FORT MYERS, Fla. — When and if Chris Capuano passes his physical, he will join the Red Sox on a one-year, $2.25 million deal.
He will become the sixth starting pitcher, replacing Ryan Dempster, who announced Sunday he would not be pitching for the Red Sox in 2014.
Capuano did not want to sound definitive in a phone interview conducted from his Arizona home, but the veteran lefthander said, “I’d be thrilled to join a team like the Red Sox. It’s not only home for me, but when you see the group of people they have in that clubhouse and what they accomplished as a team last season, it was special to watch. I’m really excited about the possibility of going there.”
The lefthander could be used out of the bullpen if he doesn’t make the starting rotation, a plan similar to the one the team had in mind for Dempster.
The Mariners also were hot after him and it was likely Capuano had a better opportunity to make the Seattle rotation.
“Fighting for a spot in the rotation wasn’t a factor for me,” Capuano said. “The chance to play on a team like [the Red Sox], in that city, far outweighs anything else.”
Capuano, 35, made 20 starts for the Dodgers last season. He is 73-83 with a 4.27 ERA over parts of nine seasons.
Capuano started against the Red Sox last Aug. 25 at Dodger Stadium and took the loss. He lasted five innings, giving up three runs.
He battled calf and back injuries last season, but said he feels 100 percent now.
John Lackey started and won the clinching game of the World Series when he was a rookie with the Angels in 2002. Eleven years and one major elbow surgery later, he did the same thing for the Red Sox last October.
“You definitely appreciate the second one a little bit more,” Lackey said Thursday. “As a rookie I came in on a veteran team. There might have been two or three rookies on the team. I was just trying not to screw things up.”
Now Lackey is a veteran starter the Sox are counting on. He was 10-13 with a 3.52 ERA over 29 starts and 189⅓ innings in 2013 after missing the previous season recovering from surgery.
“It’s a lot easier this year, for sure. I don’t have to do some of the rehab stuff I had to do last year,” Lackey said. “I feel great physically.”
Lackey is signed through the end of the season. The Sox hold an option on him for 2015 — at the league minimum — as a result of the year missed because of the surgery.
“That was the contract and we’ll see happens,” he said. “If I can pitch, I want to keep pitching.”
Setting the tone
The Red Sox met for a little less than an hour before the first full-squad workout. An assortment of team officials addressed the team but none of the players spoke, according to manager John Farrell.
Farrell was satisfied his message was heard.
“It’s to get back to a mind-set that was the first day of spring training last year and not the most recent memory, which was a great one,” he said. “There was a lot of work, a journey that went into getting to that final out recorded in Fenway . . . The talk has been about what we do today.”
General manager Ben Cherington said the Sox have to return to the qualities that made them champions.
“We’re going to chase winning, we’re going to chase the process and be the best-prepared team,” he said.
Drew return unlikely
A senior Red Sox official said it was “unlikely” the team would bring back free agent shortstop Stephen Drew. Later in the day, Cherington seemed to confirm that.
“Right now, as far as the position player group, we’re focused on the guys that are here,” he said. “We’ve got infielders here in camp who are into their workouts and getting ready to play games. We have a lot of faith in those infielders.”
Cherington said the Sox have an interest in acquiring some additional infield depth and are scouting other camps.
“My guess is that’s a spring training thing and maybe that nothing happens,” he said. “We have scouts in every camp. We know who is more likely to be available.”
David Ortiz and agent Fernando Cuza met with the Sox after the workout to start talks on a contract extension. The meeting was first reported by WEEI.
“David’s a very important guy. We all know that,” Cherington said. “Certain guys earn the right to have a hearing and a conversation and he’s certainly one of them.”
Steven Wright remembers the day he knew something was wrong.
“It was Dec. 19,” the righthander said. “I woke up and I knew something was going on.”
It proved to be a hernia. Wright had surgery at the UMass Medical Center in Worcester about a month later and arrived at spring training Thursday. He won’t be able to start throwing until May.
“I think I got hurt lifting weights. I know it wasn’t something specific,” Wright said. “It was more cumulative.”
Wright, a knuckleballer, appeared in four games for the Red Sox last season and was targeted for the Triple A rotation. His loss, even temporarily, cuts into the team’s starter depth.
Wright was 8-7 with a 3.46 ERA in 24 starts for Pawtucket last season.
Replay meeting set
Farrell and bench coach Torey Lovullo will travel to Port Charlotte to meet with Major League Baseball officials regarding the instant replay procedures. The new rule prohibiting running into the catcher also will be on the agenda. Several other teams are expected to attend . . . Francisco Tena, a pitcher on the Sox’ Dominican Summer League roster, was suspended for 50 games for using a performance-enhancing drug. Tena has yet to appear in a game.