Pedro Martinez is returning to the Red Sox as a special assistant to GM Ben Cherington, the club announced today. The future Hall-of-Famer told reporters (including MLB.com's Ian Browne) that he will be helping instruct the organization's pitchers during Spring Training and throughout the season. "I hope to be a friend to most of those kids that probably have some questions or if they have uncertainties about what they're going to be facing," Martinez said. "What kind of things they should be aware of? I think I'm very well prepared and armed to actually help them with it."
Here are some more items from around the AL East…
- In an interview on WEEI's Dennis & Callahan show (partial transcript here), Cherington said the Red Sox addressed a number of weaknesses over the winter and he thinks the Red Sox can contend. "Maybe we didn’t make the one headline move or haven’t to this point…but I do think we’ve added strength to a lot of different areas to the roster, a lot of areas we had holes in," Cherington said. He also defended Boston's ownership against recent criticisms from ex-manager Terry Francona.
- The Orioles had interest in Justin Upton but weren't prepared to move top prospects like Manny Machado or Dylan Bundy in return, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports.
- Connolly also outlined the talks between the Orioles and Diamondbacks about Jason Kubel, saying that the O's never had more than "lukewarm" interest in Kubel's services. The Orioles felt they were Arizona's "backup plan" to trade an outfielder as the Snakes' preference was to swap Upton.
- Rays owner Stuart Sternberg told Hillsborough County Commission officials that "Major League Baseball at this point no longer believes in the Tampa Bay area," reports Stephen Nohlgren of the Tampa Bay Times. Sternberg reiterated his belief that a new stadium is needed to make his franchise viable and said he is committed to keeping the team in the Tampa area. MLB released a statement today expressing disappointment in the Rays' attendance, saying, "The status quo is simply not sustainable."
- Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos discussed the team's winter moves, plans for the upcoming season and more in an online chat with Toronto Sun readers. Included is a nice compliment for MLB Trade Rumors, as Anthopoulos says he reads our website, "All the time, and I'd venture to say that almost every front office person in baseball does the same. Great site and great way to stay connected with what's happening."
- The Yankees are running out of options if they want to add right-handed hitting outfield depth, opines Chad Jennings of the LoHud Yankees blog.