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Red Sox notebook

They’re in a good spot

Officials happy as deep draft looms

By Amalie Benjamin
Globe Staff / June 4, 2010

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The Red Sox usually find themselves picking toward the end of the first round in the draft, and they’re at No. 20 this year. But that might not be a bad place to be, as this draft seems to have less of a distinction than usual between the 10th and 30th picks.

“It’s not one of those drafts where there’s clear elite players in the top half of the first round, it’s more spread out through the middle to the bottom into the sandwich, wouldn’t you think?’’ Sox general manager Theo Epstein said to director of amateur scouting Amiel Sawdaye in a news conference before yesterday’s game.

“Yeah,’’ Sawdaye said. “I’ve had a lot of people who are picking in the top 10 picks saying, ‘God, this would be the year we’d love to trade a pick with you guys.’

“I think we’re in a pretty good spot. Like Theo said, late end of the first round through the sandwich, if you have extra picks, you’re in a pretty good spot to get some players that may end up being just as good as players you’re going to pick in the top 10.’’

That’s good news for the Sox, in a draft Epstein said appears to have its strengths in righthanded high school pitchers. Boston has four picks in the first 57: No. 20 (as compensation for Billy Wagner), No. 36 (for Jason Bay), No. 39 (for Wagner), and No. 57 (for Bay).

“It can make you feel a little bit better about taking a risk, whether it’s a signability risk or a high-risk/high-reward type player,’’ Epstein said. “You have a chance to diversify your portfolio a little bit, but the primary factor is getting the best player on the board.

“When you don’t have a first-round pick and you don’t pick until deeper into the draft, that changes the way you scout a little bit because you have to really focus on players who might fall for some reason or another and make sure you know those players really well. When you have a lot of picks in the first 50, 60, it just means you have to cover that part of the draft really, really well.’’

The one thing the Sox won’t do is draft for need. While that’s an important approach in the NBA and NFL drafts, it doesn’t come into play in baseball because of the lag time on getting draftees up to the big leagues.

“I think bad mistakes can be made when you try to draft for need, especially because this draft is really going to impact our big league club in 2014 or so,’’ Epstein said. “Organizationally, we do have our strengths and weaknesses at the lower levels. We’re not going to use that as a primary factor in putting our board together. It can be a tiebreaker.’’

At the moment, the Sox are sifting through thousands of reports on amateur players, according to Sawdaye, in advance of Monday, when teams will make the first 50 picks of the draft (first round and sandwich round). Rounds 2 through 30 will be Tuesday, with the draft wrapping up Wednesday.

The new three-day schedule could change the dynamic of the draft, Epstein said.

Teams will be able to “take a deep breath and assess what’s gone on in the industry, see if there are any early-emerging trends and see if there are any surprises,’’ he said. “It kind of allows you to plot some strategy for players deeper in the draft. It is a bit of a marathon and endurance test.’’

Up and over
Manny Delcarmen had been dominant most of the season, but he wasn’t yesterday. The reliever allowed home runs on consecutive pitches in the eighth inning, as Jack Cust and Kevin Kouzmanoff went deep. He also allowed a single to Mark Ellis. Cust’s blast marked the first time Delcarmen had given up a home run to a lefthanded batter since Sept. 19. In fact, Delcarmen had allowed just one homer to a lefty in 176 appearances since Aug. 21, 2007, the fewest in the majors in that stretch (at least 300 batters faced). “He left some balls up,’’ manager Terry Francona said.

First aid
Darnell McDonald was hurt in the fourth inning diving back into first base on a pickoff play. He banged his knee, prompting Francona and the trainer to come out to check on him. “He needed some time to kind of catch his breath,’’ Francona said. McDonald said the knee wasn’t a factor in being thrown out at the plate later in the inning. “It’s sore for the time being, but I was able to run, put weight on it without any problems,’’ McDonald said. “I felt I was running pretty good. They made a good throw, catch-and-throw, bang-bang play.’’ . . . The last time the Sox recorded 18 hits and lost was May 21, 1995, in a 12-10 defeat to the Indians. That was also the last time the Sox lost with 10 extra-base hits . . . Bill Hall went 8 for 14 on the homestand with four extra-base hits (two home runs) and nine runs.

Ellsbury on trip
Jacoby Ellsbury will be in Baltimore with the Sox this weekend as he continues his rehab from fractured ribs. Asked what Ellsbury can do at this point, Francona said, “It’s kind of as tolerated. When he’s ready to do more, he will do more. Just kind of keep checking in with him, seeing how he feels, trying not to go backwards.’’ . . . Boof Bonser’s 30-day rehab assignment ends Sunday, meaning the Sox will have to make a decision, as Bonser does not have options left. “He threw the ball pretty well,’’ Francona said. “When he’s able to go out and compete and he’s healthy, he’s actually a pretty good pitcher, which we know.’’ After struggling a bit, including allowing seven runs in one inning at Durham May 22, Bonser has pitched well in his last two starts. Over the two outings, Bonser has given up just one run in 13 innings, striking out 11.

Adjusted lineup
David Ortiz didn’t start yesterday, with Mike Lowell in against lefty starter Brett Anderson, who left after two innings with elbow soreness. J.D. Drew also did not start, giving Jeremy Hermida a chance. Hermida had three hits, including a homer . . . Mike Cameron was walking around before the game with two strips of tape on his chest that said, “I’m doing just fine. I’m still living the dream.’’ A strip on his back read, “Anyway, how R U doing?’’

Amalie Benjamin can be reached at abenjamin@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @amaliebenjamin.

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