By Sean McAdam
The Red Sox' bullpen for 2011 is beginning to take shape, as the team has reached agreement with ex-Tampa Bay reliever (and Warwick, RI) native Dan Wheeler on a one-year contract, plus an option for 2012.
The news was first reported by ESPN Boston and later by WEEI.com.
Wheeler, 33, has pitched for Tampa Bay since 2007. He had a 2-4 record with 3 saves and a 3.35 ERA in 48 13 innings over 64 games for the Rays last season. His WHIP was 1.076, after having been below 1.0 (0.995 in 2008 and 0.867 in 2009) over the two previous years.
Wheeler broke into the majors with the Rays in 1999 and pitched parts of three seasons for them before being released on Dec. 13, 2001. He spent 2002 in the Braves' organization and was released again, then signed with the Mets and spent his first full year in the major leagues in New York in 2003. He was traded to the Astros in August 2004, and then back to Tampa Bay in July 2007.
He earned 3.5 million last season. He will make 3 million in 2011, and the option -- which kicks in if he appears in 65 games -- for 2012 is also worth 3 million. It will rise to 3.25 million if he appears in 75 games in '11.
Since the end of the season, the Red Sox have rebuilt their bullpen with Wheeler, Bobby Jenks and Matt Albers from the right side, and Andrew Miller and Lenny DiNardo from the left. They join returnees Jonathan Papelbon, Daniel Bard, Scott Atchison, Tim Wakefield, Felix Doubront, Michael Bowden and Rich Hill.
Sean McAdam can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam
The Red Sox (93-67) look to close in on the No. 2 seed in the A.L. playoffs and home-field advantage in the Division Series with the Cleveland Indians (92-67) with a victory over the Toronto Blue Jays tonight at Fenway Park.
The Red Sox send left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez (3-7, 4.68 ERA) to the mound against left-hander J.A. Happ (20-4, 3.20). Rodriguez is expected to pitch either Game 3 or 4 of the Division Series against the Indians next week.
If both teams finish with 94 wins, the Red Sox hold the tiebreaker over the Indians, based on Boston winning the season series, 4-2. The Indians may have to play a makeup game Monday with the Detroit Tigers.
The Jays are a game behind the Baltimore Orioles for the top A.L. wild-card spot and hold a half-game lead over the Detroit Tigers for the second wild-card spot.
Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts moves back to his customary No. 2 spot in the batting order after hitting sixth Friday night. Right-handed hitting Aaron Hill is at third base and Christian Vazquez catches for Boston.
There will be the second of three ceremonies this weekend to honor retiring Red Sox DH David Ortiz before the game.
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Mookie Betts RF
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Chris Young LF
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Aaron Hill 3B
Christian Vazquez C
Eduardo Rodriguez LHP
Devon Travis 2B
Josh Donaldson 3B
Edwin Encarnacion 1B
Jose Bautista DH
Russell Martin C
Troy Tulowitzki SS
Melvin Upton LF
Kevin Pillar CF
Ezequiel Carrera RF
J.A. Happ LHP
Lou Merloni and Dan Shaughnessy discuss Boston Red Sox pitcher Rick Porcello's chance of winning the CY Young award and if his performance on Friday may have lost his chances.