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March 20, 2010 at 1:20 PM

Sox sign Alan Embree to minor league deal

The Red Sox brought a familiar face back into the fold on Saturday, signing left-handed relief pitcher Alan Embree to a minor league deal with an invitation to major league camp. Sox fans will remember Embree as a key member of the Boston bullpen from 2002-2005, when he made 211 appearances after being acquired in a trade with the San Diego Padres. Now 40 years old, Embree is expected to compete with players such as Scott Atchison, Brian Shouse, and Joe Nelson for one of the final spots in the major league bullpen.

After he was released by the Sox following 43 ineffective appearances during the 2005 season, Embree finished the season with the New York Yankees, then returned to San Diego for the 2006 campaign. He then spent two seasons with the Oakland Athletics before moving back to the National League last season, making 36 appearances with the Colorado Rockies, going 2-2 with a 5.86 ERA in 24.2 innings.

The Boston Globe reports that Embree has an opt-out in his contract in mid-April, likely meaning he will choose to become a free agent at that time if he does not make the major league roster. Embree told the Globe's Amalie Benjamin that he is "four or five days away from being in a game", but that he has been throwing. According to the Providence Journal, Embree threw a 33-pitch bullpen at 11 a.m. this morning after flying all night from his home in Bend, Oregon. Red Sox Pitching Coach John Farrell told the ProJo that part of the reason behind signing Embree was the "need for a second left-hander -- or the desire to have that pitcher that is effective against left-handed hitters, right-handed or left-handed."

Embree's most memorable appearance in the Boston uniform came during the 2004 playoff run, when he closed out Game 7 of the ALCS against the Yankees by inducing Ruben Sierra to ground out to Pokey Reese at second base.