Julian Tavarez pitched his final spring tune-up yesterday. The results: five-and-two-thirds innings, six hits, 1 ER, no walks, 2 K’s and no sucker punches. Pretty good line score for a fifth starter.

Tavarez went into spring training as a candidate for the closer role. His “I’d-just-as-soon-bean-you-as-I-would-strike-you-out-if-I-decide-not-to-charge-the-plate-and kick-your-sorry-ass” attitude seemed to make him an ideal fit to pitch the 9th. But the job went to 2006 closer-extraordinaire Jon Papelbon, leaving a vacancy in the rotation. Tavarez won the spot – presumably without issuing any beatings or death threats, and looks ready to pick up where he left off at the end of last season. Tavarez finished the 2006 campaign strong, going 2-0 in 5 September starts with an ERA of 3.5, including a complete-game 1-run performance against the Blue Jays.

Tavarez is the guy with the checkered past who you’d love to hate if he was on another team. But he wears the Red Sox uni and all of his “issues” seem to be on the field and in the heat of battle. Take a look at his resume:

The most infamous incident is pictured above – the patented “step-on-the-arm-and-roundhouse-the-bitch” issued to Joey Gathright. He later expressed no regret. After all, it was the Devil Rays!

In 2004 he broke his pitching hand punching the dugout phone. Passionate? Yes. Smart? Not-so-much.

Then you’ve got the always-popular anti-gay comments.

Finally, check out this gem (scroll to the 8th comment from the top).

I don’t think I’m going out on a limb here; he might not be our best pitcher in 2007, but he could turn out to be our most entertaining. We’ll be watching…