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Inbox: What's Buchholz's role in '09?

Inbox: Will Buchholz make rotation?

After an impressive spring so far, what do you think will be Clay Buchholz's role with the Red Sox for the 2009 season?
-- Pedro M., Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

It's funny the way baseball works sometimes. Last year, Buchholz probably wasn't ready to make the team, but did so because the team had a lack of depth in the rotation after the injury to Curt Schilling. This year, he does look ready but might not make it because the team has overwhelming depth in the rotation. There have been no announcements yet. I have a feeling Justin Masterson might get a start or two in the rotation at the beginning of the year before giving way to Brad Penny.

Chris Carter can hit very well. His defense isn't quite so good. Would he be in the Major Leagues if he had even average defense? Do you see him as David Oritz's replacement at DH should injury befall the Sox? Where does he fit in long term?
-- Dave C., Abington, Mass.

You are right that Carter's defense is the thing that has prevented him from spending prolonged time in the big leagues to date. However, Carter has made every effort to improve his defense all spring, often dragging coaches out to the backfield with him early in the morning so he can keep working at it. No player has outworked Carter this spring. It would be a great story if he made the team. There is that "Mark Kotsay roster spot" up for grabs, and Carter is one of the three finalists, along with Brad Wilkerson and Jeff Bailey.

I remember when the Red Sox got Junichi Tazawa, you said that he'd probably spend a full year in the Minors and then maybe next year he'd start later in the season, but he had a great Spring Training before getting sent down. Do you think there's a chance he may be in the Majors by say June, July?
-- Moss R., New Orleans, La.

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There's always a chance, but with the depth the Red Sox have accumulated, I think it is still more than likely that Tazawa will spend most of the season in the Minors, perhaps getting a September callup. Even though he did have a great spring, he's never pitched a season of professional baseball, so why rush his development?

How could the Red Sox send Daniel Bard to the Minors? This guy is electric, he's tied for most K's in Spring Training and still has a 0.00 ERA!
-- Dan A., Merrimac, Mass.

Where is the weak link in the Red Sox's bullpen? They have Jonathan Papelbon, Hideki Okajima, Takashi Saito, Manny Delcarmen, Ramon Ramirez, Javy Lopez and Justin Masterson. All seven of those guys have had success in the Majors while Bard is still less than three years removed from getting drafted. I'm sure you will see Daniel Bard at Fenway this season, but the Red Sox will allow him to complete his development at Triple-A Pawtucket first. If there is a need on the staff due to ineffectiveness or injury, you will see Bard.

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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