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Closing time

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff  February 19, 2007 12:43 PM

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Add Mike Timlin to the list of candidates to close for the Red Sox.

Manager Terry Francona said today that the veteran reliever is probably one the pitchers who could be tabbed with the role if need be by the time camp breaks.

“He’s probably a candidate to be our closer if things don’t pan out,” Francona said.” But his value is so much needed, whether it’s the 6th 7th or 8th inning….He’s so versatile but he can close. He can do anything we ask him to do, and that’s huge.”

Last season, Timlin struggled down the stretch, finishing 6-6 with a 4.36 ERA. Francona said that he was convinced that his participation in the World Baseball Classic affected him during the season.

“It was a battle the whole year,” Francona said. “I think he was behind the gun from the day he got back from the WBC.”

Of the names most mentioned as the top prospects to be the team’s closer, Manny Delcarmen, Craig Hansen, and Joel Piniero all threw off mounds today during workouts, as did Timlin. Francona said it is the team’s job over the next few weeks to assign roles to specific pitchers.

“The biggest thing is, it’s not a competition,” Francona said. “We’ve got names out there and we want to get them in roles where we feel we’re best suited to compete every day.”

  • Francona said that he’s kept in touch with Coco Crisp this winter by e-mail - “Coco is a good e-mailer,”- and said that the Boston outfielder has been hitting during the offseason and, when batting lefthanded, had expressed a lingering pain in his finger, which he injured last season, but nothing serious.

    “He’s hitting both ways,” Francona said. “I think that he still felt it there, but I don’t think he was concerned about spring training.”

  • Humorous moment when Francona was looking for the correct word to describe new shortstop Julio Lugo.

    “Is cavalier the right word?” he asked.

    When told that cavalier meant indifferent, Francona looked elsewhere.

    “Charismatic?” offered one reporter. No, something else.

    “Energetic?” Nope.

    “Infectious?” Francona shook his head. “We’re not looking for any infections in camp.”

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