Sources told the Boston Globe’s Peter Abraham that the Red Sox are considering trading Jacoby Ellsbury and re-signing Cody Ross to play right field, with the newly signed Shane Victorino taking over in center field.
Ellsbury, the runner-up for AL MVP honors in 2011, is a free agent after the season and is considered unlikely to sign a long-term extension before he gets to test the waters.
Ross would be a candidate to receive the sixth two- or three-year deal handed out by the Red Sox this winter. They’ve added Victorino ($39 million for 3 years), Mike Napoli ($39 million for 3 years), Jonny Gomes ($10 million for 2 years) and David Ross ($6.4 million for 2 years), plus they’ve retained David Ortiz ($26 million-$30 million for two years). Ross is believed to be seeking about $24 million for three years.
If the Red Sox actually go that route, their odds of returning to contention in the AL East in 2013 would seem to grow even longer. Ellsbury has been injured and ineffective two of the last three years, but he was flat-out awesome in 2011, hitting .321/.376/.552 with 32 homers and 105 RBI in 660 at-bats, and it’s not as though he has any chronic physical problems. Plus, he probably wouldn’t bring all that much in return since he has just the one year left on his deal.
A Red Sox lineup with Ross replacing Ellsbury would also seem to be very susceptible to right-handed pitching:
CF Shane Victorino – S
2B Dustin Pedroia – R
DH David Ortiz – L
1B Mike Napoli – R
RF Cody Ross – R
LF Jonny Gomes – R
3B Will Middlebrooks – R
C Jarrod Saltalamacchia – S
SS Jose Iglesias – N/A
Victorino has always been better against lefties, and he slipped all of the way to .230/.295/.332 against righties last season. Ross and Gomes are also far better against lefties, though Gomes could at least be platooned with Daniel Nava. Napoli, the other new addition, did hit righties better than lefties last year, and he has a solid .253/.347/.498 line against them in his career (.273/.381/.529 against lefties).
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.