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Pedro rejects offers to return to baseball

08.05.10 at 2:35 pm ET
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Pedro Martinez said he recently received offers from several teams that were “very tempting,” but the former Red Sox ace has decided to remain retired. Speaking at a promotional event for Gillette in New York, Martinez told The Associated Press he was “really happy” to receive the offers the past two weeks from teams he did not identify. He said he will spend the rest of the year with his kids and go on vacations.

Martinez signed with the Phillies last July and went 5-1 with a 3.63 ERA in nine starts, helping Philadelphia reach the World Series. He threw out the first pitch at Fenway Park for the Red Sox’ home opener this season.

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Nearly a Red Sox, LaPorta’s case a familiar one

08.05.10 at 2:24 pm ET
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LaPorta's projectable power and value in the trade market could have belonged to Sox in '06. (AP photo)

The Red Sox have been taking chances on big-time prospects with signability issues for years now, a trend that dates back to the Dan Duquette era and is highlighted by such players as 1998 ninth-round third baseman Mark Teixeira. Sometimes they sign, and, as was the case with Teixeria, sometimes they don’t.

There certainly are more recent examples, with LSU righty and 39th overall pick Anthony Ranaudo getting plenty of attention as the baseball world awaits his decision to either sign with the Sox or head back to school. A Scott Boras client whose top prospect status took a hit in his junior year, Ranaudo apparently has a price that requires meeting and is not afraid to return to college and re-enter the draft like so many Boras clients before him.

One of those clients is current Indians first baseman/outfielder Matt LaPorta, whose case is very similar to that of Ranaudo. A standout player at Florida in 2005 with a .328 average and 26 homers, LaPorta was a year away from draft eligibility (he elected to not sign with the Cubs out of high school) and one of the country’s best prospects. A poor junior season in which he battled injuries (most notably, an oblique) and hit just .259 with 14 homers in 43 games made LaPorta less appetizing in the draft given that his production was down and the fact that he, thanks to Boras, carried a high price tag. Only a few teams were viewed as realistic suitors for LaPorta, and the Red Sox took the power hitter in the 14th round of the 2006 draft.

Despite a summer of negotiations, the Red Sox and Boras failed to agree on a deal. The slugger sought a bonus in the vicinity of $2 million, and while the Sox made offers in line with early-round picks, they did not get close to meeting that asking price.

LaPorta was content to return to Florida in an attempt to repair his stock. The slugger did just that, raising his average to .402 and belting 20 homers in 52 games in his final campaign at Florida.

As he and his camp hoped, he appeared to be worth every penny and was snatched up by the Brewers with the seventh pick in the ’07 draft. He signed quickly with Milwaukee for the $2 million he had sought one year earlier.

The Red Sox, however, didn’t let it happen that easily. The team made a realistic push to convince LaPorta that coming to be Boston would be worth his while.

“Their offers were fair and were strong,” LaPorta said before Wednesday night’s game. “I just felt that I had a lot more to prove by going back to school. I wanted to go back to school, finish up school, and play my senior year.”

LaPorta proved to carry tremendous value for the Brewers, who sent him to Cleveland in 2008 in exchange for CC Sabathia‘s incredible, 130 1/3 innings performance in 17 starts for Milwaukee. The Red Sox, meanwhile, seemingly missed out on a top prospect who could have offered a formidable power-hitting prospect or a chip to increase the odds of pulling off a major trade.

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Read More: anthony ranaudo, draft, Matt LaPorta, Scott Boras

Gammons: Sox made inquiry about Masterson

08.05.10 at 11:32 am ET
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According to a tweet from MLB Network analyst Peter Gammons, the Red Sox contacted the Indians at the trade deadline in an attempt to bring former Sox hurler Justin Masterson back to Boston. Gammons reported that the Indians replied, “No, thanks.”

Masterson is just 4-10 this season with a 4.52 ERA, but he beat the Sox Wednesday night for the second time this season, pitching five innings of one-run ball. He compiled a 9-8 record for the Sox in 2008 and ’09 before being traded to the Indians in a 2009 deadline deal with minor leaguers Nick Hagadone and Bryan Price for Victor Martinez.

Read More: justin masterson, peter gammons,

Noon Red Sox Chat with Lou Merloni

08.05.10 at 11:13 am ET
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The Red Sox season hangs in the balance. The team is 6 1/2 games behind both the Rays and the Yankees, and needs to get hot fast in order to make a push for the postseason. Can they do it? Did they do the right thing at the trade deadline by essentially standing pat? What to make of the injury to Kevin Youkilis, and the issues surrounding Jacoby Ellsbury?

WEEI.com’s Lou Merloni will be taking your questions about these subjects and others at noon on Thursday. Stop by for his insight into all things Red Sox.

Red Sox vs. Indians matchups, 8/5

08.05.10 at 10:46 am ET
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Daisuke Matsuzaka

The Sox and Indians will conclude their four-game series on Thursday with Daisuke Matsuzaka opposing 25-year-old rookie right-hander Josh Tomlin.

Matsuzaka enters the game with a 7-3 record and a 4.22 ERA. He has pitched well lately but has not recorded a win in his last two starts, since a July 19 win over the A’s. Matsuzaka beat the Indians on June 7, going eight innings and allowing four hits and no runs in a 4-1 Sox win. That upped his career mark against Cleveland to 3-1 with a 2.70 ERA. However, with the Indians having some turnover of late, Matsuzaka has faced only five players on the current roster.

Tomlin, called up from Triple-A Columbus on July 27, will make his first start against a Red Sox offense that was held to one run on Wednesday. Tomlin is 1-0 with a 1.46 ERA and looked impressive in beating the Yankees and, pitching on three days’ rest, holding the Blue Jays to one run in 5 1/3 innings in a 2-1 Indians win on July 31.

Cleveland leads the season series, 4-3. If they win Thursday night, the Indians would have a series win over the Red Sox for the first time since April 25-27, 2006, and their first series win in Boston since June 27-29, 2005.

Indians vs. Daisuke Matsuzaka

Shin-Soo Choo (7 career plate appearances against Matsuzaka): .143 average/.143 OBP/.143 slugging, 3 strikeouts

Luis Valbuena (6): .333/.333/.333, 2 strikeouts

Trevor Crowe (6): .200/.333/.200, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Matt LaPorta (3): .000/.000/.000, 1 strikeout

Jason Donald (3): .333/.333/.333

Chris Gimenez, Lou Marson, Asdrubal Cabrera, Andy Marte, Jayson Nix, Shelley Duncan and Jordan Brown have never faced the Red Sox starter.

Red Sox vs. Josh Tomlin

No current Red Sox batters have faced the Indians pitcher.

Read More: Adrian Beltre, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Josh Tomlin,

Masterson-led Indians an unlikely thorn in Sox’ side

08.05.10 at 12:17 am ET
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Looking around the visiting clubhouse at Fenway Park that is currently occupied by the Indians, it’s harder to see individual players than it is to simply see trades. In viewing the nameplates on the lockers, the pieces that the team acquired in deals for their top players over the years stand out so much that they might as well have the deal in which they were acquired in parentheses. Something like this: Jason Donald (Cliff Lee), Matt LaPorta (CC Sabathia), Justin Masterson (Victor Martinez), etc. That’s what stands out about the Indians these days.

Unfortunately, this season is one in which the Indians rarely have much to smile about. A fourth-place team in a division that features only two teams playing .500 ball or better, the Indians boast (and “boast” most certainly sounds like the wrong word here) a rotation that has just one starter with more than eight wins and an offense that is hitting for the 27th-best average in the league. However, when Masterson is on the hill against his old team, good things seem to happen for the Indians.

Masterson turned in perhaps the best start of his career on June 9 when he threw a complete-game shutout against the Red Sox in Cleveland. He allowed just two hits and walked two while striking out six. Additionally, the Indians offense put up eight runs on the Red Sox bullpen after seven innings from Clay Buchholz in a 11-0 Red Sox loss.

Since that start, in which Masterson improved to 2-5, the team has continued to play losing ball in a season that has seen far more negatives than positives. Masterson himself went 1-5 with a 6.55 ERA in his nine starts following the gem and entered the night at 3-10 with a 3.55 ERA.

Even so, with Masterson taking the hill against the Red Sox on Wednesday night, it was only human for the Red Sox to prepare for another night in which Masterson dazzled. Manager Terry Francona said before the game that the Sox would need to stack the lineup with left-handed hitters if they wanted a good chance of pulling out a win against Masterson. Though he certainly didn’t dominate in the way he did back in June, the righty took his start into the sixth inning and had thrown just 95 pitches when he got the hook in the sixth inning despite allowing just one run, a solo shot to David Ortiz.

“He’s tough,” Red Sox catcher Kevin Cash, who doubled of Masterson, said. “He’s got a good sinker and a good slider and tonight he had his four-seamer too. He went to that it seemed like a lot. He had both sides of the plate with his fastball. When he’s got that kind of movement you’re going to see a lot of ground balls and a lot of swings and miss, which we had tonight.”

It turned out Masterson didn’t need to toss a complete-game shutout, nor even a quality start for that matter. Red Sox errors and cramping from new father Jon Lester gave Masterson a decent-sized lead early on in a game that would eventually be blown wide open into a 9-1 Indians victory. With the win, Masterson, who has now made 22 starts on the season, picked up just his fourth win, half of which have now come against the team that traded him at last season’s non-waiver deadline in a package for Martinez.

Though Wednesday night’s loss fell quite heavily on extremely poor defense from the Red Sox (only two of the nine runs given up on the night were earned), it is rather noteworthy that whether he’s pitching deep into the game or only tossing five-plus framed, a pitcher who hasn’t performed particularly well on a team that definitely hasn’t performed well this season has Boston’s number. Francona’s only comment on Masterson that he was “unfortunately, pretty good,” but at a time in the season in which it is crucial to the Sox’ playoffs hopes that they beat up on on the weaker teams on their schedule, it’s quite peculiar that a Justin Masterson-led Indians team has proven too much for Boston Red Sox.

The Red Sox are now 6.5 behind the Rays and Yankees in the AL East and will have to battle whichever of the two doesn’t take the division for the Wild Card. While the debate continues as to whether they can come back, one unlikely truth is certain for the Red Sox: it’s a good thing this is the season’s last series with the Indians.

Read More: Jon Lester, justin masterson, Terry Francona,

Farrell: Lester is not hurting

08.05.10 at 12:06 am ET
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Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell could see what everyone else in Fenway Park saw on Wednesday night. The sight of Jon Lester shaking his left leg due to cramping in his hamstring was enough to send chills up the spine of all those in attendance on the sweltering night.

But Farrell insisted that while his prized pupil was suffering from some very mild dehydration on Wednesday, there’s nothing physically off with the lefty that would explain his 0-4 record since making his first career trip to the All-Star Game in Anaheim.

“There’s nothing physical that’s been the cause of any of this,” Farrell said after Lester allowed four runs – two earned – on seven hits and two strikeouts in five-plus innings as the lefty took the loss in Boston’s 9-1 defeat at the hands of the Cleveland Indians. “He was on such a strong run, some out of the outings he’s had or some of the pitches he’s made in critical situations might not have been as consistent over these past four starts.”

Lester did complain of cramping in his left hamstring during the fifth inning on Wednesday but returned to start the sixth, only to allow a solo homer to Jayson Nix and a hit to Andy Marte before being yanked from the game and falling to 11-7 on the season.

Red Sox manager Terry Francona offered his own take on Lester, who became a father for the first time on Saturday, Hudson Lester was born.

“He was cramping up, he hasn’t slept much with the baby and everything,” Francona said. “You probably saw him stretching out there and then it went away.”

Lester became the Red Sox pitcher to lose four straight starts since Tim Wakefield in May and June, 2006.

The loss was Lester’s first career to Cleveland in four decisions, leaving the Baltimore Orioles as the only team yet to solve the lefty and hang an ‘L’ on him.

Read More: Indians, John Farrell, Jon Lester, Red Sox
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