Red Sox now escalating their search for pitching

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Red Sox now escalating their search for pitching

For weeks, as teams waited to see where Yu Darvish would land, the pitching trade market in baseball was at a standstill.

Now that the Texas Rangers have won the exclusive rights to negotiate with Darvish, the logjam that existed should break -- both for the remaining free agents and teams looking to move pitching.

The Red Sox, as active as any team in the game when it comes to searching for pitching, should find some clarity soon.

On the starting pitching front, the team continues to remain in contact with the Oakland A's (Gio Gonzalez), Chicago White Sox (Gavin Floyd, John Danks) and Houston Astros (Wandy Rodriguez).

Among free agents, the Sox are involved with both Roy Oswalt and Joe Saunders.

Oswalt, who had been seeking a multi-year commitment, is now said to be resigned to landing a one-year deal. That makes him more affordable for the Red Sox, who don't have much room in their budget for a big commitment, but would be willing to take a chance on Oswalt on a short-term deal.

Another possibility for the Sox is Joe Saunders, who was non-tendered by the Arizona Diamondbacks last week. Saunders would give the Boston a rotation a second lefty to go with Jon Lester.

The Sox have three starters set -- Lester, Josh Beckett and Clay Buchholz -- and could potentially have another to round out the rotation if they continue with their plan to use both Daniel Bard and Alfredo Aceves in the rotation.

But they could use depth, too, and for now, that's limited to unprovens such as Felix Doubront.

In addition to filling holes in the rotation, the Sox remain in the market for a closer.

Mark Melancon, obtained last week in a deal from Houston, is unlikely to fill the closer's role, though he could take over Bard's set-up duties.

Ryan Madson and Francisco Cordero are the two best options on the free agent market.

For now, Madson is priced out of Boston as agent Scott Boras is seeking an eight-figure salary. Madson was on the verge of signing a four-year, 44 million deal to remain with the Philadelphia Phillies in November before the Phils abruptly changed plans and instead signed
former Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon.

The one path for Madson coming to Boston would be a willingness to take a one-year (plus an option) deal, as Adrian Beltre, another Boras client, did two years ago.

Cordero is the only other free agent with extensive closing experience and may constitute an affordable compromise choice. He's averaged almost 39 saves over the last five seasons.

Cordero limited opposing righthanders to a minuscule .465 OPS last year but lefthanded hitters compiled a .736 OPS, creating some questions within in the Red Sox front office about his reliability.

Said one baseball executive: "There are no perfect solutions at this point."

Finally, there is Andrew Bailey, who is also being shopped by the A's. The A's have requested outfielder Josh Reddick as one part of a package of prospects.

Sources say the two teams have also explored a mega-deal that would send both Bailey and Gonzalez to the Red Sox. But such a trade, coming 12 months after the team packaged three top prospects to San Diego in exchange for Adrian Gonzalez, would effectively clean out the Red Sox inventory.

McAdam: More than memories fade from the ’86 Sox near miss

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McAdam: More than memories fade from the ’86 Sox near miss

The Red Sox honored the 1986 American League champions before Wednesday's game, but it wasn't the same.
      
Some 30 years on, the players, understandably, were older and heavier.

Hairlines were receded, or gone altogether, and waistlines expanded. It happens to the best of us.
      
But that wasn't what made the occasion melancholy. And it went beyond the usual nostalgia, that recognition that time eventually catches up to us all, or even the knowledge that some of that team's stars had already passed away (Dave Henderson) while others weren't well enough to appear.
      
No, it was something more. It was the realization that, through no fault of its own, the 1986 American League Championship team will mean less and
less as time passes.
      
The same can be said of the 1967 Impossible Dream Red Sox and the 1975 A.L. champs, too.
      
For the longest time, those teams -- each of which won a pennant and got as far as Game 7 of the World Series before coming up short of the ultimate
goal -- were all Red Sox fans had. The near misses. The Almosts.
      
Those teams were lionized, romanticized and celebrated because they came the closest in the modern era to snapping the franchise's championship
drought. A break here, a bounce there, and maybe the string of futility wouldn't have reached 86 long years.
      
For decades, Red Sox fans had to relive how tantalizingly close those three teams got.
      
If only Lonborg had more rest for Game 7 in 1967. 
      
What might have happened if Rice didn't break his hand in September of 1975? 
     
No team got closer than the one in 1986, when the Red Sox were, more than once, one strike away. The champagne was on ice. The clubhouse was
set up for a celebration. Even the Mets, prematurely, saluted the Red Sox as 1986 champions on the scoreboard at Shea Stadium.
      
Then, it all unraveled, from the wild pitch/passed ball, to the  "little roller up along first.....behind the bag!'' That was only Game 6 of course, but the dye was cast that night. Game 7 would end in defeat, too.
      
For decades, that was all the Red Sox and their fans had. And so they toasted their heroes, who fell just short of their goal, relived the misery and staged the occasional baseball equivalent of an Irish wake.
      
What else was there to do? In need of champions, Red Sox Nation settled on the next best thing. Those guys played their hearts out, cried some in the dugout, then held their heads high.
      
Oh, well.
      
Then came 2004. And after that, 2007. And for good measure, 2013.
      
Suddenly, this World Series thing wasn't so complicated after all.

Three titles were notched in the span of a decade.
      
Now, there are happy endings to celebrate. There are Octobers to remember without the cruel plot twists at the end.
      
No more close calls, what ifs or could-have-beens. There were three honest-to-goodness World Series championships to celebrate. Even with three
last place finishes int the last four seasons, present-day Red Sox fans can lay claim to having experienced the greatest era of the team's long history.
      
And that, of course, has served to marginalize teams like the 1986 Red Sox.
      
Teams like that one, like the one lauded on the field at Fenway Wednesday night, are now quaint remembrances of another era in team history. It's like looking at old picture of yourself, decked out in a leisure suit with platform shoes: it seemed like a good idea at the time.
      
So, you smile and remember, ruefully, Marty Barrett and Oil Can Boyd and Rich Gedman. You thank them for their effort, and the memories they gave, even if some of them are still painful.
      
But you don't hold them in the same regard as Dave Roberts or Kevin Millar or Keith Foulke. You remember Clemens, but not in the way you revere Curt Schilling.
      
You still have fond feelings for '67 and '75, and most assuredly, '86, and sometimes, when you think of how they all ended their seasons, how impossibly close they came, you can't help but smile.
      
Now, you have other editions -- three! -- that figured out how to finish it off. You don't have to apologize for throwing them celebrations and you don't have to explain to out-of-towners why it is you're paying tribute to a team that lost when it counted most.
      
And every year, whether you acknowledge it or not, those teams -- none more than the one from 1986 that was feted Wednesday -- mean a little less, fade a little more into the recesses of time and shrink into history.

Quotes, notes and stars: Swihart flashes power and speed

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Quotes, notes and stars: Swihart flashes power and speed

BOSTON - Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 10-3 win over the Colorado Rockies:

 

QUOTES

"I felt a little cramp. I'm fine. I appreciate John and everybody looking out (for me). We obviously don't want anything to happen like last year, but I'm good.'' - Dustin Pedroia, who left the game in the fifth after experiencing some tightness in his right hamstring.

"It's nice to be able to get deep into the game. That's my goal every time. My goal is nine innings, so if I don't get nine innings, I'm a little disappointed because I want to be able to go out there and pitch as many innings as I can.'' - Steven Wright.

"I think my release point was just a little off. That definitely makes it hard, especially when it's moving, because it's not a consistent release point.'' - Wright on the early-inning unpredictability of his signature pitch.

"Even when I was catching, I pride myself on running. I want to be an athlete back there. I want to run the bases, steal bases, things most catchers aren't known to do.'' - Blake Swihart, who hit two triples.

 

NOTES

* Jackie Bradley Jr. extended his hitting streak to 29 games.

* Xander Bogaerts extended his hitting streak to 18 games.

* David Ortiz tied Paul Molitor for 12th on the all-time doubles list with 605.

* Ortiz has driven in multiple runs in three straight games

* Dustin Pedroia has a career batting average of .340 in interleague play, the highest ever for someone with 500 or more at-bats.

* Travis Shaw drove in three runs and now has 68 RBI in his first 111 games since Fred Lynn and Jim Rice in 1974-75.

* Blake Swihart became the third Red Sox hitter this season to post two triples in the same game.

* The Red Sox clinched their fifth straight home series win.

* The Sox are 21-8 since April 24 and are 13-2 in their last 15 home games.

 

STARS

1) Steven Wright

Backed by some rare run support, Wright evened his record at 4-4 with seven-plus innings and his eighth quality start this season.

2) Travis Shaw

Shaw produced two hits and knocked in three runs, making him the fourth Red Sox player this season to reach 30 RBI.

3) Blake Swihart

Swihart got to flash both his power and his speed by hitting two triples to the triangle, motoring around the bases.