Red Sox

MLB Rumors: Red Sox sent 'high-level' scout to Giants-Mets ace matchup

MLB Rumors: Red Sox sent 'high-level' scout to Giants-Mets ace matchup

How's this for an eye-opening development: With the MLB trade deadline reportedly less than two weeks away, the Boston Red Sox sent a "high-level scout" to Thursday's high-profile showdown between Madison Bumgarner and Noah Syndergaard in San Francisco, according to MLB Network's Jon Morosi.

But before you dream of Bumgarner or Syndergaard in a Red Sox uniform, check out Morosi's full report from Friday morning:

Morosi suggests the scout at Thursday's Giants-Mets game may have been focusing on San Francisco's relief pitchers instead of the two aces that started the game.

Tops on that list is All-Star closer Will Smith, a 30-year-old left-hander who may be the Giants' most coveted asset outside Bumgarner.

The Red Sox obviously need bullpen help, and while the team is intent on converting Nathan Eovaldi to closer, it makes sense that the scouting department would do its due diligence on available relievers in case that experiment goes awry.

Outside Smith, San Francisco also has some decent middle relievers in right-hander Sam Dyson (.935 WHIP over 46 innings) 24-year-old Reyes Moronta (59 strikeouts in 43.1 innings) and lefty Tony Watson (5.80 strikeout-to-walk ratio).

Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski may have to further deplete an already thin farm system to make another move before the July 31 deadline, but it appears Boston is at least kicking the tires on what's out there after bringing in starter Andrew Cashner last week.

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Alex Verdugo shows Manny Ramirez love with unique Red Sox number choice

Alex Verdugo shows Manny Ramirez love with unique Red Sox number choice

Alex Verdugo apparently isn't afraid of strong first impressions.

The new Red Sox outfielder, acquired from the Dodgers in the blockbuster that sent Mookie Betts and David Price to Los Angeles, initially was assigned No. 12, the number of former Boston utility man Brock Holt.

But Verdugo doesn't want to be the next Brock Holt, so he's changing his digits ... to No. 99.

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"I looked through the roster, and that was the one that kind of stood out the most to me," Verdugo said Tuesday, via MLB.com's Dawn Klemish.

It stood out because no player in Red Sox history has ever worn No. 99. In fact, only two Red Sox players worn numbers in the 90s: Alfredo Aceves (2011-13) and Dalier Hinojosa (2015).

Verdugo, whose No. 27 he wore in L.A. is retired for Carlton Fisk in Boston, said didn't want a number that a Sox player had previously worn. He also admitted his choice was inspired by former Red Sox outfielder Manny Ramirez, who wore No. 24 in Boston but rocked No. 99 for the Dodgers from 2008 to 2010.

"Hopefully I’ll do the number justice for him," Verdugo said, adding that he hopes to meet Ramirez one day.

Of course, Verdugo won't be the first No. 99 in the American League East, as Aaron Judge has represented the number quite well for the New York Yankees. (The other three No. 99s in the majors are all pitchers: Hyun-Jin Ryu, Tijuan Walker and Kenyan Middleton.)

Verdugo is expected to miss Opening Day while recovering from a stress fracture in his back. But if the 21-year-old can channel even some of Judge and Ramirez's prowess at the plate, Red Sox fans will take to No. 99 quickly.

MLB players not accepting Rob Manfred's apology after calling World Series trophy 'piece of metal'

MLB players not accepting Rob Manfred's apology after calling World Series trophy 'piece of metal'

Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred tried more damage control on Tuesday.

After referring to the World Series trophy as a "piece of metal," Manfred apologized for the disrespectful comment after receiving plenty of backlash for his choice of words.

“I referred to the World Series trophy in a disrespectful way, and I want to apologize for it,” Manfred said at a press conference at spring training in Arizona. “There’s no excuse for it...It was a mistake to say what I said.”

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Several MLB players already are upset with Manfred's handling of the Houston Astros' sign-stealing scandal and many past and present Astros opponents have criticized the commissioner's penalties against Houston as far too lenient.

Manfred reference to one of baseball's most prized possessions - known officially as The Commissioner's Trophy - as a "piece of metal" only added more fuel to the fire, with current Chicago Cubs and former Boston Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester, in particular, infuriated by the commissioner's words.

“That’s somebody that has never played our game. You play for a reason, you play for that piece of metal. I’m very proud of the three that I have,” Lester said, according to Associated Press. “If that’s the way he feels, then he needs to take his name off the trophy.”

Former Red Sox infielder Lou Merloni also had some choice words for the commissioner.

"Well, I'll say this. I had some time to think about it and no, I don't accept his apology because I think it's ridiculous," Merloni said Tuesday on NBC Sports Boston's Boston Sports Tonight. "The trophy is called the Commissioner's Trophy. He is the commissioner of Major League Baseball and to utter the words it's a 'piece of metal,' to me, is a slap in the face for people who played this game forever, well before he was the commissioner of this league. There are people for whom winning a World Series championship changes their lives. There are people that lose a World Series changes their lives.

"The closest I got was an ALCS. I never got to play in one. I never had an opportunity to win one. There's a lot of guys who have won many, and we praise them for it... they're in the Hall of Fame for it. To sit there and to basically minimize what the World Series trophy is, what this represents, to me, is inexcusable. So, you can apologize all you want, but he never should've uttered those words in the first place. I think it's a disgrace."