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Well-traveled Silva sees a golden opportunity

Righthander Carlos Silva is coming off some rough recent seasons but is hoping to get up to speed in Red Sox camp. Righthander Carlos Silva is coming off some rough recent seasons but is hoping to get up to speed in Red Sox camp. (Jim Davis/Globe Staff)
By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / February 24, 2012
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FORT MYERS, Fla. - The Red Sox were interested in signing righthander Carlos Silva in November. But he was not ready to make a decision at that point.

“I was happy they called,’’ he said yesterday. “But I wanted to be sure what I wanted to do. I had to be strong with my feelings. So I waited.’’

What convinced him was the day Sox pitching coach Bob McClure attended one of his workouts in Florida.

“That caught my attention very much,’’ Silva said. “He told me what he thought and what my opportunities were. I was pretty excited to play for this team.’’

For Silva, the idea that a team wanted him was enough, given the way the last few years of his career went.

He was a fairly reliable starter for the Twins from 2004-07, going 47-45 with a 4.42 ERA and averaging a little less than 200 innings a season.

That led Seattle to offer him a four-year deal worth $48 million. Silva was 5-18 with a 6.82 ERA and made only 34 starts in two seasons for the Mariners. He was then traded to the Cubs for outfielder Milton Bradley in an exchange of bad contracts.

The Mariners were so eager to be rid of Silva that they included $9 million in the deal.

Silva pitched well initially for the Cubs, but had a 6.15 ERA in his final 10 starts and was released out of spring training last season. He blasted the Cubs on his way out the door, saying he was not given a fair chance.

That drew the ire of Jim Hendry, then the general manager of the Cubs. He said Silva was not dealing in reality.

The Yankees signed Silva to a minor league contract. But he made only five minor league appearances because of shoulder pain.

Now he has a chance to start over again with the Sox, who have holes in their rotation. Silva is in camp on a minor league contract. He will earn $1 million if he makes the team.

“I feel like I have a chance to prove something now,’’ he said. “I’m healthy and my shoulder is the best it has been in years.’’

Silva, who turns 33 in April, is young enough to believe he can return to form. He has always relied on location more than velocity, which aids his cause.

“I can still pitch,’’ he said. “I can help this team.’’

Silva, Aaron Cook, and Vicente Padilla may be competing for one spot on the roster. But their real chance may not come until later, if they start the season with Triple A Pawtucket.

“This is not a place to impress. This isn’t the time to impress and make teams,’’ manager Bobby Valentine said. “They’re on a pace to get to the games, to get to the place where they’ll have their opportunity to shine.’’

Oswalt will wait

Free agent righthander Roy Oswalt has decided to wait until midseason and sign with a contending team, according to agent Bob Garber.

The Red Sox were one of the teams that tried to sign Oswalt. But he wants to play closer to his home in Mississippi. The Cardinals and Rangers were involved at one point but no deal was struck.

Red Sox GM Ben Cherington said he did not anticipate any additions being made to the roster.

Valentine reiterated that he is comfortable with the team’s pitching depth.

“History is a great teacher, and recent history showed me that the team that won our division last year [the Yankees] had no fourth or fifth starter coming into spring training,’’ he said. “That’s as comfortable as I am.

“A Roy Oswalt, I’d be maybe more comfortable. But I wouldn’t be totally comfortable. What did he pitch, 136 innings last year?’’

It was 139 innings. But close enough that the point stands.

Live action

Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Daniel Bard, Alfredo Aceves, and Andrew Bailey were among the pitchers who threw live batting practice to minor leaguers from behind a screen.

“You get to see pitchers outside of the bullpen, and that’s a step in the right direction,’’ Valentine said. “I thought Lester had really nice downward plane, as they like to say. He was keeping the ball down well.’’

Bard worked on his changeup and sinker, two secondary pitches he will need as he makes the transition to starter.

“Seeing Andrew Bailey for the first time in the middle of the diamond in a Red Sox uniform was great to see,’’ Valentine said. “I thought his curveball and his cutters were just where he wants to be this time of the spring.’’

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

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