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Sunday reading: The Red Sox, Francisco Rodriguez, Sandy Koufax, Carlos Beltran, Mark Teixeira and Michael Young

In Fort Myers yesterday, I wrote about the Red Sox and their status as favorites to win the AL East.

Not surprisingly, most of the players and other officials laughed off and downplayed such a notion. Not everyone can be Jimmy Rollins, after all. 

What intrigues me most about the Sawx is how new guys Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez handle the adjustment from extremely low-key baseball environments - apathetic ones, even - to the ultra-intense Boston. There will be tough times - a slump, a losing streak, maybe even some boos.

Some players get devoured by it, either in Boston or New York. Many thrive in it. The Red Sox are convinced these two guys will fall into the latter group.

--Mark Teixeira grabbed some headlines by proclaiming the Yankees as "underdogs." Well, they are right now. I don't see the harm in embracing it.

--Teixeira said he woudln't waive his no-trade clause, although this notion of Teixeira being traded for Albert Pujols was never going anywhere because the Cardinals aren't trading Pujols.

--Robinson Cano missed his physical but will be in camp today, Erik Boland reports.

--The great Mark Didtler of the Associated Press has a good story about a 106-year-old Yankees fan who lives close to Tampa. Although Ditler failed to ask one other relevant question: "Can you pitch? The Yankees have a few job openings."

--For my Sunday Insider, I addressed Francisco Rodriguez's $17.5 million vesting option (against a $3.5 million buyout) for next year. I was curious whether Sandy Alderson would document K-Rod's season as it progressed - in other words, preparing a legal defense in case Rodriguez does not vest the option and the Players Association follows by filing a grievance.

Alderson insisted he would not create any sort of paper trail. Interesting (to me, at least). I know the Players Association will be monitoring it, as it does for all vesting options. From talking to people, however, I think the burden of proof would be difficult on the union to win the case. The Mets' transgression would have to be ultra-blatant.

The one example I could find of a grievance involving a vesting option was Dennis Lamp, all the way back in 1987 (for the 1986 season). What you can't see in this linked story is that the Blue Jays prevailed.

--You can't get a much better character witness than Sandy Koufax, and the legend vouched for Fred Wilpon yesterday at Mets camp. It's all the more significant because Wilpon steered Koufax to invest money with Bernard Madoff.

However...when Koufax says this - "I think if Fred knew it was going to be a bad investment, he never would have told me to put money in it," I cringe a little. Koufax is Wilpon's great friend, so he's allowed to say that. But for those of us out here in the public, who are naturally more skeptical, can't you just replace "...if Fred knew it was going to be a bad investment" with "...if Fred knew Madoff was going to get caught"?

Just making conversation. Phil Mushnick has similar thoughts today.

--Carlos Beltran arrived in Mets camp, and he expressed a willingness to move to rightfield - more than I anticipated when I wrote of him on Friday. He has been running without a knee brace, as I reported, but says he'll keep wearing the brace in games.

Sounds like he'll be shifting over to rightfield soon enough. Which makes sense for his long-term future and the Mets' immediate future.

--Luis Castillo is already on Terry Collins' naughty list because he hasn't reported to Mets camp earlier than required. I can see a scenario in which Oliver Perez actually makes the Mets - he's definitely in better shape than past years, and the Mets are hurting for pitching - but I'm not sure how Castillo makes the team.

Unless he shows up displaying the defensive range he had, say, five years ago, or with the sudden ability to drive the ball, why would the Mets keep him? It's not like he fits as a reserve player.

--Michael Young reported to Rangers camp, clearly still upset with Texas GM Jon Daniels. It's not ideal, but Young is not the type of player who's going to mope. Plenty of players dislike their general managers; do you think Derek Jeter has forgiven Brian Cashman for Cashman's winter words of battle? But I don't think Jeter is going to create any sort of negative atmosphere because of that, and the same goes for Young.

--Miguel Cabrera is not at Tigers camp, and it's not clear when he will be. The Tigers slugger is rightfully getting medical attention.

--Chipper Jones, trying to return from left-knee surgery, had a rough first workout. 

--Two stories I forgot to link previously: The first, by Jim Baumbach and I, explains why Bud Selig won't be able to help Fred Wilpon very much, and details the two men's friendship.

--The second is an excellent column by Bob Klapisch about Jorge Posada and his concussions. This is why you shouldn't expect Posada to catch any games for the Yankees this season.

--Self-promotion alert: I'll be on "Sports Extra" tonight at 10:30 on Fox 5 in New York, live from Tampa. with Duke Castiglione.

I'm back in Tampa now, as Captain Jeter will address the media this morning. Have a great day.

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