Red Sox’s hopes for Jacoby Ellsbury extension getting more expensive with every homer

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During a radio interview this morning general manager Theo Epstein noted that the Red Sox unsuccessfully tried to work out a long-term contract extension with Jacoby Ellsbury in the past and would still like to do so, but the center fielder’s price tag is rising rapidly.

Here’s what Epstein said on the Dennis and Callahan Show:

This isn’t the right forum to talk about it. Those conversations are always behind closed doors. But I guess it’s not a secret we sat down and tried in the past to do that, lock Jacoby up, and I hope we’ll sit down in the future again and try to do it once more at the appropriate time. He’s somebody we’ve long believed in, we’ve long seen as a core young member of the organization that we would love to keep around.

Ellsbury is earning $2.4 million in his first season of arbitration eligibility and will be under team control in 2012 and 2013, so there’s no rush to get something done. On the other hand, he’s bounced back from an injury wrecked 2010 to hit .316 with 15 homers in 95 games after totaling 20 homers in his first 349 games, which along with having Scott Boras as an agent guarantees Ellsbury will be looking to break the bank.

Plus, as Rob Bradford of WEEI.com points out Boras has typically tried to avoid letting his clients give up free agent years as part of contract extensions, so even if the Red Sox are willing to meet his rising asking price that may not even be an option. Quite a bit different than just a year ago, when Ellsbury hit .192 and was limited to 18 games by injuries.

Sandy Leon homered twice in one inning, including a grand slam

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Red Sox catcher Sandy Leon achieved a rare feat during Monday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition against the Orioles: he homered twice in one inning. One of those homers happened to be a grand slam.

Leon led off the top of the fifth inning with a solo home run off of Logan Verrett. Verrett continued to get knocked around, giving up three singles and a walk before being relieved by Brian Moran. Moran gave up a walk to load the bases, then a single to knock in a run and keep the bases loaded. Leon stepped back to the plate and swatted a grand slam to left field, making it an eight-run fifth for the Red Sox. The Sox would tack on one more before the inning was mercifully ended.

How often do players homer twice in one inning during the regular season? Not that often. Since 2010, the feat has been accomplished four times in the American League and twice in the National League. The Orioles’ Mark Trumbo was the only one to do it last year.

As for Leon, he’s on track to open the season as the starting catcher in Boston, Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald reported last week.

Phillies release veteran catchers Ryan Hanigan and Bryan Holaday

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The Phillies announced on Monday that the club released veteran catchers Ryan Hanigan and Bryan Holaday. Both were competing for the back-up catcher spot on the team’s 25-man roster. With both out of the picture, that means Andrew Knapp has won that honor.

Knapp, 25, hit a combined .266/.330/.390 with eight home runs and 46 RBI in 443 plate appearances last year at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He did not have a great spring but has hit well as of late, which likely pushed him ahead of Hanigan and Holaday. Knapp will serve as the understudy to starting catcher Cameron Rupp.