PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. – Bobby Valentine has made his decision on the Red Sox rotation to start the season, but he won’t share it until Sunday.
Valentine said he still has not spoken to all of the people involved about their roles and would rather do that than announce it to the public.
The obvious decisions are fourth and fifth starter.
The most popular scenario has Daniel Bard and Felix Doubront rounding out a rotation of Jon Lester, Josh Beckett and Clay Buchholz. One fly in the ointment was Aaron Cook’s very good 68-pitch performance in a minor league game. Cook looks as if he’s ready to go north, but the Sox may hold him back at least until his May 1st opt out becomes an issue. Cook is scheduled to make his next outing on Monday.
The biggest decision will likely be on Alfredo Aceves, who was told to stretch out as a starting pitcher. He did. Except for one horrible outing against the Philadelphia Phillies last week, Aceves was very good in his starting role. But he also may be more valuable in the bullpen.
Valentine indicated that the 25th man on the team is still up for debate. A Red Sox lineup Saturday against Tampa Bay had all of the candidates – Pedro Ciriaco, Nate Spears, Jason Repko, and Mauro Gomez in the lineup.
Valentine said it did not appear likely that the team would go with three catchers, therefore the redhot Ryan Lavarnway would likely start in Pawtucket.
Valentine said about the 25th man and what those players might be going through, “I’ve been there. I know what it’s like.”
GM Ben Cherington said he was happy with the roster but indicated it was not perfect.
He said the biggest conversations and decisions made have come from the pitching ranks. He did not rule out a trade before the start of the season, but didn’t expect one.
He’s also been surprised by the industry-wide lethargy concerning deals.
Valentine said that one year he conducted a home run competition for the 25th spot. He couldn’t remember both players, but one was former Ranger Steve Kemp. He told the players, “whoever hits a home run in your next at-bat, you’re on the team.” Valentine remembers that Kemp hit either a home run or a double off the wall.
Valentine said he still hadn’t received the opinion of all the coaches.
One sleeper is big first baseman Mauro Gomez, who hit 24 homers and drove in 90 runs for AAA Gwinnett (Braves) last season while hitting .304.
“He’s shown me everything,” Valentine said. “the guy is a real hitter. Very calm? I like the way he swings.”
In other news:
* Cherington said Chris Carpenter, the main compensation received for Theo Epstein from the Cubs, had surgery to remove a bone spur in his elbow. Cherington said he hadn’t received a timetable for Carpenter’s return but said it’s generally an 8-10 week recovery before being able to throw again. Cherington indicated the Cubs are aware of the situation and that he has talked to Epstein and Jed Hoyer, but wouldn’t comment on whether the Red Sox were pursuing further compensation. The team was aware of Carpenter’s past elbow issues since they have access to his medical records.
* Cherington confirmed a report in Boston.com Friday that both Aaron Cook and Vicente Padilla had received $100,000 retention bonuses. They are given to six-year veterans who are under minor league contracts if the team wants to retain the player in the organization.
Padilla should make the team.
* Carl Crawford has progressed to live batting practice, but will remain in Fort Myers to gradually move up the ladder and eventually play in games. A May 1 timetable is still possible for Crawford, recovering from wrist surgery.