Red Sox, DH could face arbitration

BOSTON -- Boston Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington was oddly circumspect on Monday when asked about arbitration hearings for designated hitter David Ortiz and pitcher Alfredo Aceves, saying he preferred not to reveal when they are scheduled to be held.

The Red Sox have not had a player go to a hearing since Tim Wakefield in 2002, and Ortiz and Aceves are the last of Boston's arbitration-eligible players yet to come to terms. Hearings begin Tuesday and will continue over the next three weeks.

There is a $3.85 million difference between the salary figures exchanged by the Red Sox and Ortiz. The club offered $12.65 million, just a slight bump over his $12.5 million base salary in 2011, while the DH asked for $16.5 million.

Aceves asked for $1.6 million; the Sox offered $900,000.

Typically, agreements are reached close to the midpoints between the figures, but both players could elect to gamble that an arbitration panel will reward them the higher salaries.

"We've had continued dialogue with both players," Cherington said Monday night at Fenway Park, where he was attending a charity event. "I couldn't handicap it right now. We're just going to prepare for the case. We will continue to talk right up until the hearing. We'll see what happens up until then."

Cherington was asked if the outcome of the hearings could impact future moves by the Red Sox, especially if the team won in hearings, which would give it more than $4.6 million more than if it lost.

"Depending on the outcome, it changes your payroll to some degree," he said. "To that extent, it changes things to some degree, but I wouldn't say it's significant."

Another participant at the event was Theo Epstein, whose charity was a primary beneficiary. Epstein had little to say about the pending compensation case between the Red Sox and Chicago Cubs, which is in the hands of commissioner Bud Selig.

"Seems like it should be coming to an end sometime soon," the Cubs GM said, though he added he didn't know whether it would be before the start of spring training.

"I don't think it's appropriate for me to talk about it. No one has really talked much about it. Probably a better question for MLB."

Cherington said the commissioner's office has been involved indirectly in the process for some time, but the matter has gone to Selig for resolution.

"Any of you want to resolve it?" Cherington cracked to reporters.

In other topics addressed Monday:

• Cherington said newly acquired outfielder Cody Ross would be given a shot to win an everyday job.

"We feel like Cody's someone who loves the game, loves to play, loves to compete," Cherington said. "He had a real interest in coming to Boston, that's something that appealed to us, people who want to be here. So we thought it was a good fit, and we got a deal that worked for both sides.

"We think he can be an everyday player. He obviously has hit left-handers very well, but he's held his own against righties, he can play defense, if he's playing every day we're fine, obviously he's motivated to that.

"There may be an opportunity to do that early in the season. Obviously Bobby (Valentine) will make those decisions. Regardless, we'd expect some competition for playing time, and the guy who is performing better will wind up playing. He'll have that opportunity. He certainly has the skills to be an everyday player if asked. We just think the four outfielders we have -- once Carl (Crawford) is healthy -- the four outfielders we have complement each other well and make it a position of strength."

Ross clearly is seen as taking on a bigger role than Darnell McDonald, the team's other right-handed hitting outfielder, who may once again be in a fight to win a roster spot. Depending on what the club does at shortstop, Mike Aviles also could see some time in the outfield.

• Cherington said the team still is open to adding more pitching, but sounded as though nothing is imminent.

Gordon Edes covers the Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com.