02/05/08 7:30 PM ET
Chance to win with Red Sox lures Casey
Veteran will provide depth at first, pinch-hit threat on bench
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
"I talked to [Francona]," said Casey. "Obviously we've got some pretty good players on this team, too. I told him, I said, 'If Youk needs a day, I could spell him. Or if Lowell needs a day and Youk plays third and I could play first, just an opportunity to come in and win a ballgame in the ninth or a situation I had to pinch-hit or something like that. I'll get at-bats here and there."Casey hit .296 for the Tigers last season, adding four homers, 30 doubles and 54 RBIs. Down the stretch, he got a little taste of not being in the lineup all the time, as the Tigers started transitioning Carlos Guillen to first base. "I got a chance to come off the bench and pinch-hit and get the feel for that," said Casey. "Playing every day and pinch-hitting are two different things. For me, getting that opportunity to be in that role a little bit helped out with my decision here." Though there are inevitably quite a few peaks and valleys in store between now and October, Casey is clearly eyeing a chance to taste the postseason again. "That really put a different perspective on baseball for me, getting to the playoffs and getting to the World Series," said Casey. "I think that's what it's all about. It's all about getting back there and winning a championship. And we were so close there in 2006 and to have that feeling that we had going through the playoffs, that was the first time in my career where I was like, 'This is what people feel; this is what the Red Sox and the Yankees and the Braves and teams that get to the postseason a lot, this is what they feel and this is what it's all about.' It's all about winning. "I know here in Boston they have that feeling year in and year out. For me, I'm excited to have that opportunity to have a chance to get back there." Over 1,336 games -- the majority of which were with the Cincinnati Reds -- Casey has a .301 average with 130 homers, 718 RBIs and a .366 on-base percentage. In an offseason which has marked precious little turnover for the Red Sox, Casey will be one of the few new faces in camp. Pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to Fort Myers, Fla., on Feb. 14, with Casey and the position players due in on Feb. 20.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.