Brewers and Twins swap Hardy for Gomez

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For months now the assumption has been that the Brewers would trade J.J. Hardy this offseason and they wasted no time getting a deal done, sending the 27-year-old shortstop to the Twins for 24-year-old center fielder Carlos Gomez.
The deal makes sense for both sides. Milwaukee soured on Hardy during a career-worst season, sending him down to Triple-A while committing to top prospect Alcides Escobar as the long-term answer at shortstop. They also have an opening in center field with Mike Cameron leaving via free agency, and while his bat remains a question mark Gomez is among the elite defensive outfielders in the game.
Minnesota has long been rumored to have interest in Hardy and the fact that his demotion to Triple-A pushed free agency back another season no doubt appealed to the budget-conscious Twins. Gomez fell behind Denard Span and Delmon Young in the Twins’ outfield pecking order, rarely playing down the stretch, and has made little progress offensively since coming over from the Mets in the Johan Santana trade.
Milwaukee picks up a speedy, Gold Glove-caliber center fielder with tons of physical tools who still has plenty of time to develop further offensively. Minnesota gets a relatively young shortstop who’s under team control through 2011 and prior to struggling this season batted .277/.323/.463 with 26 homers in 2007 and .283/.343/.478 with 24 homers in 2008. Some trades just make sense and this is one of them.

Bud Norris exits outing with right knee soreness

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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.

Video: Max Scherzer sets record with 13-strikeout outing

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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.