INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — The Red Sox need a right fielder, left fielder, first baseman, and at least one starting pitcher. That is good news for Jose Iglesias.
With so many holes to fill in the lineup, general manager Ben Cherington said Thursday that shortstop was a “back-burner” issue. Iglesias, 22, has no guarantees. But it’s clear the hope is for him to earn the job in spring training.
“I think we’re going to see where we are,” said Cherington. “We think Jose is ready to help the major league team, depending on what the rest of the team looks like. If we feel like we need to build some protection in that area, as the offseason goes on, we’ll consider that.
“Nobody is going to be given anything. If he’s given an opportunity to win the job in spring training, then he’ll have to win the job.”
The defensively gifted Iglesias was 8 of 68 (.118) in 25 games last season, looking overmatched in most of his plate appearances. Iglesias will not play winter ball. He has been told instead to work on becoming stronger.
“We’ve talked to him a lot about his offseason and about the importance of a good offseason from a strength standpoint,” Cherington said. “He has a plan in place and people that he’s working with.”
The Red Sox have Pedro Ciriaco on the roster, but he is viewed as more of a bench player. Cherington said 20-year-old shortstop Xander Bogaerts, the organization’s top prospect, would likely be invited to spring training. But they’re expecting him to start 2013 in the minors.
The Red Sox could add a veteran infielder to challenge Iglesias.
Tuck is in the fold
Gary Tuck will return for his seventh season as bullpen coach and catching instructor, Cherington said. No terms were disclosed, but the team worked out a new contract with Tuck, 58, before his option came due.
Tuck was bullpen coach under John Farrell from 2007-10. Cherington said he and Farrell both thought it was important to have at least one coach return from last season’s staff.
“Aside from his skill as a catching instructor and a smart baseball guy, he’s got a lot of insight into our players from this year and nobody else on the staff was going to have that,” Cherington said. “We thought that was important.”
The Red Sox still need to hire a hitting coach and a first base coach. They received permission from the Yankees to speak with special assistant Tino Martinez about being hitting coach, but Martinez took that position with the Marlins Thursday.
Cherington and Farrell will conduct interviews with other candidates starting this weekend. The Sox intend on hiring a hitting coach and an assistant hitting coach.
A closing thought
The Sox are interested in free agent righthander Kyuji Fujikawa , 32, who has been one of the best closers in Japan . . . Bids were due Thursday for Korean lefthanded starter Ryu-Hyun Jin , who has been posted by the Hanwha Eagles and is represented by Scott Boras. Cherington would not say whether the Sox are involved but did acknowledge that the team has done a lot of work on Jin and knows him well . . . If the Sox decide to platoon at first base, Cherington mentioned Mauro Gomez and Jerry Sands as possible fits from the right side. Gomez hit .275 in 37 games last season. Sands, obtained from the Dodgers in August, played only nine games in the majors last season but hit .296 in Triple A . . . The Sox signed 30-year-old outfielder Mitch Maier to a minor league deal and invited him to spring training. A career .248 hitter in parts of six seasons with the Royals, Maier was designated for assignment last season and sent to Triple A.
After going a season without a medical director, the Red Sox named Dr. Laurence Ronan to that post. Ronan was the team’s head internist last season. The Sox also named physical therapist Dan Dyrek as coordinator of sports medicine service. He had been a consultant. Cherington said the promotions were part of a restructuring that began a year ago. “For all intents and purposes, the structure is in place,” Cherington said. “Hopefully this will work for a long time.” As the Globe reported last week, head physical therapist Mike Reinold is not returning to that post. Massage therapist Mitsugi Funatsu also will not return. The Red Sox had 24 players go on the disabled list a total of 34 times last season.
During a speaking engagement at Salem State College Thursday night, former Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine gleefully announced that he has “moved on.”
“I’m the kind of guy who flips the page,” said Valentine. “I wake up each day like it’s going to be the best day of my life.”
He worked the room like a stand-up comedian, regaling the crowd of about 1,000 with stories, especially from last season.
On Farrell: “I’ve never met John, but I wish him the best. He gets along well with the front office. That’s a good start.”
On Carmine the computer: “I must have gone back and asked Carmine six times, ‘What do I do here?’ All six times, the answer was, ‘Fire the manager.’ I think it was broken or something.”
On the importance of a manager on a professional team: “I didn’t have anything to do with this season.”