Varitek re-signs with Boston; Okajima non-tendered

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Varitek re-signs with Boston; Okajima non-tendered

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

Not long ago, the Red Sox catching situation looked uncertain. Now, even before the start of the annual winter meetings, it appears solved.

The Red Sox Thursday agreed with veteran Jason Varitek on a one-year contract worth 2 million with 300,000 in additional incentives. The deal will bring Varitek back for a 13th season with the club, making him the second-longest tenured player with the team after pitcher Tim Wakefield.

Varitek, as he did in 2010, will serve primarily as the team's backup catcher. After pairing with Victor Martinez last year, Varitek will work as the reserve behind Jarrod Saltalamacchia, whom the Sox envision as the No. 1 receiver in 2011.

Varitek hit .232 with 7 homers and 16 RBI in 39 games last year, but his OPS of .766 was his highest figure since 2007.

He'll be asked to mentor Saltalamacchia, who, at 25, has played almost 1,300 fewer games than Varitek, the team's all-time leader in games played as a catcher. Varitek can help Saltalamacchia out when it comes to game-planning and preparation and share his knowledge of the league and its hitters.

Both Saltalamacchia and Varitek are switch-hitters, but Saltalamacchia, for now at least, is more proficient from the left side and Varitek more potent from the right side. That split will allow manager Terry Francona to spot Varitek mostly against opposing lefthanded starters.

Finally, Varitek will be asked to help get both John Lackey and Josh Beckett back on track. Beckett made no secret of his preference to throw to Varitek over Martinez last year, while Lackey was inconsistent from start to finish.

The Sox elected not to tender a contract to Hideki Okajima Thursday, the deadline for offering contracts to players eligible for salary arbitration.

The move makes Okajima a free agent immediately, but does not preclude him from re-signing with the Red Sox.

Also non-tendered: Pitchers Andrew Miller and Taylor Buchholz, both of whom were acquired since the end of the season. The Sox will most likely attempt to sign both for less money than they would have commanded had they been tendered contracts.

Okajima, who joined the Red Sox prior to the 2007 season, made 2.75 million last season. Had the Sox offered him a contract before Thursday midnight, it would have had to have been at least 80 percent of the 2.75 million he earned in 2010, or, 2.2 million.

For a reliever who has been less and less effective over his three seasons with the Sox, that made little financial sense.

If Okajima returns to the Sox, it will be as a lefty specialist, a role that current pays about half of that projected 2.2 million figure.

As the bullpen is currently constituted, the Sox have only one left-hander: Felix Doubront, who pitched in relief for the Sox in the second half of 2010 before missing the final month with a neckshoulder injury. Miller, however, is also left-handed.

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

Robbie Ross Jr. is getting elbow checked out

Robbie Ross Jr. is getting elbow checked out

Red Sox reliever Robbie Ross Jr.'s tough 2017 has reached a potentially scary moment.

Expected to be the team's lead lefty out of the bullpen, Ross has twice been demoted and struggled in the majors. Now, he's on the disabled list at Triple-A Pawtucket with inflammation in his throwing elbow — a health situation that might explain why he wasn't pitching well in the big leagues.

The Red Sox expect to know more about Ross' situation later in the week.

Ross hasn't pitched in game for Pawtucket since he was most recently optioned. If the 27-year-old was indeed hurt in the majors, it's possible he could retroactivley wind up on the major league disabled list. Ross was demoted May 19, and is on the DL retroactive to May 25. 

Per BrooksBaseball.net, Ross sat at 93 mph with his fastball on May 12. He dropped down to 92 in the following appearance, and the next two outings were at 91 mph. He averaged 94 mph in 2016.

Ross had a 7.00 ERA in eight major league appearances this year, striking out nine and walking five in nine innings. He posted a 3.25 ERA in a 2016 season where he established himself as a key member of the 'pen.

Ross said he was shocked when he was demoted for the first time this year. 

Robinson Cano, Guillermo Heredia homer in Mariners' 5-0 win over Red Sox

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Robinson Cano, Guillermo Heredia homer in Mariners' 5-0 win over Red Sox

BOSTON (AP)  Christian Bergman rebounded from a miserable start with seven shutout innings and the Seattle Mariners halted Boston's season-high six-game winning streak with a 5-0 victory over the Red Sox on Sunday.

Robinson Cano hit a two-run homer and Guillermo Heredia a solo shot for the Mariners, who averted a three-game sweep with just their second win in nine games. Seattle was shut out the first two games.

Bergman (2-2) allowed four hits, walked two and struck out two. He got a lot of help from his infielders when they turned a double play in each of the first four innings.

Three relievers completed the combined five-hitter, with closer Edwin Diaz getting the final three outs despite two errors by infielders.

Bergman was tagged for 14 hits and 10 runs over four innings in a loss his previous start.

Rick Porcello (3-6) gave up 11 hits, but only two runs in 6 1/3 innings.

Seattle finished one off its club record for most double plays turned in a game.

After being shut out for the first 21 innings of the series, the Mariners moved ahead 1-0 in the fourth when Kyle Seager raced home from third after Porcello bounced a pitch that went over catcher Sandy Leon's right shoulder and onto the screen. Seager had doubled leading off and advanced on Danny Valencia's single.

Heredia homered over the Green Monster in the eighth and Cano sent his into the center-field bleachers an inning later.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Mariners: RHP Hisashi Iwakuma, on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation, had another bullpen session Sunday because he wasn't happy with one a day earlier.

Red Sox: Manager John Farrell said 3B Pablo Sandoval, out since late April with a sprained right knee, will stay on his rehab assignment at Triple-A Pawtucket to get his "timing going" with more at-bats.

ROSTER MOVES

Seattle sent Saturday's losing pitcher, RHP Rob Whalen, to Triple-A Tacoma and brought up RHP Ryne Harper from the same club.

The Red Sox also made moves with pitchers, sending Saturday's winner, lefty Brian Johnson, to Triple-A Pawtucket and promoting RHP Blaine Boyer for a day. Boyer will go back down Monday when ace David Price is activated.

Boyer made his Red Sox debut, retiring the only two batters he faced.

UP NEXT

Mariners: RHP Sam Gaviglio (0-1, 1.38 ERA) is set to make his third major-league start when they open a two-game series Monday at Colorado. RHP Tyler Chatwood (4-6, 4.50) is scheduled for the Rockies.

Red Sox: LHP Price makes his season debut Monday in Chicago against the White Sox after being sidelined since early spring training with a strained left elbow.

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