LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- While the Red Sox might go with young players at shortstop and center field next season, they are utilizing a veteran tandem behind the plate in A.J. Pierzynski and David Ross.
Where does that leave Ryan Lavarnway, who hasn't been able to make his mark in limited Major League stints?
"Well, he's a good hitter and an improved defender," said general manager Ben Cherington. "Obviously we made a decision not to just pencil him in the lineup next year. We still like him. I think that overall at that position, we've obviously got two veterans with one year left who are on contracts and a bunch of young guys behind them."
In other words, Lavarnway might get a chance with the Red Sox in 2015, but it's unlikely for '14.
"If they're healthy, Pierzynski and Ross will start the year as the catching tandem," Cherington said. "I think there's plenty of opportunity and competition down the road, and not too far down the road. Nothing's really changed. I'm sure he'd prefer to have an open door to a Major League job and we might not have that quite yet. We like him and still believe in him."
Pedroia should be full go for Spring Training
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Though Dustin Pedroia is still recovering from left thumb surgery, the expectation is that he should be fully ready to go by Spring Training.
"Yeah, everything is looking like he will," said Red Sox manager John Farrell on Monday at the Winter Meetings. "The surgery he had, I know he was getting his pin out here late this past week. I don't have the exact date. But my recent conversation was that was to be removed, and he feels good. We'll see how things advance, but everything points to him being ready not only for Spring Training, but getting ample at-bats."
Though Pedroia had an All-Star season in spite of the thumb he injured on Opening Day, he should be in a position to hit with a little more authority in 2014.
"Maybe we saw him turn on the ball a little bit more frequently later in the year, when either he was getting comfortable with what he was dealing with or felt he wasn't going to do further damage," Farrell said. "That's probably where we saw it [impact him] more -- particularly in the early months and midseason when he had a willingness to go the other way a little bit more regularly."
Buchholz regaining arm strength
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- By Game 4 of the World Series, Clay Buchholz's right shoulder was fatigued to the point where his fastball was mainly in the high 80s.
But when Spring Training opens up, the Red Sox envision the righty being back at full strength and hopefully ready to pick up where he left off early in 2013, when he pitched like a Cy Young Award candidate.
"Based on the most recent report, we're very comfortable," said manager John Farrell. "He has no residual feeling of any kind of physical discomfort. He's initiated his normal offseason strengthening program. So all of that has calmed down from last year."
Lefty Felix Doubront, meanwhile, will be on a more structured program this winter with the hope he won't break down for a third straight season.
"We wanted to adjust the fact that his annual trip down to Venezuela would be earlier than in years past," said Farrell. "Just to make sure that everything's pointing in the right direction once we get through the early part of January."
Drew's return contingent on moving payroll
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- As his roster for next season continues to come into focus, general manager Ben Cherington is now prioritizing the addition of a player who can help man the left side of the infield.
Could that player wind up being the same one who manned shortstop for the team that won the World Series in 2013?
After all, Stephen Drew remains a free agent.
"I don't know. Can't handicap it," said Cherington. "We'll see. ... We obviously like him. He's a good player and did a really good job for us. If there's a way to make it work, we'll see if we can do that, but I can't handicap it right now."
For Drew to return, the Red Sox would likely have to move some payroll, perhaps from the rotation, where they are deep.
"I think it would depend on where we were and sort of where we're at with payroll at that time, budgeting," said Cherington. "As we do every year, we'll have a good-size payroll, and we're fortunate to be in that position, but even the Red Sox have a limit. At some point it gets harder to squeeze more into that, but we'll see."
Xander Bogaerts projects as the starting shortstop, with Will Middlebrooks set to play third base.
"We need two guys on the team that can play short no matter what the names are," Cherington said. "The roster needs two guys that can play short. So obviously, Bogaerts has a chance to be a part of the team, and he can play short. One way or another, we have to add to that. Brock Holt is a candidate for that, and he's done a good job for us, obviously he is someone we still think highly of. But we may look to add somebody on that side of the field, and more than likely, that someone would have the ability to play short, at least in some role."
Starting depth puts Red Sox in position of strength
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Red Sox have a problem many teams would love to have -- an overflow in the rotation, with Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, John Lackey, Felix Doubront, Jake Peavy and Ryan Dempster all under contract for next season.
That leaves the Red Sox with two options. The first is moving one of those pitchers to help fill a less certain spot, such as shortstop or center field.
"There's been a handful of teams that have been calling, really since the beginning of the offseason, and that hasn't really changed since some of the free agents have gone off the board," said general manager Ben Cherington. "Some of those free agents landed in spots that weren't necessarily matches anyway. I wouldn't say it's changed much since the beginning of the offseason. That doesn't mean we're close to doing anything; we're not. We're still hearing from teams."
The other option for Cherington would be to do absolutely nothing and see how his rotation shakes out come Spring Training.
"We're very comfortable not doing anything. We're very comfortable just holding everyone," he said. "We all know that with starting pitching, a supposed surplus has a way of working itself out usually. ... If the movement with free agents or trades or whatever creates motivation on some teams' part, or when that leads to something that makes sense for us, then we'll certainly listen and consider it."