Archive for July, 2014
BOSTON (AP) — The Boston Red Sox traded right-hander John Lackey to the St. Louis Cardinals for right-hander Joe Kelly and outfielder Allen Craig before Thursday’s deadline.
The deal leaves the Red Sox without their top two starters. Both teams announced the move a few hours after the struggling Red Sox said they had sent their No. 1 starter, left-hander Jon Lester, to the Oakland Athletics with outfielder Jonny Gomes and cash for slugging outfielder Yoenis Cespedes and a 2015 draft pick.
The Red Sox also sent cash and minor league left-hander Cory Littrell to St. Louis.
Lackey is 11-7 with a 3.60 ERA in the fourth year of a five-year, $82.5 million deal.
Kelly is 2-2 with a 4.37 ERA in seven starts. He has made four starts since being activated from the disabled list on July 11. Craig is batting .237 with seven homers and 44 RBIs.
Lackey has had two strong seasons since being sidelined for all of 2012 after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
He was 10-13 with a 3.52 ERA last year when he pitched his second World Series-clinching game, allowing one run in 6 2-3 innings in a 6-1 win over the Cardinals in Game 6. In 2002, he won Game 7 for the Anaheim Angels over the San Francisco Giants, a 4-1 victory in which he gave up one run in five innings.
The Cardinals, in a tight race with the Milwaukee Brewers and Pittsburgh Pirates in the NL Central, had obtained right-hander Justin Masterson from the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday.
Kelly joins a Red Sox rotation with a much different look than the one that began the season.
Lester, Lackey, Jake Peavy and Felix Doubront all are gone. Peavy was traded to the San Francisco Giants last Saturday and Doubront was sent to the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday. Only Clay Buchholz, an inconsistent right-hander, remains from the original group.
The 26-year-old Kelly was 5-7 with a 3.53 ERA as a rookie in 2012 and 10-5 with a 2.69 ERA last season.
Craig brings more power to a weak-hitting outfield that was bolstered by the acquisition of Cespedes. In the past two seasons, Craig totaled 35 homers and 189 RBIs, hitting .307 in 2012 and .315 in 2013.
The 30-year-old Craig has been in a season-long slump after batting a major league-best .454 with runners in scoring position in 2013. He’s gotten days off to help emerge from his slide with little success. He hasn’t been the same since missing the last month of regular season with a left mid-foot strain but came back for the World Series, playing some designated hitter and first base.
Kelly and Craig both were hurt running to first, Craig when he landed awkwardly rounding the base and Kelly injuring his hamstring sprinting to beat out a bunt.
While the Cardinals make their playoff push, the Red Sox are in last place in the AL East and looking ahead to next season. With the departure of four veteran starters, several of their top prospects should get a long look the rest of the season.
SAN DIEGO (AP) — It was an emotional day for Shelby Miller, who said goodbye to friend and teammate Joe Kelly and then went out and helped the St. Louis Cardinals rebound from their ugliest loss of the season.
Miller and three relievers combined on a three-hitter, and Oscar Taveras hit a two-run homer for the St. Louis Cardinals, who beat the San Diego Padres 6-2 Thursday to avoid a three-game series sweep.
The victory came hours after the Cardinals traded Kelly and Allen Craig to Boston for right-hander John Lackey.
Miller teared up afterward while talking about Kelly.
“That’s a tough one for all of us, to lose two guys like that, especially Joe for me,” Miller said. “I grew up with him and came up through the farm system with him. He’s going to do well there. I wish him all the best.”
Miller (8-8) held San Diego to two runs and three hits in six innings. He struck out five and walked none in his first win since June 7.
St. Louis roughed up rookie Odrisamer Despaigne a day after playing what manager Mike Matheny called the team’s ugliest loss of the season, a 12-1 defeat Wednesday night.
“They’re pros,” Matheny said. “I mean, things are going to happen in our lives that we’ve just got to be able to compartmentalize. These days here I think prove the toughness that these guys develop through the season. You have to put it aside and get the job done.”
Taveras connected with two out in the second, sending a drive to right for his second homer. But St. Louis’ 2-0 quickly evaporated.
Jedd Gyorko, on a tear since returning Monday from a 44-day stay on the disabled list, homered to right off Miller with one out in the bottom half. It was Gyorko’s second in two games and seventh overall. Will Venable homered to right with two outs, his fifth.
“There were a couple of solo homers there that got him on the edge a little bit, and then he stepped in and started making some really nice pitches,” Matheny said. “I saw him driving the ball down through the bottom of the zone. He pitched a little more.”
Said Venable: “I didn’t see a pitch from him other than a fastball and it was a good one. He just pitched well. When you are aggressive with your fastball you have the option of going to your off-speed stuff. It wasn’t like we were beating him on his fastball. We hit a couple of them but he was doing what he wanted really.”
St. Louis jumped in front again on Matt Holliday’s two-run single in the third, and Peter Bourjos added an RBI single in the sixth.
Despaigne (2-3) allowed six runs and nine hits in 5 2-3 innings. He won his first two starts but is 0-3 in his last five outings.
Cardinals: St. Louis got Lackey in exchange for Kelly and Craig. Lackey’s first start with the Cardinals will come during a series against his former Red Sox teammates in St. Louis from Tuesday through Thursday.
Padres: Outfielder Chris Denorfia was traded to Seattle for outfielder Abraham Almonte, who will report to San Diego on Friday, and right-hander Stephen Kohlscheen, who will report to Triple-A El Paso. Almonte was Seattle’s opening-day starter in center.
Padres: Catcher Yasmani Grandal was scratched because of some fluid that built up in his right knee, which was surgically repaired last year after a collision at the plate.
“When he squatted in the bullpen, it shifted to the back of the knee and it sort of buckled him a bit,” manager Bud Black said. “He was in quite a bit of pain squatting.”
Black said Grandal should be fine to catch Friday night against Atlanta.
Cardinals: Adam Wainwright (13-5, 1.92 ERA) gets the ball in the opener of an important home series against NL Central-leading Milwaukee on Friday night. Wainwright Is 10-6 with 2.19 ERA in 27 career games against the Brewers.
Padres: Eric Stults (3-13, 5.22 ERA) pitches in the opener of a weekend set against Atlanta. The left-hander has won only once in last 13 starts.
Gyorko is 7 for 14 in five games since being reinstated from the DL, including two homers, a double and six RBIs. He has 30 career homers, tying him with Mark Loretta for the franchise record by a second baseman.
MINEOLA, N.Y. (AP) — A former New York Yankees outfielder has been convicted of sexually abusing a young girl.
Rosendo “Rusty” Torres was convicted in a Nassau County court of five counts of sexual abuse Thursday. He faces up to seven years in prison on each count. Sentencing is Oct. 7.
Prosecutors say Torres abused a girl younger than 11 while acting as a youth baseball coach for the town of Oyster Bay, 20 miles east of New York City. They say the abuse happened in spring 2012 during baseball practice sessions in nearby Plainview.
Torres’ attorney says he plans to appeal.
The 65-year-old Torres was acquitted of abusing another girl younger than 11.
Torres played for five major league teams beginning in 1971. He ended his career in Kansas City in 1980. He had a .212 lifetime batting average.
ST. LOUIS (AP) — The St. Louis Rams secondary doesn’t have veteran leaders, high-dollar talent or big names.
Those handling spots on the last line of defense are confident they won’t be a liability.
Together, they’ll try to dispel the notion the Rams are counting on one of the NFL’s best pass rushes to keep the heat off the pass defenders.
“We’re young, you can say that,” safety T.J. McDonald said. “We’re motivated to be the best in the NFC West, best in the league.”
While rebuilding, the Rams haven’t been bashful about throwing rookies into the fray at any position. So while all four are young, they’ve got some experience.
“I’d rather have that,” general manager Les Snead said. “That’s where you start thinking you can ascend.”
Cornerbacks Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson have been inconsistent and safeties Rodney McLeod and McDonald are unproven.
Together, the group has 71 career starts – 30 by Jenkins. McLeod started every game last season, Johnson has 15 starts in two seasons and McDonald started 10 as a rookie last season.
The offensive line has veterans Rodger Saffold, Jake Long and Scott Wells and Kenny Britt is a veteran wide receiver.
The Rams are heavily invested on a defensive line that has three former first-round picks and at linebacker, too, with James Laurinaitis and Jo-Lonn Dunbar.
“There’s nothing easy against those guys, especially up front,” quarterback Sam Bradford said. “That front seen is really, really tough.”
The secondary, which is without Cortland Finnegan who was released in the offseason after a serious eye injury, is never mentioned as a team strength.
“It’s definitely motivation,” McLeod said. “We just want to be a top defense and it’s about what we do as a unit. We’ve all got to work as one.”
Jenkins, 25, is a former second-round pick and tied the NFL rookie record with three interceptions returned for touchdowns in 2012.
Entering his third season he has 30 career starts, but he had just one pick last year and the flip side of the big-play capabilities is he’s also been beaten a lot on big plays.
Johnson also is in his third season and has been the full-time starter since last October.
McLeod was undrafted out of Virginia in 2012 and proved himself on special teams for a season before becoming the starter last year. McDonald was a third-round pick last season and was immediately plugged into the lineup.
Brandon McGee could be the nickel back. He was a fifth-rounder last season, appearing mostly on special teams.
“Me personally, I’m just getting started. Rod, too,” McDonald said. “We have big aspirations and the only way to reach them is by controlling what we’re doing right now.”
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Stuck in limbo between contending and conceding, the perennially building Kansas City Royals opted to stand pat as baseball’s non-waiver trade deadline passed Thursday.
Even as several other teams in the same mix pulled off some splashy moves.
The Tigers, who led the Royals by 4 1/2 games in the AL Central at the start of the day, landed arguably the biggest coup in left-hander David Price. The Mariners and Yankees, neck-and-neck with Kansas City in the wild-card hunt, also were involved in a series of trades.
Meanwhile, Royals general manager Dayton Moore said “at the end of the day, there weren’t any players we could get our hands on that would be upgrades over what we have.”
“We were prepared to make moves with prospects. There was nothing presented to us that made us uncomfortable,” Moore said shortly before the Royals wrapped up a series with Minnesota. “We were prepared to be as aggressive as we possibly could.”
The Royals were in a similar position a year ago, making only minor moves down the stretch, and wound up finishing 86-76 – their best record since the strike-shortened 1994 season, but still only good enough for third place in the division. That led many to speculate that the Royals would finally trade for the big bat that their popgun offense has been lacking the past two seasons.
Instead, the Royals watched from the dugout as Oakland sent power-hitting outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to the Red Sox for starter Jon Lester and outfielder Jonny Gomes.
“Truthfully it wasn’t an option for us,” Moore said of acquiring the Cuban defector, whose 17 homers would easily lead the Royals. “We didn’t have a pitcher of that caliber we were willing to trade to get a player like Cespedes back. We have to keep our pitching strong.”
Therein lays the rub: The Royals had the pitcher in James Shields, a durable former All-Star who is due to become a free agent after the season. They were simply unwilling to part with him unless it was for the right deal even though it’s a near-certainty the small-market club will be unable to come up with the cash to sign him to a new deal.
The Royals also had a potential trade chip in Wade Davis, who has been dominant as a setup man and could be targeted by teams in search of a closer down the stretch. Designated hitter Billy Butler was also trade bait, though several factors including his contract and his suspect ability to play in the field would have made it difficult to move him.
“You always get excited and it breaks down, and you get excited and it breaks down,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “In the end it was a lot of hard work that nothing happened.”
Moore insisted that it’s still possible that the Royals will execute a trade, but it becomes much more difficult. Players must now pass through waivers before a deal could happen.
The Royals have been searching for help in right field, where Nori Aoki has failed to live up to expectations, and third base, where Mike Moustakas began the day hitting just .194. But with a relative dearth of hitting available, the Royals started to investigate some pitching help.
The Phillies’ A.J. Burnett was linked to Kansas City prior to the deadline.
“You can only take advantage of what’s available to you,” Moore said, “and again, internally, we feel this group of players is very talented and able to produce and will produce.”
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Baseball fields that sit near a St. Louis County landfill that is contaminated with Cold War-era nuclear waste are safe for public use, the Environmental Protection Agency said Thursday.
The EPA began an investigation in May after Bridgeton-area residents hired a private firm for radiation testing at Bridgeton Municipal Athletic Complex. Those tests indicated elevated levels of radiation in drainage areas. Concern was strong enough that a youth baseball tournament with nearly 100 teams relocated to another set of fields.
EPA Regional Administrator Karl Brooks said scientific surface gamma radiation screening and soil sampling showed the Bridgeton complex is safe.
“Local residents and visitors can be assured that a thorough scientific survey and review process has confirmed that the public can continue to gather and play at BMAC, and that no additional environmental action is warranted for this facility,” Brooks said in a news release.
Bridgeton Mayor Conrad Bowers lauded the report.
“I’m pleased that EPA took this extra step because of some of the concerns expressed by people,” Bowers said. “This really should help relieve those concerns.”
Ed Smith of the Missouri Coalition for the Environment said he was still reading the results but a preliminary review indicated concerns, such as potentially raised levels of lead. He urged EPA to continue investigating.
EPA said it collected data form 58,000 surface points and collected and analyzed more than 100 surface soil samples from the infield and outfield areas, along with areas outside of the fields. Those samples were compared with ones from two other parks in the St. Louis area. Radiation levels were similar in all three parks, the EPA said.
“The final report noted no detections at levels of concern to human health,” the EPA said.
Uranium byproducts were dumped at the landfill in the 1970s. The EPA is determining whether the waste should be dug up and removed or permanently covered.
Concern has grown in recent years because West Lake is adjacent to the Bridgeton Landfill, where underground smoldering is occurring. In addition to a strong odor created by the smolder, nearby residents worry about what could happen if the smoldering reaches the nuclear waste.
The company that owns both landfills is spending millions of dollars to build blockades.
The landfill complex is about a mile from the sprawling baseball complex that includes 11 baseball fields, a soccer field, playground and tennis courts. The complex remained open during the testing.
BALTIMORE (AP) — The NAACP says the site of its 2016 national convention, reported to be Baltimore, has not yet been selected.
The civil rights groups said in a statement Thursday that its convention planning committee recently heard presentations from Baltimore; Austin, Texas; Cincinnati, and St. Louis. It said the ongoing selection process will include visiting the proposed sites, and recommendations will be made to the board of directors in October.
Tessa Hill-Aston, president of the Baltimore NAACP branch, said in an email on July 23 that the national board had selected Baltimore to host the 2016 convention.
Hill-Aston said Thursday that she could not immediately comment on the national group’s statement or why she reported that Baltimore had been selected.
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — Eric Berry made the first trip to the injury tent. Marcus Cooper followed soon afterward.
David and DeMarcus Van Dyke, a pair of cousins trying to earn jobs in the Chiefs defensive backfield, were already milling around it. And missing from the scene entirely was safety Sanders Commings, who was headed for surgery on a broken bone in his right foot.
Apparently, Chiefs defensive backs deserve hazard pay these days.
The biggest cause for concern was Berry, their Pro Bowl safety, who hurt himself during a drill early in Thursday’s workout. He was checked by trainers in the tent before conferring with some more team officials on the sideline, and then driven in a cart to the locker room.
Berry was able to put weight on the leg, but was noticeably limping, and Chiefs coach Andy Reid said he was still awaiting word on the severity of the injury.
“It’s no Achilles, it’s no tear,” Reid said. “We’ll have to see.”
Later in practice, it was Cooper who limped to the tent. Trainers spent several minutes probing his hamstring before loading him into another cart and sending him to the locker room.
Those injuries, combined with the plethora of ailments that have already besieged the Chiefs’ defensive backfield, have left them perilously thin at a position that was already causing concern.
The secondary struggled against Indianapolis in last season’s playoff loss, and it hardly helped matters when the team released Pro Bowl cornerback Brandon Flowers in a cost-saving move.
One of the guys they were counting on to compete for the safety job was Commings, who missed his rookie season with a broken collarbone.
He got a late start to camp following another injury, and then broke his foot when he was juked to the ground by running back Jamaal Charles in practice Wednesday. It was unclear whether the Chiefs plan to put him on injured reserve.
“We’ll see,” Reid said. “Normally if you break a bone it takes a while.”
The Van Dykes were continuing to rehab their own hamstring injuries off to the side Thursday, which means that of the 18 defensive backs had in camp, only 13 of them were on the field by the end of practice. That included Damond Smith, who was signed just this week.
“That happens,” Reid said of the injuries. “It happens as you go through camp, your legs get tired. You get those strains, those tight hamstrings. We’ll be fine. We’ll push through it.”
With whomever they can manage to suit up.
Shortly after practice, agent David Canter announced on Twitter that the Chiefs had signed veteran defensive back Steve Gregory. He entered the league in 2006 and played with AFC West-rival San Diego until 2011, when he joined New England for the past two seasons.
Daniel Sorensen, an undrafted rookie out of BYU, moved into Berry’s spot when he went down on Thursday. Jerron McMillian and Malcolm Bronson have also been spending time at safety.
“You know, tomorrow I might be running with the 3s,” Sorensen said of his unexpected move into the starting lineup. “That’s just how it goes.”
The cornerback position was already in a state of flux even before Cooper got hurt.
Picked up off waivers last season, Cooper had moved into the starting lineup in place of Flowers, while Ron Parker had relegated veteran Sean Smith – the other starter a year ago – to the second team. Chris Owens has been working primarily as the nickel, and rookie Phillip Gaines has been getting reps at several positions as he tries to turn some heads.
“The one thing he has, he does have excellent speed,” defensive coordinator Bob Sutton said. “He does have that ability to make up if he gets behind guys and make plays like that.”
That ability would have come in handy last season, when Chiefs defensive backs were spending so much time trying to chase down wide receivers.
After their bye in Week 10, when they were sitting 9-0, the Chiefs gave up at least 287 yards passing in every game. That included 395 yards to the Chargers’ Philip Rivers, 452 to the Broncos’ Peyton Manning, and 346 yards to the woe-be-gone Raiders.
Then there was their playoff meltdown in Indianapolis, when Andrew Luck threw for 363 yards and rallied the Colts from a 38-10 second-half hole for a dramatic 45-44 victory.
“This is a competitive unit,” Sutton said. “Those guys have got to drill down.”
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kurt Suzuki isn’t getting any younger and the Minnesota Twins appear no closer to contention than they were when he signed a one-year deal in the offseason.
That didn’t stop the veteran catcher from pushing to stick around a little while longer.
The Twins signed Suzuki to a two-year, $12 million contract extension on Thursday, ensuring that the soon-to-be 31-year-old will stay in Minnesota to continue the work he’s done with the team’s starting rotation.
“I’m happy we came to a compromise and got this done,” Suzuki said before the Twins played the Kansas City Royals. “In my heart this is where I wanted to be. I really wasn’t thinking about the open market. I was thinking about what we can do to get this done. This is my first priority, my first choice.”
Suzuki is having one of the best years of his career and made his first All-Star team, which would have made him a candidate to be traded by a team that is languishing at the bottom of the AL Central again. Good catchers who can handle a pitching staff and provide some offense are hard to find, so it’s conceivable that the Twins could have fetched some attractive young prospects from a team in the playoff race.
He is hitting .304 with two home runs and 41 RBIs and has filled in beautifully after Joe Mauer moved from catcher to first base, but the trade deadline came and went on Thursday without him going anywhere. The Twins locked him in with a contract that includes a $6 million vesting option in 2017 that triggers if Suzuki has 485 at-bats in 2016.
“We didn’t really entertain much in trade offers for Suzuki because we wanted to keep him and extend him,” Twins assistant GM Rob Antony said. “We’re happy we were able to do that.”
The news came as a bit of relief for manager Ron Gardenhire, who watched the team trade Kendrys Morales to the Seattle Mariners last week. The team also made a trade on Thursday, sending outfielder Sam Fuld to Oakland for left-hander Tommy Milone. But Gardenhire was able to keep a trusted veteran on a team that needs more of them.
“He’s a veteran, been there and done that,” Gardenhire said. “He’s a fiery guy. He has respect in the clubhouse. No doubt about it.”
(San Diego) (AP) – At least the St. Louis Cardinals didn’t get shut out.
Little else went right for the Cardinals on Wednesday night.
Rookie Jesse Hahn held St. Louis to one run and four hits in seven innings and Jedd Gyorko and Will Venable each homered and drove in four runs to lead the San Diego Padres to a 12-1 victory Wednesday night.
“It was probably our ugliest loss of the year,” manager Mike Matheny said. “That’s not the kind of baseball we’ve played all year. No excuses, we were terrible. You can take any of it today and it was awful.”
Yangervis Solarte, obtained from the New York Yankees in the trade for Chase Headley, had four hits and the Padres tied their season high with 16. Yasmani Grandal was the only regular without a hit, although all eight starters scored at least one run. The Padres fell one run shy of their season high.
Will Venable hit a 379-foot, three-run homer to right to cap the eight-run seventh. It was his fourth. The Padres had five hits, three walks and a hit batter off three relievers in the inning. Gyorko hit a three-run double, his third hit.
Hahn’s latest impressive start – on his 25th birthday – put the Padres, buried in third place in the NL West, in position to sweep the series with a win Thursday. The Cardinals are in the race for the NL Central crown a season after going to the World Series.
Hahn (7-2) struck out three and walked two in winning his third straight start. The lanky righty retired the first seven batters before Tony Cruz beat out an infield single. Hahn was acquired in a seven-player trade with Tampa Bay on Jan. 22.
Hahn took a shutout into the seventh before allowing a one-out RBI single by Peter Bourjos singled in Matt Adams.
Matheny said the offense “is going to be day to day. It’s not going to be easy. We knew it’s going to be like this for a while.”
Gyorko, who returned Monday from a 44-game stay on the disabled list with plantar fasciitis, homered to left on a 1-0 pitch from Joe Kelly with one out in the fourth to give San Diego a 3-0 lead. It was his sixth. Yonder Alonso followed with a triple and came in on Venable’s single.
Alexi Amarista had three hits and scored three runs, and Solarte also had three hits.
Amarista hustled for a double in the third when his blooper dropped In between second baseman Kolten Wong and right fielder Oscar Taveras. He scored on a wild pitch.
Kelly (2-2) went five innings, allowing four runs and seven hits while striking out five and walking one.
“Pitches were up that should have been down. They were above the knees,” Kelly said. “My fastball, I couldn’t locate it. My ball was running a lot. I just need to control it better next time.”
Padres: RHP Andrew Cashner threw another bullpen Wednesday and is scheduled to throw a simulated game during the weekend. He could begin a rehab assignment next week. He’s on the disabled list with soreness in his right shoulder.
Cardinals: Shelby Miller (7-8, 4.20) is 0-1 with a 5.19 ERA in one career start and two appearances against San Diego, both at Petco Park
Padres: Odrisamer Despaigne (2-2, 1.66) tries to bounce back from rocky start in 5-3 loss to Atlanta, when he lasted only 3 2-3 innings.
The Cardinals acquired RHP Justin Masterson from Cleveland for minor league OF James Ramsey. Masterson is scheduled to start Saturday against Milwaukee in St. Louis.