Free agency overview: First base

Free agency overview: First base

By Sean McAdam

Here is a look at the Red Sox' options at first base. See links at the bottom of the story for an analysis of other positions.

Youkilis is expected to be fully recovered from thumb surgery, which cut short his year in August, and has signaled a willingness to play either corner infield spot -- so long as he doesn't have to move back and forth between the two during the season.

There's no shortage of possible first-base options on the market. And remember, with Adrian Gonzalez headeded for free agency after 2011 -- to say nothing of Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder -- the Sox might be wise to have Youkilis move to third permanently and concentrate on a short-term fix at first. Then they could either open their checkbook and sign one of the premium first basemen next winter, or see if top prospect Anthony Rizzo is ready to take over the position in 2012.

FREE AGENT TARGETSPaul Konerko is the best of the potential free agents, but because he'll be seeking a multiyear deal for serious dollars (and will turn 35 in March), we're ruling him out of the running here. Same for Adam Dunn, who as a first baseman remains a pretty good DH.

Adam LaRocheLaRoche is seemingly forever linked to the Red Sox. He was obtained in a deal with Pittsburgh at midseason in 2008, only to be sent off at the deadline when the Sox got Casey Kotchman. Then, last summer, with Youkilis out and the Sox not getting much production at the position, they gave thought to bringing backLaRoche at the Aug. 31 deadline to acquire players who would be eligible for the postseason, a move which was ruled out as they drifted further from contention.

LaRoche enjoyed his time here and would have an interest in returning. But after a career-high 100 RBI with Arizona last season, will he settle for a one-year deal?
Carlos Pena
Pena could well be this year's Adrian Beltre - a player who takes a short-term deal with the hopes of having a bounceback season, then returning to the market again the following winter. He had decent production for the Rays (28 homers, 84 RBI) but his average was an embarrassing .196 and even his slugging percentage was off sharply (.407, down from .537 the season before).

Pena was here before, of course, and has local roots, having played at Northeastern and grown up in Haverhill. His play at first has dipped some, but he's hardly a liability.

One potential problem: if the Sox are fortunate enough to land Crawford and then add Pena at first, they would have five everyday regulars who are left-handed (Crawford, Pena, Ellsbury, Drew and Ortiz).

Lyle OverbayLike LaRoche, Overbay was on the Red Sox' watch list in August as a potential late-season pickup before an injury took him out of consideration.

Overbay has less power than the other candidates, having never hit more than 22 homers and failing to collect as many as 70 RBI in any of the previous four seasons. He's more of a doubles-hitting first baseman, and is adequate at first. But, at 34, Overbay is more likely to agree to a one-year deal than, say, LaRoche.

Other names of noteDerrek Lee, Ty Wigginton.

OUTFIELD---> Will the Red Sox be willing to spend on the bigguns?

THIRDBASE ---> How will Theo Epstein deal with a thinmarket?

FIRSTBASE ---> Could a former Sox slugger be the answer in2011?

CATCHER---> Is there a bargain backstop to be had on thecheap?

BULLPEN---> Which relievers could be headed toBoston?

SeanMcAdam can be reached at Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Ramirez, Leon homer, Red Sox beat Angels 9-4 on Papi's night

Ramirez, Leon homer, Red Sox beat Angels 9-4 on Papi's night

BOSTON - David Ortiz became one of the most celebrated players in Red Sox history during his storied 14-year run in Boston.

On the night he returned to Fenway to have his No. 34 take its place among the franchise's other legends, his former teammates did their part to make sure it was a memorable one.

Hanley Ramirez and Sandy Leon hit two-run homers and the Boston Red Sox beat the Los Angeles Angels 9-4 on Friday to cap a night in which Ortiz's number became the latest retired at Fenway Park.

It was the 250th career home run for Ramirez, a good friend of Ortiz who was also born in the Dominican Republic. Leon finished with three hits and four RBIs.

Ramirez said he played with Ortiz on his mind.

"He's my mentor, my big brother. He's everything," Ramirez said. "Today when I saw him on the field crying, it made me cry."

He said his home run was in Big Papi's honor.

"Definitely, definitely, definitely," he said. "I was going to do his thing (pointing his hands in the air) but I forgot."

The homers helped provide a nice cushion for Rick Porcello (4-9), who gave up four runs and struck out eight in 6 1/3 innings to earn the victory. It was the 13th straight start Porcello has gone at least six innings.

"It was vintage Porcello," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "A couple of pitches that cut his night short, but he was crisp throughout."

This could serve as a needed confidence boost for Porcello, who had been 0-4 with a 7.92 ERA in his previous five starts, allowing 47 hits and 27 earned runs.

He had command of his pitches early, holding the Angels scoreless until the fourth, when a catching error by Leon at home allowed Albert Pujols to cross the plate.

Porcello said he isn't sure if he has completely turned a corner yet after his slow start, but he has felt better in his recent starts.

"Today was a step in the right direction," he said.

Alex Meyer (3-4) allowed five runs and five hits in 3 1/3 innings.

Los Angeles scored three runs in the seventh, but cooled off after Porcello left.

Boston got out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning, scoring on an RBI double by Xander Bogaerts and then getting two more runs off wild pitches by Meyer.

Ramirez gave Porcello a 5-1 lead in the fourth with his two-run shot to right field.

Ortiz: 'A super honor' to have number retired by Red Sox

Ortiz: 'A super honor' to have number retired by Red Sox

BOSTON —  The Red Sox have become well known for their ceremonies, for their pull-out-all-the-stops approach to pomp. The retirement of David Ortiz’s No. 34 on Friday evening was in one way, then, typical.

A red banner covered up Ortiz’s No. 34 in right field, on the facade of the grandstand, until it was dropped down as Ortiz, his family, Red Sox ownership and others who have been immortalized in Fenway lore looked on. Carl Yazstremski and Jim Rice, Wade Boggs and Pedro Martinez. 

The half-hour long tribute further guaranteed permanence to a baseball icon whose permanence in the city and the sport was never in doubt. But the moments that made Friday actually feel special, rather than expected, were stripped down and quick. 

Dustin Pedroia’s not one to belabor many points, never been the most effusive guy around. (He’d probably do well on a newspaper deadline.) The second baseman spoke right before Ortiz took to the podium behind the mound.

“We want to thank you for not the clutch hits, the 500 home runs, we want to thank you for how you made us feel and it’s love,” Pedroia said, with No. 34 painted into both on-deck circles and cut into the grass in center field. “And you’re not our teammate, you’re not our friend, you’re our family. … Thank you, we love you.”

Those words were enough for Ortiz to have tears in his eyes.

“Little guy made me cry,” Ortiz said, wiping his hands across his face. “I feel so grateful. I thank God every day for giving me the opportunity to have the career that I have. But I thank God even more for giving me the family and what I came from, who teach me how to try to do everything the right way. Nothing — not money — nothing is better than socializing with the people that are around you, get familiar with, show them love, every single day. It’s honor to get to see my number …. I remember hitting batting practice on this field, I always was trying to hit those numbers.”

Now that’s a poignant image for a left-handed slugger at Fenway Park.

He did it once, he said — hit the numbers. He wasn’t sure when. Somewhere in 2011-13, he estimated — but he said he hit Bobby Doerr’s No. 1.

“It was a good day to hit during batting practice,” Ortiz remembered afterward in a press conference. “But to be honest with you, I never thought I’d have a chance to hit the ball out there. It’s pretty far. My comment based on those numbers was, like, I started just getting behind the history of this organization. Those guys, those numbers have a lot of good baseball in them. It takes special people to do special things and at the end of the day have their number retired up there, so that happening to me today, it’s a super honor to be up there, hanging with those guys.”

The day was all about his number, ultimately, and his number took inspiration from the late Kirby Puckett. Ortiz’s major league career began with the Twins in 1997. Puckett passed away in 2006, but the Red Sox brought his children to Fenway Park. They did not speak at the podium or throw a ceremonial first pitch, but their presence likely meant more than, say, Jason Varitek’s or Tim Wakefield’s.

“Oh man, that was very emotional,” Ortiz said. “I’m not going to lie to you, like, when I saw them coming toward me, I thought about Kirby. A lot. That was my man, you know. It was super nice to see his kids. Because I remember, when they were little guys, little kids. Once I got to join the Minnesota Twins, Kirby was already working in the front office. So they were, they used to come in and out. I used to get to see them. But their dad was a very special person for me and that’s why you saw me carry the No. 34 when I got here. It was very special to get to see them, to get kind of connected with Kirby somehow someway.”

Ortiz’s place in the row of 11 retired numbers comes in between Boggs’ No. 26 and Jackie Robinson’s No. 42.