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Epstein talks about shortstop, Salty at benefit

Epstein talks about shortstop, Salty at benefit

Epstein talks about shortstop, Salty at benefit
BOSTON -- The door is open for Jed Lowrie to increase his playing time at shortstop, general manager Theo Epstein said on Friday night during his charity event at Fenway Park.

"Marco [Scutaro] was our shortstop last year, and until something changes, that's how it's going to be," Epstein said. "I'm just making the point that we believe in both guys, and we think they can both help us win."

Even if Scutaro is to see most of the time at the position -- he played 150 games last season, 132 of them at shortstop -- Lowrie could well be more than just a once-every-two-weeks fill-in. Lowrie can play multiple positions, which gives the Red Sox flexibility, but he also showed a power potential last season that Scutaro likely couldn't match.

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"The players will ... dictate how they're best utilized," Epstein said. "If we're a better team with a job share, that's what we'll do. If we're a better team moving one guy around, that's what we'll do. If we're better with a straight platoon, that's what we'll do. It'll be determined by the play of the field."

Turning 27 in April and eight years Scutaro's junior, Lowrie posted a .287/.381/.526 line with nine home runs and 24 RBIs in 55 games. Scutaro hit 11 homers, drove in 56 and posted a line of .275/.333/.388.

The role of shortstop may not be clearly defined, but there's no doubt as to Boston's primary catcher next season: Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who turns 26 in May.

Saltalamacchia also attended the charity event, and both he and his GM talked about the progress he's made this offseason.

"He's been working out really hard. He's kind of reformed his body a little bit," Epstein said. "He looks to be in great shape and has improved flexibility, and he's been working out twice a week with [bullpen coach] Gary Tuck down in Florida. He has made some alterations to the way he sets up and receives the baseball, and his transfer and his release down to second base."

Those adjustments include simple things, such as avoiding the instinct to catch a pitch tailing to his left with a backhand -- something that can make a strike look like a ball to an umpire.

"This is the first offseason where I've actually had time to work out and have a good offseason," Saltalamacchia said. "Everything's been going good. [I've] been taking it slow, not trying to kill the thumb."

Saltalamacchia underwent surgery in September to repair an injury to his left thumb.

Epstein spent about 10 minutes with reporters after speaking on a panel as part of the Hot Stove Cool Music benefit, which aids Boston youths. Among the other subjects he touched on:

• Josh Beckett: "I don't think his numbers are indicative of the pitcher that he is. I think they're indicative of how he pitched in an injury-riddled season where nothing went his way. We're for the most part throwing out last year and relying on the greater body of evidence going forward."

Beckett is not pitching with any restrictions, for his back or otherwise.

• Hiring Triple-A Pawtucket manager Arnie Beyeler: "He's got a really good touch with developing players. He can relate to all different kinds of players with different personalities and different backgrounds. And he knows the key guys at Pawtucket, guys that we need to really continue to develop at Triple-A, [guys] he knows, has worked with and has good relationships with."

Evan Drellich is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @EvanDrellich. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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