Red Sox notebook

Relief sought in Mets’ Wagner

Waiver claim could land veteran lefty

By Nick Cafardo and Amalie Benjamin
Globe Staff / August 22, 2009

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With just one lefthander in their bullpen - Hideki Okajima - and their relief corps still weakened by the trade of Justin Masterson, the Red Sox were awarded a waiver claim on Mets lefty Billy Wagner, according to a major league source. Wagner was placed on waivers Wednesday, the day before he made his first major league appearance in almost a year after having Tommy John surgery.

According to a major league source, the Sox have been monitoring Wagner and scouted him Thursday night against the Braves, when he worked a perfect inning with two strikeouts. He hit 96 miles per hour on the radar gun.

The Mets can either work out a trade with the Sox, allow Wagner to leave without getting anything in return (as the Blue Jays did with Alex Rios), or pull Wagner off waivers.

Another major league source told the Globe that the Sox would like to get a deal done with the Mets, and Wagner does have a no-trade clause in his contract. Wagner has said that he might be willing to waive it to join a playoff contender.

Wagner would not be an inexpensive pickup, owed about $3 million the rest of this season with an $8 million club option in 2010. But the Sox could use bullpen help after rotating an assortment of arms since Masterson was traded to Cleveland July 31, including Marcus McBeth, Billy Traber, Enrique Gonzalez, Junichi Tazawa, Fernando Cabrera, and now Michael Bowden, who was recalled from Pawtucket yesterday.

Over 15 major league seasons, Wagner, 38, has a 2.40 ERA and 385 saves.

Hello again
Bowden was in the bathroom at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, R.I., shaving his head after Thursday night’s game when manager Ron Johnson came in to talk.

According to Bowden, Johnson said, “When you’re done shaving your head, come in my office so I can tell you about you going to the big leagues.’’ Asked whether that sped up his handiwork, Bowden quipped, “Well, he already blew the surprise, so I took my time.’’

Bowden was scheduled to start today for Pawtucket, but instead he entered last night’s game in the fifth inning in relief of Brad Penny. The Yankees battered Bowden for eight hits and seven runs in two innings. It was his third major league appearance, following his debut in August 2008 and two scoreless innings April 26 against the Yankees.

“Trying to not just maybe protect our bullpen but enhance it,’’ manager Terry Francona said of the addition. “Going forward, it does give us some flexibility in what we want to do.’’

In 22 starts for Pawtucket this season, Bowden, 22, was 4-6 with a 3.20 ERA.

To make room on the roster, the Sox designated reliever Cabrera for assignment. The Sox also activated outfielder Rocco Baldelli from the disabled list and sent outfielder Brian Anderson back to Pawtucket.

Ellsbury ties mark
With a stolen base in the first inning, after walking to open the game, Jacoby Ellsbury tied a 36-year-old Sox record, that for the most steals in a season. Ellsbury’s 54th this season tied Tommy Harper (1973) for the club record, a record that Ellsbury is sure to own by himself in short order. Ellsbury’s steal last night was his ninth against the Yankees this season. Only Rickey Henderson has had more against New York in one season since 1954, with 12 in 1983 and 1992 . . . Victor Martinez, who left last night’s game shortly after fouling a ball of his left big toe, said he is OK and will be in the lineup today. “It’s a little sore, that’s all,’’ Martinez said. “It’ll be fine tomorrow. I think I’m playing first.’’ Jason Varitek, who had missed three games because of muscle spasms in his neck, replaced Martinez and hit a solo home run in the ninth inning. Francona had planned to have Varitek catch today and tomorrow night. Varitek’s homer provided his 700th RBI, making him the 15th Sox player to reach the milestone . . . The 20 runs the Sox gave up last night were their most since June 9, 2000, when they gave up 22 to the Yankees. The 23 hits they allowed were their most since Seattle got 24 Sept. 3, 1981 . . . The 31 runs were the most ever scored in a Sox-Yankees game. The previous high was 29, when New York beat Boston, 15-14, July 29, 1903 . . . Baldelli improved to 5 for 10 as a pinch hitter this season . . . Daisuke Matsuzaka threw a side session, and Francona reported that everything went well. Matsuzaka is scheduled to throw a couple of innings in the Gulf Coast League Monday, then will come to Boston to get checked out by the Sox . . . Tim Wakefield threw 5 2/3 innings in his second rehab start for Pawtucket last night, allowing one run, two hits, and one walk to Rochester. Wakefield, who got the decision in the 2-1 win over the Red Wings, struck out four while throwing 81 pitches, 56 for strikes . . . The Yankees’ second batter of the game, Johnny Damon, fouled a ball of his right knee in the first inning and didn’t take the field after striking out. Eric Hinske replaced him in left.

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