Papelbon, Red Sox avoid arbitration: $12 million

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In what could very well be his last year as the Red Sox’ closer Jonathan Papelbon has agreed to a $12 million contract for 2011, avoiding arbitration.

At least I guess it’s his last year. I and a lot of other folks were half-convinced that the Sox would non-tender Papelbon this winter, letting him take his chances as a free agent, rather than pay him eight figures.  Then, after signing Bobby Jenks — and because Bard is waiting in the wings — some folks thought that maybe Papelbon would lose his closer’s job.  He got the vote of confidence on that score almost as soon as Jenks signed: Papelbon is still the closer.

It’s a lot of money for a guy who has been going in the wrong direction the past couple of years. I wonder if Theo Epstein wouldn’t have saved a couple million bucks by taking Papelbon to arbitration and taking his chances. But it’s not like he’s become a bad pitcher, either, which is something that is easy to forget as tempers flare over the occasional blown save during the summer.

Another young fan was struck by a foul ball, this time at Guaranteed Rate Field

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ESPN reports via the Associated Press that a young boy was struck by a line drive foul ball but was not seriously injured during Sunday afternoon’s game against the Royals. The boy and a woman were escorted by a first aid crew to the concourse area and the boy was later eating ice cream in a luxury suite.

A woman was struck in the face by a foul ball also on the first base side at Guaranteed Rate Field on Friday, but she didn’t request medical assistance.

Last week, a young fan at Yankee Stadium was hit by a line drive foul ball, which motivated several teams to commit to extending protective netting at their ballparks. The Yankees, strangely, were not among them. Nor were the White Sox.

Diamondbacks clinch NL Wild Card

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Losses by the Cardinals to the Pirates and the Brewers to the Cubs on Sunday clinched an NL Wild Card berth for the Diamondbacks. Their walk-off, 3-2 win over the Marlins earned them hosting rights for the Wild Card game.

The D-Backs, now 90-66, trailed the Marlins 2-1 going into the bottom of the eighth. Daniel Descalso tied the game at two apiece with an RBI single off of Brad Ziegler. Second half hero J.D. Martinez secured the win with a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the ninth against Javy Guerra.

The Rockies beat the Padres on Sunday to increase their lead over the Brewers (+2) and Cardinals (+2.5) for the second Wild Card slot. One of these three teams will visit Arizona for the Wild Card game.

The Diamondbacks are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2011, when they lost the Division Series in five games to the Brewers.