If Roy Oswalt asked me, I’d tell him playing for the Red Sox is one of the greatest experiences in all of baseball

None of Roy Oswalt’s 326 career starts has come against the Boston Red Sox. I’m not sure he has even seen Fenway Park. The Astros played there in 2003, but Oswalt went on the disabled list the day before the series started and apparently wasn’t with the club. Unless there was a family vacation we don’t know about, Oswalt may never have stepped foot in one of baseball’s real special places.

Maybe that explains his lack of interest in pitching in Boston. Oswalt remains the most prominent and accomplished free-agent pitcher without a job as Spring Training begins. He’s 34 years old and has a career 3.21 ERA and 159 victories. In 11 seasons, he has finished third, fourth (three times) and sixth in NL Cy Young Award voting.

Back issues limited him to 23 starts last season, but in the seven years before that he averaged 33 starts and 216 innings a season. I’ve read that some scouts believe he has lost some of the fire he once had. That’s silly. Even when things began to go bad for the team in Houston, he still took pride in taking the ball every fifth day and giving his team a chance to win.

The Tigers wanted him at one point during the off-season, but Oswalt wasn’t interested. The Red Sox appear to want him still. But Oswalt seems to have his heart set on pitching only for the Cardinals or Rangers. St. Louis and Arlington are more convenient to his Mississippi home, but neither has the room or money for a starting pitcher at this point.

The Phillies may have some interest for the right price, but Oswalt’s decision may be waiting to see if the Cardinals and Rangers are able to free up enough money to sign him. It’s interesting to see someone pass on a chance to pitch for the Red Sox. That’s one of the franchises player want to play for.

It’s a pressurized environment in which every game matters. After pitching in front of very small crowds his last two seasons in Houston, I’d think a packed Fenway Park would look like a pretty good alternative. Regardless, he might be the only remaining free agent who has chance to be a difference maker. If he stays healthy, he’s probably still capable of being an elite pitcher. His work ethic and mound smarts makes him more even more appealing as a role model for younger pitchers.

But he’s an ornery cuss, a country boy who has always done things his way and he has decided he doesn’t want to pitch for the Red Sox, then he’s probably never going to pitch for the Red Sox.

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