Red Sox

Red Sox Notebook: Eliminating a candidate to close; exhibition games set to begin

(Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox via Getty Images)

Alex Cora still isn't showing his cards about his choice for Red Sox closer. But while we don't who it will be, we know it won't be newcomer Hirokazu Sawamura.

Sawamura, who is due into Fort Myers later Saturday, was ruled out by his manager.

''We've got options now,'' said Cora. "I'm looking for structure this year. Structure is possible because we have capable arms and we've got plenty of them. If we're realistic, the guy with the most experience (in the ninth inning) is Sawamura, and we're not going to do that.

"It's all about stuff, it's about structure, it's all about how we feel it fits for our team. When we make that decision, we're going to feel very comfortable -- not only in the ninth, but in the seventh and eighth. That's important, too.''

After the Red Sox traded Brandon Workman to Philadelphia last August, Matt Barnes filled the role in the final month. He's a candidate, and so is Adam Ottavino, acquired in a trade from the Yankees last month.

Neither Barnes nor Ottavino has closed much, but as Cora noted, everyone is new to the role at some point in their careers.

"It's all about how it feels it fits for our team," Cora said. "When we make that decision, we're going to feel very comfortable -- not only in the ninth, but the seventh and eighth. And that's important, too.''

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On Sunday, the Red Sox will begin their Grapefruit League schedule with a 1 p.m. game against the Minnesota Twins. It's the first of 29 games to be played, but already Cora has some goals in mind for the exhibition slate.

One of the challenges over the next month will be to