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Score one for graciousness

No evidence here of a bitter rivalry

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Nothing casual about the greeting exchanged last night between Yankees slugger Hideki Matsui and his Japanese countrymen on the Red Sox, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hideki Okajima.

With photographers and TV cameras forming a semicircle behind the plate 15 minutes before the game, the three met in a ceremony that set new standards of etiquette for a Yankees-Sox game. For those keeping score at home, Matsuzaka and Okajima outbowed Matsui by a wide margin, the show of respect startling for anyone more accustomed to seeing Thurman Munson and Carlton Fisk whaling on each other.

Okajima and Matsui were teammates on the Yomiuri Giants. Matsuzaka faced Matsui only a handful of times, since they played in different leagues in Japan.

" 'Long time, no see,' I told him," Okajima said, according to interpreter Sachiyo Sekiguchi. "He said to me, 'How have you been?' I said to him I was excited to see him, I wished we had more time to talk. He told me he would give me his number, and that he would see me later in the season. I'm looking forward to seeing him again and having dinner together."

Matsuzaka's remarks were equally polite.

"I said to Matsui-san, 'I'm sorry to bother you right before your game.' He said, 'Don't worry about it. Thanks for coming over to say hello.' He wished me good luck so I wished him the same and said thanks."

Asked about the ceremony, Sox manager Terry Francona said, "I didn't see it. Too many people in the way. I saw the backs of about 200 people's rear ends."

Debarr returned
The Sox made five more roster moves, reducing the number of players in camp to 48. They returned Rule 5 pitcher Nick Debarr to Tampa, optioned righthander Kyle Jackson to Double A Portland, and assigned three nonroster players -- lefthander Abe Alvarez, catcher Dusty Brown, and outfielder Kerry Robinson -- to minor league camp. With Debarr returned to Tampa, the Sox have 39 players on the major league roster. Jackson is the kid from Litchfield, N.H., who made one appearance in big league camp, retiring all three batters he faced, with one strikeout. "He accounted for himself very well," Francona said. "He showed a lot of maturity. He threw strikes. We told him that we were kind of proud of him."

Different view
Josh Beckett was puzzled by comments made by Tigers shortstop Carlos Guillen that indicated Beckett showed indifference after hitting Tigers outfielder Magglio Ordonez in the head with a pitch Saturday. "I didn't see his comments," Beckett told the Globe's Nick Cafardo. "All I can say is one of the first things I did was go over to Kevin Rand and ask him, 'How's Magglio?' Of course, I care about what happened to him. Any pitcher hates to hit a guy in that area. Of course you're concerned. I didn't go up to every Tiger player to ask about Magglio, and I'm sorry the message didn't get to Carlos Guillen, but of course I inquired about Magglio." Ordonez told Jon Paul Morosi of the Detroit Free Press that he wasn't bothered by Beckett's reaction. "I don't really care about it," Ordonez said.

Bully for them
It was a good night for the Sox bullpen. Brendan Donnelly, J.C. Romero, Manny Delcarmen, and Craig Hansen (who got last call) all pitched scoreless innings, while Javier Lopez was touched for a run on two hits. Francona said Romero, who struck out one, made his best showing of the spring, while one scout said Hansen's slider was very good -- a 7 on a scale that tops out at 8. The only negative note the scout sounded was that Hansen's shoulder looked "rigid." . . . Jonathan Papelbon said he worked on his curveball during a 62-pitch outing in minor league camp. He was taken deep by Chris Durbin, who played at Portland the last two seasons. Papelbon will start Saturday against the Reds . . . In a departure from his usual m.o., Curt Schilling is scheduled to start Sunday in Fort Lauderdale against a division opponent, the Orioles. "We told him they changed divisions," Francona said. Tonight, Schilling will pitch in a simulated game against minor league hitters at City of Palms Park.

Mournful mission
Francona, Schilling, and bench coach Brad Mills plan to attend today's funeral in Philadelphia for former Phillies coach John Vukovich. Team owner John W. Henry arranged for them to be taken there in his private plane. Pawtucket manager Ron Johnson will run today's game against the Blue Jays . . . Union chief Donald Fehr and his staff met with Sox players to discuss the new collective bargaining agreement and other issues. "So far, this has been a relatively tranquil spring," Fehr said. "This is the first time in 36 years we've had an agreement without a strike or a lockout or a threat of either, and in 1970, I think the agreement was reached in February. Before spring training, but in February. It certainly would be nice if it's a precedent that everybody's happy with by the time it's over." . . . Former Sox manager Joe Morgan was in the house, while Mike Greenwell, his son in tow, was a clubhouse visitor. Bo Greenwell is intending to play baseball at the University of Miami . . . The North Carolina softball team, which counts among its players Alyssa Francona, daughter of the manager, also was here.