It's a good thing that the Red Sox bullpen is shaping up to be a strength.

Otherwise, yesterday's news that right-hander Scott Atchison signed with the New York Mets would come as a more distressing development then it at first seems.

Atchison, who was one of the few bright spots on the roster last season, inked a minor league deal with the Mets worth $700,000 if he makes the major league team, along with up to $150,000 in incentives.

After he was first non-tendered at the end of November, Atchison received what he called a "good'' minor league offer from the Red Sox, who were not going to offer him a guaranteed contract. Both Atchison and Sox general manager Ben Cherington figured there would be interest on the free agent market, and there was.

The free agent signing of one righty reliever, Koji Uehara, and a trade for another, closer Joel Hanrahan, made Atchison take notice.