MLB News and Notes August - 30

MLB News and Notes August - 30

Notes from Wednesday's games
August 29, 2007

TORONTO:
Despite the loss, the Blue Jays went 4-3 on their road trip to Oakland and Anaheim, their first winning trip since the opening week of the season. They have not swept a series of at least three games on the road since June 20-22, 2006, at Atlanta. ``It's frustrating,'' manager John Gibbons said. ``Extra innings on the road are always trying because they get the last at-bat.'' ... Matt Stairs tied the game with a pinch-hit home run with two outs in the ninth inning against Huston Street. It was his second pinch homer of the season and 12th in his career, trailing only Mark Sweeney's 15 among active players.

OAKLAND: Jack Hannahan's game-ending single in the 11th inning extended his hitting streak to 11 games as he makes the most of his late-season chance with the A's. The 27-year-old had only nine major league at_bats before being acquired from Detroit earlier this month. ``Anytime you can get an opportunity in the big leagues it's huge,'' he said. ``I'm just trying to make the most of it. I'm having a blast. I feel more and more relaxed every game and am in a groove.'' ... RHP Esteban Loaiza was claimed off waivers by the Los Angeles Dodgers before the game, saving the A's more than $8 million in guaranteed salary through 2008. Oakland must figure out who will take Loaiza's place in the rotation Sunday against Detroit. RHP Colby Lewis was called up Wednesday and is under consideration. The A's can also call up additional players Saturday when the rosters expand to 40 players.


LOS ANGELES: Manager Mike Scioscia said a decision is coming in the next couple of days on whether RHP Ervin Santana will take his turn on Monday against Oakland. ``We're talking about a couple of things,'' Scioscia said. The manager mentioned how good Dustin Moseley has been, most recently Tuesday when he held Seattle scoreless over 5 1-3 innings after Santana allowed five runs and got only one out. There is a slight chance RHP Jered Weaver, who won Wednesday, could pitch Monday, but the Angels would rather have each of their starters slide back a day with extra rest following Thursday's off day. ... 3B Chone Figgins missed his eighth consecutive game because of a bone bruise in his left wrist. He's been fielding ground balls and said he will attempt to swing a bat on Friday. ``It just feels sore more than anything ... now I know I can squeeze my hand,'' Figgins said. ... OF Vladimir Guerrero went 2-for-5 with his 22nd home run - and his season average against the Mariners actually went down. He is batting .500 (29-for-58) against them this season. Guerrero has 18 RBIs in his last 17 games.

SEATTLE: Even though his team just got swept to fall five games behind the Angels with 31 to play and have lost four games in the standings since Saturday, manager John McLaren said ``we are still in a good position. It wasn't a do-or-die series. We expect to do better, believe me.'' When asked if he liked the chances of his team, which entered the day with a one-game lead in the wild-card standings, OF Ichiro Suzuki said, ``Of course.'' ... Suzuki went 0-for-4 to end a nine-game hitting streak. He was 3-for-13 in the series. ... The Mariners have lost 19 of their last 26 games against the Angels dating to last season.


BOSTON: LF Manny Ramirez was not in the lineup because of a strained muscle on his left side. He probably will be sidelined for several days. ``I don't know. Maybe a week?'' Ramirez said. The slugger came out of Tuesday night's game after aggravating the injury. ... Eric Hinske started in LF and batted ninth. 3B Mike Lowell moved up to the cleanup spot. ... Reserve OF Bobby Kielty had X-rays on his sore lower back, which were negative. His back has been bothering him since he crashed into the low fence at Fenway Park to make a terrific catch against the Angels on Aug. 19. ``If he needed to play tonight he could, but we'd rather not,'' manager Terry Francona said. ``There are days like today when you are glad to have Hinske.'' ... Lowell entered batting .500 (18-for-36) during his 10-game hitting streak. ... Jonathan Papelbon had fanned eight of his last nine batters, giving him 71 strikeouts in 46 2-3 innings.

NEW YORK: Yankees manager Joe Torre said he won't use RHP Mike Mussina out of the bullpen. Mussina was pulled from the rotation Tuesday following three poor starts in a row. ``It doesn't mean Mike's not going to start again before the year is over,'' Torre said. ``We're dealing with this like we're skipping a start.'' RHP Ian Kennedy will be called up from Triple-A to make his major league debut in Mussina's spot Saturday against Tampa Bay. If Kennedy pitches well, he could stay in the rotation. ``We'll see what we see Saturday,'' Torre said. ``If he comes in here and pitches very well, then I think we're cheating ourselves if we didn't look at it again.'' If Kennedy falters, Mussina might get another opportunity. ``We're going to keep him on schedule like he's going to pitch again,'' Torre said. ``Maybe this little blow will help him.'' Mussina will work in the bullpen with pitching coach Ron Guidry and try to find his form. ``I think he's lost that aggressiveness that pitchers need to have,'' Torre said. ``I'll rely a great deal on what happens out there.'' Torre said he and Mussina had another conversation about the move, and the manager felt better about their latest chat because he had more time to explain the situation. Mussina still wasn't available for comment. ... Hideki Matsui, who has a sore right knee, was the DH again while Johnny Damon made another start in LF. Damon hit a two-run single in the second, extending his recent surge. The Yankees entered 13-2 this year when Damon starts in left. He came in batting .435 with 20 runs, three homers and 17 RBIs in those starts.


MINNESOTA: INF Nick Punto got a lot of congratulatory phone calls Wednesday from friends who saw his spectacular fielding play in Tuesday night's game on late-night TV highlights. ``It seems like everybody I know saw it and called,'' said Punto, who ranged behind second base and barehanded a high hopper by Cleveland's Ryan Garko, throwing to first in one motion on a bounce for the out. ``It helps to have Justin Morneau over there,'' Punto said. ``I just got it and threw, knowing he'd save me.'' ... OF Torii Hunter remained in the lineup despite a sore right shoulder, the lingering effect of crashing into the wall while making a spectacular catch in the seventh on Tuesday. ``I'm banged up, but playing,'' said Hunter, who jammed the shoulder robbing Casey Blake of a hit. ... C Joe Mauer missed his fourth game because of a strained left hamstring. ``He's better, but not better to go out and do anything,'' manager Ron Gardenhire said. ``He's not going out on the field.'' ... Gardenhire was miffed at the performance of LHP Glen Perkins on Tuesday in a rehab assignment at Double-A New Britain. Perkins, out since May 22 with a sore shoulder, allowed six runs and seven hits in three innings. ``He also didn't cover first base, failed to back up third,'' Gardenhire said. ``Pretty disappointing, and it doesn't bode well for him.'' ... LHP Dennys Reyes, who went on the DL because of a sore elbow Monday, is scheduled to throw on the side Friday.

CLEVELAND: LHP Rafael Perez has emerged from the season's shadows and walked into the spotlight. He wasn't on Cleveland's roster a few months back and was barely in the club's plans. Now it's hard to envision where the Indians would be without him. ``I don't think anyone could have imagined him coming up here and filling the role that he has filled,'' Indians manager Eric Wedge said. With a devastating slider and sinker, Perez has been nearly unhittable against left-handers, who entered Wednesday's game batting just .119 (8-for-67) against him. Overall, he has the fourth best ERA (1.70) among AL relievers, and over 20 games in the second half of the season is ERA is a minuscule 1.16. ... SS Jhonny Peralta's hideous stats - 3-for-28 with 22 strikeouts - against Johan Santana gave Asdrubal Cabrera his first start as Cleveland's shortstop. Cabrera has sparked the Indians since replacing Josh Barfield at second baseman earlier this month. He's batting .302 with a homer and eight RBIs in 15 games - 13 of them starting at second. Cabrera hit a two-run homer in Cleveland's four-run, six-hit first inning against Santana.


TAMPA BAY: OF Carl Crawford set a club record Wednesday with his 45th hit in August, breaking the team record for hits in a month. The old record was held by Aubrey Huff, who had 44 hits in August 2002. Crawford played in his club-record 801th game Wednesday; he broke Huff's club record of 799 games on Tuesday night. ... Tampa Bay entered Wednesday's game with 21 road wins, one more than it had all last season. ... The Devil Rays scored 52 runs over a five-game stretch ending Tuesday, helped considerably by their 15-run outburst Tuesday. Over the five games, Tampa Bay was batting .353 with 27 extra-base hits and a .452 mark with runners in scoring position.

BALTIMORE:
Orioles LHP Erik Bedard will miss his scheduled start in Boston on Saturday because of a strained muscle in his right side, Baltimore manager Dave Trembley said Wednesday. Bedard, the AL strikeout leader, is not expected to miss more than one turn in the rotation. ... Rookie Garrett Olson will start for Bedard on Saturday, and rookie Radhames Liz will make his second major league start Friday night in the series opener. ... In losing seven straight games through Tuesday, the Orioles were outscored 85-28, including 65-8 from the sixth through ninth innings.


DETROIT:
LHP Kenny Rogers will throw a three-inning simulated game in Oakland on Friday. He's been on the DL since July 26 because of left elbow inflammation. When he'll rejoin the rotation is still not clear, but the Tigers will be watching closely in hopes that he may be getting close to offering help for the September playoff drive. ... OF Gorkys Hernandez of the Single-A West Michigan team was chosen MVP of the Midwest League. He's the first Tigers minor leaguer to earn such an honor since Robert Fick in 1997. ... OF Curtis Granderson is the 11th left-handed hitter in team history to get 70 extra-base hits in a season.

KANSAS CITY: DH Mike Sweeney is expected to rejoin the club on Saturday, which could mean that rookie Billy Butler will shift to first base. Sweeney has been on the DL since June 19 because of inflammation of the right knee. Manager Buddy Bell said Butler, who was tried briefly this year in right field, has been working hard to learn to play first. ``It's going to take some time. But he's been on the other side of the field at third base, so he has some idea of what he's doing over there. He works hard and he wants to do this. We'll see. He's going to get a lot of playing time at first.'' ... Tuesday night's 6-3 victory marked the first time the Royals won a game while getting out-hit by at least 10 hits. KC had six hits to 16 for the Tigers. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it happened once before this year in a 14-inning game between Atlanta and Houston, but had not been seen in a nine-inning game since May 17, 1998 when Detroit beat Anaheim 4-3 while being out-hit 14-4.


WASHINGTON: The Nationals, who began Wednesday tied for fourth in the NL East with Florida, haven't been higher than fourth since June 19, 2006. But they could have a say in who wins the division title and the wild card - their final 13 games are against the Mets and Phillies, who are a combined 15-8 against Washington. ... RHP Shawn Hill was charged with seven runs - six earned - and seven hits in his no-decision against the Dodgers. It was only the second time all season that he allowed more than two earned runs. In the other eight starts in which he had either a loss or a no-decision, his ERA was 2.52. ... Robert Fick's home run was one of only three he's hit in 278 at_bats with the Nationals, and his first since July 18, 2006. Fick started for the first time in 10 games. As a pinch-hitter this season, he is 1-for-19. The Nationals' batting coach is Lenny Harris, who holds the major league record for pinch-hits with 212.

LOS ANGELES: Before Wednesday's matinee, the Dodgers acknowledged former six-time Gold Glove 1B Wes Parker, who was named last week as the best at his position on Rawlings' all-time Gold Glove team. Parker, a career .267 hitter and the last Dodger to hit for the cycle on May 7, 1970, was pleased that his defensive accomplishments have stood the test of time. ``When I started at first base, I really was a specialist because I had a hard time hitting,'' Parker recalled. ``And just the fact that Walt Alston kept me in the lineup was a real tribute to what I was doing defensively. The writers used to go in his office after games and ask him: 'How could you keep putting Parker at first base? He's hit three homers a year at a power position.' And Walt would say: 'Wes saves me as many runs as most first baseman drive in.' It was what I did extremely well, and it kept me in the big leagues for the first five years.''


COLORADO: The Rockies optioned LHP Franklin Morales to Triple-A Colorado Springs after he was the losing pitcher Tuesday night in just his third major league start. Colorado called up INF Clint Barmes. ... With his four-hit day, Kazuo Matsui is 13 for his last 29 (.448). ... RHP Aaron Cook, nursing a strained muscle in his left side, will pitch for Colorado Springs at Tacoma on Saturday. ``If he completes that task, we will put him back in the rotation and his tentative day to pitch would be Sept. 7,'' manager Clint Hurdle said. ``We need to take the next step.'' ... OF Willy Taveras (right quad strain) was set to play seven innings in CF for Colorado Springs and expected to join the Rockies sometime this weekend in Phoenix.

SAN FRANCISCO:
OF Randy Winn extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a single in the ninth. Rajai Davis was the only Giant with more than one hit, going 2-for-4. ... RHP Tyler Walker pitched a scoreless eighth in his first appearance in the majors since undergoing Tommy John surgery on July 6, 2006. He was called up from Triple-A Fresno on Monday. ``It felt good,'' Walker said. ``I had a little bit of butterflies going early on. It was exhilarating for sure. After the first pitch I settled down and got the feel for it. I got my feet wet again.'' ... Dan Ortmeier made his seventh career start at 1B after playing OF for most of his career. ... 2B Ray Durham returned to San Francisco's starting lineup after recovering from a strained left hamstring injury that kept him from starting the team's previous three games.


ATLANTA: RHP John Smoltz, who allowed three runs in six innings pitching on three days' rest Tuesday at Florida, is scheduled to start Sunday against the New York Mets and former teammate Tom Glavine. Manager Bobby Cox said Smoltz had ``great stuff'' Tuesday, but said he didn't know whether he would use the veteran on three days' rest again. Said Smoltz: ``I'd like to do it as many times as possible, from the standpoint to get us in the playoffs.'' ... LHP Chuck James will probably be activated from the disabled list and start Saturday against the Mets, Cox said. James went on the DL Aug. 21 retroactive to the 17th. ``It really wasn't an injury - just kind of a dead arm,'' Cox said. ... The 11-inning loss Tuesday at Florida left Atlanta 4-9 in extra-inning games.

FLORIDA: RHP Byung-Hyun Kim will return to the rotation and start Saturday against Philadelphia, manager Fredi Gonzalez said. Kim (7-6, 5.44 ERA) was waived by the Marlins this month, then re-signed with them as a free agent Saturday. Rookie RHP Daniel Barone (0-2, 8.31) will move to the bullpen. ... RHP Henry Owens will undergo shoulder surgery Thursday, the Marlins said. He was briefly the closer this season but has been on the disabled list since June 13. ... Hanley Ramirez led NL shortstops through Tuesday with 21 errors, but Gonzalez predicts improvement. ``He can cut that down tremendously,'' Gonzalez said.


CINCINNATI: INF Jeff Keppinger ranks second in the National League in hitting in August (.395) and since the All-Star break (.368). Keppinger, who has compiled all those statistics since he was recalled from Triple-A on July 7, was given a day off Wednesday by interim manager Pete Mackanin. ... Mackanin said that RHP Bronson Arroyo would start Sunday's game in St. Louis, but was not decided on who would start Saturday. The Reds' rotation is in flux, in part due to the doubleheader the team played Tuesday in Pittsburgh.

PITTSBURGH:
Manager Jim Tracy set his rotation for the weekend series in Milwaukee: RHP Tony Armas Friday, LHP Shane Youman Saturday and LHP Tom Gorzelanny on Sunday. ... SS Jack Wilson is hopeful to return to the lineup Thursday after missing his past four starts with a bruised left shin. ... LHP Zach Duke, on the disabled list since June 29 with left elbow tightness, will make a rehab start for Triple-A Indianapolis on Saturday and could make one more start before returning to the Pirates in September. ... When RHP Matt Capps earned saves in both ends of the doubleheader sweep of Cincinnati on Tuesday, it marked the first time a Pirates pitcher saved both games of a doubleheader since Kent Tekulve on July 22, 1979, against Atlanta.


NEW YORK: SS Jose Reyes, who leads the league in stolen bases, was caught stealing in the first inning. He reached on a bunt, the first time in the series he was on base. ... 3B David Wright hit his 24th home run. ... Mets manager Willie Randolph was still undecided about who would pitch on Saturday. He suggested the Mets could go bullpen-by-committee.

PHILADELPHIA: 2B Chase Utley, who played in two games since returning from hand surgery one month ago, was given the day off. Utley said he felt fine. Manager Charlie Manuel said he just wanted to rest Utley and the All-Star was available to pinch hit. ... Manuel said LHP Cole Hamels would return off the disabled list and pitch Sunday at Florida. Manuel hadn't decided who will get bumped from the rotation. ... When the Phillies rallied in the eighth to tie the Mets on Tuesday, then won it in the 10th, it tied them for the major league lead with 38 comeback wins this season. ... SS Jimmy Rollins hit his 24th career leadoff homer.

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MILWAUKEE: RHP Ben Sheets returned to the mound Wednesday after missing 40 games with a distal sprain of his right middle finger. The Brewers were in first place in the NL Central when Sheets went down, but have gone 14-26 and fallen to third place in his absence, prompting their ace to skip a rehab assignment. ``We're running on limited time right now,'' manager Ned Yost said. ``When we saw his stuff the other day, it was really, really good. ... Let him do his rehabbing here.'' Yost is hopeful that Sheets can help stabilize the club. ``When you lose your ace or your closer, it kind of throws the other guys into a bit of flux,'' Yost said. ``They get a real feeling of comfort that their number one guy is there. Getting him back can be a boost to not only the starters but everybody on the team.'' ... OF Bill Hall, mired in a 4-for-24 slump, wasn't in the starting lineup. ``Billy's struggling to put the ball in play,'' Yost said. ``He's fighting some things mechanically. But he's out there early, working at it and trying to get right.'' The Brewers moved Corey Hart to center and put Gabe Gross in right.

CHICAGO: General manager Jim Hendry said the Cubs will probably call up three or four players when rosters expand Saturday and then add several more once Triple-A Iowa has finished its season Sept. 4. He said lefty reliever Carmen Pignatiello, just sent down Monday when Alfonso Soriano was activated off the DL, will rejoin the team. Veteran reliever Will Ohman, who was sent down and then went to have shoulder examined after the demotion, could also be called up, as could catcher Geovani Soto and infielder Eric Patterson, both of whom have experience with the Cubs this season. Hendry said the Cubs will probably end up with a roster of 32 to 34 players for the final month ... OF Angel Pagan, recovering from a bout of colitis, will go on a rehab assignment at one of the Cubs' minor league affiliates this weekend. ... Manager Lou Piniella said he might substitute defensively for Alfonso Soriano in the late innings for several days. Soriano just came off the DL on Monday after missing three weeks with a quad injury and Piniella wants to make sure his legs don't get tired out early in his comeback.


ST. LOUIS: 3B Scott Rolen will sit out the rest of the Houston series after another flareup in his nagging left shoulder. Manager Tony La Russa said two recent cortisone shots haven't reduced the pain. ``He's really feeling like he's going backwards,'' La Russa said. ``We'll get back (to St. Louis) on Friday and we'll see where we stand.'' Rolen's shoulder problems go back two seasons. He had surgery in May 2005 and has had off-and-on problems ever since. ``He was going to try and hang in as long as he could,'' La Russa said. ``We'll have to find something at home to make it better.'' ... 1B Albert Pujols won his first Gold Glove in 2006 and La Russa said he deserves another one. Pujols snagged a sharp grounder in Tuesday's game, threw to second, then raced back to first to catch the relay and complete an inning-ending double play. ``He's made plays virtually every night,'' La Russa said. ``A lot of them have come at critical times. He's really played well.'' ... Baseball goes in cycles and La Russa said it's the NL Central's time to struggle. ``Every year, there's a division where somebody doesn't play lights out,'' he said. ``I'm just thankful that we're a .500 club and we've still got a shot.''

HOUSTON: As promised, interim manager Cecil Cooper tinkered with the batting order on his second day on the job. Cooper took over when Phil Garner was fired on Monday. Cooper had Hunter Pence leading off and moved 2B Craig Biggio out of the top spot for only the fourth time in his 98 starts this season. Pence is batting .321 with eight stolen bases; Biggio is hitting only .252 with four steals. ``Hunter's a guy with some speed,'' Cooper said. ``We're going to try to create some things.'' ... General manager Tim Purpura, also fired on Monday, took criticism for trading CF Willy Taveras and two pitchers to Colorado for Jason Jennings in the last offseason. Taveras was the Astros' top base stealer over the past two years. Without him this season, the Astros have only 52 steals, third-worst in the NL. Cooper vowed that he would be more aggressive than Garner was at sending runners. ``The speed we do have, we've got to try to get a lot of steals,'' he said. ``That will be the plan.''

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Re: MLB News and Notes August - 30

Baseball Today - August 30
ASSOCIATED PRESS

SCOREBOARD

Thursday, Aug. 30

Milwaukee at Chicago Cubs (8:05 p.m. EDT). Ted Lilly (13-7) starts for the Cubs, who lead the Brewers by 1 1/2 games in the NL Central.

STARS Wednesday

-Aaron Harang, Reds, threw a two-hitter for his fourth career shutout and Cincinnati beat Pittsburgh 8-0.

-Jack Hannahan, Athletics, hit a game-ending single in the 11th inning to lift Oakland over Toronto 5-4.

-Jeff Francis and Garrett Atkins, Rockies. Francis pitched a six-hitter for his second career shutout and Atkins homered twice to help Colorado defeat San Francisco 8-0.

-Matt Diaz, Braves, homered twice to lead Atlanta past Florida 7-4.

-Roy Oswalt, Astros, struck out nine in seven innings and had an RBI single to propel Houston over St. Louis 7-0.

WILD WEST

The Los Angeles Angels beat Seattle on 8-2 Wednesday to complete a three-game sweep and open a five-game lead in the AL West. For the series, the Angels outscored the Mariners 24-8, outhit them 43-23 and opened their biggest division lead since before play on June 30. Seattle has lost five in a row after winning 13 of 17.

WELCOME BACK

Ben Sheets came off the disabled list to give the sagging Milwaukee Brewers a lift Wednesday night in a 6-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs. Sheets (11-4) worked six innings, allowing six hits and a run to get his first win since June 30 as Milwaukee kept Chicago right-hander Carlos Zambrano winless over the last month.

REVERSAL OF FORTUNES

Kansas City defeated Detroit 5-0 to drop the Tigers 4 1/2 games behind division-leading Cleveland, matching their largest deficit of the season. Detroit has dropped the first two games of this three-game series in a stadium where they had been 14-1 in their last 15 games. It was just the Brewers' fourth win in their last 15 games.

DON'T WALK THIS WAY

Greg Maddux didn't walk a batter for the sixth straight start and San Diego defeated Arizona 3-1 on Wednesday. The 41-year-old pitched seven strong innings, allowing one run and eight hits while striking out five. He got a no-decision after winning his previous three starts and four of five.

REELING

Washington blew a five-run lead and fell to Los Angeles 10-9 in 12 innings on Wednesday for their sixth straight loss.

SNAPPED

C.C. Sabathia allowed two runs and seven hits in six innings to win for the first time since Aug. 3 and Cleveland beat Minnesota 4-3 on Wednesday night. ... Oakland beat Toronto 5-4 in 11 innings to snap a five-game losing streak.

SPEAKING

''It was like, let's hurry up and get off the field before they change their mind.'' - Philadelphia closer Brett Myers, on a controversial call that ended the game and sealed a 3-2 win over the New York Mets on Wednesday. On a grounder to shortstop, New York's Marlon Anderson made a rough slide at Tadahito Iguchi outside the baseline and knocked the second baseman down as he threw to first. Second base umpire CB Bucknor ruled interference and a double play.

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Orioles' Bedard to miss next start
August 29th, 2007

Baltimore, MD (Sports Network) - Baltimore Orioles left-hander Erik Bedard will miss at least his upcoming scheduled start with a strained right oblique, the team announced Wednesday.

"He woke up and felt some discomfort," said Orioles manager Dave Trembley. "I asked him how long he's been like that and he said, 'three or four weeks.' He said that it never affected his ability to pitch. He didn't say anything to anybody, which didn't surprise me. He has marked improvement today, but I'm going to skip him a start anyway."

The major league leader in strikeouts with 221, Bedard has yet to miss a start this season and is 15 innings away from establishing a new personal career high.

He allowed six earned runs in his last outing, an 11-3 loss to the Minnesota Twins.

Baltimore is currently mired in an eight-game losing streak.

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Manny out for rest of Yankees series with strained oblique
ASSOCIATED PRESS

NEW YORK -- Manny Ramirez was not in Boston's starting lineup Wednesday night because of a strained muscle on his left side, and the Red Sox slugger likely will be sidelined for several days.

Ramirez came out of Tuesday night's game against the New York Yankees in the seventh inning after aggravating the injury. He was examined by two doctors Wednesday and wasn't sure how long he might be out.

''I don't know. Maybe a week?'' Ramirez said.

Red Sox manager Terry Francona acknowledged Ramirez almost certainly would miss the final two games of the Yankees series and probably won't be available until at least Friday night against Baltimore.

''I hate to say he's not going to play before we need to, but that's realistic,'' Francona said. ''He showed up early today - pretty sore. It's not worse than he was yesterday, which is good.''

Eric Hinske started in left field for the Red Sox and batted ninth. Mike Lowell moved up to the cleanup spot. Boston began the night with a seven-game lead in the AL East over the Yankees.

Ramirez hit his 20th homer of the season in the series opener Tuesday. He is batting .292 with 86 RBIs and 32 doubles.

Ramirez, who grew up near Yankee Stadium, has always been a nemesis for New York. He is hitting .479 with 11 home runs and 30 RBIs in 27 games against the Yankees since the start of 2006.

He also has 52 career homers against New York, tied with Red Sox Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski for fourth-most by a Yankees opponent.

New York manager Joe Torre said facing the Red Sox without Ramirez makes ''a huge difference.''

''There's two reasons: First of all, you don't have Manny. And then you don't have Manny sitting behind (David) Ortiz,'' Torre said.

Ramirez was replaced in left field Tuesday night by Bobby Kielty, who was then removed in the eighth inning due to a sore lower back.

Kielty had X-rays on Wednesday, which were negative. His back has been bothering him since he crashed into the low fence at Fenway Park to make a terrific catch against the Los Angeles Angels on Aug. 19.

''If he needed to play tonight he could, but we'd rather not,'' Francona said. ''There are days like today when you are glad to have Hinske.''

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Tigers option Miller; recall Vasquez
August 30th, 2007

Detroit, MI (Sports Network) - The Detroit Tigers have optioned pitcher Andrew Miller to Single-A Lakeland and filled the roster spot by recalling pitcher Virgil Vasquez from Triple-A Toledo.

Miller started Wednesday's game against Kansas City and didn't make it out of the first inning. The Royals tagged him for five runs on five hits and two walks in just two-thirds of an inning on the way to a 5-0 victory.

The rookie left-hander owns a record of 5-5 with a 5.63 earned-run average in 13 starts this season. He is 0-2 in his last five outings and hasn't picked up a win since July 18.

Vasquez is scheduled to start Friday's series-opener at Oakland, taking the rotation spot vacated by Jair Jurrjens, who went on the disabled list with right shoulder soreness following Sunday's game against the New York Yankees.

Friday's start will be the third this season for Vasquez, who is 0-1 with a 9.39 ERA for the Tigers. He last pitched for Detroit on July 24 against the Chicago White Sox, allowing two runs on four hits in five innings.

The 25-year-old right-hander has a mark of 12-5 with a 3.48 ERA in 25 starts with Toledo. He is tied for the International League lead with 12 wins and tied for second in strikeouts with 127.

Detroit also announced the first four players the club will recall when rosters can expand on Saturday. Pitchers Yorman Bazardo and Jose Capellan, along with infielders Mike Hessman and Omar Infante, will join the Tigers this weekend.

In addition, the Tigers also acquired left-handed pitcher Clay Rapada from the Chicago Cubs as the player to be named later in the August 23 deal that sent outfielder Craig Monroe to Chicago.

Rapada, who was 7-2 with a 3.58 ERA and 17 saves in 55 games with Triple-A Iowa, will be assigned to Toledo.

The Tigers opened a spot on the 40-man roster for Rapada by outrighting the contract of pitcher Aqulino Lopez to Toledo. Lopez had no record with a 5.19 ERA and one save in 10 games for the Tigers this season.

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Re: MLB News and Notes August - 30

Phillies' Garcia has surgery
August 30th, 2007

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Freddy Garcia had season-ending surgery on his right shoulder on Thursday.

Garcia has been on the disabled list since June 9 after he left his last start June 8 in Kansas City. He underwent an MRI the next day and was placed on the DL after the exam revealed fraying in his rotator cuff and a problem in the labrum.

Acquired in an offseason trade with the Chicago White Sox, the Garcia is just 1-5 with a 5.90 ERA in 11 starts.

The 32-year-old Venezuelan has a career record of 117-76 with a 4.07 ERA in parts of nine seasons with Philadelphia, Chicago and the Seattle Mariners.

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