SEATTLE -- Bobby Kielty, a switch-hitting outfielder whom the Sox have thought about adding in recent years, remains unsigned since his release by Oakland July 31. But while both sides remain mum, it appears the Sox continue in talks with his agent, Dan Lozano, about a deal.
The Sox prefer a righthanded hitter who could play center field as an alternative to Wily Mo Peña. Kielty has played the vast majority of games in the corner outfield positions, though he has played 43 games in center. He has been a much better hitter batting righthanded, with a career average of .296 against lefthanders, .229 against righthanders. Last season, he batted .325 vs. lefties, .229 vs. righties, with seven of his eight home runs coming off lefties.
Kielty began his career in Minnesota as a teammate of David Ortiz. He also played half of a season with Eric Hinske in Toronto and spent the last four seasons with Oakland. He underwent surgery in spring training for a torn meniscus in his left knee, and then sustained a torn calf muscle in the same leg that led to the Athletics placing him on the 60-day disabled list. Kielty was activated last month, but played just 13 games before being designated for assignment.
The Sox have always been fans of Kielty's approach at the plate, which he has described as "passive aggressiveness." He has a lifetime on-base average of .379 while batting from the right side.
For the Sox to sign Kielty, who turns 31 today, they would probably have to cut ties with Peña, who has struggled mightily in his role as an outfield reserve this season, batting just .219 with five homers and 16 RBIs, going into last night's game in Seattle. Peña had made 35 starts, 10 in center field, and has been an adventure defensively.
Another possibility could be Jose Cruz Jr., who was released last week by the Padres. Cruz was with the Sox for four games in 2005 before being claimed off waivers by the Dodgers. Cruz, who hit .234 in 91 games with the Padres, won a Gold Glove in 2003 while playing right field for the Giants. He's 33.
The Sox will have to make a roster move in order to create a spot for the returning Curt Schilling. This may require some creativity on the part of general manager Theo Epstein, especially if he chooses to keep two lefthanders in the bullpen.
Javier Lopez has options remaining, but he has pitched 6 1/3 scoreless innings in his last eight appearances and has a 2.13 ERA in his last 17 outings.
Ortiz moves up list
Ortiz, who has hit three home runs in his last four games, including his first two of the season against lefthanders (Erik Bedard
of the Orioles last Tuesday, and Horacio Ramírez
of the Mariners Friday), is batting .375 over his last 22 games, with six home runs, 18 RBIs, and 22 runs. Ortiz's home run Friday was his 209th as a designated hitter, one more than Jose Canseco
, moving him into fifth place on the all-time list. Ortiz is 10 home runs behind Don Baylor
The name game
Here's a nugget passed along by Gaku Tashiro
, the longtime baseball reporter for Sankei Sports: Daisuke Matsuzaka
, in order to remember the pitch-calling tendencies of umpires, has taken to giving them nicknames. One umpire with what he considers a small strike zone he has nicknamed "Minoru Nakamura," after an umpire in the Japanese Pacific League with a similar zone. Another umpire who has called games in which Matsuzaka has struggled has been named "Hayaki," the name of an umpire who was behind the plate in games in which Matsuzaka went 0-6 last season.
Drew returns to lineup J.D. Drew
was back in the starting lineup after five games because of the surgery of his 17-month-old son, Jack
. With the Mariners throwing another lefthander, Jarrod Washburn
, Drew was batting seventh and playing right field. Sox manager Terry Francona
said he hoped that the unplanned break might have the benefit of easing some of the hamstring problems Drew has been experiencing . . . Drew hit for Peña in the sixth inning Friday night and bounced into a force play. He remained in the game in right field and took a called third strike in the eighth. He was 4 for 29 (.138) in his last nine games, his average down to .245 . . . Francona, reviewing the bunt play that led to the Mariners scoring the go-ahead run Friday night off Mike Timlin
, said that although it appeared at first as if Timlin might have a play on Adam Jones
at third, Jones got such a good jump that it might have been an ill-advised option. "Mike got to the ball quick," Francona said, "but then the play took a long time to develop." Timlin said he didn't get his feet set properly, and probably should have just gone to first . . . The Sox signed infielder Junior Spivey
, 32, to a minor league contract with Pawtucket. Spivey had been playing for Bridgeport (Conn.) of the independent Atlantic League. Spivey, who was almost exclusively a second baseman for Arizona, Milwaukee, and Washington, played center field and led off last night, going 1 for 4 in the PawSox' 2-1 10-inning loss to Rochester. Pawtucket's regular center fielder, top prospect Jacoby Ellsbury
, missed his 15th game with a strained groin.
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