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Up Next: Boston Red Sox

By MARC TOPKIN, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times
published April 15, 2003

SCOUTING REPORT: The Red Sox already have made things interesting, and that's beside all the debate they've sparked with their stubborn decision to go with a bullpen by committee rather than an official closer.

Pedro Martinez, who pitches against the Rays on Thursday, is winless through three starts. Derek Lowe had two rough starts before a strong outing Sunday. Tim Wakefield went from No. 2 starter to the bullpen. Jeremy Giambi is 2-for-25 and David Ortiz 3-for-24. Shea Hillenbrand is playing first base.

Through the first two weeks the Red Sox have been a puzzle, but a puzzle with a winning record at 7-5.

That's because they still have a powerful lineup that leads the league in runs, starring Nomar Garciaparra and Manny Ramirez, and featuring a productive ensemble cast such as Kevin Millar, Trot Nixon, Johnny Damon, Todd Walker and Hillenbrand.

Whether the unstable bullpen, featuring the likes of Brandon Lyon, Chad Fox, Steve Woodard, Mike Timlin, Bob Howry and Ramiro Mendoza, works remains to be seen. Left-hander Alan Embree is on the disabled list.

CONNECTIONS: Rays first-base coach Billy Hatcher played parts of three seasons in Boston. ... Bench coach John McLaren was the Red Sox bullpen coach in 1991. ... Rookie Rocco Baldelli grew up in nearby Rhode Island. ... Ex-Ray Ryan Rupe is pitching at Triple-A Pawtucket. ... Boston manager Grady Little interviewed for the Tampa Bay job in 1997.

SEASON SERIES: The Rays won the dramatic opener, but the Red Sox won the next three at Tropicana Field. Overall, the Sox have a 52-27 advantage, including 23-14 at Fenway.

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