FORT MYERS, Fla. -- As if there weren't already enough contenders for the back end of the starting rotation, the Red Sox added one more Thursday morning: righthander Ross Ohlendorf, who signed a minor league deal with an invitation to big league camp.
Ohlendorf, 29, spent the last four seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates. In 2009-2010 combined, he compiled a 3.98 ERA over 285 innings before struggling last season, going 1-3 with a 8.15 ERA as he battled shoulder concerns.
He had a "a lot" of offers over the winter, but chose the Red Sox for two primary reasons.
"I feel that, even though there's a lot of really good pitchers here, there's an opportunity for me here,'' said Ohlendorf. "And I feel like there's a real good opportunity to be on a really good team. That was something that really important to me.
"I felt like I wanted to go somewhere where I had a chance to win a World Series. It kind of came down to the fact that I thought this was the best opportunity. There have been a couple of injuries here (to starters such Daisuke Matsuzaka and John Lackey).''
Ohlendorf has pitched in both relief and in the rotation (64 career starts; 31 relief appearances), but here, his focus will be as a starter -- at least initially.
"They've told me I'll be a starter from the beginning,'' said Ohlendorf, "but the bullpen will always be a possibility. I prefer starting. If they think the bullpen is a better fit, I'm certainly happy to what they want. But I would prefer to start.''
He attributed his poor season to shoulder problems.
"It was mainly getting hurt,'' said Ohlendorf, who made two starts at the beginning of the season, then went to the DL and didn't pitch for Pittsburgh again until August. "Early in the season, I was maybe overthrowing and trying to do too much. Then, over the season, I missed too much time. When I came back, I feel like I had one really good start, but never really got in a groove.''
Ohlendorf said he has no physical restrictions this spring.