The day has been approaching for some time, and FOXSports’ Ken Rosenthal is now claiming that the Red Sox are trying “desperately” to move Julio Lugo, who is in the third year of a four-year, $36 million contract.
Boston’s reasoning is obvious: Jed Lowrie is ready to return from wrist
surgery, and Nick Green has outperformed Julio Lugo defensively all
season long. Offensively, Green versus Lugo has been close to a wash,
but Lugo hasn’t nearly regained his range of motion following knee
surgery. Also, Lugo hasn’t played a position besides shortstop since
2006, so while his versatility used to be a plus, it’d be tough to
start treating him as a utilityman.
Lugo probably isn’t completely washed up offensively. He certainly
never fulfilled expectations with the bat in Boston, but he has hit
.284/.352/.367 in 109 at-bats this season. Also, for what it’s worth,
he’s traditionally played significantly better in the second half, with
the one big exception being when he was traded from the Rays to the
Dodgers in July 2006.
The problem is that Lugo just isn’t capable of helping a team as a
shortstop with the way he’s moving now. Maybe he’d be OK at second base
if he can readjust to the position, but a midseason move might be tough
to pull off. Lugo didn’t like it when the Dodgers had him switch
positions in 2006, and it really showed in his performance, as he was a
complete bust for the team.
The Red Sox will probably just end up eating the final year and a
half of Lugo’s deal. The Cubs and Mets were interested last time Lugo
was a free agent and both have openings now and the Giants could use an
alternative at second base, but it’s doubtful that anyone will rush to
relieve the Red Sox of even $2 million-$3 million of the approximately
$13 million he’s still owed when he’ll most likely be available for
less than $200,000 in a couple of weeks.
Angels’ right-handed reliever Bud Norris made his 23rd appearance of the season on Friday, and after just three pitches, he was done for the night. He worked a 2-1 count to Marlins’ Dee Gordon in the eighth inning, then promptly exited the field after experiencing some tightness in his right knee. Neither Norris nor manager Mike Scioscia believe the injury is cause for major concern, and the 32-year-old right-hander admitted that it may have had something to do with his lack of stretching before he took the mound. For now, he’s day-to-day with right knee soreness, with the hope that the issue doesn’t escalate over the next few days.
While the Angels are lucky to have avoided serious injury, they’ll need Norris to pitch at 100% if they want to stay competitive within the AL West. They currently sit a full nine games behind the league-leading Astros, and haven’t been helping their cause after taking five losses in their last eight games. Friday’s 8-5 finale marked their third consecutive loss of the week.
When healthy, Norris has been one of the better arms in the Angels’ bullpen. Through 23 2/3 innings, he’s pitched to a 2.66 ERA, 3.4 BB/9 and an outstanding 11.8 SO/9 in 23 outings. The righty hasn’t allowed a single run in four straight appearances, recording three saves and helping the club clinch four wins in that span. This is his second setback of the year after sustaining a partial fingernail tear on his pitching hand during spring training.
Max Scherzer is a force to be reckoned with. The Nationals’ right-hander delivered a season-high 13 strikeouts against the Padres on Friday, locking down his fifth win and his fourth double-digit strikeout performance of the year.
More remarkably, it was also the 53rd double-digit strikeout performance of Scherzer’s career, tying Clayton Kershaw for the most 10+ strikeout appearances by an active major league pitcher. Chris Sale is a distant third, with 43 to his name, though he’s been making considerable strides to catch up so far this spring.
Scherzer took the Padres to task on Friday night, whiffing 13 of 31 batters during his 108-pitch outing. He started strong, catching Allen Cordoba swinging on a 1-2 count to start the game and keeping the game scoreless until Ryan Schimpf unleashed a home run in the fourth inning. That was the first and final run the Padres managed off of Scherzer, who retired 14 consecutive batters following the blast and came one out shy of a complete game in the ninth inning. (Fittingly, Koda Glover polished off the win with a final strikeout, bringing the total to 14 on the night.)
It’ll take more than one stellar start to advance Scherzer and Kershaw on the all-time list, however. Their 53-game record ranks 13th, about 159 games behind second-place Hall of Fame hurler Randy Johnson and a full 162 games shy of the inimitable Nolan Ryan.