Spring Fort-itude: What happened with the Red Sox in Fort Myers on Sunday

February 17, 2014 - 4:35 am
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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Red Sox are preparing for their first official pitchers and catchers workout of the spring with a roster that looks slightly different than anticipated. On Sunday, right-hander Ryan Dempster announced that he will take off the 2014 season as a possible prelude to retirement. The 36-year-old spoke passionately and eloquently of his appreciation for the game and his team in articulating why he'd leave a guaranteed $13.25 million on the table. Dempster's decision has a number of ripple effects, with the most intriguing being what the Sox will do with their unexpected financial freedom. Certainly, the Sox have more room in their budget to re-sign Stephen Drew, though it remains to be seen whether they'll allocate the funds for that purpose or if they'll preserve that nugget for potential trades this summer. Dempster's depature also means that the Sox will have to rely on their talented prospect base for rotation depth -- here's a scouting report of the pitchers (Brandon Workman, Allen Webster, Rubby De La Rosa, Anthony Ranaudo, Drake Britton, Matt Barnes, Henry Owens) who will now serve as the organization's rotation protection. Owens, it is now worth noting, added seven pounds to his lanky frame after leaving the team's Rookie Development Program -- a not insignificant development given that the team believes that he'll find it easier to repeat his delivery and thus improve his command as he adds weight and strength. One pitcher who will not be part of the depth equation in the short term is Steven Wright. The knuckleballer is out until May after undergoing hernia surgery in January. The Sox also made a no-risk move to reinforce their bullpen, signing former closer Francisco Cordero -- who ranks 13th all-time in saves with 349 -- to a minor league deal to see if, after missing all of 2013, he has anything left in the tank. Dustin Pedroia arrived in camp, sporting what he described to manager John Farrell as his Pat Riley look -- the wisps of his remaining hair being slicked back on his head. Of perhaps greater moment was his proclamation that his surgically repaired thumb feels completely healthy, giving him back some of the strength in his hands that was deficient in a 2013 campaign when he rarely drove the ball. A couple of additional leftovers from the weekend: Xander Bogaerts is wearing the No. 2 in homage to his childhood inspiration, Derek Jeter; Bogaerts now hopes to follow in Jeter's footsteps, in more ways than one. Also, outfielder Bryce Brentz is hoping for a fresh start to the 2014 season after a chaotic 2013.

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