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.

Anthony Alford to miss 4-6 weeks following wrist surgery

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Blue Jays’ outfielder Anthony Alford will miss at least 4-6 weeks after undergoing surgery on his left wrist, the team announced on Saturday. Alford was placed on the 10-day disabled list earlier in the week after sustaining a left hamate fracture on a foul pitch, and could miss significant time in what looks to be a lengthy rehab process. MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm reports that the procedure has been scheduled for next week and will be performed by Dr. Donald Sheridan in Arizona.

Alford, 22, was called up to the majors from Double-A New Hampshire last Friday. He went hitless in his first three outings, finally catching a break against the Brewers on Tuesday when he pinch-hit a leadoff double in the seventh. The injury occurred two innings later when Alford fouled off a pitch in the ninth inning, fracturing his wrist in the process.

Alford will join eight other players on the Blue Jays’ disabled list, including outfielders Steve Pearce (calf strain), Dalton Pompey (concussion) and Darrell Cecillani (partial shoulder dislocation). He’s expected to be replaced by 24-year-old outfield prospect Dwight Smith Jr.

Stephen Strasburg hit a new career high today

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Good luck getting a hit against the Nationals this weekend. Stephen Strasburg followed Max Scherzer‘s 13-strikeout performance on Friday with a dazzling outing of his own on Saturday afternoon. The right-hander whiffed a career-best 15 batters in seven innings, allowing just three hits and a walk in the Nats’ 3-0 win.

It took Strasburg several innings to get into a groove after pitching into (and out of) a jam in the first inning. The Padres loaded the bases with Allen Cordoba‘s leadoff single, a throwing error by Ryan Zimmerman and a four-pitch walk to Cory Spangenberg. By the third, Strasburg was cruising, striking out the side on 18 pitches and keeping the Padres off the basepaths until the sixth. He recorded his 15th and final strikeout in the seventh inning, catching Padres’ prospect Franchy Cordero swinging on a 1-2 pitch to effectively end his outing.

While 15 strikeouts set a new career record for the Nationals’ ace, he came close to reaching the mark twice before. The first time, he struck out 14 of 24 batters during his major league debut against the 2010 Pirates, though the 5-2 win did little more than keep the Nationals neck-and-neck with the Marlins at the bottom of the NL East. Five years later, he tied his 14-strikeout record against the 2015 Phillies, tossing a one-hitter in eight innings to cement his ninth victory of the season.

The only one who doesn’t seem overly enthused by the new record? Strasburg himself, who told MLB.com’s Jamal Collier and AJ Cassavell: “It’s pretty cool, but there’s another game five, six days from now. I’ll enjoy it tonight, but back to work tomorrow.”