Sox can't just hit reset button

BOSTON -- The familiar figure passing through the Red Sox clubhouse Friday offered some reassurance that there were some pitchers left here, after all, until he cracked wise.

"Maybe I got traded, too,'' Luis Tiant said.

No more trades for El Tiante, who was dealt once, signed as a free agent four times, released three times and purchased once in a big league career that began 50 years and 13 days before a 6-foot-7 Jersey kid named Anthony Ranaudo struck out boyhood hero Derek Jeter and beat the New York Yankees in his big league debut, 4-3, Friday night.

Funny thing about Tiant: His glory years with the Red Sox started at age 31, peaked at 35 and 36, and ended with him still going strong at 37. That dovetails pretty closely with the lifespan of the contract the Sox would have had to give Jon Lester to keep him in Boston. Different economics, then, of course, but evidently they trusted "old" pitchers more back then.

But Lester is not walking through that door anymore. Instead, he's posing, unsmiling, alongside Jonny Gomes for pictures in Oakland. John Lackey, meanwhile, was in St. Louis, endearing himself to Cardinals fans by pledging he will honor his major league-minimum salary next season. The referendum on the trades that lopped off the top two starters in the Sox rotation will be an ongoing one for the next six years or so. There are more pragmatic concerns for the Sox now; the clubhouse is not a debating society. There are evaluations to be made, opportunities to be gained, reputations to be earned, questions to be answered.

Oh, and there's one other thing, manager John Farrell noted Friday, not to be overlooked.

"This isn't a development setting right now,'' he said. "It's still about us going out and winning. This isn't a group of prospects brought in through trades. We brought in established big leaguers. Our focus should remain the same, and that is to go out and win each night.

"This isn't about going out and getting 'X' number of at-bats for a young guy or getting a certain number of starts for a young pitcher. We have youth in the rotation, but the expectation isn't going to change.''

But while the intent will still be to shake hands at the end of the night, as the Sox did Friday, in these last 53 games until Sept. 28 -- the day Derek Jeter is scheduled to bid the Hub adieu and the Sox say adios to a forgettable season -- the Sox will be trying to gain a head start on 2015.

It's not quite a revival of "Community Auditions," that relic of '60s-'70s TV, but it's close.

Here's your clip-and-save list of what the Sox will essay to learn in the coming weeks:

-- Cuban slugger Yoenis Cespedes, who will make his Sox debut Saturday afternoon against the Yankees after flying cross-country from Oakland on Friday, said upon arrival that "the legend of Fenway precedes itself." So does the legend of Yoenis, but what remains to be seen is how he adapts to playing right field, how many balls he bangs off the Monster and beyond, and whether he will warrant an investment of Lester-type money to keep him here beyond 2015, when he has an out clause that not only allows him to become a free agent, but one unburdened by a draft pick attached.

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