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November 28. 2012 10:20PM

Red Sox keeping busy during November downtime

THE RED SOX have yet to make any bold moves this off-season, but it was a productive Wednesday as the team made three trades, hired Greg Colbrunn as hitting coach - and three players volunteered to paint apartments in Concord.

While Chris Carpenter, Mark Melancon and Ryan Kalish were spreading holiday cheer for Families in Transition, Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington traded ex-Fisher Cats starter Zach Stewart, right-hander Sandy Rosario and third baseman Danny Valencia. Stewart, New Hampshire's opening day starter for the 2011 championship season, was dealt to the Pirates for a player to be named later.

Rosario, claimed off waivers after pitching for the Marlins last season, was sent to the A's for a player to be named later. Valencia, who appeared in 10 games for Boston last season, was traded to the Orioles for cash considerations. All three players already had been designated for assignment.

A flurry of moves did not involve Londonderry High graduate and two-time World Series champion Brian Wilson, who has become a main topic of hot-stove baseball talk. If the San Francisco Giants and Wilson cannot strike a contract deal before Friday, the thick-bearded reliever will become a free agent.

ESPN baseball columnist Buster Olney teased Red Sox fans on Wednesday, saying via Twitter that Wilson will likely be non-tendered by the Giants and become a "very interesting possibility" for the Red Sox, who certainly could use some bullpen help.

"I've seen him pitch. He's obviously very good. He took the Giants to the World Series and won it," Melancon said. "I don't really pay whole lot of attention to (off-season rumors) until something finally happens."

Melancon saved 20 games for the Astros in 2011 but got off to a horrible start for the Red Sox last season, giving up five homers in his first two innings of relief. He hopes to compete for a job as Boston's closer, a role that is completely up for grabs. Incumbent Andrew Bailey likely has the inside track - unless Boston signs Wilson or another high-priced free agent such as Rafael Soriano or Joakim Soria.

"There's a lot to be learned in that role, especially if you fail. It's not a fun experience. You need to be able to bounce back and perform the following night. That's not easy. There's a learning curve there," said Melancon, who began closing games at the University of Arizona in 2004.


BIG BREAK: Colbrunn spent the past six seasons in Single-A with the Yankees, working as hitting coach and manager for the Charleston RiverDogs. The 43-year-old joins the Red Sox for his first big-league coaching job. As a player, Colbrunn spent 13 seasons in the majors and won a World Series title with Arizona in 2001.

"As we've done with every position on the staff, we looked to find people that had great communication skills, that had a very solid personal experience level to tap into," Red Sox manager John Farrell said at MLB.com. "And the more we did our homework, it became clear that he was a strong candidate. As we went through the interview process, it became very clear that not only does he have a wealth of knowledge as far as hitting goes, but the ability to relate in that interview process - we felt like that would certainly carry over to dealing with our hitters."

Colbrunn replaces Dave Magadan, who took the job as hitting coach for the Texas Rangers after spending six seasons with Boston.



Staff writer Kevin Gray covers pro baseball for the New Hampshire Union Leader and New Hampshire Sunday News. His email address is kgray@unionleader.com.


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