UPDATE: Jim Bowden of ESPN.com and MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM reports that the deal is done. The Red Sox are sending Marco Scutaro to the Rockies for right-hander Clayton Mortensen. Colorado will be responsible for Scutaro’s entire $6 million salary this season.
Mortensen, a 2007 supplemental first-round pick of the Cardinals, posted a 3.86 ERA and 30/24 K/BB ratio over 58 1/3 innings at the major league level last season. The 26-year-old sinkerballer had a ground ball rate of 52.7 percent, so he could have some value out of Boston’s bullpen, but this was a pure salary dump.
6:06 PM: Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe and Alex Speier of WEEI.com are both hearing that a deal is “likely” to get done. These guys might have the same source.
Anyway, while moving Scutaro could free up salary to sign Roy Oswalt or Edwin Jackson, Speier mentions that the Red Sox could also consider a trade with the White Sox for right-hander Gavin Floyd. Floyd, who turns 29 later this month, is owed $7 million this season and his contract includes a $9.5 million option for 2013.
5:56 PM: The Rockies’ efforts to acquire Marco Sctuaro from the Red Sox hit a snag yesterday, but Troy Renck of the Denver Post now hears that the two sides are “finishing up” a trade.
The Red Sox are expected to receive a pitcher in return and Renck names right-hander Clayton Mortensen as a possibility. It’s hard to believe they wouldn’t get more in return, even if the Rockies are picking up most or all of Scutaro’s $6 million salary for 2012. It will be interesting to see if the Red Sox also try to get Jonathan Herrera, who could be thrown into the mix at shortstop with the likes of Mike Aviles, Nick Punto and possibly Jose Iglesias.
Scutaro would immediately slot in as the starting second baseman for the Rockies. The 36-year-old batted .299/.358/.423 with seven homers, 54 RBI and a .781 OPS over 113 games in 2011. He would be a marked improvement from a group that combined to bat just .256/.304/.351 with a .655 OPS last season.
As for the Red Sox, it appears they are motivated to move Sctuaro in order to clear some salary to sign a starting pitcher like Roy Oswalt or Edwin Jackson.
Angels’ right-handed reliever Bud Norris made his 23rd appearance of the season on Friday, and after just three pitches, he was done for the night. He worked a 2-1 count to Marlins’ Dee Gordon in the eighth inning, then promptly exited the field after experiencing some tightness in his right knee. Neither Norris nor manager Mike Scioscia believe the injury is cause for major concern, and the 32-year-old right-hander admitted that it may have had something to do with his lack of stretching before he took the mound. For now, he’s day-to-day with right knee soreness, with the hope that the issue doesn’t escalate over the next few days.
While the Angels are lucky to have avoided serious injury, they’ll need Norris to pitch at 100% if they want to stay competitive within the AL West. They currently sit a full nine games behind the league-leading Astros, and haven’t been helping their cause after taking five losses in their last eight games. Friday’s 8-5 finale marked their third consecutive loss of the week.
When healthy, Norris has been one of the better arms in the Angels’ bullpen. Through 23 2/3 innings, he’s pitched to a 2.66 ERA, 3.4 BB/9 and an outstanding 11.8 SO/9 in 23 outings. The righty hasn’t allowed a single run in four straight appearances, recording three saves and helping the club clinch four wins in that span. This is his second setback of the year after sustaining a partial fingernail tear on his pitching hand during spring training.
Max Scherzer is a force to be reckoned with. The Nationals’ right-hander delivered a season-high 13 strikeouts against the Padres on Friday, locking down his fifth win and his fourth double-digit strikeout performance of the year.
More remarkably, it was also the 53rd double-digit strikeout performance of Scherzer’s career, tying Clayton Kershaw for the most 10+ strikeout appearances by an active major league pitcher. Chris Sale is a distant third, with 43 to his name, though he’s been making considerable strides to catch up so far this spring.
Scherzer took the Padres to task on Friday night, whiffing 13 of 31 batters during his 108-pitch outing. He started strong, catching Allen Cordoba swinging on a 1-2 count to start the game and keeping the game scoreless until Ryan Schimpf unleashed a home run in the fourth inning. That was the first and final run the Padres managed off of Scherzer, who retired 14 consecutive batters following the blast and came one out shy of a complete game in the ninth inning. (Fittingly, Koda Glover polished off the win with a final strikeout, bringing the total to 14 on the night.)
It’ll take more than one stellar start to advance Scherzer and Kershaw on the all-time list, however. Their 53-game record ranks 13th, about 159 games behind second-place Hall of Fame hurler Randy Johnson and a full 162 games shy of the inimitable Nolan Ryan.