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Beltran: Accepting trade to Red Sox ‘a no brainer’

07.11.11 at 2:40 pm ET
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PHOENIX — Mets outfielder Carlos Beltran, who will serve as the DH of the National League All-Star team on Tuesday, is emerging as one of the foremost trade targets on this summer’s market. The free-agent-to-be is nearing the end of his landmark seven-year, $119 million deal with the Mets.

With Beltran enjoying a resurgence that has him hitting .285 with a .377 OBP and .880 OPS, along with 13 homers and 58 RBI, and the Red Sox struggling to get production from their right field position, his performance suggests a player capable of upgrading the Sox.

Yet Beltran has a full no-trade clause in his contract (something that is now redundant, anyway, since he is a player with 10 years of service time in the majors and five straight with the same club). And so, he was asked, would he accept a trade to the Red Sox should that be dangled in front of him?

“They’re in first place,” he smiled. “That’s a no-brainer.”

It won’t likely come to that. Both Red Sox sources and executives from other clubs who have talked to the Sox say that Boston won’t have much money to spend this summer in order to upgrade in the middle of the season. With Beltran owed roughly $6 million over the remainder of the year, he would be an unlikely target of the Sox.

The team is more likely to seek either internal solutions (whether from the performance of Josh Reddick or J.D. Drew, or right-handed bats Darnell McDonald or even Yamaico Navarro) or a more modest upgrade, a player who could serve a role as a complementary right-handed bat off the bench.

Even so, the Sox have expressed interest in Beltran at multiple stages of his career, including doing due diligence in talks with the Mets on the outfielder this winter (before signing Carl Crawford to his seven-year, $142 million deal) and even as far back as 2004 when he was with the Royals.

Beltran ended up going to the Astros in a three-way trade and carrying them to the NL Central title and indeed within a game of the World Series against the Red Sox that year. But the Sox made a hard play to acquire him from the Royals before Houston ultimately landed his services. For weeks, Beltran was a constant rumor. It was a challenging time.

“At the beginning, it was a little bit uncomfortable, because everyday I thought maybe today might be the day that I’m traded. But one day I had a conversation with Allard Baird, the general manager,” Beltran recalled, citing the former Royals GM who is now a top Red Sox executive. “He told me, ‘Don’t listen to rumors. If you don’t hear from me, nothing’s going to happen.’ That really took some weight off me, off my shoulders. I didn’t worry anymore about being traded. … That was good for me until that day came that I was going to be traded to Houston.

“It was an experience, at a very young age I was able to go through it. Now, I know that this is something that might happen — me being traded — but you have to be able to deal with it.”

And Beltran is willing to do just that should the Mets decide that they will be better off making a move.

“I have already made it clear to the Mets — and they know — that I’d say yes [to a trade],” Beltran said. “At the same time, right now we’re playing good baseball and we’re contending. So we have to wait. We have to wait and see what happens.”

Read More: 2011 mlb all-star game, 2011 Trade Deadline, carlos beltran,

Ron Washington says Josh Beckett was next in line to start All-Star Game

07.11.11 at 1:35 pm ET
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PHOENIX ‘€“ Speaking to WEEI.com following the press conference introducing the American League and National League lineups, AL manager Ron Washington explained that Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett was next in line to start after Jered Weaver, who ultimately got the nod.

‘€œWhat I ended up doing was the way exactly the players and the fans picked it,’€ Washington said. ‘€œThey had [Justin] Verlander, Weaver, Beckett and all the way down the line. As each body got eliminated one got moved up. So Jered just ended up moving up.

‘€œJosh got hurt there the last game, and then all of a sudden I heard he wanted to come and wanted to pitch. It was tough.’€

Verlander, who is second in the AL in wins (12) and opponents batting average (.188), was ineligible to pitch because he started Sunday. Weaver has 11 wins and a league-best 1.86 ERA.

Beckett, who suffered a mild hyperextension of his left knee in his last start, leads the AL with an .187 opponents batting average against, while carrying the AL’€™s third-best ERA (2.27).

Read More: 2011 mlb all-star game,

Jered Weaver, Roy Halladay getting All-Star Game starting nods

07.11.11 at 12:59 pm ET
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PHOENIX — The American League and National League lineups were both unveiled Monday morning at the Arizona Biltmore, with Roy Halladay getting the start on the mound for the NL and the Angels’ Jered Weaver serving as the AL’s starting pitcher. The following are the lineups for each club …

AMERICAN LEAGUE: Curtis Granderson CF, Asdrubal Cabrera SS, Adrian Gonzalez 1B, Jose Bautista RF, Josh Hamilton LF, Adrian Beltre 3B, David Ortiz DH, Robinson Cano 2B, Alex Avila C.

NATIONAL LEAGUE: Rickie Weeks 2B, Carlos Beltran DH, Matt Kemp CF, Prince Fielder 1B, Brian McCann C, Lance Berkmann RF, Matt Holliday LF, Troy Tulowitzki SS, Scott Rolen 3B.

Read More: 2011 mlb all-star game,

A look at breakthrough campaign of diabetic Red Sox prospect Chih-Hsieh Chiang

07.11.11 at 12:56 pm ET
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PHOENIX ‘€“ It has been a first half that has witnessed the rebirth of a career and the birth of a nickname.

‘€œCall him Video Game Chiang,’€ Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks said of Portland teammate Chih-Hsieh Chiang at the All-Star Futures Game, where both players represented the Sox. ‘€œHe hits the ball with video game pop. He hits the ball harder than anyone I’€™ve seen. He squares balls up. If he squares a ball up, and a guy is throwing hard, he’€™ll hit a ball 500 feet, no problem.’€

‘€œHe’€™s always had that pop but he’€™s more consistent with it now. He hits line drives, I flinch because I think they’€™re going to kill somebody. ‘€¦ This guy hits the ball so hard, and it’€™s to all fields. He hit a ball, actually it was in spring training, he hit a ball to left-center, a lot of righties couldn’€™t pull it that far. It’€™s just unreal how hard he hits the ball.’€

Mention of the title prompts laughter from Chiang, in part because Middlebrooks is not being entirely forthcoming with the explanation. Chiang is appreciative that his teammate made such generous mention of his offensive skills, but he suggests that his teammates began referring to him by that moniker for a reason other than the video game numbers he’€™s produced in Portland.

‘€œI play video games in the clubhouse before games. It’€™s part of the routine,’€ Chiang said through interpreter and trainer Mickey Jiang. ‘€œWarm up, loosen up by playing video games, back to the hitting routine. They were just joking [with the nickname] but that’€™s how I calm down, get loose for the game.’€

Yet that routine is far less important than another element of Chiang’€™s day-to-day life in Double-A that has helped him to enjoy a breakout campaign in 2011. The 23-year-old native of Taiwan is a Type 1 diabetic, a condition that he says was discovered after the Sox signed him out of Taiwan for $375,000 in 2006.

For much of his pro career in the United States, Chiang has struggled with managing his diabetes. The challenges of finding the achieving a proper nutritional program were complex for several reasons.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2011 All-Star Game, chih-hsieh chiang, mlb futures game,

Trade Deadline: Multiple teams reportedly interested in Padres closer Heath Bell

07.11.11 at 12:25 pm ET
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A handful of teams, including the Yankees and Rays, have expressed interest in Padres closer Heath Bell, according to multiple reports. The 33-year-old right-hander is 2-3 with a 2.43 ERA, .228 BAA and 26 saves (tied for second-most in the NL).

The Cardinals reportedly had interest in Bell before deciding the Padres’ asking price was too high, but the Rangers, Phillies and Diamondbacks are said to remain in the running with the Yankees and Rays.

The Yankees may want to strengthen their bullpen after enduring multiple injuries, including to Mariano Rivera. Tampa Bay’s bullpen ranks ninth in the AL with a 3.62 ERA.

Read More: 2011 Trade Deadline, Heath Bell, Mariano Rivera,

Red Sox pitching prospect Pimentel demoted to Salem

07.11.11 at 11:23 am ET
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PHOENIX — Exactly one year ago today, a glimmering future stood before Red Sox pitcher Stolmy Pimentel, on a day when he pitched in the All-Star Futures game. He recorded a pair of outs that day, and talked enthusiastically about how a big league future was starting to feel increasingly like a reality.

One year later, Pimentel finds himself traveling in an opposite direction. After a season-long struggle as a very young pitcher in Double-A Portland, the Sox have sent the promising young right-hander down to Hi-A Salem, the level from which he appeared to have graduated in 2010.

The development is eye-opening. After all, few Red Sox prospects entered the year with as much promise as Pimentel. The 21-year-old right-hander, long viewed as a pitcher with tremendous potential and a polished pitch mix that was advanced for his age, appeared ready to make a significant career leap forward entering this season. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Portland Sea Dogs, salem red sox, Stolmy Pimentel,

Trade Deadline: Red Sox reportedly interested in Cubs’ Matt Garza

07.11.11 at 10:35 am ET
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Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune reported over the weekend that the Cubs right-hander Matt Garza is “high on the list” of pitchers the Red Sox are considering trading for. Garza is 4-7 with a 4.26 ERA this season with a 3-to-1 strikeout-walk ratio.

Garza has spent six years in the majors, coming up with the Twins and spending three seasons with the Rays before his trade to the Cubs this past offseason. The 27-year-old has a 46-51 career record and a 4.00 ERA.

Garza, who helped the Rays beat the Red Sox in the 2008 American League Championship Series, has plenty of experience pitching in the AL East. He’s 16-11 with a 3.10 ERA and .241 BAA in 37 career games against the Blue Jays, Orioles and Yankees. He’s also 5-3 with a 3.81 ERA at Fenway.

Read More: 2011 Trade Deadline, Chicago Cubs, matt garza, Phil Rogers

Ex-Sox prospect Fuentes: Being traded for Gonzalez ‘was huge’

07.10.11 at 9:53 pm ET
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PHOENIX — The Red Sox have said it many times. When they made the deal for first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, they recognized that they would have to part with a wealth of talent.

That forecast is being borne out. First baseman Anthony Rizzo, of course, is already in the majors at age 21. Though he’s struggling (hitting .159 with a .601 OPS entering Sunday), his future is considered extremely bright. Casey Kelly wrapped up a strong first half with Double-A San Antonio on Sunday in which he went 8-3 with a 4.21 ERA.

The third prospect in the deal received the least attention, yet in his own way, Reymond Fuentes has also been enjoying a very strong 2011 campaign that suggests a potential impact contributor. The 20-year-old was selected to represent the Padres as a member of the World Team at the All-Star Futures Game. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2011 mlb all-star game, adrian gonzalez, all-star futures game, reymond fuentes

Jason Varitek: We have young players, too so ‘kiss my rear end’

07.10.11 at 7:34 pm ET
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Tired of listening to Baltimore’s young players complain about the discrepancy in payrolls as the main reason for the big difference between the Red Sox and Orioles in the standing, Red Sox captain Jason Varitek finally decided to set the record straight following Sunday’s 8-6 win that completed a four-game series sweep heading into the All-Star break.

“We have some youth, too. So they can literally kiss my rear end,” Varitek said, when asked if he thought other teams like the Orioles were jealous of the Red Sox and they’re massive financial resources.

To Varitek’s point, the Red Sox started 24-year-old Kyle Weiland Sunday in his major league debut, the same age as Josh Reddick, who has assumed a regular spot in left field in the absence of the injured Carl Crawford.

Kevin Gregg, who instigated Friday’s brawl with David Ortiz, said after that game the Orioles won’t be “intimidated” by the Red Sox and their “$180 million” payroll. Orioles manager Buck Showalter ruffled feathers in spring training when he said he takes pride in “kicking the butts” of the Red Sox and general manager Theo Epstein, and their well-paid roster.

The Red Sox and Orioles completed a heated, four-game weekend series in which eight uniformed personnel were ejected, including four players in the brawl Friday night and both managers from Sunday’s game, that featured three more batters hit by pitches and Mike Gonzalez throwing behind Ortiz in the sixth.

Read More: Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, David Ortiz, Jason Varitek

Middlebrooks making a powerful statement

07.10.11 at 7:25 pm ET
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PHOENIX — What to make of Red Sox third base prospect Will Middlebrooks?

“He’s a [expletive] stud,” said one NL talent evaluator.

Middlebrooks has emerged as one of the top Red Sox prospects over the last two years. He is a tremendously athletic 6-foot-4 third baseman who has terrific bat speed, big-time power potential and who consistently grades as one of the top defensive third basemen at every minor league level that he’s played at. Scouts describe him as a potentially above-average defensive third baseman with 20-25 home run power.

The 22-year-old typically puts on a show in batting practice, sending rockets well out of the park. He certainly commands the attention of his teammates both before and during games.

“He’€™s a guy with amazing power,” said Portland outfielder Chih-Hsien Chiang. “He can share some of his power with me.”

But he is not just a slugger who represents a circus event. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2011 mlb all-star game, all-star futures game, Will Middlebrooks,
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