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Cherington: Heavy lifting likely done for Red Sox

Cherington: Heavy lifting likely done for Red Sox

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BOSTON -- With Mike Napoli's big bat a successful physical away from officially returning to the Red Sox, general manager Ben Cherington can now focus on luxuries rather than necessities.

"We think if Opening Day was tomorrow, we'd be in pretty good shape. But like I said before, it's not," Cherington said. "We'll keep working. There are things we could do, things we'd like to do to pursue, and there are still the flexibility and means to do that. But certainly the team is much more filled out than it was in the beginning of the offseason. It could be that we've done most of our heavy lifting for the winter, but certainly we'll still keep working and see what else we can come up with."

What about free agent Stephen Drew, who helped the Red Sox win the World Series with his stellar defense?

"Yeah we've had off-and-on dialogue, nothing too recent, but certainly we're leaving the door open still," Cherington said.

If the door eventually closes on Drew, the Sox can simply turn shortstop over to their best prospect, Xander Bogaerts. That would leave Will Middlebrooks as the starting third baseman. Cherington indicated he will still try to find another player for the left side of the infield, be it a starter or reserve.

"We feel pretty good about our alternative at shortstop, but we'll see what happens the rest of the way. We're still exploring different things, different ways to potentially improve the team," Cherington said. "I think we've probably shifted more toward -- assuming we get a deal done with the first baseman -- we've probably shifted more toward the opportunistic part of this offseason maybe. And sort of looking at different scenarios, different ideas, and maybe nothing comes of those because we feel pretty good about where we are right now."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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