERA in 24 starts last season.

“His shoulder has been feeling good,” Dombrowski said of Wright, who was not at the event due to a prior engagement. “He’s out there throwing, so he feels good.”

Swihart saw his season end even sooner than Wright, after spraining his left ankle June 4 tracking down a foul ball in left field near the wall at Fenway Park. He played in only 19 games last season. 

“[Swihart] said he feels great,” Dombrowski said. “He’s going right from here down to Florida and he said he’s ready to go.”

Swihart will move back to the catcher position for spring training, with his goal of winning the job over Sandy Leon and Christian Vazquez. The ankle might’ve been a cause for concern had the Red Sox handled the situation differently, but by all accounts he’s OK to catch again.

“They tell me [there’s no reason for concern],” Dombrowski said. “I guess I’m really not knowledgeable to say that, but the doctors and trainers have told me no.

"That’s why they went and had the surgery because they felt the way the tendon kept slipping that [there was a] possibility it would bother him more. But after the surgery now, they feel there will not be any problems in that regard.”