FORT MYERS, Fla. – Some final notes from a week in Fort Myers, and news from the Eastern League.

 

RED SOX Manager Bobby Valentine was asked about predictions but dismissed them. Asked about predictions he made while a commentator on ESPN, he joked that he asked a researcher to come up with the picks.

Of course, Valentine is right. Predictions are meaningless. They are also interesting and fun.

Sports Illustrated picked the Yankees to win the AL East by three games over Tampa Bay and four over the Red Sox. Boston will go 91-71.

I think 91 games is accurate for the Red Sox, but I don’t know if the Rays’ magic will continue despite their starting rotation.

For what it’s worth (i.e., very little): I think the Yankees will win the division (SI’s pick of a 95-67 record sounds right). Boston will finish second (91-71) and face the Rangers (90-72) in the wild-card playoffs. The Rays finish 86-76.

WITH SO MANY Red Sox players expected to land on the disabled list to begin the season, they likely will play rehab games in the minors. Those rehab assignments usually go to Pawtucket but depending on the schedule, Portland may be an option.

Among the rehab candidates in the next month or two: Carl Crawford, Andrew Miller, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Rich Hill.

MATSUZAKA IS coming on faster than expected. Valentine said the coaches working with Matsuzaka were pleased with his two innings Wednesday in an intrasquad scrimmage.

“They’re surprised at the velocity,” said Valentine of Matsuzaka’s 92 mph fastballs. “It’s early. (But) it’s a good progression.”

JOSH REDDICK IS going to get a chance to play now that he’s been traded to the A’s in the Andrew Bailey deal. In Oakland’s opening series against Seattle in Japan, Reddick started both games in right field, and went 2 for 7 with a home run and a double.

THE RED SOX TRADED Jed Lowrie in part because he seemed susceptible to injury. Lowrie appeared to have won the starting shortstop job with the Astros before spraining his thumb diving back to a base Wednesday. There is no timetable for his return.

KYLE WEILAND, a former Sea Dogs player like Lowrie, was in the same trade as Lowrie for reliever Mark Melancon.

Weiland is competing for the final spot on the Astros’ rotation and has a 2.86 ERA this spring.

FORT MYERS may get a third team to join the Red Sox and Twins in spring training. The Washington Nationals, who are isolated in Viera on the east coast, are considering moving into City of Palms Park, the stadium vacated by the Red Sox for their new digs.

ANOTHER SOLOMON has become an owner in the Eastern League. Josh Solomon and his siblings, Jim Solomon and Jennifer Goorno, purchased the New Britain Rock Cats. They are the children of New Hampshire Fisher Cats owner Arthur Solomon.

HOW SERIOUS IS OTTAWA in attracting an Eastern League team? The group Champions for Ottawa Baseball began a season-ticket drive for 2013, asking fans to put down a $25 deposit for priority seating.

THE ANNUAL WELCOME Back Sea Dogs Dinner will be at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Portland Expo. Tickets are $20 adult and $15 for ages 14 and under. Proceeds benefit Youth Alternatives. For more information, click the Welcome Back link on www.seadogs.com.

 

THE SEA DOGS begin their season Thursday at Reading, playing a doubleheader so the teams can take Easter off.

Portland’s home opener will be Thursday, April 12, at 6 p.m. against Binghamton. Besides the regular opening-day ceremonies, there will also be a tribute to the late owner, Dan Burke.

Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or at:

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Twitter: ClearTheBases