PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- The Red Sox, who have let it be known that they're looking to upgrade their left-handed relief after Hideki Okajima, sent a scout Tuesday to watch 40-year-old Alan Embree throw near his home in Washington state.
"Just doing due diligence,'' one team source said of checking out Embree, who previously pitched for the Sox from 2002-05 and was a key member of the bullpen on the '04 World Series champions. Embree originally came to the Sox in a midseason trade with San Diego primarily engineered by then-assistant GM Theo Epstein, the first major transaction to bear his fingerprints.
Embree pitched last season for the Colorado Rockies, but his season was cut short on July 11 when a line drive by Atlanta's Martin Prado struck him in the right leg, fracturing his tibia. The Rockies elected not to exercise the $3 million option they held for 2010.
The Red Sox already have a 40-year-old left-hander in camp in Brian Shouse, but he does not appear to be the answer. Minor league left-hander Dustin Richardson is a long shot and has only thrown twice. There are two right-handers in camp, Joe Nelson and Scott Atchison, who have had some success in getting out left-handed hitters, Nelson with his "Vulcan" changeup.
But the Sox appear bent on expanding the field of candidates and decided to at least take a look at Embree.
Meanwhile, the line score for Terry Francona on Tuesday:
No wins, two losses, no runs, 350-or-so miles of driving from Fort Myers to Kissimmee to Port Charlotte and back to the Fort.
"And John Farrell did not offer to drive once,'' Francona said of the pitching coach who accompanied him on an excursion that resulted in a 3-0 loss to the Houston Astros and a 7-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.
Francona said the pair left Kissimmee around 3:30, had trouble getting out of the parking lot there, and arrived here at about 6:50 p.m., 10 minutes before game time, while fighting more traffic trying to get into the park.
"Made one quick pit stop along the way,'' Francona said. "There's probably one CVS employee not too happy with the Red Sox.''
We'll spare you further details.
We also won't burden you with too much game detail, other than to note that Jon Lester pitched well in Kissimmee, allowing a run on three hits and two walks in four innings, with two punchouts, and lefty prospect Felix Doubront did the same in Port Charlotte, with three scoreless innings (a hit, a walk, a whiff) that extended his scoreless steak to seven.
But Houston's Roy Oswalt (four zeroes) was a handful in Kissimmee, and Wade Davis was the same in Port Charlotte (5 K's in 4 IP), where the Rays knocked around Boof Bonser and Junichi Tazawa, the Japanese right-hander giving up Sean (S-Rod?) Rodriguez's fifth home run of spring.
Other matters of note: David Ortiz lined two more singles Tuesday, giving him four solid hits in the last two days, and Mike Lowell played a second straight game at first, still without fielding a ground ball; Lowell whiffed and bounced out at the plate. Francona said Lowell will see time at third base, perhaps by the end of the week, though he said scheduling issues could come into play.
Josh Beckett worked out Tuesday, is feeling better, and should make his start Friday, the manager said, while the team will break out the green caps and jerseys for the St. Patrick Day's matinee against the Mets. John Lackey draws the start, while Manny Delcarmen will be watched to see if his velocity jumps from the subpar 90 miles per hour he's been hitting the last couple of outings.