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Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Ben Cherington has busy start

By Joe McDonald
ESPNBoston.com

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -- The Boston Red Sox were busy on Day 1 of the annual general manager meetings.

The Red Sox introduced new pitching coach Juan Nieves, and Red Sox GM Ben Cherington was involved in meetings with other GMs and agents throughout the day.

Some of the key areas Cherington & Co. are looking to improve for 2013 include adding a starting pitcher, a first baseman, left fielder, right fielder and a veteran utility infielder.

There are some big-name pitchers available, and while Cherington admits he would consider a trade or sign a free-agent hurler, he wants to build on what's already in place.

"The best way to get better is to see improvement from the guys we have," Cherington said. "That's going to make a bigger impact on our rotation's performance than probably any single pitcher we could add from the outside. That has to be a focus.

"Bottom line is, look, we didn't pitch well enough certainly last year and it goes back a couple of years, so we can't sort of close the door to any way to get better, whether that's improvement internally or looking for more upside externally."

Hiring Nieves as pitching coach was the first step in that process.

As far as the possibility of a trade, there have been some opportunities in the last week, but Cherington said any talks are still in the early stages.

"We've had more talks. I wouldn't say we've furthered anything, but we've talked more and gathered info," Cherington said. "It's still early on the calendar for the trade stuff to really heat up, but we'll definitely continue discussions."

Cherington admitted he has had some "productive" meetings with agents and will have more sessions on Thursday before flying home early Friday morning.

The talk earlier in the day was the New York Mets' decision to grant veteran outfielder Jason Bay unconditional free agency by reaching an agreement to terminate his $66 million deal with two years remaining.

Jason Bay
Jason Bay had a disastrous stint with the Mets, but Red Sox GM Ben Cherington didn't rule out the possibility of Bay returning to Boston.

Bay, the former Red Sox left fielder, left Boston after a season and a half to sign with the Mets as a free agent prior to the 2010 season.

Cherington said he was surprised by the move. He hasn't discussed the possibility of bringing Bay back to Boston, but added, "you can't rule anything out."

"I'm certainly surprised that it didn't go better for him in New York," Cherington said. "He's a terrific guy and was a great player for a long time. We expected him to go there and do well. I don't know the particulars of why it didn't work out, but I have a lot of respect for him and hopefully he'll find a better situation."

Another veteran outfielder the Red Sox reportedly are in talks with is free agent Torii Hunter. At this point, Cherington said he's looking to add two outfielders.

"If there's an area in the free-agent class that's a little bit deeper, it's probably in the outfield," Cherington said. "We've talked to a lot of those guys, or at least to the agents of a lot of those guys, so it's probably still a feeling-out period for the players and the teams. We'll see how it moves forward, but we've been in contact with a number of outfielders."

Now that Nieves has been named pitching coach, the Red Sox will begin interviewing candidates for the vacant hitting coach job. Both manager John Farrell and Cherington said they are considering making it a two-man position as long as the combination of men works for everyone involved.

Cherington also suggested that there would be an announcement soon on the bullpen coach. Current bullpen coach Gary Tuck has an option remaining in his contract and Farrell would like him to stay in his current role.

"We're working on the bullpen coach and I think we're making progress there. Hopefully soon we'll be able to announce that," Cherington said. "We haven't started on first base."

Farrell still is considering his options for a first-base coach. According to Cherington, the manager will speak with some internal candidates, but also wouldn't rule out hiring someone from outside the organization.