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Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Cherington: Still looking at OF, 1B

By Joe McDonald

NASHVILLE -- The Boston Red Sox and general manager Ben Cherington have been productive during the winter meetings and that continued on Day 2 at the Opryland Hotel with news that the club has agreed with outfielder Shane Victorino on a three-year deal worth $39 million.

So far, the Red Sox have added first baseman/catcher Mike Napoli and Victorino this week. When Cherington met with the Boston media during his daily scrum, he gave the impression that he’s not done adding to the roster and that he believes there are still options available for another outfielder, a starting pitcher and another first baseman.

The Red Sox’s roster is becoming a wealth of versatility and depth. Here’s Tuesday’s Q&A with Cherington:

Q: Can you confirm Shane Victorino deal?

A: “No. I can confirm that we’re trying to add an outfielder and we’re optimistic we’re making progress.”

Q: Seems like you’re comfortable going with shorter contracts with higher annual value this offseason?

A: “Yeah, I think there’s been a preference to try to keep the deals shorter and in order to do that you have to use a little bit of our yearly flexibility to get that accomplished.”

Q: What’s the biggest benefit to that?

A: “Trying to keep as many guaranteed years as possible within a certain range of age, trying to keep guys as close to their prime years as possible. I think any team is trying to do that. That’s been a focus and really we’ve been focused on short- to medium-term deals and there happen to be, we think, a number of fits for the team this winter that kind of fit into that category.”

Q: How comfortable are you with a player (like Victorino) that’s not a prototypical right fielder playing that position in Boston?

A: “In our ballpark we’d like to have someone who’s played a lot of center in right field,” Cherington said. “There are guys out there who have done both. If you’ve played a lot of center field and have played in different parks, then it may be a little bit of an adjustment but you can figure out right field at Fenway.”

Q: If you’re able close out this Victorino deal, will it also help your long-term plan in the outfield?

A: “It’s not related, it wouldn’t be related specifically to any other potential move. But generally, everything we’re trying to do this offseason has sort of a short-end, long-term reason and hopefully fits into the, I don’t want to say our five-year plan because that’s too far out, but medium-term plan, two- to three-year plan with the guys we think are coming and are on the horizon.”

Q: The players you’ve acquired give you flexibility in a number of different ways. How does that give you extra value?

A: “I think we’ve learned a lesson by virtue of the, it’s not all related to injuries, but certainly it’s been a part of it. The lack of protection in different areas and depth in different areas and having guys who can cover you in different areas, it’s sort of a page out of the Patriots book, having guys that can cover different things is important and it seems to me the teams that can get through a six-month season and avoid the real droughts in a season tend to be the ones that have a bunch of guys who can cover different spots because inevitably we’re going to have guys out. So that has been something we’ve talked about a lot.”

Q: With Victorino deal likely done, would you rule out adding another outfielder?

A: “No. Wouldn’t rule out adding another to the mix. We’ll see what's attainable.”

Q: Would you like to add another first baseman?

A: “We’d like to add someone else to the roster that could play first base and preferably someone who could do more than just that.”

Q: Did you see the market playing out this way?

A: “We weren’t exactly sure how it would play out, but I think we’ll still do that but I don’t think we’re in a position to only do that this offseason, just given the volume of things we had to do. Really waiting for the end of free agency, where there is some good value typically, I think was a little too risky for us this year just because we had more to do.”

Q: Your lineup is still strong from the right side. Are you comfortable with the balance you have?

A: “Still would like to improve that if we can. We’re always looking to improve it. Obviously we’re probably a little bit more right-handed right now than in years past. Ideally, we’d like to create some more balance but we’ll see.”

Q: At the end of the season you were hoping to re-sign Cody Ross. Now that Victorino is in the mix, how did your talks with Ross go?

A: “Obviously I don’t want to say too much about the specific nature of the conversations because they go back a ways. As of now we haven’t been able to find something that makes sense, but the door is still open. We’ll see what else happens. Again, he’s got other options,too.”

Q: How far back do those conversations with Ross go?

A: “We talked during the season and right after the season. Then we’ve talked since then but obviously we weren’t able to reach an agreement earlier in the process, then once we got into free agency we’ve kept the dialogue going, kept the door open but it just hasn’t culminated into anything yet.”

Q: Have you interviewed anyone for the vacant managerial job at Triple-A Pawtucket?

A: “We’re considering a couple of people internally and also, perhaps, external candidates but we haven’t interviewed anyone yet. We’re working on it.”

Q: How involved were you on Dan Haren?

A: “We talked to him, along with a number of other guys -- free-agent starting pitchers and exploring trades too.”