For the last five years, third baseman Eric Chavez of the Athletics has been an automatic choice as the American League's Gold Glove winner for defensive excellence. With five Gold Gloves, Chavez joins Brooks Robinson (16), Buddy Bell (6), and Robin Ventura (5) as the only AL third basemen with five or more Gold Gloves.
Even though tendinitis in both forearms has severely hampered Chavez at the plate -- manager Ken Macha dropped him to the No. 8 hole in Monday's game against the Sox and had him hit seventh in the final two games of the series -- Chavez can still make the plays afield, most vividly by running down David Ortiz's foul pop against an overshifted defense and making a sliding catch in Wednesday's game.
But in Mike Lowell, who won his first Gold Glove last season in the National League, Chavez has a new challenger. In the same game, Lowell made an even better play in foul territory with a sliding catch of Bobby Kielty's foul fly between home and third.
Chavez has made just two errors and leads AL third basemen with a fielding percentage of .992, but Lowell is right behind him at .986, with just four errors, and he's handled 49 more chances (295-246). Lowell made three errors in a one-week span (April 21-28), then made an error almost a month later (May 24), but hasn't made one since, his errorless streak at 54 entering this weekend.
Last season, Lowell made just six errors for the Marlins, matching the NL record for fewest errors by a third baseman who had played at least 135 games.
This season, Lowell threatens to obliterate the Red Sox record for fielding percentage by a third baseman, set by Rico Petrocelli in 1971 with a .976 fielding percentage (11 errors in 156 games).
Scouts on alert
The Red Sox had scouts in Philadelphia the last two days to watch Jon Lieber
and Cory Lidle
of the Phillies. Both pitchers won, with Lidle especially sharp in a 5-2 victory over Arizona yesterday in which he allowed just two runs on four hits and struck out eight . . . ESPN baseball analyst Buster Olney
threw out the possibility the Red Sox were working on a major deal involving multiple teams.
It's up to Clemens
Would the Astros move Roger Clemens
? Clemens's agent, Randy Hendricks
, said in an e-mail he had no idea what the Astros were thinking. Meanwhile, Astros manager Phil Garner
told Fox Sports radio, ``I don't know that Rocket's an option. Now, if Rocket were to come to us and say, `Look, I wanna go someplace else for the last month or two,' that's a different story. I don't think that we are in a posture of trying to do something with Rocket, or would consider that, unless it were the other way around, that Rocket asked for it. We committed to Rocket. Our owner, Drayton McLane
, committed to Rocket and I don't think there's gonna be jumping ship with Rocket."
No hits, no run-ins
Red Sox manager Terry Francona
, who over the years has had his run-ins with baseball disciplinarian Bob Watson
, was asked if he would have heard from Watson by now if it had been him, and not White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen
, who had twice within a month screamed at one of his own pitchers for failing to hit a batter. Guillen took veteran Jon Garland
to task last weekend and chastised rookie Sean Tracey
a few weeks earlier. Francona shook his head. ``I wouldn't have done that," he said somberly. ``If I have something to say, I'll . . . Everybody's different." Asked if that meant he would have spoken with a pitcher privately, Francona said straight-faced: ``We don't hit people. Everyone has their own way of doing things. Ozzie certainly wears it on his sleeve. That's his style. We do things the way we do things."
Lopez recalled Javier Lopez
got the word before last night's game in Pawtucket that he was taking the roster spot created when the Red Sox optioned Kason Gabbard
to Triple A Wednesday. The lefthanded Lopez had not allowed a run in six innings with the PawSox . . . Coco Crisp
, the next Julio Franco
? You never know. While talking about Frank Thomas
, Oakland's 38-year-old DH who hit two home runs to beat the Red Sox Wednesday afternoon in Oakland, Crisp mentioned how so many players who used to be done at 33 are playing in their 40s. A guy like Franco, Crisp said, may be playing when he's 50. Who knows, the 26-year-old Crisp said with a smile, he might do the same. ``I would love to," he said. ``I enjoy playing the game. With the ups and downs, sometimes I don't like it, but overall it's like your family. It might get on your nerves sometimes, but you still love it. That's the way the game is."
Nick Cafardo of the Globe staff contributed to this report.
© Copyright 2006 Globe Newspaper Company.