SARASOTA, Fla. -- The actual 25-man roster won't be submitted until it has to be, which is Monday, Opening Day itself. But the decisions have been made, the affected players told as much, the composition of the 2006 Red Sox effectively set. The Sox entered yesterday with 38 players in big-league camp, leaving an unlucky 13.
Manager Terry Francona, before last night's game, acknowledged who will make the club and who will not. Here's how he'll get down to 25:
Tony Graffanino was claimed off waivers yesterday by the Royals, the team that dealt him to the Sox last July. In claiming the 33-year-old second baseman, the Royals saved the Sox $512,500. Had Graffanino cleared waivers, the Sox would have paid him that figure to terminate his nonguaranteed $2.05 million contract. He then would have gone looking for the best money/job out there.
There proved to be little interest in Graffanino, despite his career year in 2005. Teams initially interested in dealing for him were scared off by his paycheck and poor spring (.189, 1 HR, 3 RBIs). The Sox, in shopping him, asked only for a prospect, and when they couldn't get that, offered to pick up $500,000 of his salary. Still without takers, they put him on waivers, fully prepared to eat one-fourth of his salary. The Mets, Cardinals, and Cubs all were believed to be interested, but the Royals were the only team to put in a claim.
Before learning he'd been claimed, Graffanino expressed one last time how maddening this spring has been. He said that before the Sox offered him arbitration this winter, he knew of at least four teams potentially interested in signing him to a two-year deal.
''They took a lot of security out of my pocket," he said, ''and added a lot of frustration."
All of those offers disappeared when the Sox offered Graffanino arbitration. Signing Graffanino, a Type A free agent, after he'd been offered arbitration would have cost the signing team either a first- and second-round pick, or a sandwich pick and a second-round pick.
His absence got the Sox down to 37.
Manny Delcarmen, 24, and Craig Hansen, 22, were optioned to Pawtucket yesterday. Both could help the team now, but the Sox have six veteran relievers.
Hansen, though viewed as a future closer, will not close on a full-time basis in Pawtucket. Instead, the club wants him to develop his slider and possibly his changeup. He'll sometimes pitch multiple innings and presumably will be asked to throw specific pitches in specific situations.
''We set up a program to follow monthly for his development," Francona said. ''Hansen is good enough to go to the minors now and have shutout innings or a clean inning. We want him to use his pitches. As he found out here, you've got to throw more than one pitch and locate it."
The issue for Delcarmen apparently is mechanical. Delcarmen, Francona said, developed a bad habit last year in the way he took the ball out of his glove.
But, Francona said, ''I bet you see both of them sometime this year. I bet they help us."
Their reassignment got the Sox down to 35.
Dustan Mohr, Enrique Wilson, Willie Harris, Ken Huckaby, Trent Durrington, Dustin Pedroia, and Mike Holtz all have been told they are Pawtucket-bound. Their departures will get the Sox down to 28.
Mohr, who has averaged 114 big-league games the last four seasons, can accept a Triple A assignment or opt out of his contract, as soon as this weekend. He's expected to travel to Philadelphia for the weekend exhibition series, which, incidentally, is against a team that has expressed interest in him.
''We really like him a lot," Francona said. ''At the same time, because you like somebody you sort of would like something to work out for him. If it doesn't, we'd like to keep him."
Mohr has said he doesn't have much interest in playing in the minors. ''But," Francona said, ''he also said if he has to go to Triple A, he'd like it to be with us. I think he likes it here."
Wilson does not have an out clause in his contract and is expected to report to Pawtucket. But if he doesn't want to, the Sox probably would grant him his release.
''We appreciated his professionalism this spring," Francona said. ''We thought he did a pretty good job. He's got some versatility. We told him we'd like him to go to Triple A."
Harris's contract contains a clause that will allow him to become a free agent if he is not in the majors sometime in April. With Adam Stern expected to make the team for 17 days to fulfill his Rule 5 obligations, it's possible the Sox demote Stern April 20 and promote Harris, who can play almost anywhere and steal a base (he's swiped 49 in 61 career attempts).
Gabe Kapler probably won't be healthy enough to play until midsummer. That makes the number 27.
David Wells has agreed to start the year on the DL, pitch a minor league game Sunday, pitch April 7 for Pawtucket, then join the Sox rotation April 12. His absence will get the team to 26. Lenny DiNardo, Francona said, will be with the club as a seventh reliever until the 12th, when Wells comes off the DL.
''Boomer is all set," Francona said. ''We had a nice visit. I know he was disappointed, but I think it's in his best interests and ours."
Hee Seop Choi, who has a minor league option remaining, stands to be the last cut. Because he debuted in the majors more than three years ago, Choi will have to clear revocable waivers to be optioned. He's expected to clear, given that the Sox were able to claim him last week, after all 16 NL teams passed on him and the AL teams with a better 2005 record than the Sox passed on him. His eventual demotion will get the club to 25.
Francona also outlined his likely starting lineups. Mike Lowell will hit seventh against righthanded starters and sixth against lefties. Wily Mo Peña stands to bat seventh against lefthanded starters. The lineup should look as follows:
Vs. RHPs: CF Coco Crisp, 2B Mark Loretta, DH David Ortiz, LF Manny Ramírez, RF Trot Nixon, C Jason Varitek, 3B Mike Lowell, 1B Kevin Youkilis/J.T. Snow, SS Alex González.
Vs. LHPs: CF Coco Crisp, 2B Mark Loretta, DH David Ortiz, LF Manny Ramírez, C Jason Varitek, 3B Mike Lowell, RF Wily Mo Peña, 1B Kevin Youkilis, SS Alex González.