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Lavarnway comes home from Venezuela

BOSTON -- Red Sox plans to continue catcher Ryan Lavarnway's development in winter ball have hit a snag. Lavarnway became ill and has returned home after appearing in just five games for Margarita in the Venezuela winter league.

"He got sick for about 10 days and we sent him home,'' Mike Hazen, the Sox director of player development, wrote in an e-mail Tuesday.

Lavarnway, playing for former big-league manager Don Baylor, batted .357 (5 for 14), with a double in his brief time for Margarita. He last played on Oct. 23.

The 24-year-old Lavarnway, who batted .290 with 32 home runs in 116 games in the minors last season, made his big-league debut in two callups to the Sox, the first in August, the second in September. He appeared in 17 games in all, batting .231, and hit two home runs in what would be the last Sox win of the season on Sept. 27 while starting in place of injured catchers Jason Varitek and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Lavarnwy was Terry Francona's choice to start the season finale ahead of Saltalamacchia, who said he was available, and went hitless in five trips.

He is expected to come to spring training next season with a legitimate shot of making the big-league club, and could supply some needed right-handed balance to the lineup.