Manager's special: Myers brought back
TAMPA -- Acceding to his manager's wishes, Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein yesterday brought back lefthanded reliever Mike Myers, acquiring him from the St. Louis Cardinals for two minor league pitchers.
Myers, whom Epstein had allowed to leave as a free agent, gives the Sox three lefties in the pen, joining Alan Embree and John Halama.
"I think Theo has been teasing me since Myers left -- he knew how I felt," said Terry Francona, delighted at the news that the 35-year-old Myers, a specialist often called upon to face just one batter, would be back in a Sox uniform.
"To have a lefthanded matchup guy swings the percentages in our favor. You saw the at-bats last year he had against Garret Anderson; that's what we acquired him to do. We can bring him into a game in the sixth inning with two outs to get a guy he's supposed to get out."
Myers came to the Sox last Aug. 6 from the Mariners in a waiver deal and went 1-0 with a 4.20 ERA in 25 appearances. Between the Mariners and Sox, he appeared in 75 games, sixth most in the American League, and held lefthanded batters to a .233 average, a little higher than the .212 lefties are hitting against him in his career.
He made two notable contributions in the postseason: He struck out Anderson with the tying run on base in the eighth inning and the Sox ahead by a run in Game 2 of the Division Series. And he entered the 11th inning of Game 5 of the ALCS and struck out the only batter he faced, Hideki Matsui, to lead off the inning. The Sox won in 14 innings, 5-4. Myers did not appear in the World Series. He signed a nonguaranteed $600,000 deal with the Cardinals, who traded him yesterday for minor league outfielder Carlos de la Cruz and lefthander Kevin Ool.
The 21-year-old de la Cruz has hit .250 with 2 homers, 51 RBIs, and 55 stolen bases in 224 games for the Dominican Summer League Red Sox (2001-02), the Gulf Coast Red Sox (2002-03), and short-season Single A Lowell (2004).
Ool, 24, is 6-3 with 2 saves and a 3.71 ERA in 54 career relief appearances between Lowell in 2003 and Single A Augusta and Sarasota in 2004.
To make room for Myers on the 40-man roster, righthander Anastacio Martinez was designated for assignment.
Adding Myers leaves the Sox with other roster decisions to make, and there were indications yesterday that they are strongly considering going with 12 pitchers and a bench of just four reserves (Doug Mirabelli, Jay Payton, Kevin Youkilis, and Ramon Vazquez), which would leave David McCarty a possible odd man out.
McCarty, who has a split contract (major and minor league), could refuse to be sent down to Pawtucket, but the organization expects that he'll go.
For now, the pitching staff looks like this:
Starters (4): David Wells, Matt Clement, Tim Wakefield, and Bronson Arroyo.
Relievers (8): Myers, Embree, Halama, Keith Foulke, Mike Timlin, Matt Mantei, Blaine Neal, Byung Hyun Kim.
Neal is out of options and would have to clear waivers to be sent down. Kim, who is being paid $6 million, has enough big league experience that he could refuse a demotion, which would make him a free agent. The Sox would be on the hook for his salary. Figure Kim to be gone.
Francona acknowledged that the pickup of Myers may cut in to how much he uses Halama, who started yesterday's 7-2 win over the Yankees and gave up a run on five hits in three innings. "I don't know what's going to happen," said Halama. "Mike Myers was here last year. Tito knows him, knows what he's got. We'll have to see how this affects me." Halama threw a first-inning pitch behind Alex Rodriguez, but he wasn't trying to ratchet up the team's ongoing feud with A-Rod. It was a cutter, he said, that he intended to throw inside but got away. Halama and Rodriguez played two years together in Seattle. Both laughed off the pitch. "I was trying not to laugh on the mound," Halama said . . . Yankees manager Joe Torre has set his pitching rotation for the first two weeks of the season, and Randy Johnson will face the Sox twice, Sunday night in the season opener in Yankee Stadium and again April 14 in the finale of a three-game set in Fenway Park. Carl Pavano will pitch the second game in New York, followed by Mike Mussina, the order determined in part so that Mussina, not Pavano, will face the Sox in Boston's home opener April 11. Kevin Brown will pitch against the Sox April 13, and could draw Schilling . . . Mirabelli, who entered the game batting .129, had two doubles, and in both cases he had to slide around the tag of a waiting infielder. "He could have used a ventilator," Francona said. "It was nice to see him swinging the bat good. He'd been a little frustrated." . . . David Ortiz forgot his jersey in Fort Myers and wore uniform No. 79.
Chris Snow of the Globe staff contributed to this report.