After nearly months of pondering and wondering, free agent pitcher Roy Oswalt announced that he will continue to sit out and wait for better opportunities after receiving offers reportedly from the Red Sox and the Cardinals. Oswalt's agent Bob Garber released a statement about Oswalt's intentions.
"After much thought and careful consideration, Roy has decided to continue to evaluate his options," Garber said in the statement. "He is in great health and will continue to stay in shape, while throwing regularly off the mound. Roy has every intention of pitching for a contending club at some point this season."
Even though location has been the apparent key factor in Oswalt's decision making, the trouble was actually the low offers from competing, according to former Oswalt teammate Lance Berkman.
"It's strictly a money thing," Berkman told reporters on Thursday. "The Cardinals [offer] ... wasn't enough to lure him out of Mississippi ... I think he feels like that he can get the same money in half a season as he could in a full season and he's probably right."
Had he joined the Red Sox, Oswalt would have added a strong veteran presence as well as a successful track record to the Boston starting rotation. He would have likely been placed right behind Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz and right in front of Daniel Bard in the five-man rotation. However since he's not coming, Vicente Padilla, Carlos Silva, Alfredo Aceves, Aaron Cook, Felix Doubront and Andrew Miller will continue to battle it out for that final spot.
Since Oswalt didn't sign with another team today, there remains that slight possibility that he could sign with the team during the middle of the season, assuming whomever wins the fifth starter job struggles out of the gate. However, it seems that Oswalt doesn't want to pitch and Boston, and after today I don't think to many people in Boston even want him anymore.
BARD CONFIDENT DURING TRANSITION
With the Red Sox in dire need of starting pitching, the team decided to convert long time set up man Daniel Bard to the role of starting pitcher during Spring Training. So far, he's been impressing his coaches and peers with it all.
While it is clearly a different lifestyle than being in the bullpen, Bard seems to comfortable and confident with his conversion to becoming a starter.
"I love being in the bullpen. I think, in a different way from Pap, it fits my personality. I love the everyday aspect of it," said Bard. "I do think I can mold that into being a starting pitcher, too. I just haven't done it in four years."
In recent years, former Rangers pitcher C.J. Wilson made the transition from reliever to starter in 2010, and performed well enough to earn himself a big payday by signing a 5-year $77.5 million deal with the Angels this past offseason. Bard says it's hard not to notice the money difference one makes from being a starter and a reliever, and takes into perspective that Wilson will be making more than former Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon next year, after Pap had five solid years as Boston's closer.
"There is that. It's hard not to notice that. The money's better in closing and starting," said Bard. "But you look at an average starting pitcher vs. an average closer, you've got Mariano [Rivera] making 15 [million] and A.J. Burnett was making 15 last year. That was a great comparison I heard last year.
"There's a cool comparison between Papelbon and C.J. Wilson's career, how Papelbon was so much better for the first five years of their career, both being bullpen guys, then C.J. makes the conversion to starter, does it well for two years and then makes more than Pap."
SHOPPACH READY FOR NEW CHAPTER
After spending nearly three seasons with the division rival Rays, catcher Kelly Shoppach signed a one-year deal with the Red Sox this offseason in order to return to the organization where it all began.
With all of the questions surrounding the Red Sox, many experts around the league have already given the Yankees the division crown and the Rays the Wild Card spot, henceforth writing off the Red Sox completely during 2012. When asked about whether he feels the Rays have the upper hand over his new club in 2012, he didn't really think that notion was completely accurate.
"I don't think it matters," he said. "I mean, last year has no relevance on this year. We have a very powerful team in the AL East that they're trying to beat. I think that's the same on both sides."
"It's time to move on," Shoppach said. "Last year happened. It was one of the greatest days in baseball history. I was fortunate enough to be a part of it. But I'm looking forward to Twenty-Twelve! It's Twenty-Twelve!"
Now that he's back in Red Sox uniform for the 2012, he's ready to help contribute to the best of his ability and is hoping for big things for the upcoming season.
"There's a lot of pressure -- a lot of unnecessary expectations coming in on these guys who have been here the last couple of years. We all know there are 25 guys who need to be able to trust and depend on each other. Actually, it will be 35 to 40 people. We'll need everybody. Expectations are just part of New England. We can't let that affect anything. It's time to go play some ball and have fun."
Player quotes provided by WEEI and ESPN Boston