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While the hot stove heats up and Red Sox fans dream of a new contract for Jason Bay or an answer to the revolving door at shortstop, the Red Sox may have brought Nick Green’s replacement into the fold. It certainly is not the biggest splash the Red Sox have made around Thanksgiving (think Curt Schilling and Josh Beckett) but Tug Hulett could soon find himself in the spotlight.
Timothy Craig “Tug” Hulett Jr. was born in Springfield, Illinois on February 28, 1983, and is carrying on the family legacy playing baseball as his father did for the White Sox, Orioles, and Cardinals. Drafted out of Auburn University in the 14th round of the 2004 draft (one pick behind Colorado Rockies outfielder Dexter Fowler) by the Texas Rangers, Hulett was described as “wiry”, “similar to Chuck Knoblauch”, and a player who “makes things happen…[and] knows how to play the game.” Tug spent his first four seasons in the Rangers’ organization before being traded to the Seattle Mariners in December 2007, where he stayed until he was designated for assignment and claimed by the Kansas City Royals in before the 2009 season. The Red Sox acquired Tug this past week for the ever popular “player to be named later” or cash considerations.
A natural second baseman, Tug saw time at shortstop and third base as well as a few games in the corner outfield spots and earned a reputation for patience at the plate during his time in the Rangers’ farm system. Baseball America said he had the “Best Strike-Zone Discipline” in the system while leading Texas minor leaguers in walks in 2005 and 2006. In addition, he lead Rangers minor leaguers with a .411 OBP in the 2006 season splitting time between their Single A and Double A teams. While he never cracked the Rangers’ Top 30 Prospects for Baseball America, patience and the ability to get on base are highly sought by the Red Sox at every level. Tug spent most of 2009 with the Royals Triple A team in Omaha where he hit .291/.384/.473/.858.
In an extremely limited sample of 67 at bats in the major leagues, Tug has compiled a .194/.270/.254/.524 line with the Seattle Mariners and Kansas City Royals. Nick Green hit .236/.202/.366/.699 for the Red Sox during the 2009 season while seeing time at shortstop, second base, third base and a couple outfield appearances. Just 26 years old, compared to Green’s 30 years, Tug is young enough to make some adjustments and improvements should the Red Sox call him up to Boston. With Jed Lowrie healing and likely to begin the season in Pawtucket to get his timing back and Nick Green leaving as a free agent, Tug may get a chance to stick around as the backup infielder. For the price, Hulett might just be the 25th man the Red Sox need.