Buyers or sellers? Sox still aren't sure

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Buyers or sellers? Sox still aren't sure

BOSTON -- Last week, general manager Ben Cherington vowed to re-assess the Red Sox' standing after their road trip before determining how aggressive the organization would be in its approach to the non-waiver trade deadline.

But like everything else associated with the 2012 Red Sox, there are no simple answers.

The team's 3-3 swing through Texas and New York, which concluded with two final-at-bat wins at Yankee Stadium, may have given the Sox hope the season can be salvaged.

Indeed, internally, the Sox believe the team can still rally and play over .600 ball for the final two months and vault into a playoff spot.

That sentiment is shared by others. Last week, New York Post baseball columnist Joel Sherman cited three American League East executives who believe the Red Sox have the best chance of any team in the division to catch the New York Yankees.

But potential and ability are one thing, and execution is another. And 102 games into the season, the Red Sox sit at .500, with a half-dozen teams in front of them in the wild-card race.

If Josh Becket and Jon Lester can each pitch as well as they did in their most recent starts -- and to be sure, neither was great, but each was good enough to give the Red Sox a chance to win -- then maybe the Sox can catch fire in the final two months and make good on that unrealized promise.

According to some who have talked to Red Sox executives, one thing is clear after the weekend in New York: The team is not in full-sell mode.

For instance, if they could trade Josh Beckett for a return of players that set them up for 2013 and beyond, they'd be willing to do so. But they're not willing to take much of Beckett's money to facilitate such a deal.

If Beckett is dealt, it will be because the Sox can improve, and not to unload Beckett at any cost.

The team's attitude toward a number of role players, however, has crystalized somewhat. While a week ago, the Sox seemed reluctant to move players such as catcher Kelly Shoppach, outfielders Ryan Sweeney and Daniel Nava and starter Aaron Cook, there is now a belief the Sox would trade any or all of the role players if the return is enticing enough.

There's no evidence to suggest the Sox have lowered their asking price on these players, though. In fact, a National League source indicated that the New York Mets, who have long had an interest in Shoppach, have decided the Sox are asking too much and are focusing their search elsewhere.

Cook had teams interested back on May 1, when his opt-out clause forced the Sox to add him to their 25-man roster, and his recent run of starts had only amped up interest. But his most recent outing, in which he was pounded for six runs on seven hits over four innings against the Yankees in New York last Friday, may have leveled interest somewhat.

Sweeney and Nava have some value, too, are bench players, though the one Red Sox outfielder attracting the most interest is Cody Ross. Ross can't be classified as an untouchable, but given his modest salary (3 million), right-handed power (.523 slugging percentage) and strong makeup make a deal almost out of the question.

Moreland homers again, Red Sox tag A's to avoid four-game sweep

Moreland homers again, Red Sox tag A's to avoid four-game sweep

OAKLAND, Calif. - A five-run ninth inning for the Red Sox that lasted more than a half-hour derailed any chance Eduardo Rodriguez had of getting his first career complete game.

Not that the left-hander was complaining.

After a bitter loss to Oakland a year ago when he allowed just one hit over eight innings, Rodriguez was more than happy with the way things turned out.

Rodriguez earned his second straight win, Mitch Moreland homered in his third consecutive game and Boston beat the Oakland Athletics 12-3 on Sunday to avoid a four-game sweep.

"I wanted to go back out there but they hit the ball pretty good in that inning and I know I had to get out of the game," Rodriguez said about the long wait. "I'll take it because we score more runs, I have a chance to win. If every inning's like that, I'll get out of the game after five."

Rodriguez (3-1) allowed three runs over eight innings. He struck out eight, walked one and retired 14 of his final 15 batters.

"Where he was with the pitch count, it'd be nice for him to go out there for the ninth inning given where he was and how well he was throwing the baseball," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "But at that point you're up nine, probably about a 35-minute inning, didn't want to take any chances."

Hanley Ramirez and Christian Vazquez had three hits apiece to power a Red Sox lineup that tallied 15 hits. Every player in Boston's starting lineup had at least one hit, and eight of the nine drove in runs.

Chad Pinder homered and drove in two runs for Oakland.

Boston, which hasn't been swept in a four-game series since July 2015, trailed 3-2 before scoring 10 runs over the final five innings.

"It felt we had them on the run a little bit," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "They get the lead and then we come back and take the lead again and you feel pretty good. But they were pretty persistent today."

Pinder went deep in the fourth, his fourth home run in eight games and fifth overall.

The A's committed three errors, giving them a major league-leading 42.

BRADLEY'S DEFENSIVE GEMS

Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts gave the A's trouble with his running and defense. Betts scored twice from first base and also made a pair of strong defensive plays. He made a sliding catch on Mark Canha's sinking liner in the eighth and then slammed into the wall after catching Khris' Davis fly to end the inning.

"This place during the daytime plays very difficult," Farrell said. "What Mookie was able to do a couple times in right field, those aren't easy plays. To be able to stay with it, go up against the wall a couple of times, we played very good outfield defense here today."

TRAINER'S ROOM

Red Sox: Brock Holt continues to deal with lingering symptoms from vertigo and isn't yet ready to come off the disabled list, according to Farrell. Likewise, Boston plans to keep third baseman Pablo Sandoval in the minors to get consistent at-bats while recovering from a right knee sprain. ... Farrell said LHP Drew Pomeranz, who took the loss Saturday, will start against Texas on Thursday.

Athletics: Yonder Alonso (sore left knee) sat out his fourth straight game but could be back in the lineup Tuesday when Oakland begins a two-game series against Miami. ... Sean Doolittle (strained left shoulder) threw on flat ground before making 15 pitches off the mound. The plan is for the former closer to throw 25 pitches on Wednesday. ... Melvin said the team has applied for an extension on Chris Bassitt's rehab assignment. Bassitt underwent Tommy John surgery in 2015.

UP NEXT

Red Sox: Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello (2-5) faces Texas on Tuesday in the opener of a three-game series at Fenway Park. Porcello has lost three of his last four decisions.

Athletics: Following an off day, RHP Jesse Hahn (1-3) starts against Miami on Tuesday at the Coliseum. Hahn leads the majors in fewest home runs allowed per nine innings at 0.19.