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RED SOX NOTEBOOK

He's set up for a good season

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Like the rest of the guys in the bullpen, Scott Williamson wanted the ball in the eighth inning in Yankee Stadium Oct. 16.

"I warmed up several times," he said yesterday after an early-morning workout at City of Palms Park. "I got up at the end of the eighth inning and in the ninth and after that. I was ready to go in. [Mike] Timlin and [Alan] Embree were up in the eighth. Timlin went out for the ninth and I just kind of started tossing. He did one [inning] and I thought I was going to take over from there, and then [Tim Wakefield] went in and I was warming up then."

Williamson had an up-and-down stint with the Red Sox after he was acquired from Cincinnati July 29. He slumped late in the season when his wife and newborn son both had complications after the child was born. However, he performed well in the playoffs. He was throwing close to 100 miles per hour.

"I went back to my old way of throwing and put everything together and it was a lot of fun," he said.

He saw his name in the non-trades that were reported when the Sox failed to get Alex Rodriguez. Williamson was slated to go with Nomar Garciaparra to the White Sox for Magglio Ordonez.

"I'm used to that," Williamson said. "The White Sox would have been a great opportunity for me to close, plus I still would have been able to play with Nomar. I wasn't too upset about it, but I really wanted to stay in Boston. Plus, I'm kind of glad A-Rod didn't come here because if he did, I wouldn't be here."

Williamson would like to audition for the job of No. 5 starter and has shared those thoughts with general manager Theo Epstein and manager Terry Francona.

"If someone gave me that option, I'd be starting," said the flamethrower. "We've got Keith Foulke, one of the premier closers, so I'd take a chance with the fifth spot. But they think I'm better suited in the bullpen and I want to do what helps us win."

Like many Sox players, Williamson will be a free agent at the end of the season. His wife and son are healthy and he looks forward to getting back to Yankee Stadium and getting the call.

"It sits there," he admitted. "As a bullpen guy, everybody wanted to be in there and take the fire out and go to the World Series. We couldn't wait to get to the World Series because it would have been less stressful. I don't think the Marlins would have beat us."

On camp grounds

Wearing a Phil Esposito Bruins jersey, Curt Schilling walked into a Red Sox spring training camp for the first time since he went to Winter Haven in 1988.

"They let me pitch batting practice and I hit Wade Boggs and they sent me out," said Schilling. "That was my time in the big league camp." Schilling was traded to the Orioles later that season, along with Brady Anderson, for Mike Boddicker.

Schilling arrived yesterday in an H-1 Hummer that changes colors when you walk around it (green to blue to purple to teal). He stretched, then threw on the side and off a mound. He signed autographs and spoke with the media.

"Things have been going well," said Schilling, who appeared slightly dome-bellied. "I've been throwing off a mound now for two weeks and I'm ready."

On A-Rod: "I believe this is a team that has a chance to win the world championship. A-Rod to the Yankees isn't going to change that."

Truck stop

The famed Red Sox truck was scheduled to arrive from Fenway last night and will be unloaded today. Pitchers and catchers report tomorrow and the first formal workout is Saturday. Meanwhile, several veterans -- Derek Lowe, Schilling, Ramiro Mendoza, Doug Mirabelli (who says he has gained 7 pounds, but looked trimmer) and Embree worked out with minor leaguers yesterday . . . Brian Daubach arrived in camp and was happy to be assigned his old No. 23 . . . Epstein will be in camp today and address the media.

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