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Relievers gearing up for offseason workouts

STAMFORD, Conn. -- There was an entire room dedicated to dessert at lefty Craig Breslow's charity gala this weekend, benefiting his Strike 3 Foundation.

The event brought out more than 600 people and helped the charity, which benefits childhood cancer research, move past the million-dollar milestone in just five years. Now that the night has come and gone, Breslow's focus can move away from sweets and on to pitching.

"I feel like now my real offseason starts, I can concentrate on getting myself in shape -- just after dessert," the Red Sox reliever said Saturday night. "I like to start [throwing] on Dec. 1, that's kind of the mark that I've used. Some of the seasons where I've had a little heavier workload, I've started throwing a little bit later. And I've found that the more I throw, the earlier I start throwing, the more success I have early in the season."

Closer Andrew Bailey and lefty reliever Rich Hill also plan to begin throwing around early December. They attended the event, along with Sox outfielder Ryan Kalish and Major Leaguers from elsewhere, including Josh Collmenter and John McDonald of the D-backs, A's reliever Andrew Carignan, and outfielder Adam Greenberg (he of one-day contract fame).

Former Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine also came by to show his support.

Breslow plans to spend the rest of the offseason at a home he bought last winter -- before he was with the Red Sox -- in Naples, Fla., not too far south of the team's Spring Training home in Fort Myers.

Bailey is not going to Florida until the start of February, choosing to work out in Connecticut, where both he and Breslow are from.

"I'll start throwing before the holidays, probably first or second week or December. I like just kind of getting after it a little bit early," Bailey said. "Feb. 1, I head down to Spring Training just to get out of the cold, get a couple weeks down there under my belt."

Bailey has altered his offseason workout routine some this winter with the hopes of becoming more athletic.

"A little different," he said. "Made some changes, not pitching-wise, just with workouts and stuff like that. Trying to become more athletic."

Both Breslow and Hill, who are arbitration eligible, said they have not talked to the team about contracts yet. Contracts have to be tendered league-wide before Dec. 1.

Hill was hurt for a chunk of 2012, with a strained left flexor tendon, but he finished up the season healthy. He's been working out alongside Kalish and Red Sox right-hander Chris Carpenter in Woburn, Mass., with Mike Boyle, a strength and conditioning consultant for the team.

Hill intends to stay in Boston until late January or the start of February.

"I feel great, I'm excited for next year and just excited to come into the season 100 percent," Hill said. "It's going to be great with [new manager] John Farrell. I talked to John Farrell over the phone and I'll probably be going into Fenway to talk with him."

None of the three had yet spoken to newly-hired pitching coach Juan Nieves as of the weekend. All had spoken with Farrell.

The Blue Jays' pending mega-deal with the Marlins caught everyone's attention last week, when Toronto hoped to bring in Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle, among others. But the Sox themselves saw the last two years that talented teams on paper can fail.

"It makes it more competitive," Bailey said. "I'm looking forward to it, it looks like a challenge. They definitely have some experience and a deeper payroll, still got to go out and do your job and play your games. You look at the expectations we had going into last year and we fell short of all of them. As players, none of us really did our jobs. Not saying that that's going to happen up there, but you still got to go out and play the games. I think if you looked at our team starting last year in Spring Training, you would've given us the division, a playoff spot, and that didn't happen."

Said Breslow: "Any time you have a trade of that magnitude, you're surprised. Probably the most parallel situation is what we went through in August. I don't know if it's kind of, the AL East kind of as a whole beefing up again. I don't know if some teams saw what was happening with Texas and Anaheim, 'Now wait a second, let's bring the focus back to the AL East.' Yeah, it's going to be a tough division, there's no question about it. But I think independent of what goes on in the periphery and in other organizations, there's obviously enough work that we need to do in our own backyard that needs to be the focus."

Breslow founded the Strike 3 Foundation in honor of his sister, a childhood cancer survivor. The Annual First Pitch Celebrity Gala has grown immensely in its five years, and Matt Nathanson was this year's surprise musical guest. Now that the organization has raised a cumulative million dollars, Breslow thinks it will be a lot easier to get to the second million than it was the first.

"I'm not sure we could have fit another person," Breslow said. "It's great, you kind of set these milestones in your head and you don't think you'll ever achieve them when you're raising $40,000 or $50,000 at your signature fundraiser. And those numbers start to multiply, and before you know it you're closing in on a million dollars."

Boston Red Sox, Craig Breslow