ALCS Gm5: Middlebrooks takes third on heads-up play

BOSTON -- Most Red Sox players scatter to warm-weather climates for the offseason. However, third baseman Will Miiddlebrooks is spending this winter in Boston.

Why?

"A couple of reasons," said Middlebrooks. "I wanted to work with the training staff here, just to get my body ready. I want to be 100 percent. Our strength coordinator is here. Mike Boyle, he's got a miniature API basically. Not even miniature, it's basically the same thing. I can do that and my biggest [priority] was just working with the trainers and getting healthy."

Though Middlebrooks didn't make excuses for his poor season, nagging injuries might have played a significant role.

He is trying to combat that with a better training program.

"I know you're not going to be 100 percent. No one is 100 percent throughout the season," Middlebrooks said. "If you can be 85, 90, that's nice. There's a lot of things that go into staying healthy and creating good habits and that's what I'm trying to do."

Sox remain in hunt for catcher to pair with Ross

WS2013 Gm6: Ross joins MLB.com after Series clincher

BOSTON -- Though some solid catchers have come off the free-agent market in recent days, Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington remains confident his team will have a good complement to David Ross for next season.

Cherington had dialogue with both Carlos Ruiz and Brian McCann before the former re-signed with the Phillies and the latter signed a five-year deal with the Yankees.

"We kind of thought that might be a position that moved quicker just because there seemed to be sort of a set of teams and a set of somewhat comparable, somewhat equal players and the musical chairs would start," said Cherington on Monday night. "I guess that leaves us still talking. We have interest in a small handful of free agents. We've also talked to teams about trades.

"And we also think we're in a pretty strong position long-term with the young catching we have in the organization and so we have, we're in a position to be a little choosy, a little selective. If we could do something there, we'd love to. So we'll see what happens."

What about bringing Jarrod Saltalamacchia back?

"He's certainly one of the guys we've talked to, continue to have an open door with, spoken to him pretty consistently -- or spoken to his representative -- since the season ended. Hopefully that continues," Cherington said. "He's doing the same thing we are, just trying to see what's out there for him, too."

As for McCann, who could become a prominent player in the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry, Ross did try to sell his former teammate on joining Boston instead.

"I talked to Brian. I tried to tell him the good parts about Boston, that it's a top-notch organization, I think they put the players first, just things like that," Ross said. "I definitely was lobbying but not like, 'Hey, man, you've got to come here,' because it comes down to him and his family. That's a big difference."

Though Cherington didn't want to get into the specifics with his dialogue with McCann, the Yankees obviously made a bigger push.

"I think it came down to years. When you add an option for six, it puts you at almost $100 [million], that's a game-changer," Ross said. "And then when you talk about the short porch, I think he was excited about playing in that stadium long-term."

Lucchino vows Sox won't be 'stand-pat team'

Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino address Fenway

BOSTON -- Though Red Sox president/CEO Larry Lucchino is obviously very fond of the roster that just brought a third World Series championship to Boston within the last decade, he knows that the club can't be sentimental when crafting the roster for next season.

Four of Boston's nine everyday players -- Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Napoli, Stephen Drew and Jarrod Saltalamacchia -- are free agents.

"One of the lessons I learned a long time ago was that you can't fall in love with your veterans," Lucchino said. "You can't do that. That's not the way to run the railroad. We are not going to be a stand-pat team. That's just not the way we run the railroad here. That's probably a losing proposition every year. Every year has to have its own personality."

Ellsbury has spent his whole career with the Red Sox but he figures to have plenty of suitors. How much contact has Boston had with agent Scott Boras, who represents Ellsbury?

"That question is better asked to Ben [Cherington] because he deals with Jacoby's agent more frequently than anyone else. There's been plenty of interaction with him. How many phone calls, how many meetings, I can't tell you, but there's been plenty of dialogue," said Lucchino.