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  • FORT MYERS, Fla. -- For the second time in his career, the Red Sox have parted ways with catcher Josh Bard, placing him on unconditional release waivers Wednesday. Bard, who turns 31 on March 30, had signed a one-year, non-guaranteed contract for $1.7 million on Jan. 2.
    The move makes George Kottaras, who spent last season at Triple-A Pawtucket before a September callup to Boston, the leading candidate for the backup catcher's role, with the primary duty of catching knuckleballer Tim Wakefield.

    "[It's Kottaras'] job to lose right now," said general manager Theo Epstein. "We hope he continues to do a nice job, and Dusty Brown's having a good camp as well. This'll get them some more time. We had to make this move now because we need George and Wake to work together and we need to make sure we know what we have, and prepare for the season."

    Epstein said Bard handled the news well.

    "Professionally, with maturity," Epstein said. "He's disappointed, but he thanked us for the opportunity. It's always tough to get that news. But he handled himself really well."

    This was Bard's second stint with the Red Sox. After acquiring Bard in a trade with Cleveland in January 2006, the Red Sox traded him and right-handed reliever Cla Meredith to San Diego to bring catcher Doug Mirabelli back to Boston. In seven games with Boston that season, primarily catching Wakefield, Bard had 10 passed balls.

    In six Spring Training games, Bard was batting .429 (6-for-14) with one home run and five RBIs.

    "I thought he received better than he did three years ago, and swung the bat well," Epstein said.

    Wednesday was the last day to place a player on unconditional release waivers and pay 30 days termination pay instead of 45 days.

    Kottaras has caught knuckleballer Charlie Zink the last two seasons at Pawtucket and will continue to work with Wakefield this spring.

    "Once [Kottaras] showed he could handle Wake, we decided that was the direction we were probably going to go in," Epstein said. "[Kottaras has] had a good camp. He looked really comfortable catching Wake the other day [Friday night against the Yankees], which shouldn't be a real surprise because he has good hands and he's very comfortable catching Zink in the Minor Leagues.

    "So he did a nice job, and his throwing arm ... he and Dusty have both been throwing really well," Epstein added. "[Starting catcher Jason Varitek has] been throwing well, too. So that was really the biggest issue right now, the throwing."

    Kottaras is scheduled to catch for Wakefield in a Minor League game on Thursday at the Red Sox's player development complex.

    Kottaras, who turns 26 on May 10, was acquired from the Padres in a trade for left-handed pitcher David Wells in September 2006. Last season, Kottaras hit .243 with 22 home runs and 65 RBIs for Pawtucket, and threw out 15 of 80 potential basestealers.

    "[Kottaras has] a strong throwing arm," Epstein said. "He's got really good hands. He's got some life in his bat, good knowledge of the strike zone. He's not going to hit for a high average. But between his walks and his power, he still manages to bring something to the table offensively. With him, I think the key is just being able to relax and be comfortable at the big league level. These next couple weeks will give him some time to get adjusted."

    Wakefield, the longest-tenured player on the team, entering his 15th season, will be working with his third catcher in as many seasons, after working with Mirabelli and Kevin Cash the previous two years. Epstein said Wakefield did not have direct input into the decision.

    "No, I mean there's feedback all the time, but we're paid to make these decisions," Epstein said. "[It is] tough to let a guy go. He's a good person and doing his best. He's had a good career, but we felt this was the best move, the right fit for the organization at this time."

    Epstein said that while he's satisfied with the current catching corps, he would not rule out a potential upgrade.

    "It's something we always have our eyes out, see if we can bring in someone who represents an upgrade," he said. "But we've also been saying all along we're happy with the young guys. But [the media] tend not to believe us all the time. Maybe this move will emphasize it a little bit more."

    Epstein emphasized that the Red Sox are not actively seeking more catching help.

    "No, we're not in any active talks," Epstein said. "There's nothing imminent at all. We're now looking to address this internally. But [if we can acquire] someone that we think is a real upgrade as our No. 1 catcher when Jason's career comes to an end, we're always going to look our for that type of guy. We're happy with what we have internally right now."
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    • Kottaras Minor League Stats.

      http://web.minorleaguebaseball.com/m...pbp&pid=435459
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      • Originally posted by #1snake_fan View Post
        they should have gone after pudge
        did you see how he hit for the yankees last season? he was absolutely horrid...he's nowhere near the player he was 5 or 6 years ago

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        • Not to mention I want us to get younger not older.
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          • I really have mixed feelings on the WBC. Now we have two injured players. I've been watching some of the games, but I have to wonder if the players are going too hard, too soon.

            I know they will both be fine, but overall injuries are up.
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            • and with Dice-K throwing 80+ pitches...
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              • Originally posted by Southstander View Post
                and with Dice-K throwing 80+ pitches...
                =tired arm down the stretch
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                Adopted by: and

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                • I'm surprised he's kind of "tiny" for a catcher. Height: 6' 0" Weight: 185
                  It looked like he had a good season at Pawtucket. I like to see the Tek's heir apparent to start grooming right now
                  Who else has been a surprised this training camp?
                  Sorry, i run my own small business and it's been crazy busy last 3 weeks working 7 days. I hope to catch up here soon...
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                  I've started with almost nothing and still got most of it

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                  • It's cool drag. I would have updated tonight but I had to spend the night in the ER with my Grandma.
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                    • I was in the ER all night keeping my Grandma company. I got a text last night in during a free poker game that my last living Grandparent fell and fractured her hip. Needless to say I had to leave the table. We get the ER before she arrives, and as I am waiting for her, on of the nurses started to run the smack do to me wearing my Manny All Star Jersey. So the entire night when she would walk past Grandma room we would trade brabs, and it helped to make the night go faster and be a little easier.

                      As we where leaving she was leasing me that she would rememeber who I was, and if I ever come in she will find the largest square needle for me....

                      So I responded that Yankees know far more about needles then Red Sox.

                      I think I won that war. LOL.
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                      • Varitek continues to swing hot bat

                        RED SOX 11, PIRATES 4


                        Red Sox at the plate: Dustin Pedroia went 1-for-2 with an RBI in his return to the lineup after suffering a lower left abdominal strain at the World Baseball Classic. Jason Varitek hit a towering three-run homer on to the street beyond the right-field bleachers. Varitek had four RBIs on the day.

                        Pirates at the plate: Craig Monroe, vying for a spot off the bench, aided his cause with two hits and scored a run. Catcher Robinson Diaz belted three hits and scored twice. Brandon Moss, returning to the lineup for the first time since March 7 after suffering a right thumb sprain, went 1-for-3 and drove in a run.

                        Red Sox on the mound: Clay Buchholz continued his strong spring by firing five innings and allowing four hits and one unearned run. He walked one and struck out three. Closer Jonathan Papelbon had a strange inning, giving up three hits and two runs, but striking out three. Lefty Hideki Okajima worked out of trouble to pitch a scoreless eighth inning.

                        Pirates on the mound: Right-hander Jeff Karstens, fighting for the No. 5 spot in the rotation, gave up four hits and three runs, walking three and striking out none. Lefty Donnie Veal was erratic, walking four and allowing a run over 1 2/3 innings.

                        Grapefruit League records: Red Sox 10-10; Pirates 11-8

                        Up next: The Red Sox visit the Marlins in Jupiter, Fla., on Saturday at 1:05 p.m. ET, with prospect Michael Bowden getting the start. Left fielder Jason Bay will be the lone starter on the trip. Brad Wilkerson will start in center field. George Kottaras will catch.

                        The Pirates travel to Sarasota, Fla., to face the Reds on Saturday afternoon at 1:05. Paul Maholm will start for Pittsburgh.
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                        • Ferocious swings show Pedroia's OK

                          By Ian Browne / MLB.com

                          FORT MYERS, Fla. -- As much as Dustin Pedroia believed he was going to be fine, there was only one true way to test it in his first game back with the Red Sox after bowing out of the World Baseball Classic with a lower left abdominal strain.
                          The test could not come in Pedroia's first at-bat Friday against the Pirates, when he was merely trying to tap a grounder somewhere to drive Jacoby Ellsbury home from third. In fact, Pedroia succeeded in that mission with a grounder to short.

                          It was in Pedroia's second and final at-bat that he knew he needed some confirmation on where he was at. So Pedroia aired it out with some of his typically ferocious swings.

                          "I swing hard all the time, so I wanted to make sure everything was fine," said Pedroia, who went 1-for-2 with an RBI in his first Grapefruit League game since March 1.

                          And?

                          "I fouled a couple of balls off," said Pedroia. "I swung hard and I felt OK. And then I ended up hitting it [down the third-base line for an infield single], and then running I felt fine. That's it. It was a good day. I'm glad to get out there and hopefully it will continue to get better."

                          When Pedroia feels better, so do the Red Sox. He is their sparkplug, not to mention the American League's reigning Most Valuable Player.

                          This is why there was concern throughout Red Sox Nation when Pedroia, who hardly complains of pain, pulled out of the Classic with what was first thought to be an oblique injury.

                          Fortunately for the Red Sox and Pedroia, the prognosis was far more encouraging and he was back in the lineup in short order.

                          "I've played through injuries before. As players, you know your body," said Pedroia. "Everyday players, I mean, we get beat up a lot. I just didn't want to go out there and do something to hurt it even worse at the time that it happened. The Red Sox and the [World Baseball Classic], they did a great job of stopping me at the time. I would have run out there and played."

                          Pedroia will spend Saturday at City of Palms Park taking batting practice and partaking in other drills rather than taking the three-hour bus ride to Jupiter to face the Marlins. But he expects to be back in the lineup on Sunday, when the Red Sox are home against the Phillies.

                          "I felt good," said Pedroia. "I think the biggest thing is to see how it feels tomorrow. Hopefully I'm not sore or anything like that. I definitely want to take it slow. I've been doing all my treatment stuff. It was good to get back on the field and get a couple of at-bats and get back in the game rhythm."

                          Though Pedroia will be glad to again suit up for the Red Sox for Sunday's game, he is still disappointed that he won't be able to take the field that night for Team USA in a semifinal match against teammate Daisuke Matsuzaka and Japan.

                          "I wish I was there and could be a part of it with those guys," Pedroia said. "It was an unbelievable experience getting a chance to play with all those guys. I'll definitely be rooting hard for them. I'll shoot them a text message, a little motivational speech for 'em. I'll get 'em going."

                          Would he offer his Team USA friends any advice for how to hit against Matsuzaka?

                          "Daisuke is lucky I'm not there," quipped Pedroia. "I'd hit a line drive right off his back, and you guys can put that in your paper. I would hit him right in his back. He better hope the Red Sox don't trade him."
                          Of course, a chirpy Pedroia -- as everyone around the Red Sox knows -- signals a healthy Pedroia.
                          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

                          If anyone did not know why Red Sox fans all love Peds, that quote explains it all.

                          "Daisuke is lucky I'm not there," quipped Pedroia. "I'd hit a line drive right off his back, and you guys can put that in your paper. I would hit him right in his back. He better hope the Red Sox don't trade him."
                          Pedroia is the man.
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                          • the sox game today is currently in rain delay

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                            • 3 hour rain delay...first pitch coming up

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                              • keep us updated
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