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Mota could still be part of deal

Reliever Guillermo Mota could still be sent to Cleveland as part of a deal for Coco Crisp.
Reliever Guillermo Mota could still be sent to Cleveland as part of a deal for Coco Crisp. (Reuters Photo)

General manager Theo Epstein, back on the job yesterday, offered a ''no comment" when asked how close the team is to closing a deal for a center fielder, then provided an evasive, ''There's plenty of time before Opening Day."

However, the unofficial deadline for completing a deal with Cleveland for Coco Crisp stands to be far sooner.

As of last night, the Sox and Indians were believed to be working toward a version of the six-player deal the clubs were close to completing before Guillermo Mota's physical Tuesday left the Indians displeased with the condition of his throwing shoulder.

The previous agreement, reached in principle Saturday pending physicals, was to send Mota, Andy Marte, and catcher Kelly Shoppach to the Indians for Crisp, reliever David Riske, and catcher Josh Bard.

Mota's agent, Adam Katz, last night referred to statements he made a day earlier, in which he contended that Mota did not flunk his physical, as was widely reported. Instead, Katz said, the acquiring team in these instances ''is allowed to have higher standards. It's their right and entitlement."

Katz last night said he did not have any new knowledge as to the status of the deal, but all indications pointed toward the Sox and Indians talking about a revised deal, with the lingering possibility that the Indians still could accept Mota.

Cleveland was interested in the hard-throwing righthander because he projected to be someone who, if healthy, could provide the Indians an option to close games if Bob Wickman (who will turn 37 Feb. 6) were to falter or sustain an injury.

Jed Hoyer, speaking on behalf of the Sox' baseball operations contingent that worked to execute the deal that brought Mota and Josh Beckett to Boston on Thanksgiving, made an interesting acknowledgement during yesterday's welcome-back press conference for Epstein: the club never asked Mota or Beckett, acquired in the same deal, to undergo physicals.

''We felt comfortable looking at the medical records for both players that an actual physical examination would not make our decision," said Hoyer. ''Our doctors felt comfortable after looking at the medical files for both those players."

The Sox took on both players realizing there was a health risk associated with both.

In Beckett's case, that was reflected in medical records that showed wear to his right shoulder. He was diagnosed with tendonitis late in the season, a diagnosis reaffirmed by noted orthopedist Dr. James Andrews.

For Mota, his health risk was twofold: he missed a month last spring because of elbow inflammation and didn't pitch for a large part of September because of shoulder inflammation.

Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino said yesterday that as a rule the Sox almost always request a physical before signing a free agent, but said medical records often suffice in lieu of a physical when making a trade.

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