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

With trade rumors finally over, Sale shifts attention to dominating in Boston

With trade rumors finally over, Sale shifts attention to dominating in Boston

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- Chris Sale had been the subject of so many trade rumors for the past year that he admitted feeling somewhat like "the monkey in the middle.”

On Tuesday, the rumors became reality when Sale learned he was being shipped to the Red Sox in exchange for a package of four prospects.
    
It meant leaving the Chicago White Sox, the only organization he'd known after being drafted 13th overall by Chicago in 2010. Leaving, he said, is "bittersweet.''
     
Now, he can finally move forward.
     
"Just to have the whole process out of the way and get back to some kind of normalcy will be nice,” said Sale Wednesday morning in a conference call with reporters.

Sale had been linked in trade talks to many clubs, most notably the Washington Nationals, who seemed poised to obtain him as recently as Monday night.

Instead, Sale has changed his Sox from White to Red.

"I'm excited,” he said. "You're talking about one of the greatest franchises ever. I'm excited as anybody. I don't know how you couldn't be. I've always loved going to Boston, pitching in Boston. (My wife and I) both really like the city and (Fenway Park) is a very special place.”
     
It helps that Sale lives in Naples, Fla., just 20 or so miles from Fort Myers, the Red Sox' spring training base. Sale played his college ball at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers.
     
"Being able to stay in our house a couple of (more) months,” gushed Sale, “it couldn't have worked out better personally or professionally for us.”
     
Sale joins a rotation with two Cy Young Award winners (David Price and reigning winner Rick Porcello), a talented core of mostly younger position players and an improved bullpen.

"There's no reason not to be excited right now,” said Sale. "You look at the talent on this team as a whole... you can't ask for much more.”

Sale was in contact with Price Tuesday, who was the first Red Sox player to reach out. He also spoke with some mutual friends of Porcello.

That three-headed monster will carry the rotation, and the internal competition could lift them all to new heights.
     
"The good thing in all of this,'' Sale said, "is that I can definitely see a competition (with) all of us pushing each others, trying to be better. No matter who's pitching on a (given) night, we have as good or better chance the next night. That relieves some of the pressure that might build on some guys (who feel the need to carry the team every start).”

But Sale isn't the least bit interested in being known as the ace of the talented trio.

"I don’t think that matters,” he said. "When you have a group of guys who come together and fight for the same purpose, nothing else really matters. We play for a trophy, not a tag.”

Sale predicted he would be able to transition from Chicago to Boston without much effort, and didn't seem overwhelmed by moving to a market where media coverage and fan interest will result in more scrutiny.

"It's fine, it's a part of it, it's reality,” he said. "I'm not a big media guy. I'm not on Twitter. I'm really focused on the in-between-the-lines stuff. That's what I love, playing the game of baseball. Everything else will shake out.”

After playing before small crowds and in the shadow of the  Cubs in Chicago, Sale is ready to pitch before sellout crowds at Fenway.

"I'm a firm believer that energy can be created in ballparks,” he said. "I don't think there’s any question about it. When you have a packed house and everyone's on their feet in the eighth inning, that gives every player a jolt.”