UPDATE: Dan Hayes of the North County Times was told by a Padres official that the talks are serious, but that “nothing is going to happen either way for a few days.”
8:03 PM: Aaron wrote earlier that the Padres were “interested” in signing free agent Brad Hawpe to play first base.
Now Buster Olney of ESPN.com is reporting that the two sides are “on the verge” of an agreement.
The Friars chased free agent first basemen Derrek Lee and Adam LaRoche earlier this winter, but Hawpe will come far cheaper and could be just as productive if things go right in 2011.
He batted just .245 with a .338 on-base percentage and .419 slugging percentage in 2010 for the Rockies and Rays, but Hawpe still boasts a stellar 862 career OPS and he doesn’t turn 32 years old until June 22 of next year.
PETCO Park is one of the least power-friendly ballparks in all of baseball and doesn’t lend itself to many offensive turnarounds. Hawpe, though, hit well there during his five-plus seasons in the National League West and may be able to right the ship.
Angels DH Albert Pujols passed Mark McGwire for sole possession of 10th place on baseball’s all-time home run leaderboard, slugging his 584th career home run in the first inning of Wednesday night’s game against the Blue Jays.
Mike Trout had already slugged a solo home run off of Jays starter Marco Estrada to bring Pujols to the dish. Pujols jumped on an 0-1 cut fastball, sending it out to left-center field, clearing the fence by a few feet.
Pujols, who finished 4-for-4 with the homer and an RBI double, is batting .257/.321/.441 with 24 home runs and 99 RBI on the year. His next target on the home run leaderboard is Frank Robinson at 586.
Orioles closer Zach Britton had appeared in a major league record 43 consecutive games without allowing an earned run, spanning May 5 to August 22. That streak came to an end on Wednesday evening against the Nationals.
The Orioles entered the bottom of the ninth inning holding a 10-3 lead, but reliever Parker Bridwell immediately found himself in hot water. He yielded back-to-back singles to Danny Espinosa and Clint Robinson. He was able to strike out Trea Turner, but walked Jayson Werth to load the bases. Daniel Murphy then crushed his first career grand slam to make it a 10-7 game. That prompted manager Buck Showalter to bring in Britton.
Britton, too, was knocked around. He served up a single to Bryce Harper, followed by a double to Anthony Rendon that scored Harper, pushing the score to 10-8 and ending Britton’s streak. Wilson Ramos reached on a fielder’s choice back to Britton, but the lefty finally finished the game by getting Ryan Zimmerman to ground into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.
Britton now holds a nice 0.69 ERA with 38 saves and a 61/16 K/BB ratio in 52 innings of work this season.