OAKLAND, Calif. The Oakland Athletics traded away their second starting pitcher this month, dealing burly right-hander Joe Blanton to the Philadelphia Phillies for three minor leaguers on Thursday.
A's general manager Billy Beane swapped Blanton a week after sending Rich Harden to the Chicago Cubs and that's with his team very much in contention in the AL West, six games behind the first-place Los Angeles Angels.
"Philadelphia was aggressive," Oakland assistant GM David Forst said. "They made it clear they needed a starting pitcher to help out and we were able to get the deal done."
The minor leaguers involved are left-hander Josh Outman, who was in Double-A, and second baseman Adrian Cardenas and outfielder Matt Spencer, both players in Single-A.
The 27-year-old Blanton, a 14-game winner last season, was 5-12 with a 4.96 ERA in 20 starts for Oakland. He has underachieved in 2008 in his fifth big league season after being the opening day starter in March against the Boston Red Sox in Tokyo.
YANKEES REACH DEAL WITH SEXSON: First baseman Richie Sexson and the New York Yankees reached a deal Thursday, a week after the Seattle Mariners cut the slumping slugger.
A person familiar with the contract said Sexson would be paid a prorated share of the $390,000 minimum salary. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because an official announcement had not been made.
ESPN.com first reported a tentative agreement between Sexson and the Yankees.
The Yankees were eager to add a powerful right-handed bat as they start the second half of the season. They went into the All-Star break third in the AL East, six games behind Boston.
Sexson hit .344 with five home runs in 71 at-bats against lefties this year. That was his bright spot during a season in which the 33-year-old Sexson hit .218 overall with 11 homers and 30 RBIs.
NOMO RETIRES: Hideo Nomo, who pitched a pair of no-hitters and led a rush of Japanese players to the major leagues, is finished.
Nomo announced his retirement Thursday, agent Don Nomura said. Once known for a deceptive delivery and a devastating forkball, the 39-year-old Nomo was released by the Kansas City Royals in late April.
Nomo's 123 wins are the most in the majors by a Japanese pitcher. He was the 1995 NL Rookie of the Year with the Los Angeles Dodgers and is one of only four pitchers to throw no-hitters in the AL and NL.
"Hideo Nomo was a trailblazer," said Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda, who managed the Dodgers in 1995. "He represented himself and his country to the highest degree of class, dignity and character. I am so proud of all he did for Japanese players."
Out of the majors since 2005, Nomo made a comeback this year and earned a spot in the Royals bullpen. But slowed by an injury late in spring training, Nomo had an 18.69 ERA in three relief appearances in which he gave up 10 hits, including three home runs, in 4 1/3 1-3 innings.
Kansas City general manager Dayton Moore said the Royals knew the odds were against Nomo when they signed him.
"But he still had the motivation to pitch, so we were more than willing to give him an opportunity," Moore said. "If he hadn't hurt his groin, who knows what he might have accomplished with us this year?"
A star in Japan before he signed with the Dodgers, Nomo made an immediate impact in the majors. He led the NL in strikeouts in 1995 and went 13-6 with a 2.54 ERA.
Nomo also created a wave of "Nomo-mania" wherever he pitched. Many fans were curious to see his "tornado" windup, in which he paused with his arms overhead and then twisted his body before throwing.
SAITO SAYS SURGERY LIKELY: Los Angeles Dodgers closer Takashi Saito said he hopes to be pitching again well before the end of the season, then added that surgery is a possibility for his ailing right elbow.
"Right now, I'm under doctor's and trainer's orders to rest 10 days with no activities," Saito said Thursday through translator Acey Kohrogi, the Dodgers' director of Asian operations. "The possibility exists that (surgery) might have to happen.
"Right now, we're concentrating on the six weeks of rehab and how that's going. I hope to be back by the end of August."
BEDARD TRADE UNLIKELY: The chances Erik Bedard will be traded soon by the Mariners are now as slim as the prospects for a happy finish to Seattle's lost season. Manager Jim Riggleman said Thursday his ailing ace, rumored to be coveted by contenders despite a demonstrated inability to last in his 15 starts, likely will not pitch early next week against Boston as originally hoped. That means Bedard would have just one start before the non-waiver trading deadline July 31 assuming the left-hander's pitching shoulder is healthy again by then.
Major league rules prohibit teams from trading players while they are on the disabled list, unless such a deal is expressly approved by the commissioner. Bedard, 6-4 with a 3.67 ERA and 72 strikeouts in 81 innings, is eligible to come off the DL Sunday.
D-BACKS ACQUIRE CLARK: The Arizona Diamondbacks acquired first baseman Tony Clark from the San Diego Padres on Thursday for minor league pitcher Evan Scribner. Diamondbacks general manager Josh Byrnes said the team was "thrilled" to have Clark back in Arizona, where he spent three seasons and hit .266 with 53 homers and 154 RBIs. The 36-year-old Clark signed with the Padres before this this season. He hit .239 (21-for-88) with one home run and 11 RBIs in 70 games. Scribner, who turns 23 on Saturday, was 0-1 with a 1.86 ERA and one save at Class-A Visalia. The right-hander was 2-3 with a 1.57 ERA and eight saves at Class-A South Bend.
CORONER RULES MARZANO INTOXICATED: Former major leaguer and baseball commentator John Marzano was intoxicated when he fell down the stairs and died in his home, the medical examiner's office said Thursday. The cause of Marzano's death was determined as "postural asphyxia contributed to by blunt trauma and ethanol intoxication," said Jeff Moran, spokesman for the medical examiner's office. Moran said he could not elaborate. Marzano, known as "Johnny Marz," died in April at the age of 45. He was from Philadelphia and had been working for Major League Baseball's Web site, where he co-hosted a show on weekday mornings.
LIRIANO'S AGENT CALLS FOR INVESTIGATION: After watching his client dominate Triple-A hitters for the past month, the agent for Minnesota pitcher Francisco Liriano wants to know why the Twins have not called him up. Greg Genske has asked the players' union to investigate why Liriano remains in Rochester despite going 7-0 with a 2.73 ERA in his past nine starts. "I think that Francisco is dominating down there," Genske said Thursday. "The club concedes that as well. We're a little frustrated he hasn't been called up."
The news was first reported by Foxsports.com.
Genske said the delay has had an adverse effect on Liriano's service time, which determines when he is eligible for arbitration. After three years in the big leagues, a player qualifies for arbitration. Liriano has two years and 45 days. Twins GM Bill Smith said the decision to keep Liriano, who was selected to the AL All-Star team during his brilliant rookie season in 2006, in the minors has nothing to do with service time.