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Bad back dogs Remy

He hopes surgery won't delay him

The Red Sox face the possibility that one of their key operatives will be playing hurt -- though still talking a good game -- when the spring training telecasts begin March 4 with a game against Minnesota. TV analyst Jerry Remy is having back surgery today. Remy, who had his 10th knee operation last November, found that the nagging back troubles were hindering his rehab.

"You name it, I tried it: exercise, shots, therapy," he said. "But nothing worked, and it came down to the last resort: surgery."

He traces the back injury to a spring training tumble when a chair went out from under him at the Twins' Lee County Sports Complex last year. Needless to say, he'll be sitting more gingerly there this year -- perhaps on a people-sized version of one of those Adirondack chairs he sells for Wally, his beanbag buddy, on www.theremyreport.com.

"They tell me it'll be 4-6 weeks for a full recovery," said Remy. "I'm hoping three weeks will be enough for what I have to do at spring training. Eight weeks of not sleeping right and not being able to work out and rehab my knee was enough to convince me it was time to get it fixed."

With the Patriots moving into post-Super Bowl mode, the Sox broadcast folks have been preparing for baseball season.

NESN released its TV schedule yesterday. In the Boston designated market area, which consists of Eastern Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire, NESN will air 125 regular-season games and five spring training games. Channel 4/38 will do 28 regular-season games (mostly Fridays, plus July 4 and Aug. 1, both Sundays, unless they're taken as national games). Outside the Boston DMA, NESN will carry all of the above-referenced 153 regular-season games. The remaining nine regular-season games are set aside for Fox and ESPN.

Don Orsillo, who called last night's Beanpot final, will work the NESN games, and Sean McDonough is back to call the 4/38 games. Remy said there was no truth to the rumor that his back woes stemmed from carrying two play-by-play guys, not to mention his occasional Saturday calls for Fox national telecasts.

Sox radio voice Joe Castiglione is just back from the team's Fantasy Camp at Fort Myers, Fla., but he was a non-participant in the games this year. Instead, he worked as the PA announcer. Among the 120 happy campers was network newsman Morton Dean. "A lot of folks figured this camp would run its course a decade ago," said Castiglione, "but it's going stronger than ever."

Castiglione and Remy both have books coming out. Castiglione's "Baseball Rites and Sites," due out at midseason, is a fan's guide to visiting ballparks and cities around the sport. "You won't find many art museums in there," he said, "but there will be a lot of good Italian restaurants." Remy's "Watching Baseball: Discovering the Game within the Game" is due out next month and offers insights on viewing games like a player, manager, or TV analyst.

Dennis Eckersley remains under consideration for "Baseball Tonight" duty at ESPN. His work at NESN opened some eyes in Bristol, but ESPN isn't keen on having its people work for other outlets, and the Eck likely can do better remaining in Boston, where he's been building a following with his shoot-from-the-hip style.

WEEI is finalizing deals for Sox-related guests. Remy and Sox CEO Larry Lucchino will return as weekly regulars with the morning "Dennis and Callahan" show. Program director Jason Wolfe is working on having manager Terry Francona and station regular Sean McAdam do a weekly gig on the midday "Dale and Neumy" show. ESPN's Peter Gammons again will do a weekly segment on the afternoon "Big Show with Glenn Ordway." So, too, may pitcher Curt Schilling.

Award winners

Globe football and boxing writer Ron Borges has been named Massachusetts Sportswriter of the Year for the second straight year and third time in five years by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. Channel 5's Mike Lynch was named Massachusetts Sportscaster of the Year for the 10th time. He also won from 1985-91 and again in 1998 and 1999. From its humble beginnings as an adjunct to the Greensboro Open golf tournament in 1959, the association, now headquartered in Salisbury, N.C., has enshrined 72 media members in its Hall of Fame . . . Francona, Ellis Burks, and Johnny Damon will join host Bob Rodgers on "Red Sox Inside Out" tomorrow (10:30 p.m.) following Bruins-Penguins (NESN, 7:30 p.m.) . . . Globe columnists Jackie MacMullan and Michael Holley join host Bob Lobel to talk baseball Thursday on "Sportsplus" on NESN at 10:30 p.m. following Bruins-Senators . . . NESN has a college basketball doubleheader tomorrow night: Boston College-Miami at 7:30, followed by Northeastern-Hartford at 9:30 . . . CN8 has unbeaten (20-0) and third-ranked Saint Joseph's vs. Dayton tomorrow night at 7.

Bill Griffith's e-mail address is griffith@globe.com

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