Daily Dose: Boston's busy day

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Boston was busy Wednesday afternoon, getting Adam LaRoche from the
Pirates for a pair of marginal prospects before swapping Julio Lugo to
the Cardinals for Chris Duncan. Eating most of the $13.5 million
remaining on Lugo’s deal allowed the Red Sox to get a potentially
useful player in return, although Duncan’s stock is down dramatically
over the past two years and he’ll head to Triple-A for now.

Lugo is expected to assume a fairly big role for the Cardinals,
pushing Brendan Ryan for playing time at shortstop while also being an
option at second base and third base. His bat remains useful and his
lack of range following knee surgery is less of an issue at another
spot, but Tony La Russa and company will soon learn that Lugo simply
isn’t capable of playing a decent shortstop right now.

While dumping Lugo for whatever they could get became a no-brainer
for Boston the move to add LaRoche is more interesting. He figures to
be a part-time player if everyone else is healthy, essentially
providing insurance for Mike Lowell, Kevin Youkilis, and David Ortiz.
LaRoche’s struggles against left-handers won’t be an issue if Lowell is
healthy and he’s a career .275/.347/.500 hitter versus righties.

If nothing else he’s a sizable upgrade over Mark Kotsay and the Red
Sox may be one of the few teams that can afford to pay $3 million for
50 games of a part-time player. Rather than wait to see if he’d fetch
draft picks as a Type B free agent the Pirates chose to cash LaRoche in
for Argenis Diaz, a 22-year-old shortstop with lots of glove and little
bat, and 21-year-old right-hander Hunter Strickland.

While the Red Sox get a jump on the trading deadline and the Pirates
continue their never-ending rebuild, here are some other notes from
around baseball …

* Jordan Zimmermann has been one of the few bright spots for the
Nationals this season, posting a 4.63 ERA and impressive 92/29 K/BB
ratio in 91.1 innings as a 23-year-old rookie who basically skipped
Triple-A. Unfortunately he was placed on the disabled list Wednesday
with right elbow soreness. There’s no timetable yet for his return, but
fellow 23-year-old Collin Balester will take his rotation spot.

* Bobby Jenks has allowed runs in four of his last five outings, but
Ozzie Guillen made it clear Wednesday that he’s in no danger of losing
closer duties. “He’s my closer and if people don’t want him to be my
closer, don’t come to the God damn game,” Guillen said. Despite those
comments it was Matt Thornton closing out a one-run lead Wednesday
night with Jenks having worked on back-to-back days.

AL Quick Hits: Vicente Padilla was scratched from his Wednesday
start with the flu, so Dustin Nippert held the Red Sox to one run in
5.2 innings for his first win since last September … Glen Perkins could
be headed for the disabled list after complaining of shoulder soreness
after Wednesday’s brutal effort … Juan Rivera (hamstring) missed his
fourth straight game Wednesday … Kevin Slowey (wrist) will begin a
rehab assignment Saturday at Triple-A … Clay Buchholz struggled
Wednesday while subbing for Tim Wakefield, leaving after throwing 90
pitches in four innings … Felix Hernandez allowed just one run
Wednesday while throwing at least seven innings for the ninth straight
start … Armando Galarraga gave up just one hit in 7.2 innings
Wednesday, but got stuck with a no-decision … Nelson Cruz (finger)
returned to the lineup Wednesday by going 2-for-2 with two walks and
two steals.

NL Quick Hits: Manny Corpas may miss the rest of the season
following surgery to remove bone chips from his elbow … Manny Ramirez
was out of Wednesday’s lineup after being plunked on the hand, but
delivered a pinch-hit grand slam into the “Mannywood” section at Dodger
Stadium… Garrett Jones went deep again Wednesday, giving him nine
homers in 17 games … Jason Marquis’ next start has been pushed back to
Tuesday thanks to a finger blister … Chris Carpenter tossed eight
innings of two-run ball Wednesday before Ryan Franklin blew the lead …
Edinson Volquez (elbow) reported zero problems after a bullpen session
Wednesday … Ricky Nolasco struck out 10 and combined with three
relievers on a three-hit shutout Wednesday … Josh Willingham snapped a
0-for-14 slump by going 4-for-4 with a homer Wednesday … Jair Jurrjens
beat Tim Lincecum while retiring 17 straight batters Wednesday … Tony
La Russa said Wednesday that Todd Wellemeyer’s rotation spot is safe
for at least one more start.

Diamondbacks name Dan Haren as pitching strategist

PHOENIX - APRIL 05:  Starting pitcher Dan Haren #15 of the Arizona Diamondbacks pitches against the San Diego Padres during the Opening Day major league baseball game at Chase Field on April 5, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Diamondbacks defeated the Padres 6-3.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
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The Diamondbacks announced on Tuesday afternoon that former major leaguer Dan Haren has been named the organization’s new pitching strategist. The role will include working with the front office, the major league coaching staff, and the analytics department.

Haren, 36, ended his 13-year playing career after the 2015 season. He finished with a 153-131 record and a 3.75 ERA across 2,419 2/3 innings.

Since retiring, Haren has been one of the more enjoyable players to follow on Twitter. He promised to teach his disciples how to tweet as part of his new responsibilities.

Pablo Sandoval is in the best shape of his life

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For a guy who won a World Series MVP Award and has been to a couple of All-Star Games, it’s amazing how many stories have been written about Pablo Sandoval‘s off-the-field exploits compared to his on-the-field exploits. Specifically, stories about his conditioning. Or lack of conditioning. Of him getting into shape, falling out of shape and getting back into shape again. It’s been this way since he emerged as an everyday player in 2009.

And it continues anew:

There is no claim here that Sandoval is, in fact, in The Best Shape of His Life. However, longtime BSOHL fans know that the claim is not about the magic words being used. The idea is that, in the offseason, players with something to prove will routinely make an effort to create the impression that they are a new man. Often it is from claiming that one is in The Best Shape of His Life. Often it comes from surrogates talking about how many pounds of fat one has lost or pounds of pure muscle one has added. Sometimes — as here — it comes in the form of showing post-workout photos.

Whatever the purpose of the photo, Sandoval is certainly looking good compared to where he was last spring:

FORT MYERS, - MARCH 14: Pablo Sandoval #48 of the Boston Red Sox makes the throw to first on the ground ball from Jason Rogers (not in photo) of the Pittsburgh Pirates during the fourth inning of the Spring Training Game on March 14, 2016 at Jet Blue Park at Fenway South, Florida. The Pirates defeated the Red Sox 3-1. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

Or at the end of the 2015 season:

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 31: Pablo Sandoval #48 of the Boston Red Sox warms up prior to the first inning against the New York Yankees at Fenway Park on August 31, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Red Sox won the game 4-3. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

Even if this is part of a plan to get Sandoval some good press heading into the 2017 season, I’m happy to see that he appears to be recovered from shoulder surgery and appears to be taking good care of himself and is thinking about his baseball futrue.

Either way, expect the Panda Weight Watch to continue at Red Sox spring training come February.