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red sox notebook

‘Good news’ on Dustin Pedroia’s thumb surgery

ORLANDO — Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia did not require a graft to repair the torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb. Dr. Donald Sheridan did a less invasive procedure in Scottsdale, Ariz., Wednesday.

“It was the less complicated of the two possibilities. So that was good news,” said general manager Ben Cherington, who swapped text messages with Pedroia. “It sounded like everything went well.”

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Presumably Pedroia used only his right thumb while texting.

Cherington said the Red Sox are “fully confident” Pedroia will be ready for the start of next season.

“Spring training, because he’s Dustin Pedroia and doesn’t have to worry about making the team, we’ll see where he is. If we need to buy time, we will,” Cherington said. “We’ll know more in a few weeks.”

Pedroia tore the ligament on Opening Day when he slid headfirst into first base against the Yankees. He played the entire season, starting 159 games. Pedroia hit .301 with a .372 on-base percentage and won a Gold Glove.

But Pedroia’s .415 slugging percentage was the lowest of his career for a full season and he admitted the thumb injury restricted his power. Counting the postseason, Pedroia hit nine home runs. He had one in his final 216 at-bats.

Salty talks ongoing

The Red Sox are in the early stages of negotiations with free agent catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Major league sources said the initial holdup is the length of the contract. The Red Sox would prefer two years and Saltalamacchia three or four.

The Sox see Saltalamacchia — or another catcher such as Carlos Ruiz — handling the job until Christian Vazquez or Blake Swihart is ready. Vazquez, 23, finished last season in Triple A. Swihart, a former first-round pick, is 21 and was with Single A Salem.

Free agent first baseman Mike Napoli remains in Boston, now two weeks after the World Series. He was at the Celtics game Wednesday night and reiterated his desire to stay with the Red Sox.

The New York Daily News reported that the Cubs are interested in Jacoby Ellsbury. Former Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein is now president of baseball operations for the Cubs. He drafted Ellsbury in 2005.

Agent Scott Boras is marketing Ellsbury and another free agent client, Shin-Soo Choo, as being able to hit third in a lineup.

“They have the power to bat third. They can drive in 90 runs batting first, second, or third. So their offensive thrust is not confined to the top of a lineup,” Boras said.

“And [Ellsbury] being a world champion not once but twice says a lot about who you are in a locker room, who you are on a team, and the ability to play in a major market. All of those things play into a very different evaluation.”

The Yankees also met with Boras regarding Ellsbury. New York also could have an interest in Stephen Drew given the age and injury concerns with Derek Jeter.

Caution ahead

It was difficult to have an uninterrupted conversation with John Henry as he accepted congratulations from passers-by for the Red Sox winning the World Series.

The owner said he wants the team to hold onto the concepts that made this season so successful. Henry feels like starting in 2009, the Red Sox veered away from an offensive strategy that hinged on a high on-base percentage.

He compared the shift to a boat slowing turning.

The 2013 Red Sox led the majors in on-base percentage and were third in walks. The 2012 team was 29th in walks and 22d in on-base percentage.

Henry also expressed caution about long-term contracts.

“We had a long history of overpaying and going too long in contracts. We had the resources to be able to do it, just as the Yankees had the resources to be able to do that,” he said. “You can make mistakes. You can sign someone to a five-year deal that should have been a four-year deal. You can pay him a few million extra a year in order to put together the exact team that can contend.

“We moved away from that for the first time I think in 2012. You saw that and you’ll see that now continue.”

The Sox signed Pedroia to an eight-year, $110 million extension in July and are expected to pursue a long-term deal with lefthander Jon Lester.

Henry said tying up too many players to multiyear deals is too restrictive and inhibits roster flexibility.

“You have to have the depth,” he said. “By the time you get to August, you have to have depth. You really need more than 25 players to win a championship.”

Koji Uehara seventh in Cy Young voting

Koji Uehara finished seventh in the American League Cy Young Award voting, getting one second-place vote and two thirds. He and Greg Holland of the Royals were the only relief pitchers to receive any votes. It was the highest a Red Sox pitcher has finished since Lester was fourth in 2010.

Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.
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