Heyman: The Padres are unlikely to pursue Derrek Lee

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Craig told us earlier this week that the Padres, Orioles and Nationals were bidding against each other for the remaining free-agent first baseman, the most prominent of which are Derrek Lee and Adam LaRoche. It sounds like the pieces are starting to fall into place.

Jon Heyman of SI.com writes that now that Lee will be too expensive for the Padres now that they have signed Orlando Hudson to a two-year, $11.5 million contract and close are close to completing a deal for Jason Bartlett, who is arbitration-eligible this winter. By the way, Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com hears that Lee appears to be the Nationals’ top target, so assuming the Padres are truly out of the mix here, the O’s should be able to work something out with LaRoche.

Heyman reports that the Padres are considering second-tier options like Troy Glaus, Jorge Cantu and Brad Hawpe, which sounds about right. The team needs a simple stopgap option until either Kyle Blanks returns from Tommy John surgery or the newly-acquired Anthony Rizzo is ready for the big leagues, perhaps late in 2011.

Ronald Acuña batting sixth, playing left field in his Braves debut

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The Braves have made it official, announcing that they have called up top prospect Ronald Acuña. He’ll bat sixth in tonight’s game against the Reds and will start in left field.

Acuña will be wearing number 13, no doubt to honor past Braves luminaries like Adonis Garcia, Nate McLouth, Ozzie Guillen, Juan Eichelberger and Jerry Royster, all of whom have worn the fabled 1 and 3. Feel like he stands a pretty good chance of besting their exploits.

The 20-year-old Acuña was 11-for-his-last-33 with a homer, a double, four walks, and three stolen bases at Triple-A Gwinnett following a slow start. He tore it up in spring training, however, and hit .325/.374/.522 with 21 home runs, 82 RBI, 44 stolen bases, and 88 runs scored in 139 games last season across three levels of the Braves’ minor league system.

The future was delayed a bit, but it’s here now for the Atlanta Braves’ phenom.