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RED SOX NOTEBOOK

City of Palms to expand

300 more seats on tap for spring

When demand exceeded supply at Fenway Park, Red Sox ownership did the only thing they could, next to tearing down the hallowed yard: They built more seats.

They're now taking that approach at City of Palms Park in Fort Myers, Fla. The club announced yesterday the addition of 300 seats to its spring training facility in time for the March 3 opener. The new seats, all located on grounds that used to be part of foul territory, will not be cheap.

About 70 new home plate box seats will sell for $44 apiece. More than 120 dugout box seats, to be installed next to the Sox dugout down the left-field line, will be priced at $40 for the first row and $36 for the second row. And nearly 100 reserved seats ($21) will be added down the right-field line. Before the expansion, the top seat at City of Plams cost $24.

Those 300 seats, which will be available for all 16 home games beginning Saturday at 10 a.m., are the only ones remaining for the nine games the club put on sale in early December. Tickets for the remaining seven home games also will be available Saturday at 10. Those games are: March 6 (Phillies), March 7 (Yankees), March 10 (Dodgers), March 12 (Devil Rays), March 17 (Marlins), March 19 (Orioles), and March 27 (Pirates).

Tickets can be purchased at City of Palms Park, www.redsox.com, or by calling (617) 482-4SOX.

Meanwhile, in New York, the day after the Yankees introduced Randy Johnson, the club surpassed 2 million tickets sold. This is the fastest the Yankees have crossed that threshold. They already have sold out their 15 regular-season home games against the Red Sox, Mets, and Cubs.

At this rate, the Yankees could make a run at drawing an unprecedented 4 million fans. Last season's team drew a club-record 3.8 million. Yankee Stadium is capable of holding close to 4.6 million people over 81 games.

New York's spring training games sold out in record time.

Vazquez signs
The Sox avoided arbitration with Ramon Vazquez, signing the utility infielder to a one-year, non-guaranteed deal worth $700,000 plus $50,000 in performance bonuses.

Vazquez, whom the Sox received along with Jay Payton in the Dave Roberts deal with San Diego, hit .235 in 52 games last season. The 28-year-old is a .262 career hitter in 313 games with Seattle and San Diego.

"Ramon is a sure-handed fielder on both sides of the bag with solid on-base skills," said general manager Theo Epstein.

Dinner plans
The 66th annual Boston Baseball Writers Dinner is tonight at the Sheraton Boston. Tickets, which usually can be had up until the day of the dinner, sold out in a matter of days.

But those attending might be disappointed with the Red Sox player representation. The list begins and ends with Tim Wakefield.

Though all Sox players received invitations, and four (Johnny Damon, Curt Schilling, Keith Foulke, and Manny Ramirez) are receiving awards, only Wakefield promised he'd attend. Schilling, who will be named Red Sox Pitcher of the Year, will be speak via satellite from his home in Arizona.

Those confirmed for tonight include: Red Sox manager Terry Francona, Epstein, Yankees pitcher Carl Pavano, and Cardinals manager Tony La Russa. Red Sox owner John W. Henry will likely attend.

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