FORT MYERS, Fla. After five moves were made on Tuesday morning, the Red Sox' 25-man roster is becoming clearer. But there are still questions. One of the most interesting: Who will get the final spot?
Among those vying to make the team are catcher Ryan Lavarnway, outfielder Jason Repko, and infielders Nate Spears and Pedro Ciriaco. Of those, Ciriaco entered the spring as one of the least familiar to observers.
Originally signed with the Diamondbacks in 2003 before being traded to the Pirates at the 2010 deadline, Ciriaco joined the Sox as a minor league free agent this offseason.
He has appeared in just 31 major league games in his career, over the last two seasons with the Pirates, going 13-for-39 (.333) at the plate while playing 47 23 innings at shortstop, third base, and left field.
In seven minor league seasons, he has hit .270 with 24 home runs, 298 RBI, and 401 runs scored, playing shortstop, second base, left field, and third base.
This spring, though, he has opened some eyes with his fielding and his bat, including two consecutive games earlier this month when he delivered the winning hits. On March 12 he delivered a two-run, 10th-inning walk-off home run to beat the Marlins. The next day against the Yankees in Tampa, he bolted around the bases to score as his ninth-inning single, compounded with two errors, accounted for the only run of the game.
After going 0-for-1 Tuesday, entering as a pinch runner in the sixth inning for third baseman Kevin Youkilis, Ciriacos Grapefruit League average dropped to .429. Ciriaco, though, is satisfied with his spring. He has appeared in 20 of the team's 25 games.
Everything is pretty good so far right now, said Ciriaco, who turned 26 in September. I just feel good the way Ive been working and playing this spring. Just keep doing the work.
Every day when you get a chance to play and do the right thing and stay on the field and help your team so they can see what you can do is a good thing for me.
The Red Sox offered Ciriaco no hints when he signed as to their expectations for him, other than to show what he could do this spring.
Nothing really, just come here and compete like everybody else, he said. They didnt tell me youre going to do this or youre going to make the team or anything like that. Just have fun and play the game, like Ive been doing my whole life.
Ciriaco has played 80 innings this spring, appearing at shortstop (40 innings), second base (32), third base (6), and center field (2). Playing different positions can only help him, he believes.
Yeah, I think its good if you can help the team in different positions, he said. Because thats more opportunity for me.
But hes taking nothing for granted. With a little more than a week before the start of the regular season, Ciriaco just wants to keep doing what hes been doing this spring.
Just keep having fun, do the right thing and play the game the right way, he said. And just keep moving forward.