Red Sox jammed with quality players

BOB ELLIOTT, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:52 AM ET

The Boston Red Sox/Log Jammers are in town battling both the Blue Jays on the field and the Texas Rangers in the wild-card race.

Boston has a log jam behind the plate with Jason Varitek or Victor Martinez ready, willing and able to contribute to the race.

At first base, Kevin Youkilis, Casey Kotchman or Martinez can play.

At third base, either Mike Lowell or Youkilis can play.

Manager Terry Francona has five everyday players to fit into three positions and there is little relief at the DH spot as David Ortiz remains a fixture.

"How many years have we had a bench like this?" repeated assistant Boston general manager Jed Hoyer.

"Zero," Hoyer said.

In 10 seasons of managing at the major-league level, Francona said he can't remember a similar situation.

"Some of these guys have never had to look at a lineup card in years," Francona said.

Now, with 44 games remaining, it's check the lineup card, rather than walking in assuming you are at your usual spot in the batting order, normal position in the field.

"We're moving guys around, going with the best matchups on a certain night, as opposed to seeing this as a problem," Francona said before last night's game against the Jays.

"We've asked our guys to put the team first. Casey Kotchman has been first class, we understood quickly why so many teams like him," Francona said. "We were at a point health-wise where (GM) Theo (Epstein) had to made the decisions before the deadline in case someone went down."

Dave Roberts worked out coming off the bench in 2004 for the Sox.

Jay Payton in 2005 did not because Payton saw himself as an everyday player.

"In 2004 we did have a deep bench," said Hoyer, now in his eighth year with Boston. "It was like making line changes. If we had a lead we'd put Doug Mientkiewicz at first for Kevin Millar, Gabe Kapler would go into right for Trot Nixon, Pokey Reese would go in for Mark Bellhorn and Roberts would go into left for Manny Ramirez.

"It worked because they were all great defensive players."

Last night, Martinez was behind the plate catching Josh Beckett, while Youkilis was at first and Lowell was at third.

Kotchman and Varitek were SOL: Sitting, observing and listening.

"At the time, we had health issues. Jason Bay had neck problems, Lowell was bothered by his hip," Hoyer said. "This is probably tougher for Tito -- to get people into the lineup -- than either Theo or I."

Hoyer, one of three finalists for the Washington Nationals GM job, along with acting Nationals GM Mike Rizzo and Arizona Diamondbacks director of scouting Jerry DiPoto, said a recent Sports Illustrated story about the Red Sox making a good offer for Roy Halladay before the non-waiver trade deadline was partially correct.

The story said that the Red Sox offered right-handed starter Clay Buchholz, reliever Justin Masterson (sent to the Cleveland Indians to obtain Martinez), right-hander Michael Bowden (4-6, 3.20 at triple-A Pawtucket), lefty Nick Hagadone (0-2, 2.52 at double-A Greenville) and a position player for Halladay.

"We had a few packages on the table," Hoyer said, "but all of those names were never in the same deal."

So, Varitek, Martinez, Youkilis, Kotchman and Lowell will be checking the Jammers' lineup card when they arrive at the Rogers Centre visiting clubhouse tonight before facing Halladay.

"We have 44 games left," Hoyer said. "You couldn't have this for a 162-game season."


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