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Gonzalez May Be Leaving Boston In Trade

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By HOWARD ULMAN, AP Sports Writer

BOSTON (AP) _ Boston’s Adrian Gonzalez and the Dodgers’ James
Loney were scratched from their teams’ starting lineups Friday
night as the clubs tried to finalize a major trade involving the
first basemen.

The Red Sox also were discussing sending pitcher Josh Beckett,
left fielder Carl Crawford and infielder Nick Punto to Los Angeles,
a baseball official informed of the discussions said, speaking on
condition of anonymity because no announcements were made.

Red Sox officials are trying to reduce payroll during a
disappointing season.

“I think they’re looking to put the ballclub in a better
situation next year,” David Ortiz said. “I’m not saying that
we’re going to be in a better situation without those players. We
are about to find out.”

Gonzalez was removed from the Red Sox lineup minutes before
Boston’s 4-3 win over the Kansas City Royals, and Loney was pulled
from the Dodgers lineup against the Miami Marlins.

The Dodgers began the day in second place in the NL West, three
games behind the San Francisco Giants.

“It’s like I always say, you can’t worry about things you can’t
control. The only thing we can control is what we do here, and
that’s to go out and try to win every game,” San Francisco manager
Bruce Bochy said. “We have the talent here. It doesn’t matter what
the other clubs do. We shouldn’t be thinking about what’s happening
south of us.”

The Red Sox started their game seven games under .500 and with
little or no postseason hopes. If the trade is completed, the Red
Sox would be relieved of a huge salary burden, assuming the Dodgers
pick up most of what is owed. Gonzalez, Crawford and Beckett are
due $261 million from 2013-18.

Beckett was scheduled to pitch Saturday night. Is that still the
case?

“To the best of my knowledge, yes,” manager Bobby Valentine
said.

Gonzalez’s deal calls for $127 million after this season: $21
million annually from 2013-16 and $21.5 million in each of the
final two years. Crawford is due $102.5 million over five years:
$20 million next year, $20.25 million in 2014, $20.5 million in
2015, $20.75 million in 2016 and $21 million in 2017. Beckett is
owed $31.5 million: $15.75 million in each of the next two seasons.
And the right-hander can veto any trade since he is a 10-year
veteran who has spent five years with his current club.

The Red Sox have plummeted after being one of baseball’s best
teams for most of last season. They went 6-18 after their collapse
began on Sept. 4 last year and they were 65-84 before Friday’s game
since the skid began.

Manager Terry Francona was let go after last season and
Valentine was brought in, supposedly to exert more discipline in a
clubhouse in which pitchers reportedly ate chicken and drank beer
during games rather than stay in the dugout to cheer their
teammates.

But Valentine, in the first season of a two-year contract, has
had a rocky relationship with some of his players. One of them,
veteran third baseman-first baseman Kevin Youkilis, was traded to
the Chicago White Sox on June 24. Team president Larry Lucchino has
said Valentine will finish this season and owner John Henry has
voiced support for the manager.

Rookie Will Middlebrooks took over at third and was having a
strong season before it ended when he suffered a broken left wrist
when he was hit by a pitch on Aug. 10. He will not need surgery.

The Red Sox also are high on rookie catcher Ryan Lavarnway, who
was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket on Aug. 1. Now they’re likely
to get some top prospects, if a trade with the Dodgers is
finalized, and have extra money to sign free agents.

The Red Sox had placed Gonzalez on waivers, ESPN reported. Teams
often do that to gauge other clubs’ interest in players then try to
work out a trade.

“Waiver questions? I’m not talking about that,” Gonzalez said
before Friday night’s game.

Boston began the season with a payroll of $173.2 million, behind
only the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies.

The Red Sox paid luxury tax in each of the past two seasons.
Baseball’s new labor contract contains incentives for teams that
get their luxury tax payroll _ based on 40-man rosters, average
annual values and including benefits _ under $189 million by 2014.
Henry, Lucchino and co-owner Tom Werner and general manager Ben
Cherington did not respond to emails seeking comment.

The Dodgers began the day 1 1-2 games behind the St. Louis
Cardinals for the second wild-card berth in the NL.

“It’s crazy,” said Giants second baseman Marco Scutaro, who
spent 2010-11 with the Red Sox. “They want to win _ this year,
next year, whenever.”

Gonzalez, a three-time Gold Glove award winner, could provide a
big boost for the Dodgers.

After a slow start, he is hitting .300 with 15 homers and 86
RBIs for the season and leads the majors with a .398 batting
average with runners in scoring position. He was better last year,
his first with Boston, when he batted .338 with 27 homers and 117
RBIs.

Crawford has been a disappointment in his two seasons with the
Red Sox. He underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery Thursday to
reconstruct the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow and
could be ready by spring training.

He hit .282 with three homers and 19 RBIs after batting .255
with 11 homers and 56 RBIs last year. He missed the first 89 games
this season while recovering from left wrist surgery, then hurt his
elbow in April while rehabbing. He came off the disabled list July
16.

Beckett is in the midst of the worst of his 12 major league
seasons with a 5-11 record and a 5.23 ERA, He is 1-7 in his past 13
starts in his seventh season with Boston.

Punto, a backup player, is hitting .200 in 125 at bats.

Loney is having a mediocre year and can become a free agent
after the season. He is hitting .254 with four homers and 33 RBIs
in 114 games in his seventh major league season, all with the
Dodgers.

“It’s a little frustrating because you just think there’s so
much more there. And I know James thinks there’s more there,” Los
Angeles manager Don Mattingly said. “It’s hard to have anything
really negative to say about James because he’s a great kid and he
works really hard. He’s giving us everything that he’s got. It’s
not a matter of not wanting to or not trying to or not doing the
work. It’s just not coming out.”
___
AP Sports Writers Ron Blum in New York and Janie McCauley in San
Francisco contributed to this report.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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