Notes: Sox kicking the tires on Martin, Fuentes

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Notes: Sox kicking the tires on Martin, Fuentes

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Even as general manager Theo Epstein said the Red Sox would be ''comfortable'' with the catching duo of Jarrod Saltalamachia and Jason Varitek, the Red Sox were at least investigating Russell Martin, non-tendered by the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Martin had a hip injury in 2010, which contributed to the Dodgers' decision to non-tender him. He made 5.05 million last season and would have seen that figure go up in arbitration.

The Red Sox are among a handful of teams which have requested medical info on Martin. The New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays are among the others known to be looking into Martin's health.

A major league manager described Martin Monday as "more of an offensive catcher -- but he can really throw.'' Martin began his career as a third baseman and while he has made it clear that he would prefer to continue to catch full-time, he could fill in at other spots, including left field and DH.

Martin is a Montreal native and has said he would prefer to play in the Northeast, closer to his home.

Without mentioning Martin by name, Epstein said: "We're still open to exploring more depth at that position (catcher) if the right player were to be there. But we would be comfortable with (Saltalamachhia and Varitek).''

Asked to list his priorities for the remainder of the post-season, Epstein responded: "Bullpen...bullpen...maybe integrate a righthanded bat into the mix if we can find the right one in the right spot."

Optimally, Epstein said that righthanded bat could fit into the outfield mix, which boasts three lefties (Jacoby Ellsbury, J.D. Drew and perhaps Ryan Kalish) and one righthanded bat (Mike Cameron).

As such, the Red Sox have some interest in Magglio Ordonez, a free agent who was not offered arbitration by the Detroit Tigers. The Sox nearly traded for Ordonez in 2003 when they were attempting to obtain Alex Rodriguez.

Another, lower profile name that might make some sense is Matt Diaz, who is more of a platoon or semi-regular.

"There's been a lot of talk about our outfield,'' said Epstein. "I feel like if we brought back the same group, we'd be OK. There's some benefit to bringing in the right player into the mix for a couple of different reasons. It might allow some time for certain of our outfielders' development path to take hold; it might provide more depth for some guys coming off injury; and provide a better mix against right- or lefthanded pitching.

"If we don't find something that makes sense, we are comfortable going with the group we have. But the right piece might work as well.''

As for bolstering the relief crew, Epstein said: "There's certainly a good chance that we acquire, through trade or free agency, more than one reliever.''

One reliever who interests the Sox is Brian Fuentes, who wasn't offered arbitration by the Minnesota Twins. The Sox tried to make a deal with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for Fuentes last July, but were unable to work it out. He was later sent to the Twins.

It seems clear that Epstein doesn't want to give up compensation draft picks for signing set-up relievers, which would seem to rule out the likes of Type A free agent Scott Downs.

Epstein added that the Sox would have interest in bringing back Hideki Okajima, non-tendered last week, "under the right circumstances.''

Translation: If Okajima is willing to slice his 2.75 million salary from 2010 by more than half.

When asked if, with the addition of Adrian Gonzlaez, the Sox, as presently constituted, were too lefthanded, Epstein answered no.

"There have been some really good teams that were too left-handed,'' said Epstein. "You face righthanded pitching two-thirds of the time. I don't see anything wrong with building a team too be predominantly lefthanded, then building a bench that features a number of guys who really hit lefthanded pitching well.

"I think we actually have pretty good balance right now. I don't think it's overly lopsided, per se.''

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

As expected, Red Sox send Swihart to Pawtucket

As expected, Red Sox send Swihart to Pawtucket

Blake Swihart wasn't going to win a job. Monday merely made that official.

Swihart was optioned out as the Red Sox made further cuts, sending a player who could still be the Red Sox catcher of the future -- well, one of them anyway -- to Triple-A Pawtucket, where he's expected to work on his receiving.

Swihart hit .325 in 40 Grapefruit League at-bats.

"Had a very strong camp and showed improvements defensively. Swung the bat very well," manager John Farrell told reporters in Florida.  "For the player that he is and the person that he is, you love him as a person. He's a hell of a talented player.

"He made some subtle adjustments with his setup [defensively]. That gave him a different look to pitchers on the mound. Pitchers talked positively about the look that they got from him behind the plate. I think it softened his hands somewhat to receive the ball better. And there were a number of occasions where he was able to get a pitchers' pitch called for a strike, so the presentation of the umpire was a little bit more subtle and consistent then maybe years' past."

Sandy Leon's hot hitting in 2016 earned him an automatic crack at the lead catching spot for this year. Combined with the fact that Christian Vazquez looks great defensively, went deep on Sunday and is out of options, Swihart was the obvious odd man out.

He had options, the others didn't.

Deven Marrero was also optioned to Pawtucket. Sam Travis -- who, like Swihart, could break camp with the 2018 team -- was reassigned to minor-league camp, as was catcher Dan Butler.

The Sox have 38 players left in camp, 32 from the 40-man roster.

Red Sox reliever Tyler Thornburg likely headed to disabled list

Red Sox reliever Tyler Thornburg likely headed to disabled list

Righty Tyler Thornburg seems a guarantee to join David Price on the disabled list to start the season.

Thornburg, the biggest acquisition Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski made for the bullpen this winter, was scratched Monday because of a spasm in his upper right trapezius — not a great sign for a pitcher who already had throwing shoulder issues this spring.

Sox manager John Farrell told reporters in Florida the spasm was “not shoulder related.”  But the trap, a large muscle along the neck and back, does extend to the shoulder blade.

Dombrowski told reporters it is most likely that Thornburg starts the year on the disabled list. More is expected to be known Tuesday, possibly after an MRI.

Robby Scott could be a replacement for Thornburg. If so, the Sox would likely have three lefties in the bullpen, along with Fernando Abad and Robbie Ross Jr.

"Possibly. Possibly," Dombrowski said of Scott. “We still have to make those decisions. But possibly.”

Dombrowski didn’t indicate a desire to go outside the organization for now.

Thornburg had barely enough time to get ready for Opening Day prior to Monday’s setback. If he indeed starts the season on the DL, Joe Kelly would be the eighth-inning reliever for the Sox — a role Kelly was headed for anyway given Thornburg’s shaky spring.

Thornburg, 28, had a 2.15 ERA last season for the Brewers. The Sox picked him up at the winter meetings in a deal that sent Travis Shaw and prospects to the Milwaukee Brewers.