BOSTON (AP) – The Red Sox said on Friday that they have received permission from Major League Baseball to play their annual Patriots Day game even earlier than usual because the Boston Marathon is starting next spring’s race two hours earlier, at 10 a.m.

Red Sox spokesman John Blake said a final decision on moving the game’s start time to 10:05 a.m. from the traditional 11:05 a.m. start will be made after the holidays. But he said, “there’s a good chance we will start earlier because of the marathon time changing.”

The Red Sox traditionally start their game early on Patriots Day so it ends in time for fans to watch the runners pass through nearby Kenmore Square.

If the Red Sox move the game up an hour, the commissioner’s office would require the team to also change the start time of the game on April 15 – one day before Patriots Day – to 1:05 p.m. from 2:05 p.m.

“It has to do with league rules dealing with the number of hours between consecutive day games,” Blake said.

The Boston Red Sox agreed to a minor league contract on Friday with pitcher Runelvys Hernandez, who was released this month by the Kansas City Royals.

The 28-year-old right-hander was 6-10 with a 6.48 ERA in 21 starts last season and has a 25-33 career record with a 5.33 ERA.

His best season was his rookie year in 2002, when he was 4-4 with a 4.36 ERA. He has recently battled a weight problem.

If he is added to Boston’s 40-man roster, Hernandez would get a $655,000, one-year contract with the opportunity to earn another $1.5 million in performance bonuses, mostly based on games finished.

AP-ES-12-22-06 1726EST

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