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Trade deadline: Orioles slugger Mark Reynolds to be available?

07.06.11 at 10:59 am ET
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With the second-to-worst record in the American League, the Orioles are expected to be sellers leading up to the trade deadline. According to Matt Vensel of The Baltimore Sun, the Orioles do not have many trade chips, but he does name a few players that could be dealt, including third baseman Mark Reynolds.

Reynolds leads the major leagues with 13 home runs since June 1, including five already in July, and he could become available during the next few weeks. Vensel also named shortstop J.J. Hardy, starting pitcher Jeremy Guthrie and relief pitcher Koji Uehara as players that could also be available to be dealt to other teams.

He also notes that he does not believe All-Star catcher Matt Wieters and starter Zach Britton would be made available for potential trades.

Read More: 2011 Trade Deadline, J.J. Hardy, Jeremy Guthrie, Mark Reynolds

Ian O’Connor on D&C: ‘Age and unseen forces of gravity and time’ have caught up to Derek Jeter

07.06.11 at 10:27 am ET
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ESPN columnist Ian O’€™Connor, author of ‘€œThe Captain,” a book about Derek Jeter, joined the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday morning with guest hosts Bob Ryan and Kathryn Tappen to discuss the book and Jeter’€™s future with the Yankees. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

O’Connor went all the way back to Jeter’s childhood and spoke with grade school teachers, high school coaches and summer league coaches to get a better idea of what Jeter is like as a human being.

He also noted in the book four flaws that he sees Jeter having: being overly sensitive to criticism, carrying a grudge for a long time, not being a better captain when Alex Rodriguez joined the Yankees, and not speaking out more against steroid use. O’Connor said he wanted to speak with Jeter in more detail about them, but Jeter refused a lengthy sit-down interview.

O’Connor said part of the reason for Jeter’s 2010 struggles had to do with contract talks.

‘€œHe was very uncomfortable,” O’Connor said. “It bothered him. I think last year when he had his worst year the contract thing bothered him. He would never admit that, clearly, as he struggled he realized he was digging himself a bigger hole at the negotiating table, tens of millions of dollars. Now, that the contract thing is behind him, it’€™s bothering him that he isn’€™t performing better.’€

O’Connor also touched on the 3,000 hit milestone Jeter is about to achieve and how it might affect the remainder of his career.

‘€œOnce he gets past 3,000 hits [some people think] a burden will be lifted from his shoulders and he will return close to the 2009 Derek Jeter,” O’Connor said. “I don’€™t think that is going to happen. I think unfortunately, age and unseen forces of gravity and time have caught up to him and he is going to be this kind of player.’€

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Read More: Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Ian O'Connor,

Jerry Remy on D&C: Injury-depleted Sox need to keep John Lackey in rotation

07.06.11 at 10:03 am ET
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Longtime NESN Red Sox analyst Jerry Remy made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday morning with guest hosts Bob Ryan and Kathryn Tappen. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Jon Lester left Tuesday night’s outing after four innings with a lat strain. With Clay Buchholz hurt, Daisuke Matsuzaka out and John Lackey struggling, there is great concern about the Red Sox pitching staff.

“It’s starting to remind me a little bit of last year, and I hope that’s not the case, because last year injuries destroyed the team,” Remy said. “What it’s destroying right now is the starting rotation, and that’s not a good sign at all.”

Left-hander Andrew Miller has impressed in his three starts with the Sox. Remy said the key is control.

“The thing that’s impressed me about him is that his changeup is very good,” Remy said. “His fastball is not Randy Johnsonlike; it’s not 99. But he gets it in the mid-90s and he’s got that good changeup to go with it. He’s got the curveball to go with it. I guess they’ve worked with his mechanics and they’ve got it to where he’s throwing more strikes. He hasn’t been walking people. If he doesn’t walk people, his stuff certainly is good enough to win at the big league level.”

Added Remy: “They may have found something here that’s going to help them the rest of the way down the road and hopefully into the postseason.”

There has been talk that Lackey’s next start Saturday will be key to his future with the team this season. Remy doesn’t agree.

“I don’t think so,” Remy said. “Because where are they going to go? Even if he doesn’t pitch well, if he’s physically OK, I don’t see where they could put him other than the starting rotation, especially now with the injuries. ‘€¦ I don’t see where it’s a life-or-death situation with Lackey.”

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Read More: adrian gonzalez, andrew miller, Clay Buchholz, Jerry Remy

Wednesday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays matchups: Tim Wakefield vs. Ricky Romero

07.06.11 at 7:19 am ET
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Tim Wakefield will square off against Ricky Romero in Wednesday’s series finale at Fenway Park. Both pitchers will make their first starts against an American League opponent since mid-June, and both hurlers posted rather different interleague numbers this season. Wakefield struggled in his last two starts against the Astros and Pirates, while Romero shut down the Phillies, Cardinals and Braves in his last three outings.

Wakefield (4-3, 4.82 ERA) will look to rebound from a shaky start against Houston, when he gave up five runs on 11 hits over 5 1/3 innings. Wakefield has cooled off after winning three of his first four starts, posting a 2-2 record and 5.48 ERA in his last five outings. The knuckleballer gave up five runs in each of his last two appearances and hasn’t logged a quality start since June 19.

The Blue Jays have 155 combined plate appearances against Wakefield but have been held to just two home runs and a .226 team batting average. Five Toronto regulars have seen Wakefield at least 10 times, and none of those hitters has an average over .286. That number belongs to Aaron Hill, whose team-high 37 plate appearances vs. Wakefield have yielded 10 hits, a double, two RBIs and six strikeouts. Yunel Escobar has hit the Boston starter well in seven plate appearances, logging two singles and a home run. Wakefield has dominated Corey Patterson in 18 meetings, holding him to a .167 average and striking him out three times.

Romero (7-7, 2.75 ERA) is the undisputed ace of the Blue Jays staff, leading the team in wins, ERA, and strikeouts (99). It’s been an up-and-down season for Romero to say the least; after losing three of his first four decisions, he won four of five to bring his record to 5-4. However, a recent 2-3 stretch has put him back at .500. While he might not have too many wins to show for it, Romero has been stellar in his last four starts. Dating back to June 15, he’s posted an ERA of 1.49, including a complete-game shutout of the Cardinals on June 26.

Despite Romero’s impressive numbers, the Red Sox have handled him with relative ease. Back on April 18, Romero was lit up for five runs on eight hits before being pulled with one out in the fifth inning. As a team, Boston is hitting .380 off the Blue Jays starter with 10 doubles, one home run and 19 RBI. J.D. Drew has led the way, hitting a torrent 11-for-22 against Romero, including a home run, a triple and five walks. David Ortiz has performed nearly as well, hitting .435 with a home run and seven RBI in 27 career plate appearances. Kevin Youkilis has a team-high two home runs off Romero.

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Read More: Blue Jays, Red Sox, Ricky Romero, Tim Wakefield

This just in: Darnell McDonald has a really good arm

07.05.11 at 11:33 pm ET
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Darnell McDonald knew he had it in him. He did, after all, once get clocked at 96 mph when pitching in high school.

Adrian Gonzalez knew McDonald had it in him, seeing what he saw in Fort Myers.

“We took infield in spring training,” said the Red Sox first baseman, “and he showed [his arm] off.”

Tuesday night, when making the Red Sox’ 27th out in their 3-2 win over the Blue Jays, McDonald didn’t disappoint.

With John McDonald at the plate, two outs in the ninth, Edwin Encarnacion at second,  and the Sox clinging to a one-run lead, the Jays’ infielder lobbed a single into left field. With Encarnacion racing around third, representing the potential game-tying run, the Sox left fielder raced over, scooped up the ball about waist-high and proceeded to unleash a bullet to catcher Jason Varitek.

Replays showed Encarnacion may have slipped his right foot around Varitek before any tag could be made, despite initially being blocked the captain, but all that mattered for McDonald and the Sox was that home plate umpire Brian Knight called the baserunner out.

“Once McDonald got that good hop I saw where the runner was I thought, ‘He actually has a shot.’ And then when I saw the throw I thought it was going to be close. They all did their job right,” Gonzalez said. “Tek did a great job of protecting the plate, blocking Encarnacion, and McDonald threw a perfect strike to him to allow him to be able to do that.”

For McDonald, who came away with an eighth-inning single to raise his batting average to .125, it was a moment to build on.

“I wasn’t really sure,” said the outfielder when asked if he thought he initially had a chance at getting the out. “I was just thinking get it in as soon as possible. I was really shallow. It was funny because shallow throws are kind of more difficult to gauge. I just tried to grab it and throw a four-seam fastball to Jason.

“It’s been very tough. I want to do things to help the team. Obviously I haven’t been effective at the plate. It’s a long season. I want to do anything I can to help this team. When you’re not hitting defense has to be on point.”

Make no mistake, John Farrell thinks the ump blew the game-ending call

07.05.11 at 11:15 pm ET
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Blue Jays manager John Farrell didn’t immediately argue the final play of the 3-2 Red Sox win Tuesday night but once he saw the replay of the out call on Edwin Encarnacion at the plate, he made no mistake in criticizing the accuracy of home plate umpire Brian Knight on the tag attempt by Jason Varitek.

“We should still be playing right now,” the former Red Sox pitching coach said. “That play is right in front of Brian Knight. It was clear that Edwin did a good job sliding around the plant leg of Tek but his swipe tag missed him by no less than a foot. So right now, we should be out on that field playing.”

John McDonald lofted a soft single to left field with two outs and third base coach Brian Butterfield sent Encarnacion home from second with what would have been the tying run after Jonathan Papelbon was brought in to protect a 3-0 lead to start the ninth.

Darnell McDonald threw a strike to Varitek, who blocked the plate with his left foot. Replays showed that Encarnacion’s left foot was blocked but he hooked his right foot through and got the plate while Varitek’s swipe tag missed the body.

“From 90 feet from home plate and with the runner in between the view of ourselves and home plate, he made the call as it was. Unfortunately, we should still be playing,” Farrell continued. “After the replay, absolutely, because from our vantage point, Edwin is right in line with the play at the plate. We don’t have the benefit of replay but the wide margin he missed the tag, a little bit surprised the call went that way.”

Read More: Boston Red Sox, Brian Knight, darnell mcdonald, Edwin Encarnacion

This break the action for … a Human Home Run

07.05.11 at 11:15 pm ET
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(Courtesy the fine folks at Fox 25 and the Lowell Spinners)

Human Home Run a hit at Lowell Spinners game: MyFoxBOSTON.com

Lester on lat strain: ‘I don’t think this is going to be an issue’

07.05.11 at 10:34 pm ET
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The discomfort crept up in the fourth inning. Jon Lester was dominating the Blue Jays, having held them hitless while punching out five hitters. By his own account, he featured his best fastball of the year, a powerful offering that he could locate at will.

But in the fateful fourth, something was clearly amiss to the pitcher — even if his stuff did not show it.

The discomfort in his latissimus dorsi, a muscle on the left side of his back that spans from just below the shoulder down to just above the waist, was becoming increasingly uncomfortable, as if cramping. And so, as soon as he returned to the dugout after finishing the fourth, Lester consulted with Sox trainer Mike Reinold.

“It wasn’€™t one particular pitch. It was pretty much the whole inning,” said Lester. “It just built up and, at first, talking with [trainer Mike Reinold], I was just trying to go back out there in the fifth. He kind of said no. Him and [manager Terry Francona] always have our best interests. There’€™s no point in going out and pushing it right now. It’€™s going to be sore tomorrow. I think if I would have gone out there in the fifth, we possibly could have done some worse damage.

“I’€™d never take myself out of the game if it wasn’€™t something significant,” the left-hander added. “We’€™ll get it looked at tomorrow, see how I feel. Luckily, we have the All-Star break built in, so hopefully we don’€™t have to do anything drastic around here.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Jon Lester, strained lat,

Closing Time: Red Sox best Blue Jays; Lester leaves with injury

07.05.11 at 9:48 pm ET
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The good news for the Red Sox? They claimed a 3-2 victory over the Blue Jays Tuesday night. And it ended in fine fashion, with Darnell McDonald gunning down the potential game-tying run in Edwin Encarnacion at home plate on John McDonald’s single.

The bad news? It wasn’t tough to decipher.

With Jon Lester not having allowed a hit through four innings, the starter was suddenly pulled from his outing after throwing just 50 pitches. The reason, it would later be announced, was due to strained left latissimus muscle.

Here is what went right and wrong in the Red Sox’ 50th win of the season …


– Before leaving, Lester had electric stuff, striking out five and walking one. Since 1919, it is the latest a Red Sox starter has been removed from the game after allowing no hits.

Dustin Pedroia continued to torment left-handed pitching, this time taking Toronto starter Brett Cecil over the left field wall in the third inning for his eighth home run of the season. Pedroia came into the game with the highest batting average of any American League player against lefty pitching (.389), and highest on-base percentage in the majors vs. southpaws (.518). Pedroia is also now 13-for-26 when hitting cleanup.

– Reliever Matt Albers came on for Lester to start the fifth inning and performed admirably. The pitcher allowed just one hit while striking out two and walking a pair over his two innings. Albers also caught Corey Patterson trying to steal in the sixth by throwing over to third baseman Yamaico Navarro prior to delivering the pitch. He has now allowed just one run since June 1, encompassing 12 outings.

Jason Varitek now has hits in 18 of his last 22 starts thanks this time to a double to left which scored David Ortiz with the game’s first run.

– J.D. Drew, who came into the game with just 14 at-bats against lefties since May 1, notched his fourth RBI of the season against a southpaw when he singled in Varitek in the second while facing Cecil. He hadn’t claimed an RBI against a left-hander since April 20.

Franklin Morales came on and pitched a flawless inning, marking his fifth straight outing since coming off the disabled list in which the lefty hasn’t allowed a hit.


– Lester’s injury.

– After Red Sox pitching had allowed just two hits over the first eight innings, Jonathan Papelbon gave up a leadoff single to Corey Patterson in hte ninth inning before letting Jose Bautista to take him over the left field wall for the third baseman’s 28th homer. It was the third homer surrendered by Papelbon this season, and first since June 1.

– Darnell McDonald managed an eighth-inning single, but still isn’t supplying the punch against lefties the Red Sox had hoped for. It was just the eighth time in McDonald’s 34 games he has claimed a hit, with his average now standing at .125.

Epstein: Sox more likely to add position players than pitchers

07.05.11 at 8:47 pm ET
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Red Sox GM Theo Epstein, in an appearance on NESN prior to Tuesday’s game, said that a complementary position player is the most likely avenue for his team to upgrade via the trade market between now and the July 31 deadline for non-waiver trades.

He suggested that the cost of pitching on the trade market is likely prohibitive, particularly given that the Sox feel that they have some pitching depth available (Felix Doubront, Kyle Weiland and Kevin Millwood) for reinforcements in the minors. As such, he suggested that a role player — likely a right-handed bat off the bench who would fulfill the role that had been intended for Mike Cameron and Darnell McDonald — represented a likely target.

“I think for us, probably position players [are the most likely trade targets] at this point. I don’€™t see a ton of pitching help out there,” Epstein told NESN. “The few guys who can really make an impact, it would take half your farm system or your whole farm system. So we’€™re going to pursue it. I don’€™t see it as realistic. I think we would benefit from a complementary position player who would really fill a need for us in the right spot.

“We could end up with a pitcher. We could end up with a position player. But just looking at the landscape, there are probably more position players that could fit for us than pitching right now. There is some pitching depth. There are some areas, because of injuries, both up here and in the minor leagues, we don’€™t have as much position playing depth at the moment. Now, two, three weeks from now, if we get healthy, we might have that depth here.”

While Epstein did proclaim pitching depth a strength, he also took stock of a pair of concerns in the Red Sox rotation. He suggested that there are no obvious solutions to the season-long struggles of right-hander John Lackey (5-8, 7.47 ERA).

“As an organization we’€™ve got to find some answers. A lot of times this year, he just hasn’€™t been good enough and has taken us out of games. We know he’€™s working hard and we know he wants to get better,” said Epstein. “Right now, there aren’€™t answers. Otherwise he would have applied some things and taken some steps forward. There are questions, not answers. It’€™s our job to find the answers. We’€™ve got to keep working at it and get better. It’€™s definitely got to get better. He has a chance to be an important part of this team, wants to be, and has the talent to. It’€™s just not happening right now.”

Epstein added that, for the time being, Lackey will remain in the rotation, though if he continues to struggle in a fashion that gives the Sox little chance to win, the organization will have to reconsider its options.

“I think that work that has to happen for him to improve can take different forms. It’€™s something that can happen while he’€™s pitching,” said Epstein. “If he’€™s able to go out there and keep us in games, then yeah, he should get the ball. If he’€™s not, then we’€™ve got to look deeper. But he’€™s in the rotation. He’€™s got a chance to go out there and make it better.”

Meanwhile, Epstein said that the team is hopeful that Clay Buchholz will receive confirmation on Wednesday, when he visits Dr. Craig Brigham in Charlotte, that he is in a position to pitch without risking a significant injury.

“It’€™s essentially a third opinion, essentially confirming that it’€™s just a muscular issue. If it’€™s muscle, it will resolve in time,” said Epstein. “Hopefully we’€™ll get a feel for how long it will be and confirm that it’€™s safe for him to push through and get out there, get back on the mound.”

For video of the interview, click here.

Read More: Clay Buchholz, john lackey, Theo Epstein,
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