McAdam: Relief-seeking Sox may need to go back to trade market

McAdam: Relief-seeking Sox may need to go back to trade market

BOSTON -- Now that the Red Sox have addressed their starting rotation needs -- with the acquisition of Drew Pomeranz and a much-improved performance from Eduardo Rodriguez -- another leak has sprung.

In the last two weeks, the Red Sox have placed three key bullpen arms on the disabled list. Junichi Tazawa, who had a shoulder injury, has been sidelined since July 3, though he's expected to be activated Friday. Craig Kimbrel, who underwent knee surgery, will be sidelined until well until August. And today they placed Koji Uehara on the DL because of a right pectoral strain that forced him out of Tuesday night's game after seven pitches.

It's unknown how serious the setback is, but it's safe to say Uehara will be unavailable for at least a little while.

Here it is, late July, and the Red Sox are, for the time being, without their three best relievers.

That means there's a good chance that Dave Dombrowski may have to re-assess his position from the night he landed Pomeranz, when he said the Red Sox were likely done with any significant trades with the deadline still 12 days away.

The earlier deal that netted them Brad Ziegler from Arizona looms even more significant now. Not only as Ziegler been highly effective in his set-up role to date with three scoreless appearances, but he may be asked to take on a bigger role with the absences of Kimbrel, Tazawa and Uehara.

For the time being, expect Ziegler to handle the closing duties, with Matt Barnes and Heath Hembree as the primary high-leverage options in the seventh and eighth innings.

Should Uehara require a stint on the DL, the Sox could replace him by speeding up Joe Kelly's return to the big-league roster. Kelly has been impressive as he transitions to the bullpen in Pawtucket, though he has little experience pitching in relief in the big leagues.

There's also the matter of roster spots. When the Sox activate Tazawa later this week, they'll face a tough call in creating space. Their choices would seem to come down to cutting ties with Clay Buchholz -- either dealing him, designating him for assignment or releasing him altogether -- or optioning Hembree to the minors.

Before Uehara got hurt Tuesday night, the Hembree option made the most sense, if for no other reason that it allowed the Sox to continue to control all the pitchers in question. Hembree has pitched well and deserves to stay, but as one of just two pitchers in the bullpen with remaining options -- Barnes is the other -- he might be a victim of the numbers game.

More interesting is what the Red Sox intend to do with Buchholz.

While he's done little to inspie confidence at any point this season with a 5.91 ERA and a WHIP of 1.488, Buchholz is, for now, the only depth starting option in the entire organization. Would the Sox let him go without having any suitable insurance in the event something happens to one of their five starters?

The situation will be clarified later Wednesday, when more is learned about the severity of Uehara's condition. But either way, the Sox face some tough calls and, perhaps, a commitment to sacrifice additional prospects in a deal for more bullpen help before the deadline.

Orioles closer Zach Britton takes shot at Dustin Pedroia's leadership

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Orioles closer Zach Britton takes shot at Dustin Pedroia's leadership

Understandably, Zach Britton just wants to be a part of the action.

On a contentious day where the Orioles and Red Sox both sounded like reasonable people once a 6-2 Sox win was over, one player had to spout off for no reason.

Britton, the dominant Orioles closer, on Sunday suggested to BaltimoreBaseball.com that Dustin Pedroia doesn’t have a grasp of the Red Sox clubhouse, because Pedroia didn’t stop a teammate from attempting to retaliate on Pedroia’s behalf.

“Dustin, him telling Manny (Machado), ‘Hey, that (pitch) didn’t come from me’ may be even more frustrating,” Britton told reporter Dan Connolly. “Because he’s the leader of that clubhouse and if he can’t control his own teammates, then there’s a bigger issue over there.”

Machado dodged a high pitch from Matt Barnes on Sunday, two days after Machado spiked Pedroia with a slide. 

From the dugout Sunday — he couldn't play because the slide injured him — Pedroia yelled over to Machado to make clear he didn’t ask for retaliation. (LINK:http://www.csnne.com/boston-red-sox/evan-drellich-boston-red-sox-baltimore-orioles-should-leave-manny-machado-dustin-pedroia-feud-past)

Pedroia on Sunday said he loved Machado and apologized to the Orioles. Barnes apologized as well.

Britton elaborated on his view of leadership that Pedroia did not exhibit.

“As a player that doesn’t have the most service time in this room, when a guy like Adam Jones tells me to do something or not to do something, I’m going to do (what he says). Same with Chris Davis or Darren O’Day, the guy in my bullpen,” Britton said. “If they tell me, ‘Don’t do this or that,’ I’m going to listen to them because they’ve been around the game and they’ve seen things I haven’t seen. And you respect their leadership.”

One potential positive for both sides: Britton indicated the Orioles may see this as a dead issue going forward, if the Sox don’t instigate something further. Although, it’s hard to fathom why the Sox would.

“That’s up to them. Well see what they do in Boston,” Britton told BaltimoreBaseball.com. “I think we’ve talked about it already, as a team, and we’ll see how they choose to act — whether or not they choose to act professionally or unprofessionally when we get to Boston.”

Drellich: Red Sox, Orioles should leave Machado-Pedroia feud in past

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Drellich: Red Sox, Orioles should leave Machado-Pedroia feud in past

Dustin Pedroia, still injured, apologized for something he didn’t do. 

Matt Barnes, trying to protect his injured teammate in barbaric baseball tradition, apologized for something he did do.

Pedroia then went as far as to say he loved — loved! — Manny Machado, who has maintained innocence in this dust-up all along, even on Sunday.

This episode of Red Sox-Orioles anger should die here, after any presumed discipline the league finds suitable for Barnes is delivered.

There’s a four-game set starting May 1 between these two at Fenway Park, and the reset button should be hit before then.

In a clear attempt at retribution for Machado spiking Pedroia two games earlier, Barnes threw at Machado in the eighth inning of a 6-2 Sox win Sunday at Camden Yards.

The pitch actually wound up a foul ball, but was way too close to Machado’s head — and no one pretended otherwise.

“That’s bull (crap),” Pedroia was caught on camera yelling from the dugout at Machado after the pitch.

Pedroia was telling Machado they actually shared the same view: that what Pedroia’s teammate Barnes did was wrong.

That the outcome was wrong, specifically.

“He’s not trying to hit Manny in the head,” Pedroia told reporters after the game. “It’s just a bad situation man.

“I'm sorry to him and his team. If you're going to protect guys, you do it right away. … There was zero intention of (Machado) trying to hurt me. He just made a bad slide. He did hurt me. It's baseball, man. I'm not mad at him. I love Manny Machado. I love playing against him. I love watching him. If I slid into third base and got Manny's knee, I know I'm going to get drilled. That's baseball. I get drilled, and I go to first base. That's it."

Barnes denied he was trying to hit Machado, but everyone knows otherwise. The Sox tried to even the score with Machado and the O’s on Sunday and failed dangerously.

Considering how the Sox responded immediately; considering how Barnes and Pedroia both apologized, Pedroia profusely; considering Pedroia is the one who’s hurt, and Machado was — thankfully — not hit with the terribly placed pitch; this should be the end of it.

“It’s a short term memory that we need to have and that’s what we’re going to do here,” Machado told reporters Sunday.

Let’s see if that holds true on both sides.

Barnes’ pitch hit Machado, but only on a ricochet. It caught the bat extended over Machado’s right shoulder instead, strangely creating a foul ball that bounced off the bat and into Machado’s back. 

Machado proceeded to double off the the next pitcher, Joe Kelly, who entered because Barnes was ejected.

Pedroia’s going for tests on his knee and ankle on Monday, three days after Machado spiked him. He still hasn’t played since that slide.

A pitch to the head is much more threatening than a spike to the leg. It’s also harder to fathom a pitch to the head being made with any form of intent.

Machado never apologized publicly, although he has tried to make clear that what he did was unintentional. 

He and Pedroia communicated by text Friday and Sunday.

“I wasn't expecting anything, no,” Machado told reporters Sunday of retaliation. “I thought I did a good slide. Everyone saw the replay, they know on that slide, that's on them whatever happened today. I'm going to keep doing me, keep playing baseball.

“I'm going to respect Pedey to the end of this day. I look up to a guy like that.”

Machado maintaining he made a good slide is a little out of tune while the Sox sat there and apologized. Intentional or not, Machado made a bad slide, his foot high in the air.

Note, too, that Pedroia said he’d expect to get drilled if he spiked Machado — while Machado said he expected nothing. 

Tit for tat clearly remains standard operating procedure, without regard for player safety.

O’s manager Buck Showalter praised the “courage” his team had not to escalate everything, although a more appropriate word would have been discipline. Showalter’s right: a pitch in the area of head is not the kind of thing that’s easy to ignore.

But Machado, who once threw a bat at Fernando Abad, knows what his reputation is in this game.

“They think I’m the villain. It’s always me,” Machado told reporters Sunday. “Manny always does something wrong.”

On Sunday, he did it right. He stayed calm when the Red Sox wronged him. That’s commendable. 

Maybe everyone can do it right going forward.