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Third baseman batted .321 in postseason

BOSTON -- The Boston Red Sox exercised their option Friday
on third baseman Bill Mueller, a former batting champion who had
the season-saving single against the New York Yankees in the AL championship series.

Mueller will earn $2.5 million next season. Boston, which could
have paid him a $500,000 buyout, has up to 16 players eligible for
free agency, including Pedro Martinez, Jason Varitek and Derek
Lowe.

"We have tremendous ownership. We have a great fan base. We
have a great nucleus. We have a lot of resources," Mueller said in
St. Louis on Wednesday night after the Red Sox beat the Cardinals
to complete their World Series sweep. "Maybe we can contend for
this every single year."

The 2003 AL batting champion, Mueller batted .283 with 12 homers
and 57 RBIs this season. He was limited to 110 games by
arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.

He batted .321 in the playoffs, including a .429 average in the
Series. But his biggest hit came in the fourth game of the ALCS.
With the Red Sox trailing 4-3 in the ninth and New York closer
Mariano Rivera on the mound, Kevin Millar drew a no-out walk. Dave
Roberts pinch ran and stole second base before Mueller singled to
tie it.

David Ortiz hit a two-run homer in the 12th inning to win it.
The Red Sox won the next three as well -- the first team in major
league team in history to rally from an 0-3 deficit -- and swept St.
Louis for their first championship since 1918.

Mueller signed with the Red Sox before last season and batted an
AL-leading .326 in 2003. He is a career .292 hitter with 72 home
runs and 416 RBIs in nine seasons with the Giants, Cubs and Red
Sox.