Harden's medical history thwarts Red Sox deal

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Harden's medical history thwarts Red Sox deal

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
CHICAGO -- As quickly as it had been solved, the Red Sox' search for starting pitching depth was re-started early Sunday morning when the Red Sox pulled out of a trade that would have sent minor league first baseman Lars Anderson and a player to be named later to the Oakland A's for pitcher Rich Harden.

The Sox had been hopeful that Harden, known for his litany of arm injuries, could hold up long enough to give the Red Sox a few months of mostly quality starts.

Instead, Harden never got that far. Sources said the team canceled the deal when issues arose from Harden's medical records.

Harden has had multiple shoulder surgeries -- including major procedures performed in 2005 and again in 2009 -- which undoubtedly have left his pitching arm in less than pristine shape.

Harden's acquisition, brief as it was, capped a long day in which the team seemed to be losing options as it developed.

The poor performance of lefty Erik Bedard on Friday night in Seattle, in front of Red Sox scouts, soured the team on Bedard, but failed to lower the asking price for the veteran lefty.

Soon after, they learned that Los Angeles Dodgers' righty Hiroki Kuroda would not waive his no-trade clause. The Sox had been one of three teams -- including the Yankees -- who had expressed an interest in the 36-year-old pitcher.

Finally, Colorado's decision to send Ubaldo Jimenez to the Cleveland Indians for four players -- including two very highly-ranked prospects -- left the Sox in danger of striking out altogether for a starter.

The team has concerns about Clay Buchholz, who hasn't pitched since June 16 after experiencing lower back spasms for several weeks.

A seemingly positive mound session last Monday, his first in a month, yielded more concern mid-week, when the club mysteriously scrapped a follow-up mound session scheduled for Wednesday.

The Sox' decision to send Buchholz all the way to California for a consultation with noted back specialist Dr. Robert Watkins Monday also hints at a more serious condition.

The team's depth starters, led by Tim Wakefield and Andrew Miller, have performed well to date, but have shown signs of inconsistency lately. They've combined for just three wins since July 7.

Boston had planned to use Sunday to see if it could land some additional bullpen help with a focus on a reliever who could combat lefty hitters in the playoffs.

Now, instead, it will scramble in the final hours to find a starter to replace the one they thought they had landed Saturday evening.

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

Quotes, notes and stars: Betts has first career five-hit night

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Quotes, notes and stars: Betts has first career five-hit night

BOSTON - Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 6-3 loss to the Kansas City Royals

QUOTES:

"We continually do a great job in creating opportunities and I'm confident that (the struggles with men in scoring position) will turn.'' - John Farrell

"When you start off with a five-run spot in the first, that's a tough deficit to overcome.'' - Steven Wright.

"That's how it goes sometimes. Sometimes, we score when we're not expecting to and then when we need to score, sometimes it doesn't happen.'' - Mookie Betts on the team going 4-for-15 with RISP.

 

NOTES:

* The loss was just the third in the last 13 series openers for the Red Sox.

* The game marked the first time in 20 home games in which the Sox never led.

* Boston was 4-for-15 with runners in scoring position.

* The first four hitters in the order were 13-for-19 (.684). The fifth-through-nine hitters, however, were just 2-for-21 (.095).

* Mookie Betts (five hits) leads the majors with 55 multi-hit games.

* Dustin Pedroia has reached base in each of his last eight plate appearances.

* David Ortiz's double was the 625th of his career, passing Hank Aaron to move into 10 place in MLB history.

* Ortiz leads the A.L. in doubles (41) and extra-base hits (72).

 

STARS:

1) Eric Hosmer

Hosmer cranked a three-run homer into the Monster Seats four batters into the game, and the Royals were off and running with a five-run inning.

2) Ian Kennedy

The Royals starter wasn't dominant, allowing nine hits in 5 1/3 innings, but he bailed himself out of a number of jams and limited the Sox to just two runs.

3) Mookie Betts

Betts had his first career five-hit night and knocked in two of the three Red Sox runs, though he also got himself picked off first base.

 

First impressions: Royals' five-run first inning dooms Red Sox in 6-3 loss

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First impressions: Royals' five-run first inning dooms Red Sox in 6-3 loss

First impressions from the Red Sox' 6-3 loss to the Kansas City Royals:

 

Steven Wright recovered nicely after the first inning, but the damage was done.

Wright's last five innings featured just three hits allowed -- one in the infield. But the first inning did the Red Sox in -- two walks followed by a three-run homer, then a single and a two-run homer.

Whether this was a matter of rust for Wright -- who last pitched three weeks ago Friday night -- or an early inability to command his knuckleball is uncertain.

The fact is, Wright dug an early hole for his teammates, and he had the misfortune to do so against a team with the best bullpen in baseball.

To his credit, Wright kept the game somewhat within reach thereafter, but the five-run head start proved too much of a jump.

 

It's time to worry a little about Jackie Bradley.

Bradley was just 7-for-40 in the just-completed road trip, and things didn't get any better on the first night of the homestand.

In the first, he came up with two on and two out and struck out swinging to strand both baserunners. In the third, he came to the plate with runners on the corners and, again, struck out swinging.

We're seeing the same kind of slump that Bradley fell into in previous seasons, where even contact is hard to find, with nine strikeouts in the last 16 at-bats.

Problem is, with Andrew Benitendi on the DL, there aren't a lot of options for John Farrell with the Red Sox outfield.

 

Trying to get Fernando Abad and Junichi Tazawa back on track in low- leverage mop-up didn't work.

Tazawa had a perfect seventh, but gave up a monster shot into the center field bleachers to Lorenzo Cain to start the eighth.

Abad entered, and while he did record a couple of strikeouts, also gave up a single, a walk and threw a wild pitches before he could complete the inning.

Getting some work for the two was the right idea, given that the Sox were down by three runs at the time. A good outing might help either regain some confidence and turn the corner.

But not even that could be accomplished Friday night.