BOSTON -- It could be weeks -- or even months -- before a resolution is reached, but, according to a baseball source, the Red Sox are one of the most interested teams in pursuit of Japanese phenom Shohei Otani, an 18-year old high school pitcher.
Otani has made it clear that he wishes to pitch in Major League Baseball.
"It's been my dream to play in the majors since I started school,'' Otani told a news agency recently. "I want to play over there as early as possible. I will learn the hard way. I understand the risks. It's not about the money. It's about following my dream."
Otani has been compared to Yu Darvish of the Texas Rangers, with a fastball in the mid-to-upper 90s.
The Japanese amateur draft is later this week and though Otani has signaled his intention to pitch in North America, it's possible he could still be drafted by a team in Nippon Professional Baseball, which would complicate his availability to an MLB team.
Other clubs said to have interest in Otani include the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees and Rangers.
The Boston Red Sox put up six runs in the first inning and coasted to a 9-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday night.
Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. led the way for the Red Sox with four and three RBI respectfully. Both outfielders had two-run home runs in the Sox’ big first inning.
Knuckleballer Steven Wright gave up one earned run in four innings, his ERA for the spring is now 0.68.
The Red Sox are back in action again on Wednesday at 1:05 p.m when Rick Porcello makes his final spring training start against the Minnesota Twins.
Infielder Marco Hernandez may make the Red Sox roster after all.
Fellow infielder Josh Rutledge, the presumptive 25th man on the Red Sox, suffered a left hamstring strain on Tuesday against the Pirates, according to reporters in Florida, including Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald.
If Rutledge isn’t ready for opening day, Hernandez, a left-handed hitter, may have his crack.
The question is whether the Sox would be comfortable without a right-handed bat to complement both Pablo Sandoval and Mitch Moreland on the corners. Rutledge was going to give the Sox that right-handed look they sought. (When Hanley Ramirez's shoulder will be healthy enough to play first base is unclear, but isn't expected to be too long.)
Neither Rutledge nor Hernandez has played first base in the majors or minors.
A big-league rookie last year, Hernandez has done decently against lefties at the upper levels of the minors, hitting .328 vs. them at Triple-A Pawtucket last season in 67 at-bats. He hit .315 in 54 at-bats at Pawtucket, with a .318 average against them that season in 88 at-bats for Double-A Portland.
Rutledge is a Rule 5 draft pick who has to remain on the major league 25-man roster the whole season or the Sox risk losing him. Placement on the disabled list doesn’t affect his status unless he’s on the disabled list for a very lengthy time.
An alternative option is Steve Selsky, who has first-base experience, but he's already been optioned.