- Associated Press - Thursday, November 4, 2010

BOSTON | The Red Sox are exercising their $12.5 million option on David Ortiz and still could work out a multiyear deal that the designated hitter prefers.

The team announced Thursday it decided to keep the slugger, who got off to slow starts the past two years but improved as the seasons went on.

Ortiz led Boston with 32 homers and tied for the team lead with 102 RBIs in 2010 while batting .270. He also was chosen for the AL All-Star team. In 2009, he hit just .238, his lowest batting average since he joined Boston before the 2003 season as a free agent from the Minnesota Twins, but had 28 homers and 99 RBIs.

The Red Sox might be reluctant to commit big money beyond 2011 to a player who turns 35 in two weeks, has had trouble hitting left-handers and rarely plays in the field. Ortiz also has slipped from career-highs of 148 RBIs in 2005, 54 homers in 2006 and a .332 batting average in 2007.

Boston announced it also is exercising its option on reliever Scott Atchison at $40,000 above a minimum, which will be $400,000 plus a cost of living adjustment. He would have received a $10,000 buyout if the team didn’t exercise the option.

The Red Sox declined their $9.25 million option on infielder-outfielder Bill Hall, who gets a $500,000 buyout, and their $2.5 million option on infielder Felipe Lopez, who gets a $15,000 buyout.

On Wednesday, third baseman Adrian Beltre, Boston’s best hitter this year, declined his $10 million option. He’ll get a $1 million buyout and becomes a free agent after just one season with the Red Sox.

Ortiz and Beltre were two of Boston’s few starting players who weren’t hit hard by injuries. Five opening day starters were sidelined for extended periods. Jacoby Ellsbury was limited to 17 games, Mike Cameron to 48, Dustin Pedroia to 75, Kevin Youkilis to 102 and Victor Martinez to 127.

Through May 11, Ortiz was hitting just .185 with four homers. But by the All-Star break two months later, he was up to .263 with 18 homers and made the AL team for the sixth time.

By the end of the season, he led the Red Sox with 82 walks and tied for ninth in the AL with 69 extra base hits and was eighth in the league in slugging at .529.

Atchison was 2-3 with a 4.50 ERA in 60 innings in his first year with Boston.

Hall played often because of the numerous injuries and had 18 homers and 46 RBIs. Boston signed Lopez on Sept. 25 after he spent most of the season with the St. Louis Cardinals.


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