Free-agent outfielder Rocco Baldelli appears on the verge of finding a new home — in Boston.
The Times learned Wednesday that Baldelli was expected to sign very soon with a team, and ESPN's Peter Gammons reported later the Red Sox were "close" to a deal with the Rhode Islander.
The Rays had been open to a return, but with their funds extremely limited after the signing of Pat Burrell, it didn't seem likely he would come back. The Pirates, Phillies, Reds and Yankees were also interested.
The deal seems likely to be announced tonight, when Baldelli will be a guest at the Boston baseball writers dinner to receive the Tony Conigliaro Award for his comeback.
Baldelli recently received a revised diagnosis he hopes will allow him to play more regularly.
• The sale of 1B Dan Johnson to Japan's Yokohama Bay Stars was made official.
• Through password-only presales, the Rays sold out two spring games, March 7 vs. Boston and March 22 vs. the Yankees. General public sales start Friday at 9 a.m. on raysbaseball.com, then Saturday at all outlets.
• Matt Quatraro was named manager at Class A Bowling Green, with R.C. Lichtenstein and Hector Torres as coaches. Brady Williams will manage short-season Hudson Valley; Rafael Montalvo, Michael Johns and Manny Castillo are coaches.