BAL@BOS: Drew takes Tillman deep with a two-run homer

BOSTON -- At this stage of the offseason, the Red Sox are preparing as if Xander Bogaerts will be their starting shortstop and Will Middlebrooks will be the third baseman.

However, things can always change, and general manager Ben Cherington didn't rule out the possibility of free agent Stephen Drew returning to the team he helped win a World Series in 2013. At the same time, Cherington didn't seem overly preoccupied by Drew's uncertain status.

"We're not making any assumptions, but I think we're just really focused on who we have here right now," said Cherington, speaking prior to Tuesday night's Hot Stove/Cool Music roundtable at Fenway Park. "We feel like we're in good shape to start the season tomorrow if we had to.

"There's a circumstance for the Red Sox in that we have players that we believe in and sort of bigger-picture things that we want to do, etc. Some of that has nothing to do with Stephen Drew. Stephen did a great job for us last year. We respect him, and because of that, we've kept a dialogue going.

"But there's nothing to be gleaned from that, other than we've kept a dialogue going. We're comfortable where we are, but we'll see. I don't ever want to rule anything out, because it doesn't make any sense to do that, but we like the roster we have right now."

Cherington seemed almost humored by how much media attention has been given to Drew's uncertain status.

"I think the time that's being spent on it being talked about publicly is not necessarily consistent with the time we're spending on it," Cherington said.

The GM declined to say whether Boston has made an offer beyond the $14 million qualifying offer that Drew rejected back in November.

Manager John Farrell also doesn't sound like he is staying awake at night wondering if Drew will resurface.

"I deal with the players we have," said Farrell. "If there's a late addition, I think if there's a scenario, if Stephen comes back to us as we get closer to camp, we're well aware of what Stephen is capable of. That could be the case for anybody that's added late. You adjust. I deal with the players that I'm provided, and that's where my focus is limited to."

Pedroia, Victorino progressing well

BOS@TB: Pedroia makes a fine play after deflection

BOSTON -- The two starting position players who underwent surgery after the World Series are both progressing well, albeit at different speeds.

Dustin Pedroia is a little bit ahead of Shane Victorino in the rehab department, but both players are expected to be in the starting lineup when the Red Sox open their season in Baltimore on March 31.

Pedroia underwent surgery to repair a left thumb injury.

"I know Dustin has already begun dry swings, and he feels strong and feels stable," said manager John Farrell. "He feels that stability throughout the entire swing. Granted, it's dry swings, but he's right on track as far as all baseball activity relates to coming out of the surgery. We fully expect him to be ready to go Opening Day."

As for Victorino, who had nerve surgery on his right thumb?

"He's a little bit further behind Dustin in terms of the time frame of baseball activities," said Farrell. "He's about two weeks away from putting a ball in his hand and starting to throw. We'll take every available day in Spring Training. He'll be on the field when he's fully ready."

Red Sox seem unlikely to land Tanaka

Red Sox could be the sleeper team in pursuing Tanaka

BOSTON -- Like the rest of the baseball world, the Red Sox are keeping a close eye on the Masahiro Tanaka sweepstakes, which will come to a conclusion by the end of Friday.

However, barring a major upset, Tanaka will wind up somewhere other than Boston.

"Well, since the process isn't over, it's hard to say much about it," said Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington, speaking prior to the Hot Stove/Cool Music charity event at Fenway Park on Tuesday. "Once it became clear that he was essentially a free agent, we had done all the work that we needed to do on him, scouting him, getting to know him personally. So we were prepared to be involved. It was just a question of parameters that we felt made sense for us. We don't know what the outcome of the process is yet, but I guess we'll all know by the end of the week."

Cherington did acknowledge that the Red Sox had discussions with Tanaka during the negotiating process.

"We've had a discussion with him," Cherington said. "I think out of respect to him and his representatives and the process they're going through, I just don't think it's right for me to say much more than that. We respect him as a pitcher, certainly we respect the process he's going through trying to make a decision. We'll all know more by the end of the week."