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What the Red Sox will pay Felipe Lopez

09.25.10 at 2:38 pm ET
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NEW YORK — The Red Sox’ deal with Felipe Lopez, according to a major league source, pays him what he would have made over the duration of his contract with the Cardinals after St. Louis released him earlier in the week. Lopez was playing on a one-year, $1 million deal with St. Louis this season.

When Lopez elected free agency rather than accepting the Padres’ claim of him on release waivers, he forfeited the remainder of his deal (in the vicinity of $50,000). So, the Sox signed him for that amount, and he will now spend the last week and a half with Boston, giving him an opportunity to familiarize himself with the Sox and for the club to get to know him as he prepares for free agency this offseason.

And, there is a chance that he could qualify as a Type B free agent, meaning that if the Sox were to offer him arbitration and Lopez were to reject it before signing with another club, he would net the Sox a supplemental first round draft pick.

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My Kenny Powers Moment

09.25.10 at 11:34 am ET
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If you haven’t yet seen the HBO series Eastbound & Down, do yourself a favor and check it out. It’s all about a washed up baseball player named Kenny Powers who, since leaving the game, has struggled with life after baseball. His character is an example of everything that is wrong with today’s athlete. He took steroids. He did drugs. He’s basically the biggest ass you could ever imagine, yet for some reason, you can’t help but love the guy.

I was sent this article today and had to laugh. It features 15 professional athletes who have had real life “Kenny Powers moments.” I was mentioned as No. 5. Kenny Powers’ post career job is as a substitute teacher. I myself was a substitute teacher earlier in my career while in the minors.

It made me think about those early years. My first full season in the minors was 1994 in Sarasota, Fla. DeMarlo Hale was our manager, Rico Petrocelli our hitting coach, and Al Nipper our pitching coach. I often refer to that coaching staff as the ” Dream Team.” We had a lot of fun that summer. At that level, you really don’t think about the money you make. It’s all about moving up and getting closer to the big leagues.

But that doesn’t take away from the fact that the average salary in High-A ball was about $1,200 a month for the five-month season. I’m not a math genius, but I’m pretty sure that’s $6,000 a year. When you make that kind of money, an offseason job is a must.

Which brings me to my point: Major League Baseball has to do something to help out these kids in the minors. Back then, the average monthly salary in Double-A was about $1,500, and the Triple-A salary was about $2,200. That just isn’t enough for a kid who is one injury away from getting called up to the big leagues. Organizations expect these kids to work out all offseason to prepare for the upcoming season, but not all kids can afford to go out to Arizona or Florida to work out for months before spring training.

Meanwhile, the draft is a joke. High schoolers and kids in college become instant millionaires. A mid-first round pick can make more than someone who has three years in the big leagues. Does that make sense? I really hope that MLB takes a look at it during the next bargaining agreement and finally reduces some of those signing bonuses and in turn gives that money back to the minor league players. If they are the future of the game, give them a chance and pay them like it.

Read More: eastbound & down, kenny powers, Lou Merloni,

Mirror, mirror: Lars Anderson’s view of Casey Kelly

09.25.10 at 11:27 am ET
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Lars Anderson could identify with Casey Kelly's experience as a highly touted prospect when the two were teammates in Portland. (AP)

NEW YORK — Their time as teammates was brief, yet fascinating.

Lars Anderson and Casey Kelly occupied the same clubhouse for only short spells during the 2010 season. The two were both in the Sox’ big league clubhouse during spring training; both were relocated to the minor league complex on the same day; and the two spent all of 17 games together with the Portland Sea Dogs before Anderson’s tremendous start led to a quick promotion to Triple-A Pawtucket.

Yet while they only played together through April, the experience was a particularly intriguing one for Anderson. In 2009, Anderson had been the sure-thing prospect whose every move generated tremendous attention and scrutiny. He was named the top Red Sox prospect and indeed one of the top prospects in all of minor league baseball, creating immense expectations that ultimately proved, at times, overwhelming for him.

As a 21-year-old, Anderson found himself at times ill-equipped to handle everything that had been thrown at him. He ended the year hitting .233 with a .673 OPS, and then had to endure the widespread perception that his year was a disappointment.

One year later, while he was decimating the Double-A competition, he had the opportunity to see Kelly go through a similar experience to what he encountered. The prospect spotlight had redirected from Anderson to Kelly, the can’t-miss pitching prospect who — following an outstanding spring — was expected to dominate Double-A and push his way up the ladder, perhaps positioning himself for a big league callup before the end of the season.

For Anderson, the opportunity to examine the prospect machine as an outsider — rather than in the belly of the beast — was meaningful, particularly because he could serve as a sounding board for the 20-year-old phenom.

“It was interesting to watch. It was also kind of nice to be able to talk to him about it. He’s an awesome dude and a good player. You want him to be comfortable,” said Anderson. “I could just feel for him a little bit. For me it wasn’t the most comfortable setting. He had some similar frustrations. He handled it a lot better than I did, I thought. I know that he shared some of the feelings that I had. I could totally relate. We hung out a lot.”

There was no specific message that Anderson had for his teammate. The two were simply able to identify with the experiences of each other, things as mundane as the oddity of the autograph demands that had been thrust upon them.

“We all have our own ways of processing, learning and experiencing. There is no right and wrong to it, I don’t think. I just think he probably suffered less than I did. I made myself suffer a lot,” said Anderson. “But [Kelly] was more mature with it than I was, which was nice to see.”

Statistically, Kelly – like Anderson in 2009 – endured a year of struggle that failed to match the hype. The young right-hander, in his first full season as a pitcher, went 3-5 with a 5.31 ERA and 80 strikeouts in 95 innings.

Anderson did not see that part of the season. While he and Kelly were teammates, the pitcher forged a solid 3.38 ERA in his first four outings. At that point, he was still being held to a strict pitch count.

Even so, some of the outings during their time as teammates were better than others. And in that, Anderson had an opportunity to observe what many in the organization have described as the startling maturity of Kelly in dealing with success and adversity.

“You know what impressed me about him? He was really detached from all the numbers stuff. Good start or bad start, he was even-keeled,” said Anderson. “As far as how his outings went, he was over it, good or bad, pretty quickly, which is a huge thing.”

That is a lesson that has been part of Anderson’s maturation in 2010, in which he is able to isolate negative results rather than letting them carry over and snowball. It is part of what positioned him to get his first taste of the big leagues this year, and that still may help Kelly to follow that path in the not-too-distant future.

Read More: casey kelly, lars anderson,

Lowell: ‘I feel like I got whacked there’

09.25.10 at 3:19 am ET
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“NEW YORK — Initially, it appeared frightful.

The Curtis Granderson grounder with two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning had something of a topspin hop to it, shooting up at Mike Lowell‘s face. As the first baseman turned his head, the ball cracked off the right side of it, catching him between the temple and the eye. Immediately, Lowell crashed on the dirt, clutching the side of his head.

“It looked bad,” acknowledged shortstop Jed Lowrie.

Yet it could have been much, much worse. In fact, Lowell declared after the game that he felt little more than a knot under the skin. Even he seemed surprised that the impact was not worse.

“When I hit the floor, [he wondered], ‘Am I still there?’ I didn’t see stars. I felt like the ball was still lodged in my head, but I never lost consciousness and I didn’t get dizzy,” recounted Lowell. “It hit right on the temple. That’s where I feel the bump. No fuzziness. I feel like I got whacked there.”

Sox trainer Mike Reinold burst out of the dugout to investigate Lowell while he lay on the ground. He was followed closely by manager Terry Francona.

Yet as everyone feared the worst, relief quickly followed. Not only did Lowell stand up on his own power, but he declared himself well enough to stay in the game. His presence proved short-lived. Lowell was replaced by Lars Anderson in the bottom of the sixth inning.

“I would have stayed in the game, but [the Sox had a lead of] 10-1 at the time, my eye started twitching a little, and I didn’t really want to hit like that,” said Lowell. “I had enough excitement for a day. But I feel fine. I feel good.”

Indeed, Lowell felt well enough to share a moment of amusement with the man who hit the ball that injured him.

“(Granderson) was great. [He said], ‘You all right?’” Lowell chuckled. “I said, ‘As long as they don’t rule it an error, I’m good.’”

Lowell got his wish. Granderson was given an infield single, and while he did leave the game, it appeared that a more significant injury had been averted. The ball off the head notwithstanding, it was one of the better games Lowell has had this year. He went 1-for-2 with a walk and reached on an error, scoring a season-high three runs.

Read More: Curtis Granderson, mike lowell,

Source: Sox agree to deal with Felipe Lopez

09.24.10 at 11:36 pm ET
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NEW YORK — According to a major league source, utility infielder Felipe Lopez has agreed on a deal with the Red Sox after electing to reject a waiver claim by the San Diego Padres. News of Lopez’ deal with the Sox was first reported by CBSSports.com.

Lopez had been placed on release waivers by the St. Louis Cardinals earlier in the week after hitting .231/.310/.340/.651 for the Cardinals with seven homers and 36 RBI in 109 games. The Padres claimed the versatile 30-year-old, but he instead rejected the claim in order to elect free agency and agree to terms with the Sox.

Lopez could project as a Type B free agent, meaning that if the Sox were to offer him arbitration and he were to turn down that offer to sign elsewhere this offseason, he could net the team a compensatory draft pick.

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Thumb injury ends Saltalamacchia’s season

09.24.10 at 11:13 pm ET
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NEW YORK — Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia said after Friday night’s game that he has been shut down for the duration of the 2010 season due to a left thumb injury. The switch-hitting catcher, who was acquired from the Rangers at the July 31 trade deadline, said that he had been playing through discomfort that he incurred while playing for Texas’ Triple-A affiliate in July.

The 25-year old had intended to keep playing through the injury, but after experiencing what he described as “off and on” recurrence of discomfort, he told the Sox training staff and manager Terry Francona about the thumb. He said that even though he wanted to play, the team decided to shut him down for the rest of 2010.

“I told them I still wanted to play, but they felt it was better to just shut it down, see what’s wrong with it, make sure it’s nothing serious,” said Saltalamacchia. “This offseason is the most important thing, so that’s what we decided to do.”

Saltalamacchia said that he is unsure of the exact nature of the injury. He has had X-rays and an MRI, but was unclear about the diagnosis. He is scheduled to visit with Dr. Thomas Graham (the doctor who performed surgery on the torn adductor muscle in Kevin Youkilis‘ hand) in Cleveland on Monday after the Sox leave New York. During that visit, the proper course of treatment will be determined. Saltalamacchia was unsure whether surgery was a possibility, but he did say that he had been assured that he will be healthy for the 2011 season.

“It’s not going to be an issue for next year at all. I don’t know what the worst-case scenario is, but they said my offseason is going to be normal, work with [catching instructor Gary Tuck],” said Saltalamacchia. “That’s why they wanted to shut me down, make sure nothing happens.”

Saltalamacchia was acquired from Texas in exchange for pitcher Roman Mendez, first baseman Chris McGuinness and catcher (converted to pitcher by the Rangers) Michael Thomas, as well as cash. He batted .158/.360/.316/.676 in 10 games for the Sox.

The news was first reported by CSNNE.com, which called the injury a left thumb ligament issue.

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Closing Time: Red Sox 10, Yankees 8

09.24.10 at 10:23 pm ET
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NEW YORK — It was not the typical pressure-cooker of the Red Sox and Yankees. The Sox are teetering on the verge of elimination, the Yankees seem more intent on getting healthy and properly aligned for the postseason than on the AL East and if the string has not been played out, it is too short to be saved.

Nonetheless, as he nears the end of a disappointing season, it seemed as if Josh Beckett might be able to silence skepticism about his ability to perform against the Yankees. Through five innings, he allowed just one run on four hits and appeared to have a pitch mix that would allow him to sail through the night.

But in the sixth and seventh, his outing unraveled. He allowed a pair of solo homers (to Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira) in the sixth, then permitted a two-run blast by Nick Swisher in the seventh. Pitching with reduced fastball velocity (he sat at 92-93 mph for much of the night), Beckett seemingly had diminished margin for error.

Though the Sox won, 10-8, with Beckett claiming the victory, his 2010 season against New York will have concluded with a question mark (Beckett is scheduled to make one last start of the year in Chicago next week). The Sox’ Opening Day starter allowed five or more runs against the Yankees in each of his five outings against them, good for a 10.04 ERA. (Of note: against all other teams, the right-hander was 5-3 with a 4.23 ERA before Friday.)

Entering Friday, Beckett had recorded five straight quality starts, seemingly laying the groundwork for a strong end-of-season buildup to the 2011 campaign. But his struggles against the Yankees on Friday marked a step in the opposite direction.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

Jed Lowrie enjoyed a career night, going 4-for-4 with a three-run homer and three singles. He now has a slugging percentage of .514 for the season. Among middle infielders with at least 100 plate appearances this year, only Troy Tulowitzki (.578) and Robinson Cano (.540) have a higher slugging mark. Lowrie has 19 extra-base hits in 142 plate appearances.

Bill Hall crushed a three-run homer over the Red Sox bullpen, his 18th, and first since 8/22, ending a 63 at-bat span without going deep.

David Ortiz jumpstarted the Red Sox offense with a double off the fence in deep left-center against Yankees starter Andy Pettitte. It was the first extra-base hit by Ortiz against a lefty since Sept. 5. He had been 4-22 (.182) with five strikeouts and a double play between extra-base knocks against southpaws.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

–Beckett continued his struggles against the Yankees and with the longball. He is now permitted 1.4 homers per nine innings this year, the second-highest rate of his career, behind only the 1.6 per nine innings he allowed in 2006.

–First baseman Mike Lowell left Friday night’s contest against the Yankees in the bottom of the sixth inning, one inning after a bad-hop grounder caromed off his right ear. He left the contest for what the Sox described as “precautionary reasons.”

After the Curtis Granderson grounder with two outs in the fifth inning hit the side of his head, Lowell immediately sprawled on the dirt. Sox trainer Mike Reinold rushed to attend to him, but Lowell initially suggested that he was fine. He got up and remained in the game for the rest of the inning. However, he was replaced at first base by Lars Anderson for the bottom of the sixth inning.

The incident marred what had been a fine night for the 36-year-old, who was 1-for-2 with a single, walk and a season-high three runs scored.

Scott Atchison allowed a walk and a homer in relief of Beckett. He has now allowed five earned runs over his last two outings, recording just two outs in the process.

Read More: Josh Beckett, New York Yankees,
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