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Red Sox stock up minors

Pitchers dominate free agent signings

By Nick Cafardo
Globe Staff / January 4, 2012
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The Red Sox are still interested in free agent pitchers Roy Oswalt, Hiroki Kuroda, and Joe Saunders, but right now the price tags on them are not compatible with their budget restraints for the 2012 season.

That could change. Yesterday, the Sox did announce the addition of veteran righthander Carlos Silva, who was signed to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training, and 11 other minor league free agents who will get a look in major league camp.

The Red Sox and Yankees both have interest in Oswalt, but neither is willing to extend their budget to get him. Oswalt has also drawn interest from the Cardinals. Kuroda, the former Dodger, has expressed a preference to remain on the West Coast but has softened that stance a bit.

Silva, 32, pitched in the Yankees organization last season, combining to go 2-1 with a 2.75 ERA, 28 strikeouts, and six walks in 36 innings at Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Double A Trenton, and High Single A Tampa.

A veteran of nine major league seasons with the Phillies, Twins, Mariners, and Cubs, he is 70-70 with a 4.68 ERA, 554 strikeouts, and just 238 walks in 316 career appearances (180 starts).

According to the Red Sox, no active hurler with at least 750 innings pitched has fewer walks per nine innings than Silva (1.73). A native of Venezuela, he was originally signed by the Phillies as an international free agent in 1996.

Silva was traded by the Mariners to the Cubs for Milton Bradley before the 2010 season. The deal didn’t work out for either team.

The 11 other free agents signed were righthanded pitchers Brandon Duckworth, Charlie Haeger, Will Inman, Doug Mathis, Tony Pena Jr., and Chorye Spoone, lefthanded pitchers Jesse Carlson, Rich Hill, and Justin Thomas, shortstop Pedro Ciriaco, and utility player Nate Spears.

Carlson, 31, missed all of 2011 after having rotator cuff surgery May 24.

He last pitched in 2010, splitting the season between Toronto and its Triple A affiliate in Las Vegas.

He has appeared in 162 major league games, all with the Blue Jays, and has an 8-8 record and a 3.63 ERA.

A native of New Britain, Conn., Carlson attended the University of Connecticut.

Hill, 31, pitched in the Red Sox organization in 2011 before undergoing season-ending Tommy John surgery June 9. He threw eight scoreless innings over nine appearances out of the bullpen and has held opponents scoreless in all 15 outings with the Sox dating back to Sept. 14, 2010. It’s the longest scoreless streak ever to begin a Red Sox career.

The Milton native had established himself as Boston’s situational lefty before the injury.

Nick Cafardo can be reached at cafardo@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo.

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