Beltran, Cuddyer possible Red Sox RF targets

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Beltran, Cuddyer possible Red Sox RF targets

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
PHOENIX -- An obvious need for the Red Sox at the trade deadline would be a right-handed-hitting outfielder to provide more production at the position.

J.D. Drew, nominally the regular right fielder, has given the Sox only 10 extra-base hits in the first half of the season with no evidence that his production will improve dramatically in the final 2 12 months of the season.

As such, the Sox could use an upgrade, preferably from the right side. Of the five outfielders on the roster, only Darnell McDonald is right-handed and he's had 10 hits all year.

Carlos Beltran and Michael Cuddyer -- both here as All-Star selections -- are free agents at the end of the season, currently playing for teams in danger of drifting out of contention, as such, potential targets for the Red Sox.

Beltran's Mets are 11 games behind first-place Philadelphia and 7 12 games behind wild-card leading Atlanta.

It's a given that Beltran won't return to the Mets, so it makes sense that he would be shopped by the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

His first hope is to remain with the Mets.

"I like where I am," said Beltran. "We're having fun and we just hope to continue to improve."

Beltran has a no-trade agreement which allows him to block potential deals.

"Having a no-trade clause gives me a little bit of control," he said. "Now, basically, I would choose. This is my 12th year in the big leagues, and at this point, all I want is to win and be able to be in the playoffs.

"You work hard in the off-season and spring training to be in situations like those. Hopefully, as a team, we can improve and when David Wright gets back and Johan Santana gets back and when Jose Reyes gets back, we're going to be better than we are right now."

But if the Mets decided to move him if they fall further back, the Red Sox would be a destination which would appeal to him.

"That's a no-brainer,'' Beltran told reporters. "They're in first place."

Beltran is being paid 18 million in the final year of his deal with the Mets, meaning a team trading for him would, in theory, be on the hook for 6 million over the final two months.

Even for a brief rental, that's a steep price tag.

Further complicating matters is that Beltran has another clause in his contract which prohibits him from being offered salary arbitration after the season.

That means that if the Red Sox dealt for him before the end of the month, they would not have the right to offer his arbitration at the end of the year and gain a first-round compensation pick in next June's draft.

Cuddyer's case is a little more straightforward, and the Twin comes with lesser salary obligations. Cuddyer is making 10.5 million this year, which means he would have about 3.5 million remaining for the final two months.

He does not have a no-trade clause.

The Twins sit in fourth place in the A.L. Central, 6 12 games behind, and are 12 12 games back in the wild-card race, meaning Cuddyer has begun to think about the chances of being traded by the end of the month.

"I think it's a real possibility," he said, "and I think it was even more of a possibility about a month ago when we weren't playing very well. Now, we're playing well and we've got ourselves in a position where we can go on a run and we can possibly get into the playoffs.

"But if these next two weeks don't go well, who knows what's going to happen?"

Cuddyer has the additional appeal of being able to play both first base and third base in addition to the outfield.

"Right now, I'm with the Twins and we're playing well," he said. "I don't think a trade is going to come in play, but if it were, whatever team makes a trade for you, you go out there and do the best you can for them.

"I want to win with the Twins. I have no other team in the back of my head that I want I want to play for until that day comes. If it does come, I go out there and fight for that team as well."

Cuddyer is familiar with the Red Sox, if only because the Sox and Twins share Fort Myers as a spring training home and meet a half dozen times each March.

"Spending time in Fort Myers for the last decade or so with those guys," he said, "you have relationships and see them here and there. As far as good friends, David Ortiz is probably the closest to me because he was with us for a few years.

"Obviously, you want to go to a team that's in it and has a chance to win, If that were to happen, Boston is a team that is obviously 100 percent a World Series contender."

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam.

Thursday's lineups: Red Sox vs. Braves

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Thursday's lineups: Red Sox vs. Braves

BOSTON -- The Red Sox and Braves play the finale of their home-and-home, four-game series tonight . . . to the Sox' dismay, no doubt.

Boston has won the first three games by a combined score of 21-8, extending its overall winning streak to four. The Sox have also won five of their last six, and six of their last eight, as they've closed to within a half-game of the first-place Orioles in the A.L. East. In addition, they now hold one of the two A.L. wild-card positions.

The lineups:

BRAVES:
Nick Markakis RF
Daniel Castro 3B
Adonis Garcia DH
Freddie Freeman 1B
A.J. Pierzynski C
Jeff Francoeur LF
Jace Peterson 2B
Erick Aybar SS
Mallex Smith CF
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Jhoulys Chacin P

RED SOX:
Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Travis Shaw 3B
Chris Young LF
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Christian Vazquez C
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Clay Buchholz P

Hanigan on handling the knuckler: ‘It’s always a battle’

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Hanigan on handling the knuckler: ‘It’s always a battle’

BOSTON - Major league catchers take a beating behind the plate. It goes with the territory.
      
There are foul tips off fingers, jarring blows to facemasks and, even in the aftermath of new rules regarding slides, vicious collisions with baserunners.
      
Those are all well-known parts of the job. Goes with the territory, catchers will shrug and say.
      
But what happened to Ryan Hanigan Wednesday night -- and last Friday night in Houston, for that matter -- was a different sort of test.
      
It was Hanigan's job to coral Steven Wright's knuckleball, dipping and darting in most unpredictable ways. Even the Atlanta Braves hitters seemingly had an easier time hitting the pitch than Hanigan did catching it.
      
Forget 99-mph fastballs; the toughest pitch for a catcher to handle is a knuckler that may not top 75 mph. 
      
From the second through the fourth inning, Hanigan battled and boxed balls, almost blocking and tackling them -- when he wasn't chasing them to the backstop, that is.
      
"It was really dancing tonight,'' said Hanigan after the Red Sox' 9-4 win over Atlanta. "I think the wind played a factor. It was going all over the place.''
      
And, so, at times, was Hanigan, scrambling to keep the ball in  front of him, and, occasionally, going to retrieve it.
      
In the fourth inning, Erick Aybar reached on a strikeout passed ball, took second base, and eventually third on two more passed balls. He was
one more floating, errant knuckler away from circling the bases despite never making contact with a pitch, or being advanced by a teammate making contact.
      
All Hanigan could do was hold on -- make that TRY to hold on -- for dear life.
      
"I was talking to the [home plate] umpire back there,'' chuckled Hanigan. "It was going up, down, left, right...It's always a battle. It's 
tough - every time I catch it, it's a small victory. Some days, it's more consistent in the way it moves. Some days, it's darting left and right and all over. It was one of those nights. I struggled a little bit with some of them back there.
      
"You're not going to catch all of them. That's just how it is. You have to try to stay positive, try working with him back there, keep him in his rhythm and [have him] throw as many strikes as he can.''
      
Problem is, even the strikes can be difficult to catch. At the last possible instant, the knuckleball can evade Hanigan's mitt, like a butterfly eluding capture. 
      
Wright can't help but have some sympathy for his batterymate.
      
"There's times where it can get frustrating [for him],’’ said Wright. "He does a great job. I can't give enough credit to him and what he's done.''
      
The paradox, of course, is that Wright wants the ball to move as much as possible to confound the hitters. Hanigan does too, but he has to deal with the consequences.
      
"The ones that stay high,'' he explained, "you expect a little drop. But they just don't. They tip off the top [of the catcher's mitt]. Those are tough. He had them really darting tonight. It just takes a  left turn on me. Those are tough. But that's what you want. So I just try to knock 'em down.
      
"You just can't really anticipate which way it's going to go. One will go right, one will go left, one will be flat, one will kind of  take off. And I think the wind [is a factor]. It helps [Wright].’’
      
While at the same time, hurting Hanigan.
      
Wright lasted seven innings, allowing just one unearned run.  Hanigan then went back to conventional pitchers Tommy Layne and Matt Barnes.
      
"Man, when I put the other glove on...it's all gravy after that,'' he said. "There's predictability as to which way the ball is going to move, at least to some extent. With the knuckleball, it does what it wants.''
      
And it's Hanigan's thankless task to catch it. Or chase after it.
      

Tom Glavine: Atlanta sports fans apathy was frustrating at times

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Tom Glavine: Atlanta sports fans apathy was frustrating at times

Former Atlanta Braves pitcher and baseball Hall of Famer Tom Glavine talks with Toucher & Rich about the apathy of the Atlanta fan base, where playoff games in the early rounds would frequently not sellout.