All Red Sox can do now is play spoiler

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All Red Sox can do now is play spoiler

BOSTON Last year the Red Sox had their season ended on the last day in gut-wrenching fashion by the Orioles. The last place Orioles. The doormat Orioles. The cellar-dwelling Orioles.

You remember them, right? Those were the same Orioles who won five of their final seven games in the last 10 days of the season against the Red Sox. Those same Orioles had not been to the postseason since 1997. The devilish joy of playing spoiler in September was made for those kinds of teams.

Those Orioles are now not only contending for the playoffs but contending for first place in the American League East.

While the Red Sox will miss the postseason for the third straight year, they were at least in contention in those Septembers. This season, out of contention and struggling to stay competitive, they find themselves in the unfamiliar and unenviable position of hoping to at least play spoiler, having some say in the play-off race, ending the season with some measure of respectability.

The Sox final 21 games are against their American League East rivals. Beginning Tuesday, all but three of those games (this weekend in Toronto) are against play-off hopefuls, with six each against the Yankees, Rays, and Os. The Sox host the Yankees for three games beginning Tuesday.

Obviously, its going to be a different feel than what people are used to around here, said Cody Ross. But well play spoiler. Thats all we can do now, is try to go out and ruin peoples seasons because ours is pretty much. So, thats what well do. I think now that were getting into playing against the Yankees and the Orioles and teams that are contending in our division, who basically knocked the Red Sox out last year, therell be some exciting games hopefully.

While the Sox are playing out the proverbial string, trying to see what young players such as Ryan Lavarnway, Jose Iglesias, and Ryan Kalish might be able to offer as they plan for 2013, there is also the hope that playing contending division rivals can raise their own level of play.

Oh, absolutely, Ross said. Atmosphere is totally different because you can see on the other side that teams are pressing and every pitch matters, every play matters, every match-up mattes. Sometimes youre playing against teams that arent necessarily in it. Youll see guys, righties facing left-handed pitchers and lefties face right-handed pitchers late in the game. Whereas, I doubt youll see a lot of that when you the Yankees come into town. But yeah, therell be a little more atmosphere, I would assume.

It should, said Clay Buchholz, who took the loss Sunday. Its been a long time since this teams been in this position. So weve got to try to grind through it right now and put some good at-bats together like the guys did today. Its not always going to happen like you want. More times than not, when you do the little things, the things you can control, I think well be able to succeed.

Despite Sundays loss, the Sox level of play was marginally better than it has been a starting pitcher going deep into a game, keeping the opponent off the scoreboard until the offense can score first in a game there is still much, much work to be done.

Whether the Sox can impact the play-off race remains to be seen. But they hope their current role the last place, doormat, cellar-dwelling Sox has at least taught them something.

Its the first time since Ive been here where thats been the case, said Buchholz. Hopefully, this feeling that everyone has in this clubhouse will make you not want to have this feeling again and were headed in the right direction.

Report: Aroldis Chapman, Yankees reach deal for $86M, 5 years

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Report: Aroldis Chapman, Yankees reach deal for $86M, 5 years

OXON HILL, Md. - Aroldis Chapman found a spot in a most familiar bullpen - a very rich spot, too.

The hard-throwing closer reached agreement to return to the New York Yankees on Wednesday night with the highest-priced contract ever for a relief pitcher, an $86 million deal for five years.

A person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press that the contract was pending a physical. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal was not yet complete.

Once it's done, the 28-year-old lefty whose fastballs routinely top 100 mph would shatter the previous richest contract for a reliever - that was the $62 million, four-year deal Mark Melancon signed with San Francisco just a couple days ago during the winter meetings.

Chapman was acquired by New York from the Cincinnati Reds last offseason, then missed the first 29 games of the season due to a domestic violence suspension from Major League Baseball. The Cuban was traded to the Chicago Cubs in late July and helped them win the World Series, becoming a free agent when it was over.

Chapman went 4-1 with 36 saves and a 1.55 ERA in a combined 59 games for the Yankees and Cubs. He struggled some in the postseason as the Cubs beat Cleveland for their first championship since 1908.

With the Yankees this season, Chapman teamed with Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances in one of the most dominant bullpens in baseball history. Miller was later traded to Cleveland, but Betances is still with New York.

Earlier this week, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said the team was interested in both Chapman and fellow free agent closer Kenley Jansen. The Yankees had already made one deal at these meetings, signing slugger Matt Holliday, before paying a lot more to bring Chapman back to the Bronx.

Fox Sports first reported the agreement.

CSN CHICAGO: Yoan Moncada 'thrilled' to reunite with Jose Abreu on White Sox

CSN CHICAGO: Yoan Moncada 'thrilled' to reunite with Jose Abreu on White Sox

Yoan Moncada and Jose Abreu are back together.

The two Cuban natives were teammates in 2012 when they played for Cienfuegos in Cuba, and now they'll be in the same dugout once again — this time in Chicago.

"To get the opportunity to play with him right now in the United States, it's an honor for me," Moncada said through a translator on a conference call Wednesday. "I'm thrilled with that."

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