|J.D. Drew slides under the Mariners' Adrian Beltre on his way to a triple in the seventh inning. (OTTO GREULE JR./GETTY IMAGES)|
Waving 'bye -- temporarily
Lopez will be sent to minors
SEATTLE -- Javier Lopez knew he was at risk, but the Red Sox lefthanded reliever still harbored hope that he would avoid being the one to lose his place on the active roster when Curt Schilling is activated to pitch tonight in Anaheim.
"You always know what may happen," Lopez said, "but I thought I've been doing pretty well, and the way I've been used, I thought I had a chance to stay. But it didn't work out that way, so I move on."
Lopez had options left, which means the Sox can send him to the minors today without placing him on waivers and risk losing him to another team. Each player on a 40-man major league roster who is not on the active 25-man roster is said to be on "optional assignment." A player has three option years, meaning he can be sent down multiple times over three seasons without being placed him on waivers. When a player is out of options -- such as Kyle Snyder or Wily Mo Peña -- he must clear waivers before being sent down.
"I don't know if there's much to say," said Lopez, who also was sent to Pawtucket April 9 before returning May 11. "I've got options, one thing I wish I didn't have at this point in time, but I don't have any control over that. Just got to go down, get ready to come back."
Lopez was 2-1 with a 2.87 ERA in 44 appearances. He had allowed just two runs in his last 13 appearances, none in his last eight (over 6 1/3 innings). "It's not a reflection on the way he's been pitching," manager Terry Francona said. "It's difficult for him to understand. If I'm in his shoes, I'd feel the same way. He'll be back and help us."
Hinske politely declined to talk about the matter, saying it was personal, but said he would rejoin the team in Baltimore this weekend.
Moss has been taking ground balls at first base in Pawtucket for at least a couple of weeks, and Francona said he urged Hinske to return home to Phoenix to attend to his family's needs. Moss has been slumping of late, with just six hits in his last 43 at-bats, a .139 average.
And behind the scenes, there were indications that switch-hitting outfielder Bobby Kielty will be signed, either to a minor league contract or with the big-league club, but no official word yet.
Ramírez drew within 11 home runs of 500 yesterday when he hit his 19th of the season, off Mariners righthander Miguel Batista. The solo shot came with one out in the fifth and gave the Sox a 3-0 lead in an eventual 9-2 win.
The left fielder ranks seventh among active players in career home runs. Barry Bonds, who took yesterday off in San Diego, is tied with Hank Aaron, of course, for the all-time lead with 755. Then the list of active players reads: Sammy Sosa 604, Ken Griffey Jr. 589, Frank Thomas 505, A-Rod 500, Jim Thome 490, and Ramírez 489.
Thomas crossed the 500 threshold earlier this season. What are the chances Ramírez will do the same?
If he stays healthy, pretty good. From Aug. 5 on, Ramírez has hit more than 11 home runs five times in the last seven seasons. The most he hit from Aug. 5 on was 16, in 2002, and he hit 15 in both 2004 and 2005. He hit 14 in 2000 and a dozen in 2003. Injuries prevented him from doing it last season, when he hit just five, and in 2001, when he had eight.
Ramirez is averaging one home run every 20.7 at-bats this season. Assuming he plays at least 150 games -- he has started 106 of 111 and appeared in another two -- he'd finish the year with 26, leaving him four short of 500. But since the All-Star break, he's averaging a home run every 11.4 at-bats. At that pace, he'll hit the magic number before October.
Gordon Edes can be reached at email@example.com.