Nationals general manager downplays interest in Carl Pavano

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Carl Pavano has been linked to the Nationals for nearly the entire offseason, with recent reports suggesting that he’s basically narrowed his choices down to Washington or Minnesota, but in talking to Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post yesterday general manager Mike Rizzo surprisingly downplayed the Nationals’ interest:

I hear we are “the finalist” along with the Twins. We’ve never spoken to Pavano and we haven’t talked to his agent since the winter meetings.

The “we’ve never spoken to Pavano” part is essentially meaningless, because as Rizzo indicated any contract talks would technically go through his agent. However, the notion that the Nationals “haven’t talked to his agent since the winter meetings” in early December is hugely surprisingly given the constant stream of reports since then linking Pavano and the Nationals.

Rizzo is either playing coy and being intentionally misleading regarding the Nationals’ pursuit of Pavano or the Twins should be considered heavy favorites to re-sign the 35-year-old right-hander.

Video: J.D. Martinez hits league-tying 23rd home run

Seattle Mariners v Boston Red Sox
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The Red Sox and Mariners left nothing on the table Friday night, going head-to-head in a series opener that eventually ended 14-10 in the Sox’ favor. Led by Steven Wright and Wade LeBlanc — neither of whom made it past the fifth inning — the teams combined for 34 hits and four home runs, including two moonshots from Seattle’s Nelson Cruz and a five-run rally that gave Boston the edge in the seventh.

In the sixth inning, however, the Red Sox were still scrambling to make up a four-run deficit. Left fielder J.D. Martinez cut it in half with one swing, pouncing on an 89.5-mph fastball from Seattle right-hander Nick Vincent and posting it to dead center field for a two-run shot.

The 427-foot blast was Martinez’s 23rd of the season, tying Mike Trout for the most home runs in the league this year. While he still has a ways to go before eclipsing the career-best 45-HR mark he set in 2017, he’s off to a strong start this season: Entering Friday’s game, the 30-year-old slugger was batting .315/.386/.623 with a 1.009 OPS and AL-leading 55 RBI in 308 PA. He finished Friday’s game 4-for-5 with five RBI, just one triple shy of hitting for the cycle.

Heading into the All-Star Break, both Martinez and Trout still have some competition for the home run title. Jose Ramirez is sitting at 22 homers, while Nelson Cruz and Khris Davis are tied at 20 apiece.