FORT MYERS, Fla. — Interim manager Ron Roenicke declined to speak about Boston’s pending deal with two-time All-Star catcher Jonathan Lucroy until it becomes official. reported Tuesday morning Lucroy and the Red Sox are close to a minor league contract and the 33-year-old will join the team at spring training camp this week.

“I don’t really want to get into that until I hear from our guys upstairs that things are confirmed,” Roenicke said at JetBlue Park late Tuesday morning.

The addition of Lucroy makes one thing clear: There’s an open competition for the backup catcher job behind Christian Vazquez.

Lucroy will become the seventh catcher in Red Sox big league camp, joining Vazquez, Kevin Plawecki, Jett Bandy, Juan Centeno, Connor Wong and Roldani Baldwin.

Only Vazquez and Plawecki are on the 40-man roster. But everyone except Wong and Baldwin boast major league experience.

Plawecki is set to earn only $900,000 this season. The Red Sox easily could trade or release him if Lucroy has a better camp.

Lucroy, who Roenicke managed in Milwaukee from 2011-15, struggled at the plate in 2018 and ’19, posting a .237/.297/.338/.635 line with 12 homers, 31 doubles, two triples and 87 RBI and 227 games. But he still has higher upside offensively than the 28-year-old Plawecki, who has a career .218/.304/.332/.636 line in 296 games.

Lucroy, who has a career .274/.335/.416/.751 line, once was considered one of the league’s top pitcher framers, but he has regressed in recent years.

ASTROS: Commissioner Rob Manfred’s stern warning that the intentional beaning of the Astros in the wake of their sign-stealing scandal hasn’t stopped an offshore sports book from publishing odds on a variety bets related to their possible plunking.

The player who’s the favorite to get hit the most according to these odds? Third baseman Alex Bregman, whose news conference apology last week was not well received.

The possibility of Houston’s hitters being intentionally hit this season has become a topic of discussion after pitchers around the league have either said or implied that they’d throw at them this season.

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Ross Stripling, whose was on the team that lost to the Astros in the 2017 World Series, said he would “lean toward yes” when asked if he would consider throwing at Houston batters this season. Cleveland right-hander Mike Clevinger, who has been outspoken against the Astros since the cheating scandal emerged, said he doesn’t think “it’s going to be a comfortable few at-bats for a lot of those boys, and it shouldn’t be.”

Manfred said there will be no tolerance for such behavior.

“I hope that I made it extremely clear to them that retaliation in-game by throwing at a batter intentionally will not be tolerated, whether it’s Houston or anybody else,” Manfred said Sunday. “It’s dangerous and it is not helpful to the current situation.”

But that hasn’t stopped the speculation that the Astros will be targets of retaliation at the plate for those upset that players on the team that was found to have cheated were not punished. The Astros were found by Manfred to have cheated during their run to the 2017 World Series and again in the 2018 season. The investigation found that Houston used the video feed from a center field camera to see and decode the opposing catcher’s signs. Players banged on a trash can to signal to batters what was coming, believing it would improve the batter’s chances of getting a hit.

The offshore sports betting website released a variety of prop bets related to the issue of Houston hitters being plunked this week. Behind Bregman, George Springer had the second-best odds of being the Astro to get hit this season. Jose Altuve, the 2017 American League MVP, and Carlos Correa also were listed as options to bet on for the Astro who finishes the season with most hit by pitches.

The over/under line for betting is 80 1/2 HBPs this season. MLB teams were hit an average of 66 times last season, with the New York Mets topping the list at 95.

Bettors can also wager on if the Astros will lead the majors in players hit by pitches this season and on the over/under on how many times an Astro will charge the mound this season, ostensibly after being hit by a pitch.

The website also has another bet related to Bregman, who finished second to Mike Trout in MVP voting last season. People can wager on if Bregman will be plunked over or under 10 times in the regular season.

MLB COMMISSIONER Rob Manfred apologized for what he called a disrespectful reference to the World Series trophy as a “piece of metal.”

Even before being asked about it, Manfred said he made a mistake with those comments when trying to deliver a rhetorical point in an interview two days earlier.

“I referred to the World Series trophy in a disrespectful way, and I want to apologize for it,” Manfred said. “There’s no excuse for it. … It was a mistake to say what I said.”

MLB players, already upset with Manfred’s handling of the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scandal and some of his comments in trying to explain it, became further infuriated by his “piece of metal” comment during a lengthy interview with ESPN on Sunday, the same day he spoke in Florida.

Even NBA superstar LeBron James joined the anti-Astros chorus, voicing his anger on social media.

While speaking at the Cactus League media day in the Arizona desert, Manfred also pledged to protect Oakland right-hander Mike Fiers, the ex-Astros pitcher who became the whistleblower when he went public in November to The Athletic.

“We will take every possible step to protect Mike Fiers wherever he’s playing, whether it’s in Houston or somewhere else,” Manfred said. “Mike did the industry a service.”

The Astros play their first road game of the regular season March 30 at the A’s, who won 97 games each of the past two years to finish second to Houston in the AL West both times.

Cubs lefty Jon Lester, a three-time World Series champion – with the Boston Red Sox in 2007 and 2013, and Chicago in 2016 – had some choice words for the commissioner.

“That’s somebody that has never played our game. You play for a reason, you play for that piece of metal. I’m very proud of the three that I have,” Lester said. “If that’s the way he feels, then he needs to take his name off the trophy.”

James sent a two-part tweet imploring Manfred to listen to the upset players. The three-time NBA champion said he knows that he would be irate and uncontrollable if he found out he had been cheated out of a championship, punctuating his comment with an asterisk-filled expletive, and adding the hashtag (hash)JustMyThoughtsComingFromASportsJunkieRegardlessMyOwnSportIPlay.

“Listen here baseball commissioner listen to your…..players speaking today about how disgusted, mad, hurt, broken, etc etc about this,” James wrote in part, adding, “you need to fix this for the sake of Sports!”

YANKEES: Aaron Judge did not hit or throw during the first full-squad workout because of what the team said was a minor right shoulder issue.

Yankees Manager Aaron Boone said the problem is not considered serious and Judge could start to ramp up activities in a couple days. Judge is expected to be ready for the start of the regular season.

Judge had a number of tests, including an MRI, and did conditioning.

GIANTS: Former Giants star Aubrey Huff won’t be welcome at a reunion of the 2010 World Series team following his controversial online comments on social and political issues, The San Francisco Chronicle reported.

“Quite frankly, shocked. Disappointed,” Huff responded, The Athletic reported. “If it wasn’t for me, they wouldn’t be having a reunion. But if they want to stick with their politically correct, progressive (stuff), that’s fine.”

In a post to Twitter, Huff claimed he was told he’d been banned for his support of President Donald Trump. He defended his other controversial comments as “satirical and sarcastic,” describing them as “locker room humor.”

“We live in a country that is under attack,” Huff wrote on Twitter. “Society is desperately trying to take away our 1st Amendment, our freedom of speech and our freedom of political association.”

PADRES: While Padres General Manager A.J. Preller did make significant upgrades all around the roster, he continues to work the phones in an almost frenetic manner in a quest to add a player (or players) he believes can truly vault the Padres into contention in a seemingly stacked National League.

On the front burner of Preller’s extended hot stove cooking is a continued attempt to move outfielder Wil Myers. Sources said in the past two days that talks between the Padres and Boston Red Sox are ongoing, and a deal seems contingent on the Red Sox assuming about half of the $61 million owed Myers over the next three years. The Red Sox are interested in pitcher Cal Quantrill, as well as highly touted prospects Luis Campusano and Gabriel Arias, though the Padres are unlikely to part with all three. Quantrill is a central piece in the talks.

It is unclear who the Padres would get in return from Boston, and the main purpose of a trade is characterized as attaining the salary flexibility moving Myers would create.

BRAVES: Before taking batting practice, outfielder Nick Markakis teed off on the scam-ridden Houston Astros.

“I feel every single guy over there deserves a beating,” he said.

Markakis wasn’t happy with Commissioner Rob Manfred, either.

“I think the commissioner completely handled it the wrong way. But that’s the way he did it and we got to live with that. I know a lot of people disagreed with the way he handled this decision,” Markakis said. “He should be embarrassed of himself.”

The Braves and Astros play twice in spring training. Houston closes the regular season at Atlanta in late September.

CARDINALS: Right-hander Miles Mikolas will receive a platelet-rich plasma injection in his ailing throwing arm, likely delaying his regular-season debut by about one month.

A 2018 All-Star, Mikolas received a similar injection after last season to treat a flexor tendon issue.

Manager Mike Shildt said the injection will keep Mikolas from throwing for 3 to 4 weeks. Once he is cleared to throw, Mikolas will have to restart his throwing program from the beginning.

ARBITRATION: Los Angeles Angels outfielder Brian Goodwin and Arizona reliever Archie Bradley went to salary arbitration hearings.

Goodwin asked a panel for a raise to $2.2 million and the team argued for $1.85 million. He hit .262 last year and set career bests with 17 homers and 47 RBI in 458 plate appearances for the Angels, who claimed him off waivers from Kansas City last year. The 29-year-old was eligible for the first time after earning $585,500 last year.

A decision by arbitrators Dan Brent, Melinda Gordon and Elizabeth Neumeier is expected Thursday, when decisions also are due for Miami first baseman Jesus Aguilar and Houston backup infielder Aledmys Diaz. Bradley’s decision is expected Saturday.

A 27-year right-hander, Bradley asked arbitrators Andrew Strongin, Steven Wolf and Jules Bloch for a raise from $1.83 million to $4.1 million, and the team argued for $3,625,000. Bradley was 4-5 with a 3.52 ERA in 65 relief appearances and one start last year. He struck out 87 and walked 36 in 71 2/3 innings.

Teams are 6-1 against players this year, beating Boston pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez, Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson, Minnesota pitcher Jose Berrios, Milwaukee closer Josh Hader, Atlanta reliever Shane Greene and Colorado catcher Tony Wolters.

Dodgers reliever Pedro Baez is the lone winning player so far.

Two players remain scheduled for hearings this week: Philadelphia catcher J.T. Realmuto and reliever Hector Neris.

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