Notes: Sox again cross paths with Wily Mo

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Notes: Sox again cross paths with Wily Mo

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
SEATTLE Wily Mo Pena will always be the hulking reminder of a Theo Epstein trade that never quite panned out.

The 6-foot-4, 250-pound right-handed slugger was always something of a tease, given that his athletic combination of physical strength and speed were unrivaled in the big leagues when he first came up with the Cincinnati Reds system.

Epstein was intrigued by the prospects of Pena turning into a home-run hitting monster at Fenway Park, and dealt crooning right-hander Bronson Arroyo to the Reds in exchange for the pile of baseball potential.

Unfortunately, Pena never fully developed offensively -- he had, and has, exploitable weaknesses at the plate -- and his outfield defense wasis a disaster, making him a natural for the designated-hitter role. The problem in Boston, of course, is that David Ortiz is the DH.

So, after nearly two full seasons and just about 500 at-bats, Epstein admitted his mistake and sent Pena to the Washington Nationals in August 2007. Wily Mo has kicked around the big leagues ever sunce, getting playing time with the Nationals and Diamondbacks, and he popped up with Seattle on Saturday night after Mariners first baseman Justin Smoak was placed on the 15-day disabled list because of a fractured nose suffered on a bad-hop ground ball Friday.

While Pena will be remembered more for untapped potential than anything else during his time in Boston, manager Terry Francona clearly remembers Pena's prodigious power.

Its silly . . . Wily Mos power is off the charts, said Francona. Oh, boy . . . some of the home runs he hit. He hit a ball in Baltimore . . . it won the game for us . . . It was a day when the wind was blowing and I couldn't imagine someone hitting a home run that day.

As always, Pena, now 29, put on a display during batting practice, and he exchanged hugs with Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia and other members of the Sox that were around during his time in Boston.

But during the game he also looked like his normal self, showing an inability to consistently hit the breaking stuff while going 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts in Seattles 5-4 win at Safeco Field.

Josh Beckett has recorded at least one strikeout in each of his 272 career games, the longest active streak in the majors.

Red Sox 1986 postseason hero Dave Henderson made the rounds in the Safeco Field press box during Saturday nights game with his trademark smile and sense of humor. Henderson does television and radio for the Mariners, the team that traded him to Boston in the summer of '86.

Francona was ejected by home-plate umpire Mark Ripperger in the top of the fourth inning after the umpiring crew overturned a Jacoby Ellsbury play at the plate they originally called safe. A run was put on the board when Ripperger ruled that catcher Josh Bard didnt hang on to Ichiro Suzukis throw from right field as Ellsbury attempted to score, but, after a conference among the crew, they called Ellsbury out and took the run away.

Replays showed that Bard -- who caught a knee to the face in the collision with Ellsbury -- didn't drop the ball, but was transfering it from the glove to his bare hand to show he had possession. Ellsbury said after the game he thought he was out.

Francona, who said he knew hed be ejected the minute he stormed onto the field, never got an explanation as to why the call was changed.

I wasnt even really listening, said Francona, who seemed to know that replays showed Ellsbury was out. I think the umpire thought he was looking in the glove and the ball was in his hand. I just couldnt understand why the home-plate ump couldnt explain it to me. It was his call. Theyre so protective of the young guys. If the ump has an ability to make the call, then explain the call to me.

It was Franconas 33rd career ejection and his fourth this season.

It looked like Bard held onto the ball during the tag and he pulled out his bare hand to show it, said Ellsbury. From my angle it looked like the ump got the call right, you know?

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

New MLB labor deal: All-Star Game no longer determines home field in World Series

New MLB labor deal: All-Star Game no longer determines home field in World Series

IRVING, Texas -- Baseball players and owners reached a tentative agreement on a five-year labor contract Wednesday night, a deal that will extend the sport's industrial peace to 26 years since the ruinous fights in the first two decades of free agency.

After days of near round-the-clock talks, negotiators reached a verbal agreement about 3 1/2 hours before the expiration of the current pact. Then they worked to draft a memorandum of understanding, which must be ratified by both sides.

"It's great! Another five years of uninterrupted baseball," Oakland catcher Stephen Vogt said in a text message.

In announcing the agreement, Major League Baseball and the players' association said they will make specific terms available when drafting is complete.

"Happy it's done, and baseball is back on," Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Brandon McCarthy said.

As part of the deal, the experiment of having the All-Star Game determine which league gets home-field advantage in the World Series will end after 14 years, a person familiar with the agreement told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal had not yet been signed.

Instead, the pennant winner with the better regular-season record will open the Series at home.

Another important change: The minimum time for a stint on the disabled list will be reduced from 15 days to 10.

The luxury tax threshold rises from $189 million to $195 million next year, $197 million in 2018, $206 million in 2019, $209 million in 2020 and $210 million in 2021.

Tax rates increase from 17.5 percent to 20 percent for first offenders, remain at 30 percent for second offenders and rise from 40 percent to 50 percent for third offenders. There is a new surtax of 12 percent for teams $20 million to $40 million above the threshold, 42.5 percent for first offenders more than $40 million above the threshold and 45 percent for subsequent offenders more than $40 million above.

Union head Tony Clark, presiding over a negotiation for the first time, said in a statement the deal "will benefit all involved in the game and leaves the game better for those who follow."

Key changes involve the qualifying offers clubs can make to their former players after they become free agents - the figure was $17.2 million this year. If a player turns down the offer and signs elsewhere, his new team forfeits an amateur draft pick, which usually had been in the first round under the old deal.

Under the new rules, a player can receive a qualifying offer only once in his career and will have 10 days to consider it instead of seven. A club signing a player who declined a qualifying offer would lose its third-highest amateur draft pick if it is a revenue-sharing receiver, its second- and fifth-highest picks (plus a loss of $1 million in its international draft pool) if it pays luxury tax for the just-ended season, and its second-highest pick (plus $500,000 in the international draft pool) if it is any other team.

A club losing a free agent who passed up a qualifying offer would receive an extra selection after the first round of the next draft if the player signed a contract for $50 million or more and after competitive balance round B if under $50 million. However, if that team pays luxury tax, the extra draft pick would drop to after the fourth round.

Among other details:

-For a team $40 million or more in excess of the luxury tax threshold, its highest selection in the next amateur draft will drop 10 places.

-While management failed to obtain an international draft of amateurs residing outside the U.S., Puerto Rico and Canada, it did get a hard cap on each team's annual bonus pool for those players starting at $4.75 million for the signing period that begins next July 2.

-There is no change to limits on active rosters, which remain at 25 for most of the season and 40 from Sept. 1 on.

-Smokeless tobacco will be banned for all new players, those who currently do not have at least one day of major league service.

-The regular season will expand from 183 days to 187 starting in 2018, creating four more scheduled off days. There are additional limitations on the start times of night games on getaway days.

-The minimum salary rises from $507,500 to $535,000 next year, $545,000 in 2018 and $555,000 in 2019, with cost-of-living increases the following two years; the minor league minimum for a player appearing on the 40-man roster for at least the second time goes up from $82,700 to $86,500 next year, $88,000 in 2018 and $89,500 in 2019, followed by cost-of-living raises.

-The drop-off in slot values in the first round of the amateur draft will be lessened.

-Oakland's revenue-sharing funds will be cut to 75 percent next year, 50 percent in 2018, 25 percent in 2019 and then phased out.

-As part of the drug agreement, there will be increased testing, players will not be credited with major league service time during suspensions, and biomarker testing for HGH will begin next year.

Negotiators met through most of Tuesday night in an effort to increase momentum in the talks, which began during spring training. This is the third straight time the sides reached a new agreement before the old contract expired, but a deal was struck eight weeks in advance in 2006 and three weeks ahead of expiration in 2011.

Talks took place at a hotel outside Dallas where the players' association held its annual executive board meeting.

Clark, the first former player to serve as executive director of the union, and others set up in a meeting room within earshot of a children's choir practicing Christmas carols. A man dressed as Santa Claus waited nearby.

Baseball had eight work stoppages from 1972-95, the last a 7 1/2-month strike in 1994-95 that led to the first cancellation of the World Series in 90 years. The 2002 agreement was reached after players authorized a strike and about 3 1/2 hours before the first game that would have been impacted by a walkout.

The peace in baseball is in contrast to the recent labor histories of other major sports. The NFL had a preseason lockout in 2011, the NBA lost 240 games to a lockout that same year and the NHL lost 510 games to a lockout in 2012-13.