Report: Red Sox still “hopeful” of getting deal done with Mike Napoli

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Mike Napoli agreed to a three-year, $39 million contract with the Red Sox over a month ago, but the deal has been in limbo since an issue — believed to be a pre-existing injury with one of his hips — was revealed during his physical. While the two sides continue to negotiate, Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe hears that the Red Sox haven’t given up hope of eventually working out a deal.

It’s been reported that the Red Sox would prefer to sign Napoli to an amended contract, likely with specific clauses involving the hip in order to minimize the risk involved. There have been some rumors about the Red Sox potentially looking at Adam LaRoche as an alternative to Napoli, but that appears to be a negotiating ploy, as they are reluctant to give up the draft pick (and draft pool money) to sign him. Meanwhile, Napoli is not tied to draft pick compensation.

Battle of the Aces: Max Scherzer takes on Clayton Kershaw tonight

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I hope you don’t have any plans tonight at around 10PM Eastern time, because that’s when we get a pitching matchup for the ages as Max Scherzer will take on Clayton Kershaw at Dodger Stadium. When they meet tonight it will be the first time two pitchers with three or more Cy Young Awards have matched up since 2006. That year, and in 2005 and 2000, Roger Clemens faced Greg Maddux. In 2001 Clemens faced Pedro Martinez.

Kershaw won his hardware in 2011, 2013 and 2014, with an MVP award in 2014 to boot. Scherzer collected trophies in 2013, 2016 and 2017. Each has started the 2018 season in Cy Young form. Kershaw is 1-2, but that record is due to poor run support. He has a 1.73 ERA and has struck out 31 batters and has walked only three in 26 innings. Scherzer is 3-1 with a 1.33 ERA and a whopping 38 strikeouts to only 4 walks in 27 innings.

This will be the third time that Kershaw and Scherzer faced each other if you include the playoffs. The first meeting was a decade ago when both were rookies. They most recently faced off in Game 1 of the 2016 NLDS, way back when Scherzer only had one Cy Young Award to his credit. Kershaw beat Scherzer in that playoff game and the Dodgers beat Scherzer’s teams in the two regular season matchups, with neither guy setting the world on fire. As so often happens in baseball, the hype hasn’t been matched by reality.

Still, there’s always a chance it will. And even if, in the end, this turns into a slugfest, the first couple of innings should at least give us some hope of something good. I’ll be watching.