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Reese is nice grab for Sox

On the same day that Todd Walker, the man who hit five home runs in the playoffs, signed with the Chicago Cubs, the Red Sox yesterday announced the signing of their new second baseman, Pokey Reese, whose Gold Glove credentials as a defender in the club's view will offset the offense sacrificed when Walker was allowed to leave as a free agent after the season.


Reese hit just .215 in 37 games for the Pirates last season, when he missed considerable time because of a torn thumb ligament. But Reese insisted the thumb is healthy -- he said he has been working out for the last 2 to 2 1/2 months. And presumably, he plans to stick around longer than the last time the Sox acquired him -- in December 2001, when former Sox general manager Dan Duquette obtained him from Colorado for Scott Hatteberg, a deal in which both principals wound up being nontendered and became free agents.

"We think he's a great fit with the club that we have right now," Sox GM Theo Epstein said yesterday. "He's one of the few players in major league baseball that can really make an impact with his glove. He's an outstanding defensive second baseman, and that'll make a huge difference for us.

"We gave up more hits than any other club in baseball through the right side of our infield last year, and that's gonna change in a hurry. Pokey passed his physical with flying colors yesterday, and he really does look to be a lot stronger, looks to be in great shape."

The Sox signed Reese to a base salary of $800,000, with a $200,000 signing bonus. There are also $600,000 in potential performance bonuses for Reese, who was a Gold Glove shortstop for Cincinnati in 1999 and 2000. Reese said he came to Boston for the chance to play behind Pedro Martinez and Curt Schilling.

"I decided to pick Boston because, what better opportunity than to play behind two of the best pitchers in baseball right now, two Hall of Famers?" Reese said. "My goal was to one day play behind Pedro, and I got that opportunity and I couldn't turn it down.

"I played for the Pirates and the Reds most of my career, but when Pedro went over to Boston I'd always keep an eye on the Red Sox. I love Pedro Martinez, I love the way he goes out and takes care of business, so it was an opportunity I couldn't turn down."

The Sox also officially announced the signing of two pitchers they had nontendered. Edwin Almonte signed a minor league contract and Jason Shiell signed a split deal that would pay him $303,000 at the big-league level.

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