Max Ramirez on board

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / January 6, 2011

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The Red Sox traded Mike Lowell to the Texas Rangers for catching prospect Max Ramirez during the 2009 winter meetings. But the deal fell apart when Lowell failed his physical.

Now, 13 months later, Ramirez is finally with the Sox, as he was claimed off waivers yesterday.

Ramirez, 26, appeared in 45 games for Texas the last two seasons, hitting .217 with 4 homers and 17 RBIs.

A righthanded hitter, Ramirez batted .286 with 12 extra-base hits and 29 RBIs in 56 games for Triple A Oklahoma City last season. Ramirez then played 53 games for Tiburones de La Guaira of the Venezuelan Winter League, hitting .286 with 2 homers and 19 RBIs.

A native of Venezuela, Ramirez started his career with the Braves in 2002. The Sox are his fourth organization.

The Sox are planning to use Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jason Varitek as their catchers this season. Ramirez projects to start the season with Triple A Pawtucket.

The Sox could run into a logjam with their catching prospects at Pawtucket and Double A Portland. They also have Luis Exposito and Mark Wagner on the 40-man roster and have high hopes for Ryan Lavarnway, who finished last season in Portland.

Saltalamacchia and Ramirez were teammates at Oklahoma City last season.

Pena signs on Tony Pena Jr., who spent four seasons in the majors as a shortstop before converting to pitching, was signed to a minor league contract that included an invitation to spring training. The 29-year-old hit .228 for the Braves and Royals before moving to the mound in 2009. He has appeared in 63 games since, nearly all as a reliever. Pena has a 3.76 earned run average and 80 strikeouts over 95 2/3 innings. Pena was with the Giants last season, pitching in 53 games as a reliever in Double A and Triple A. He had a 2.53 ERA for Richmond but a 6.60 ERA in 24 games for Fresno. Pena’s father was an All-Star catcher who was with the Sox from 1990-93. He is now bench coach of the Yankees.

With the program The Sox have invited 11 prospects to Boston for a two-week development program, which starts Monday. Along with Lavarnway, those players in the program this year are pitchers Robert Coello, Stephen Fife, Stolmy Pimentel, Jason Rice, Clevelan Santeliz, and Alex Wilson, infielders Will Middlebrooks and Oscar Tejada, outfielder Juan Carlos Linares, and catcher Tim Federowicz. The program includes daily workouts, seminars, a visit to the Dana Farber Cancer Institute and a community service project. Along with team executives and coaches, Celtics coach Doc Rivers will address the group . . . Righthander Matthew Fox, who appeared in three games after being claimed off waivers from Minnesota Sept. 9, was designated for assignment to make room for Ramirez on the 40-man roster.

Peter Abraham can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.

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