By Mary Cunningham

If you are a Phillies fan who has been hoping against hope that the team’s witless management will able to pull off a trade of pitching ace Cole Hamels in exchange for a bushelful of young prospects, count the Red Sox out.

The Boston Globe is reporting that, with spring training starting in less than a month and opening day in Philly on April 6, Sox GM Ben Cherington doesn’t see a void in his pitching rotation, or at least not one worth the high cost of filling. He likes the roster as it stands today, outside of a few tweaks to add some depth.

“I think it’s likely that we’ll add to the roster before spring training,” Cherington said Thursday. “But I think it’s less likely that it’ll be of the big headline-grabbing variety of moves. That would be my guess right now.”

In Clay Buchholz, Joe Kelly, Justin Masterson, Wade Miley, and Rick Porcello, the Sox have five solid mid-rotation starters. Their hope is that one or two of them — Buchholz, Masterson, and Porcello are the best candidates — emerge as elite.

The alternative would be signing free agent James Shields or trading several top prospects to obtain a pitcher such as Philly lefthander Hamels. Cherington didn’t rule that out, but he doesn’t sound eager to wade back into that market in search of an ace.

“As far as the starters, we’re really focused on the guys we have,” he said. “Look, we always have to keep an open mind with opportunities but we like the group we have.

“We feel like there’s some upside, some untapped potential with the group we have. We talk about ways to help the group we have.”

The Sox feel they have improved their infield defense with the addition of third baseman Pablo Sandoval and that will aid the starters, particularly with the high ground-ball rates generated by newcomers Masterson, Miley, and Porcello.


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