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Mark Melancon had the worst season of his career with the Red Sox in 2012. He pitched poorly, was demoted to the minors, and then was used as a mop-up man once he returned.
The Sox traded the righthander to the Pirates Wednesday as part of a package to obtain closer Joel Hanrahan and infielder Brock Holt.
“I have no regrets,” Melancon said. “I never do. This game is built on failure, and I feel like what I went through will make me a better pitcher. I know it made me a better person.”
Melancon started the season as the primary set-up man and lasted only four games before being banished to Triple A Pawtucket.
Melancon gave up 11 earned runs over two innings in those appearances. He pitched fairly well when he returned to Boston in June, particularly in September. But Melancon was used mainly in low-leverage situations and never gained the trust of former manager Bobby Valentine.
Still, the Sox are taking a risk in trading him. Melancon had a 0.90 ERA in eight appearances in September/October, striking out 13 in 10 innings with one walk. He could prove to be a player they regret moving.
“It’s a good opportunity for me,” Melancon said. “I wish it had worked out with the Red Sox because that’s a great organization. But I’ve had a great offseason and I feel I can go out there with the Pirates and prove myself.”
Holt, 24, is a former ninth-round draft pick out of Rice University. He played 24 major league games for the Pirates in September, hitting .292 in 65 at-bats. He is primarily a shortstop but has played second base.
Holt hit .344 with an .859 OPS in the minors last season, spending most of the season in Double A. He is career .317 hitter in the minors with a .381 on-base percentage, albeit with only 11 home runs.
“I think he’s going to be a good player for us,” said Red Sox assistant general manager Brian O’Halloran. “He’s a very hard-nosed player. He’s had a lot of success in the minor leagues and we’re excited to have him and the energy that he brings to the table.”
The Red Sox also traded righthander Stolmy Pimentel, infielder Ivan De Jesus Jr., and outfielder Jerry Sands to the Pirates. Pimentel, 22, was once considered a strong prospect but has faded in recent years. He had a 4.59 ERA in 22 starts for Double A Portland last season. De Jesus and Sands were among the five players the Red Sox obtained from the Dodgers in August for Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, and Nick Punto.
De Jesus, 25, appeared in eight games for the Sox in September, then was designated for assignment in November before being outrighted to Pawtucket.
Sands, 25, never played in the Sox organization. He was a player to be named later in the trade and came over Oct. 4. He hit .296 with 26 home runs and 107 RBIs for Triple A Albuquerque last season.
Drew deal official
The Red Sox also announced the signing of shortstop Stephen Drew, who last week agreed on a one-year deal worth $9.5 million.
Drew, who turns 30 in March, hit .223 with a .657 OPS in 79 games for Arizona and Oakland last season. He hit .270 with a .773 OPS in the six seasons prior for the Diamondbacks.
Drew suffered a severe fracture of his right ankle on July 20, 2011, while sliding into home against Milwaukee. He did not return until June 27, 2012. Drew hit .193 in 40 games for Arizona before being traded.
O’Halloran said Drew had no issues with his physical.
“Our folks were very pleased with his progress,” said O’Halloran. “It was obvious to them how hard he had worked given the nature of that injury. We feel that he’s going to be fully healthy for us and make us a better team. We’re excited to have him.”
Sox manager John Farrell said Drew showed no diminished range once he returned to the field.
“The evaluations we did were very positive,” Farrell said.
Drew will wear No. 7, the number his brother, J.D. Drew, wore for the Sox from 2007-11. The elder Drew, now retired, hit .264 with 80 home runs in a Red Sox career marked by frequent stints on the disabled list.
No Napoli yet
O’Halloran offered no update on the status of first baseman/catcher Mike Napoli, who agreed to terms on a three-year, $39 million contract with the Sox Dec. 3 but has yet to actually sign.
“There are conversations ongoing,” O’Halloran said.
Napoli, according to major league sources, has an issue with his hip and the Red Sox are seeking protection in the contract language. That could mean cutting the deal to two seasons with the third year a vesting option based on plate appearances.