Rafael Soriano does not care about the bats of the AL East

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rafael soriano.jpgGary Shelton of the St. Petersburg Times catches up with new Rays’ closer Rafael Soriano, who is as cool as a cucumber:

Jeter and A-Rod, you say. And he does not quiver. Ortiz and Youkilis, you say. And he does not flinch.

Teixeira and Hill, you are about to say. And he does not wait
for you to finish because the list of imposing American League East
hitters is long.

“I do not care,” Rafael Soriano says softly, firmly. “If I am
healthy, if I am on the mound, I do not care who the hitter is. I am
good, too.”

I absolutely love this response and I wish everyone asked about how tough the AL East is said something similar.

Yes, it’s a good division. Even tougher than it has been if the Orioles take the step forward many are expecting them to take.  But still, every major leaguer is a pro who, at some point in their lives, was the absolute best at what they did in their given peer group. The difference between being merely good and truly elite are not as great as many people realize.

There are differences in quality between the AL and the NL at present, and there are differences between the AL East and everyone else as well. But those differences are not akin to those between day and night or man and boy, and frankly, I’m tired of the exaggerations.

Report: Mariners have interest in Reds’ Jay Bruce

ATLANTA, GA - JUNE 14:  Jay Bruce #32 of the Cincinnati Reds waits to bat prior to hitting a three-run homer in the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on June 14, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
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ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the Mariners are among the teams that have contacted the Reds about outfielder Jay Bruce. The Mariners enter play Wednesday 51-48, six games out of first place in the AL West and 4.5 games out of the second AL Wild Card slot. Adding an impact bat like Bruce could help in their effort to reach the postseason.

Norichika Aoki and Seth Smith have handled the bulk of the playing time in left field. While Smith has hit well, Aoki has not. Bruce came into Wednesday’s game against the Giants batting .271/.324/.567 with 24 home runs and a league-best 78 RBI.

Bruce can become a free agent after the season if his controlling team declines his $13 million club option for the 2017 season by paying him a $1 million buyout. If he’s traded mid-season, his new team won’t be able to make him a qualifying offer, so the club option may be more enticing than it looks at first glance.

The Padres have homered in 25 consecutive games, tying an NL record

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - JULY 16:  Adam Rosales #9 of the San Diego Padres hits an RBI single during the tenth inning of a baseball game against the San Francisco Giants at PETCO Park on July 16, 2016 in San Diego, California.   (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
Denis Poroy/Getty Images
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A third-inning two-run home run by Adam Rosales off of R.A. Dickey put the Padres up 2-0, but it also helped the Padres tie a National League record. The Padres have homered in 25 consecutive games, matching the 1998 Braves, the 1994 Tigers, and the 1941 Yankees. The major league record is 27, set by the 2002 Rangers.

The Padres hit three in total on Wednesday in an 8-4 victory against the Blue Jays. One of those dingers was an eighth-inning solo shot by rookie Alex Dickerson, who has now homered in four consecutive games himself. The one he hit on Monday is worth watching, as it got into the upper deck at the Rogers Centre.

As the Padres recently traded Melvin Upton, Jr. to the Jays, Dickerson is likely going to see regular playing time. That’s especially true if he keeps hitting like this.