Angels trying to trade for a new closer?

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From Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe comes word that the Angels have “inquired” about A’s closer Grant Balfour, Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan and Mariners closer Brandon League, with Cafardo calling Balfour the “most logical” fit because Oakland’s asking price should be the lowest.

Jordan Walden earned Rookie of the Year votes in the American League last year after registering a 2.98 ERA and 32 saves across 60 1/3 innings. But the 24-year-old right-hander has surrendered five hits, four walks and five earned runs in just 4 1/3 frames this year, prompting Anaheim to turn to veteran left-hander Scott Downs for interim ninth-inning duties.

And now the 7-14 Angels might take it a step further by bringing in an option from the outside.

Balfour, 34, has posted a superb 1.38 ERA, 0.62 WHIP and 10/3 K/BB ratio in 13 innings this year as the A’s stopper. He’s earning a $4 million salary this season and carries a $4.5 million club option for 2013.

The Twins didn’t listen to CC Sabathia’s wishes concerning bunting

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Earlier this month, Yankees starter CC Sabathia jawed at the Red Sox after Eduardo Nunez laid down a bunt. Sabathia fielded it fine, but threw the ball away for an error. After the game, he called Nunez’s bunt “weak” and said the Red Sox should “swing the bat.” Sabathia, of course, is not that limber these days. Along with being 37 years old, the lefty has also battled knee and hamstring issues this season.

The Twins apparently didn’t hear what Sabathia had to say about bunting. After Brian Dozier singled off of Sabathia to lead off the top of the first inning on Tuesday, Joe Mauer laid down a bunt on the third base side and reached safely. Jorge Polanco then laid down a bunt of his own, also on the third base side, and was initially ruled out, but after replay review was ruled safe to load the bases with no outs.

Fortunately for Sabathia, he was able to limit the damage, getting Eduardo Escobar to ground into a run-scoring 6-4-3 double play and inducing an inning-ending ground out from Byron Buxton. It’ll be interesting, though, to see if the Twins continue to bunt against Sabathia throughout the night.

Jake Arrieta to return to Cubs’ rotation on Thursday

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Cubs starter Jake Arrieta has been out over two weeks with a strained right hamstring, but he’s ready to return to action. The right-hander threw a bullpen on Tuesday and it went well, so he will start in Thursday’s series opener against the Brewers in Milwaukee, MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat reports.

Arrieta, 31, returns with a 14-9 record, a 3.48 ERA, and a 157/53 K/BB ratio in 160 1/3 innings. If he stays on schedule, he’ll make three starts through the end of the regular season, including the regular season finale on October 1 against the Reds.

Arrieta is expected to max out at 75-80 pitches on Thursday and will ramp up through the end of the month.