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Friday, November 30, 2012
Sox nontender Sweeney, Atchison, Hill

By Gordon Edes

Ryan Sweeney
Ryan Sweeney never really got on track in his brief time in Boston.
BOSTON -- Underscoring the one-sidedness of last winter's deal with the Oakland Athletics in which former Sox outfielder Josh Reddick emerged as a star, the Red Sox announced Friday they were not offering a 2013 contract to outfielder Ryan Sweeney, who came from the Athletics with closer Andrew Bailey.

Sweeney, whose season came to an end on July 31 when he fractured the knuckle on his little finger punching a dugout door, was one of three players the Sox nontendered. The other two were pitchers Rich Hill and Scott Atchison, who have been through this process before. All three are now free agents, though Hill and Atchison could wind up back in the Sox organization on minor league contracts with an invitation to big league camp.

The Sox offered contracts to the other 30 players on their roster who were not already under contract, including reliever Alfredo Aceves, who some had speculated might not be tendered after clashing with manager Bobby Valentine last season. New manager John Farrell, though, has identified Aceves as a pitcher whose versatility makes him valuable to the team; the Sox could also package him in a trade.

None of the moves was unexpected. The left-handed Hill was coming off Tommy John elbow surgery. The right-handed Atchison missed the last 55 games of the season with a strained right elbow, although he elected to forgo reconstructive surgery in the hope that rest and rehabilitation would be sufficient for his recovery.

Sweeney, projected to platoon with Cody Ross in right field, was hampered with injuries from the outset, straining a quad muscle in spring training. In May, he sustained a concussion that caused him to miss seven games, then less than a month later sustained a stress fracture of his left big toe, missing 18 games. He then missed another three games in July with a sore left hamstring before punching the dugout door in frustration and fracturing his finger, an injury that required a screw to be inserted in surgery.

Sweeney played in just 63 games (50 starts), batting .260 (53-for-204) with no home runs and 16 RBIs. Though Sweeney is just 27 and the Sox have a clear need for outfielders, his lack of power undoubtedly played a role in the club's decision to nontender him. Sweeney has hit just one home run in 303 plate appearances since July 24, 2011.

With these moves, Boston's 40-man roster is now at 37.