Browne chats all things Red Sox with fans

Browne chats all things Red Sox with fans

Browne chats all things Red Sox with fans
MLB.com Red Sox beat writer Ian Browne participated in a live Web chat with fans on Monday. During the chat, he answered questions about the team's new closer, the shortstop situation and what Boston is hoping to get out of Daisuke Matsuzaka this season.

Ian Browne: Hi all. Looking forward to answering all of your Red Sox questions this morning.

yarj76: Catching is set, infield is set except for shortstop, the outfield is open at right and left field -- how do you see the challenges?

Ian Browne: I think the right-field competition is going to be a good one. Cody Ross could be at the stage of his career where he's ready to bust out. But where does that leave Ryan Sweeney, who could be in the same boat and is left-handed? They might both have a shot because I don't think Carl Crawford will be ready on Opening Day.

syxx49: Are the Sox still looking for veteran pitching help?

Ian Browne: They're keeping their eyes open, but we are only one Grapefruit League game in so far, so I think they'd like to take inventory on what they have.

yarj76: We lost a very good closer -- how are we now?

Ian Browne: Andrew Bailey has been very successful in his career. His problem is durability. He's had injury issues for a young guy. He had a minor lat strain early in camp, but it's nothing alarming.

yarj7: How about Mark Melancon?

Ian Browne: Melancon is a great option if Bailey falters or gets hurt. He was a good closer last year and has pitched in the American League East before.

socrubs: How will the shortstop duties be divided between Mike Aviles and Nick Punto?

Ian Browne: I think that manager Bobby Valentine views Punto as a utility player. They will spend the spring evaluating whether Aviles can be an everyday player. Jose Iglesias could play his way into the mix here.

yarj76: What is the real long-term value of Matsuzaka?

Ian Browne: Long term? He only has this season left on his contract. The Red Sox are hoping he can give them a strong final two or three months once he gets healthy.

Ian Browne: OK everyone. Have a great week. I'm out. Hope we can do this again sometime soon.