The Red Sox 25-man roster seems to have finally taken shape as the team prepares to break camp in Fort Meyers.
There have been a few tough calls, partly because some players are out of options and can't be sent down to the minors.
The team will carry its customary 12-man pitching staff. Deciding which players would ultimately fill out the bullpen was a challenge because some guys just didn't step up.
Jonathan Papelbon, Daniel Bard, Hideki Okajima, Ramon Ramirez, and Manny Delcarmen seemed to be assured spots. The two remaining were up for grabs.
A group including Scott Atchison, Boof Bonser, Joe Nelson, Alan Embree and Scott Schoeneweis have been battling for the last two spots.
Bonser, who is out of options, has had some groin problems this spring. So he'll start the season on the DL, which buys both him and the Red Sox some time.
Atchison, who was praised by Terry Francona for his fine work this spring, was rewarded with one spot. Embree who got shelled on Wednesday, lost out. Since the club would like to carry another lefty in addition to Okajima, Schoeneweis will likely get the other spot.
The Sox will carry 13 position players, which means there are four open bench spots. Jason Varitek will get one of them, as will Jeremy Hermida.
This meant that Tug Hulett and Josh Reddick (who have both opened some eyes this spring), plus the versatile Bill Hall and Mike Lowell were competing for the final two spots.
Hulett, who made his debut in 2008, still has options, which means he'll start the season in Pawtucket, along with newly acquired infielder Kevin Frandsen.
It's unfortunate that Hulett won't break camp will the big league club because he's earned it. The 27-year-old has baited .289 this spring, has two homers (tied for second) and leads the team with 15 RBI.
The Sox were willing to pay at least $9 million of Lowell's salary to any trade partner. At that cost, it makes more sense to simply keep the veteran third baseman. Due to his ability to fill in at first and third, plus be a right-handed DH, his value to the team is considerably increased.
The roster will be finalized in the next day or so, at least publicly. Though the team has already reached its decisions internally, some of these decisoins are not set in stone.