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December 2, 2012

Cherington says Red Sox have much to prove

BOSTON (AP) — Boston Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington is heading to baseball’s winter meetings in Nashville with his pockets bulging from the $250 million he saved in the deal that sent Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Spending all that money might be the hard part.

In an off-year for big-ticket free agents, the Red Sox will probably not be able to rebuild last year’s 93-loss fiasco into a contender just from the players on this year’s market. Right-hander Zack Greinke and outfielder Josh Hamilton are expected to be the biggest prizes when baseball’s annual winter bazaar opens in Nashville on Monday.

“It’s not difficult to find things to spend it on. It’s difficult to find the right things to spend it on,” Cherington said at the Red Sox holiday festival at Fenway Park on Saturday. “Maybe there are fewer of those (high-profile free agents) than in other years. Maybe it doesn’t feel like last offseason. But there will still be headlines; there will still be deals.”

Snowflakes sprinkled down on Fenway as Red Sox fans streamed into the ballpark to see the Christmas tree, listen to carolers and buy tickets for the 2013 season. There were magicians and balloon animals and even a choo-choo train for the kiddies, while inside the team’s two World Series trophies were available for photographs and to remind all the children in Boston of the time not too long ago when the Red Sox were good.

And likeable, too.

Cherington said he was paying even more attention this winter to signing the right kind of player, the ones who have an attitude — and not just a swing — tailored for Fenway Park. Beckett, Gonzalez and Crawford are gone from the clubhouse that blew an unprecedented September lead in 2011 and then finished last in’12.

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