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Trade Deadline: Pirates ‘kick tires’ on potential Carlos Beltran deal

07.19.11 at 8:59 am ET
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Eventually, the surprise of hearing the Pirates named as buyers in this year’s trading market will wear off. But for the time being, it is still something to hear that Pittsburgh, who sits half a game ahead of Milwaukee for the division lead in the NL Central, is going to “kick the tires” on a potential deal for Mets outfielder Carlos Beltran as MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reported Monday.

The Buccos have used a platoon of Garrett Jones (.239, 9 HR, 34 RBI) and Matt Diaz (.276, 0 HR, 15 RBI) in right field this season and could certainly use the increase in production that Beltran would bring to the position. Beltran would have to waive his no-trade clause first before any deal could be completed, although he has expressed a willingness to do so if the destination seems right to him.

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Trade Deadline: Rockies would want ‘Herschel Walker deal’ for Ubaldo Jimenez

07.19.11 at 8:31 am ET
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The asking price for Ubaldo Jimenez this trading season was known to be high, but there’s nothing like a good metaphor to really put that price into perspective, as Colorado GM Dan O’Dowd so artfully did this week.

“We would have to be absolutely overwhelmed,” O’Dowd told The Denver Post. “It would have to be a Herschel Walker deal.”

The Rockies executive was of course alluding to the Vikings trade for the famous running back in 1989, in which Minnesota traded five players and eight draft picks (including three first-rounders) to Dallas in exchange for Walker and four draft picks. It was the largest trade in NFL history and is sometimes called “The Great Train Robbery.” GMs looking to trade for Jimenez might be a little wary considering Walker lasted only three seasons in Minnesota and never broke the 1,000-yard marker during that time.

The Post report notes that the Yankees, Tigers, Rangers and Phillies are interested in acquiring Jimenez, who has a 5-8 record with a 4.08 ERA after putting up numbers of 19-8 and 2.88 in 2010.

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This is what an Adrian Gonzalez slump looks like

07.19.11 at 8:30 am ET
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BALTIMORE — It is a commentary on the absurdly good season that Adrian Gonzalez is having that the first four games following the All-Star game represent a slump for the first baseman.

Gonzalez finished the first half with a .354 average, .414 OBP, .591 slugging mark and 1.006 OPS. The debate about the best hitter in the American League this year included Gonzalez, Jose Bautista and exactly zero other names. His consistency in the first half was little short of amazing, as a run-scoring extra-base hit seemed like a nightly occurrence.

And so, in a comparative sense, his performance through the first four games of the second half has been — for him — glaring. Gonzalez is 2-for-20 (both hits have been singles) with three walks and five strikeouts. To his mind, yes, it qualifies as a fallow period at the plate, though he is optimistic that it will prove short-lived.

“As you can see by my swing, I don’€™t feel great at the plate,” Gonzalez acknowledged prior to his team’s 15-10 win on Monday night, in which the first baseman went 1-for-5 with an RBI single, an intentional walk and two strikeouts. “It’€™s just my timing.

“The first day [of the second half] in Tampa, coming from the All-Star break, I just felt tired and exhausted. I tried to catch up, tried to do too much and then all of a sudden I felt lost for a couple of days. Hopefully I can relax here and get the rhythm and timing back. It shouldn’€™t be too big of a deal. I started feeling better in a couple of at-bats [Sunday].”

Gonzalez suggested that this is a stage of the schedule in which it is easy to get thrown off rhythm. After spending more than three months locked into the daily competitive routine of the baseball calendar, the All-Star break represents just that: A break from the structure of the season. Read the rest of this entry »

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Trade Deadline: Yankees reportedly interested in Carlos Beltran

07.19.11 at 8:11 am ET
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According to a Tweet from ESPN’s Buster Olney, the Yankees are one of the teams who have shown interest in Mets’ outfielder Carlos Beltran. Olney writes: “NYY are one of the teams that have had conversations with the Mets about Carlos Beltran,but unless pure salary dump,can’t see it happening.”

ESPN New York reported early Tuesday morning that the Mets are willing to pick up the entirety of what is left on Beltran’s contract in exchange for the right prospect. If Beltran is dealt on the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline he will be owed $6 million for the rest of the season.

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Tuesday’s Red Sox-Orioles matchups: Kyle Weiland vs. Jeremy Guthrie

07.19.11 at 8:02 am ET
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The Red Sox will face the Orioles in the second game of a three game series Tuesday night at Camden Yards. This will be their fifth game of a six game road trip to open the unofficial second half of the season.

The pitching match up is a very familiar one as both starters appeared in the July 10 game at Fenway Park just nine days ago. Kyle Weiland (0-0) made his major league debut in that game and will be opposed Tuesday night by Jeremy Guthrie (3-13) who pitched 3 1/3 innings of relief in the July 10 ballgame–a game in which had four ejections (including Weiland) and the Red Sox winning 8-6.

In his first ever major league appearance Weiland went four innings, giving up six runs on eight hits. All of the runs came  in the second inning. He struck out two, earning a no-decision. This all came before he was ejected in the top of the fifth inning for hitting the Orioles’€™ Vladimir Guerrero. Guerrero is now on the disabled list with a broken hand. Both benches had been warned the inning before, so that is what prompted the ejection.

Before being called up to the majors the right-hander was 8-6, with a 3.00 ERA with Pawtucket. He recorded 99 strikeouts in 93 innings of work.

Guthrie comes into the game struggling as he has suffered the loss in the last four games he has appeared in, and five out of the last six. In his last outing Guthrie went five innings, giving up six runs on five hits in the Orioles 8-4 loss to the Indians on July 14.

This is Guthrie’€™s eighth major league season. He pitched with the Indians the first three years of his career and has been with the Orioles ever since. He has pitched the most innings out of any Orioles pitcher this season.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Closing Time: Pedroia keeps motoring as Sox beat Baltimore

07.18.11 at 10:45 pm ET
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BALTIMORE — It would have been perfectly excusable for the Red Sox to have written off Sunday when they missed one opportunity after another in extra innings. But they didn’t.

It would have been understandable had the Sox, after arriving in their hotel a bit past 6 a.m., showed up in the disgusting swelter of Camden Yards and said, “No mas.” Didn’t happen.

Instead, on both nights, Dustin Pedroia insisted  the Sox would not let up. The second baseman delivered the game-winning single to right in the 16th inning of Sunday’s 1-0 game, drank about 2,000 energy drinks on Monday, stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and one out in the eighth inning of a 7-7 tie against right-hander Mark Worrell and again smoked the game-winning hit to the opposite field.

This time, Pedroia drove a two-run double over the head of O’s right-fielder Nick Markakis. That was the catalyst the Sox needed in an eighth-inning in which they erupted for eight runs to claim a 15-10 victory.

It was part of a 2-for-5 night in which Pedroia singled, doubled, walked and drove in three runs while extending his hitting streak to 16 games, tied for the second-longest of his career. He is hitting .295 with an .870 OPS, 13 homers, 50 RBI, 17 steals, 63 runs and a countless number of diving plays at second base.

In short, he once again is delivering a performance worthy of the title of the best all-around second baseman in the game.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX Read the rest of this entry »

Matt Albers not surprised Orioles were miffed at him

07.18.11 at 8:25 pm ET
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BALTIMORE — After the fact, Matt Albers realized, he had gotten caught up in the emotion of a crazy weekend between his current Red Sox club and the Orioles team for whom he played. And his former teammates noticed.

Albers pitched once in the heated four-game series at Fenway Park in the final weekend of the first half, inheriting an 8-3 lead from Josh Beckett (who left the game due to injury) and delivering a pair of scoreless innings in which he struck out four.

There is no denying that Albers threw well against the team that released him. Even so, the game was never in the balance during his appearance, and so when Albers punctuated his outing with a fist pump and a shout — shortly before David Ortiz and Kevin Gregg rumbled in a fight that would garner suspensions for both — the Orioles took notice.

During the eight days from the time that the two teams separated for the All-Star break to their reunion at Camden Yards on Monday, the Orioles have continued to grumble about the Sox’ conduct during the four games at Fenway. And Albers has been one of the subjects of the ongoing ill will expressed by the Orioles towards the Sox.

Albers understands why.

“I think maybe after the fact, I think I got maybe a little carried away. Maybe my emotions got the best of me a little bit,” Albers said. “I kind of figured that they weren’€™t too happy about it.”

The reliever — who has been a revelation for the Sox, going 3-3 with a 2.37 ERA, 38 strikeouts and 16 walks in 38 innings this year — contacted some of his former Orioles teammates to try to smooth matters. He remains hopeful that, despite the expressions of disgruntlement coming from Baltimore, that this series will not continue the hostilities of the previous one.

“It seemed like it escalated a little out of hand. It was weird seeing that go on,” Albers said. “Hopefully, that’€™s over with.”

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Red Sox at Orioles Live Blog, July 18

07.18.11 at 6:51 pm ET
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BALTIMORE — For all the latest news, analysis and updates from tonight’s Red Sox-Orioles game at Camden Yards, join the Live Blog below:

Red Sox at Orioles Live Blog, July 18

Progress for Buchholz, a new day for Lester

07.18.11 at 6:40 pm ET
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BALTIMORE — The rehab of Red Sox starting pitcher Clay Buchholz, on the DL since mid-June due to persistent soreness in his lower back, took a step forward on Monday, as the right-hander pushed his throwing program out to 120 feet on flat ground. That is the third step in a gradual progression of his arm strength that has seen him throw from 60 and then 90 feet. The next step after throwing at 120 feet will be for the 26-year-old to throw off a mound in a short bullpen session.

“That’s good,” manager Terry Francona said of Buchholz’ latest step forward. “Ramp up that intensity a little bit.”

Buchholz (6-3, 3.48 ERA) said over the weekend in Tampa Bay that he is still feeling lingering discomfort in his lower back. However, it appears that he is still edging closer to a return despite the fact that he is physically at less than 100 percent. Read the rest of this entry »

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Crawford: Feeling ‘real close to myself’

07.18.11 at 6:02 pm ET
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BALTIMORE — Certainly, the process of getting back onto the field was a more deliberate one than Carl Crawford had expected. He doesn’t have much experience with injuries, aside from a stretch of roughly six weeks on the sidelines at the end of 2008 due to a hand injury.

When Crawford suffered a left hamstring injury on June 17, the expectation was that he might need little more than two weeks on the DL to come back. That timeframe nearly doubled, but one month after he landed on the DL, Crawford is back with the Red Sox and eager to contribute following a two-game rehab stint in Pawtucket on Friday and Saturday.

“I felt real good out there [in Pawtucket], so I feel comfortable about returning into the lineup,” said Crawford. “It’€™s been a while since I’€™ve been out there, so just to get back into the action and get a feel for everything, I’€™m definitely excited about it.”

Crawford suggested that while he feels physically fine, his timing at the plate after four weeks of downtime remains a work in progress. In 67 games this year, he’s hitting .243 with a .275 OBP and .659 OPS, though since the beginning of May, he was hitting .295 with a .318 OBP and .794 OPS. He is hopeful that his layoff will not affect him adversely. Read the rest of this entry »

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