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Red Sox notebook

Bullpen revamp begins

Team close to deal for Orioles’ Albers

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / December 15, 2010

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The Red Sox will need significant moves to strengthen their bullpen. But add righthander Matt Albers to the pitchers who will be competing for a spot on the roster in spring training.

According to a major league source, the Sox were close to completing a deal for Albers last night. Albers, who turns 28 next month, had a 4.52 earned run average over 75 2/3 innings for Baltimore last season.

Albers was one of five players Houston traded to Baltimore before the 2008 season to obtain infielder Miguel Tejada. Albers has a 4.60 ERA and a 1.529 WHIP over three seasons with the Orioles.

Beyond the durability he has shown, Albers has been adept at inducing groundballs and has a fastball that hovers in the low to mid 90s. The Sox believe he can improve on the 5.9 strikeouts per nine innings he averaged last season.

The Sox are focused almost solely on relievers at this point unless something unexpected arises.

The team had interest in free agent catcher Russell Martin before he agreed to terms with the Yankees yesterday.

Barring a trade, the Sox seem prepared to start the season with Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jason Varitek behind the plate.

No deal for Blanton The signing of lefthander Cliff Lee to a five-year, $120 million deal had the Phillies in the mood to clear some payroll Monday night.

One of the calls general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. made was to the Sox to gauge their interest in Joe Blanton, a 30-year-old righthander due to make $17 million over the next two seasons.

The Sox listened, but that was the extent of it. By dawn, a report on Twitter by Sports Illustrated said that the Red Sox “had a deal in place’’ with Blanton.

Team sources swiftly denied that the Sox had traded for Blanton and expressed little interest in revisiting that idea.

For now Blanton remains with the Phillies.

Tickets move fast The Sox sold 238,818 tickets over the weekend according to a team press release. Sales for some ticket packages and select games started at 10 a.m. Saturday.

Approximately 2,500 fans attended the Christmas at Fenway event Saturday.

The Sox have not announced when their remaining tickets will go on sale.

Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.

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