The Red Sox are currently conducting their annual Rookie Development Program.

The notion was raised by Peter Gammons a couple weeks ago on WEEI. The Hall of Fame scribe recalled that Rickey Henderson found the physical punishment of playing center field to be somewhat detrimental to his offense.

As Adrian Beltre is handed his jersey and puts on a Red Sox cap at the team’s latest introductory press conference, Mike Lowell and Ron Yacoub are oblivious.

So just how much impact can a baseball team make by upgrading its defense — particularly if that comes at the expense of the lineup?

NEW YORK — The Red Sox and Adrian Beltre had come close before.

The turn of events is striking.

What had been a very complicated road to separation was punctuated (for now) with a very simple early-evening text message. Mike Lowell wrote: "No deal. Having surgery in a week."

There are some players whose signings with the Red Sox lead to skepticism about whether they can handle the unique challenges of playing in Boston. John Lackey is not such a player.

When Steve Hilliard walked into Theo Epstein’s suite at the O’Hare International Airport Hilton in early November, it was setting up as little more than a Southern California reunion.

On Friday, Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino sounded a note of some defiance about his team’s commitment to the 2010 season. He insisted the Sox' financial investment in winning would remain undiminished in the coming season.