This post first appeared on BaseballDigest.com
Spring Training for the 2010 Boston Red Sox has been decidedly quiet compared to previous years. Despite the potential for incredible unrest on the part of Mike Lowell and the reality that he is a player without an everyday position, the Red Sox are otherwise preparing for the upcoming season without a hitch.
There is some news worth mentioning, however. While Nomar Garciaparra signed a one-day deal to close out his Red Sox career, another former Red Sox is hoping to stage a comeback.
A member of the 2004 World Series team, Alan Embree, was signed to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training. After being jettisoned by the Red Sox in the middle of the 2005 season, Embree struggled during the rest of the 2005 season as a member of the New York Yankees. At the end of the season, Embree underwent surgery to clean out bone chips and spurs that contributed to an ERA that skyrocketed over 7.00. The surgery was a major factor in rediscovering his ability while with the San Diego Padres and the Oakland Athletics. His 2009 season with the Colorado Rockies was cut short due to injury, though his numbers were also less impressive than previous years.
One of general manager Theo Epstein’s first acquisitions, he was a valuable piece of the Red Sox bullpen from 2002 to 2004 before faltering during the 2005 season. During Grady Little’s infamous non-moves during the 2003 ALCS, Embree was among the options that fans and baseball analysts alike were clamoring to be called upon. The calls for Embree were answered in 2004 when he put up incredible numbers during the 2004 postseason.
At 40 years old with almost 900 appearances over the last 16 years with 10 teams, it’s unclear exactly what to expect from the middle reliever.
In addition to this, he is coming off a 2009 season that ended with a broken tibia when he was struck by a line drive off the bat of the Atlanta Braves’ Martin Prado. Embree will face minor league hitters today in his attempt to make a comeback from the injury that resulted in having a titanium rod inserted into his leg.
Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston has a great story on Alan Embree’s return to Boston, including a nugget of information that Embree went skiing during the off-season, an activity that is prohibited when a player is signed to a contract.
The signing has not received a great deal of support from some Red Sox bloggers, as realistic expectations are low. Over The Monster summarizes exactly what to expect with Embree in the mix. The feeling many people share is the Embree signing may serve, at best, as an opportunity to find another left-handed option out of the bullpen to compliment Hideki Okajima.