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Sox finally get their man -- Crisp

Indians go for deal after Boston adds cash, possible prospect

He's small and he's quick but the process it took to acquire him was anything but.

Six days after reaching an agreement in principle, three days after Guillermo Mota's underwhelming physical, and one day after the deal teetered on the precipice of collapse, the Red Sox added cash considerations, and a player to be named or further cash considerations, to their offer and got their man: Cleveland's Coco Crisp.

The deal, announced by Red Sox executive vice president/general manager Theo Epstein last night, was expanded to seven players, including the six in the initial agreement.

Crisp, 26, who will succeed Johnny Damon in center field and atop the lineup, 29-year-old righthander David Riske, and 27-year-old switch-hitting catcher Josh Bard are coming to Boston. The Sox' top prospect, 22-year-old Andy Marte, is headed to the Indians, along with Mota, 25-year-old catcher Kelly Shoppach, a player to be named, and cash.

It was not known how much money the Sox would be sending to Cleveland, but this deal required commissioner Bud Selig's approval, and, as a rule, Selig must approve any transaction that involves more than $1 million changing hands.

The Sox secured Crisp without giving up Hyde Park's Manny Delcarmen, whom the Indians asked for after inspecting Mota and expressing displeasure with the condition of his pitching shoulder.

The deal came together last night but appeared to be gaining momentum midday yesterday, when several outlets reported that Indians reliever Arthur Rhodes was in Philadelphia for a physical. Cleveland and Philadelphia had agreed to a Rhodes-for-Jason Michaels swap last week (the deal was announced yesterday), with the intention of Michaels taking over for Crisp in Cleveland. But, for the last few days that deal was believed to be in a holding pattern as the Sox and Indians worked through their differences.

Crisp, who is unsigned and seeking $3.05 million in arbitration, brings the Sox an intriguing bat atop the order. He hit .300 last year with 42 doubles, 16 home runs, 69 RBIs, 15 stolen bases, and 86 runs. He was rated the best defensive left fielder in baseball by the Hardball Times and played left only because the Indians have an even younger and better option in center field in 23-year-old Grady Sizemore.

But, based upon Crisp's production last season, he figures to be among baseball's most offensively capable center fielders. Among center fielders in both leagues, only Damon (.316), Milwaukee's Brady Clark (.306), and Cincinnati's Ken Griffey Jr. (.301) hit for a better average last year than Crisp. Only Griffey (.946), Atlanta's Andruw Jones (.922), St. Louis's Jim Edmonds (.918), and Sizemore (.832) posted a better on-base-plus-slugging than Crisp's .810.

Indians general manager Mark Shapiro, in a long-ago scheduled get-together with Cleveland writers, refused yesterday afternoon to address details of talks with the Sox. But, in discussing his team's coming season, he was asked about Crisp.

''He's just entering his prime right now," Shapiro said. ''He definitely has upside beyond what he's already accomplished. The question and the unknown is how much power he still has. He's an energy player that can impact the game on both sides of the ball, but he needs to get better against lefthanded pitchers."

Shapiro was referring to an odd shift last year in Crisp's left/right splits. Crisp, a switch hitter, became a regular in 2003, and in his three full seasons has hit .291 lefthanded and .287 righthanded, with similar power and extra-base output from each side of the plate.

However, after batting .321 righthanded in 2003 and .311 in 2004, he slipped to .248 last season. His success from the left side has followed a similarly odd path. Batting lefthanded, he has hit .245, .290, and then .327.

Crisp's acquisition leaves the Sox with only one positional vacancy, at shortstop, and the club continues to move toward signing Alex Gonzalez. The former Marlin, who turns 29 next month, would come with a reputation of being one of baseball's best at turning the double play and making the breathtaking play. However, Gonzalez is a .245 career hitter with a .291 on-base percentage and would almost definitely bat ninth. He did bat .264 with a .319 OBP last year but connected for just five homers, a season after launching 23.

Any day now, the Sox also will announce the addition of former Rockie Dustan Mohr, who has been signed to a minor league contract. Mohr, 29, managed a career-high 17 homers in just 266 at-bats last year. But, he hit 13 of those at Coors Field and batted just .214, a season after hitting .274 with a .394 on-base percentage in 117 games with San Francisco. Mohr has played predominantly in right field and figures to contend for the team's fourth outfield spot. If he makes the club, Mohr could spell Trot Nixon against lefthanded starting pitchers.

Single-game tickets, with the exception of games against the Yankees, will go on sale via the Internet (redsox.com) and phone (617-482-4SOX) this morning at 10. There is a two-game, four-ticket-per-game limit. The club will release tickets to the nine games against the Yankees at a later date through a lottery. Green Monster and right-field roof deck seats also will be sold in this manner at a later date.

Fans with disabilities should call 877-REDSOX-9 to purchase tickets. The number for hearing-impaired fans is 617-226-6644. Do not attempt to buy tickets at the park today; the Fenway box office doesn't open until Feb. 11.

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