Cherinton doing due diligence on Tanaka

Boston Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said Thursday he has been in touch with the agent for Japanese free-agent pitcher Mashahiro Tanaka but did not indicate whether the Red Sox were planning on meeting with him.

Cherington told Boston sports radio station WEEI he expects there to be heavy competition for the 25-year-old right-hander, who went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA in the Japanese League last season.

He said he was comfortable with his team’s evaluation of the pitcher.

“When that kind of pitcher is available, then it’s our job to do the work we need to do to get to know him and express a level of interest that makes sense for us, and we’ve done that,” Cherington said.

* GM wants to start veteran pitchers slowly: Cherington told WEEI that there would be some “workload managerment” for his veteran starting pitchers early in spring training to compensate for the toll their 16-game October run had on their arms and shoulders.

“There may be some attempts to try to compensate for the workload that some of our guys took on this past year and deep into October by managing their workload a little bit early in spring training,” Cherington said. “That may present opportunities for younger pitchers to maybe get a few more innings than they otherwise might.”