Orioles are now willing to give up their pick to sign a pitcher

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The Orioles have arguably had the worst off-season of any Major League team. They had the much-publicized contract snafus with closer Grant Balfour and outfielder Tyler Colvin, backing out of contracts with both at the last minute. They traded closer Jim Johnson and, as some have stated, whiffed on the return.

Most importantly, though, the Orioles have needed to bolster their starting rotation and they have not done that. They recently signed Korean pitcher Suk-Min Yoon, but it remains to be seen how he will contribute. They were interested in Bronson Arroyo, but he signed with the Diamondbacks, citing the Balfour and Colvin issues as a deterrent from playing in Baltimore. They were interested in A.J. Burnett, who wanted to play near his home in Maryland, but lost that battle to the Phillies.

Now, with few options and the regular season drawing ever closer, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Orioles are willing to give up their first round pick, 17th overall, to sign an impact starting pitcher like Ubaldo Jimenez or Ervin Santana. As Rosenthal notes, the Orioles are built to compete within the window of the 2014-15 seasons. They would be foolish to enter the regular season without having addressed their most glaring need. Rosenthal adds that if the Orioles decide to stay in-house, they could turn to 2012 first rounder Kevin Gausman to round out the rotation. Still, their depth behind Gausman is lacking and would find themselves  scrambling in the event of an injury.

The Red Sox will air anti-racism PSA before games beginning next week

Associated Press
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Adrian Walker of the Boston Globe reports that the Boston Red Sox will air an anti-racism public service announcement at Fenway Park before their game on September 28. This is part of a large campaign backed by the Sox, the Boston Bruins, Boston Celtics, New England Patriots and New England Revolution “featuring athletes calling on fans to take a stand against racism and hate speech at sports venues.”

This comes in the wake of a group of protesters hanging an anti-racism banner in Fenway Park last week which, in turn came a few months after Adam Jones, like many visiting players of color before him, claimed that racial epithets were hurled at him by fans in the Fenway bleachers.

Red Sox CEO Sam Kennedy tells the globe that the Jones incident is what inspired the PSA campaign:

“When the incidents in May occurred, one of the first things we recognized was sports teams are high-profile, and we have the opportunity to help lead a high-level discussion around this,” he said. “We wanted to take the lead in taking a stand against racism.”

Bryce Harper could return next week

Associated Press
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Bryce Harper, out with a bone bruise in his knee, was able to take batting practice again yesterday. He also sprinted and played catch and stuff and reported no problems. As such, the Washington Nationals are optimistic he’ll be able to return next week.

This is certainly good news for Washington. By coming back next week Harper should be able to shake off some rust before the playoffs start.

Harper, who has been out since mid-August, is hitting .326/.419/.614 with 29 homers and 87 RBI in 106 games on the year.