Red Sox, Reds, Rangers, Cardinals all downplaying interest in Roy Oswalt

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Roy Oswalt remains linked to a handful of teams, but seemingly no one wants to admit that they’re actually close to signing him.

Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said yesterday that he hadn’t talked to Oswalt’s agent in a week, only to have Jon Morosi of FOXSports.com report that they were indeed “still in talks.”

Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports that the Red Sox have “no traction” in negotiations with Oswalt and Boston signing him “doesn’t seem likely at this point.”

Similarly, according to Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak the veteran right-hander ending up in St. Louis is unlikely in no small part because they’d have to shed significant payroll to add him and already have a full rotation.

Other potential suitors include the Rangers and Phillies, but Texas has downplayed its interest in Oswalt and Philadelphia would seemingly have to find a taker for Joe Blanton and his $8.5 million salary before possibly re-signing Oswalt.

He’s going to end up with a contender, mostly likely on a sizable one-year deal, but in the meantime there’s a pretty interesting little game of public statement chicken going on.

Corey Knebel sets modern record for consecutive appearances with a strikeout

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Brewers closer Corey Knebel set a modern major league record for relievers to start a season, as Thursday’s appearance marked his 38th consecutive appearance with a strikeout. He set down the side in order in the ninth inning, striking Josh Bell out to start the frame.

Aroldis Chapman held the record previously, recording a strikeout in his first 37 appearances of the season in 2014 with the Reds.

Knebel, 25, has flown under the radar despite having an incredibly good season. He moved into the closer’s role in mid-May when Neftali Feliz, now a free agent, struggled. After Thursday’s appearance, Knebel is 12-for-15 in save chances with a 0.96 ERA and a 65/17 K/BB ratio in 37 2/3 innings.

Joey Votto thinks he can win the Home Run Derby, but hasn’t been invited yet

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Despite having hit at least 20 home runs in eight of his 11 seasons in the majors, Reds first baseman Joey Votto has never participated in a Home Run Derby. Currently, he’s tied for the National League lead in home runs with 20, and he hasn’t been invited to this year’s festivities at Marlins Park.

In the event he is invited, Votto said he thinks he can win it, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto likened himself to Ichiro Suzuki, a player known more for his contact abilities and mastery of the strike zone than power. “Just think of me as the Canadian Ichiro — Japan has theirs and Canada has theirs,” Votto said. “I could pull homers into the seats at will.”

Along with the 20 homers, Votto is currently hitting .306/.419/.601 with 53 RBI, and 52 runs scored in 313 plate appearances.

Teammate Scott Schebler also has 20 home runs at the moment and Adam Duvall, who made it to the semifinals of the Derby last year, has 16. Neither of them have been approached about participating in the Derby, either. Per Rosecrans, in the event each was invited, Duvall said he would consider participating if he wasn’t an All-Star and Schebler would participate regardless. Votto said he would only participate if he made the All-Star team.