BY SEAN McADAM
and JOE McDONALD
Journal Sports Writers
Julian Tavarez, who only a few days ago elected to accept an assignment to Triple A Pawtucket, has had a change of heart and has instead elected free agency.
Tavarez, who was designated for assignment earlier this month, cleared waivers earlier this week and, as a vested veteran, had the option of becoming a free agent or being assigned to Pawtucket. Either way, the Red Sox were responsible for his entire $3.75 million salary for this season.
Tavarez initially accepted the assignment, with the hope that he could be recalled by the Sox during the course of the season. The Red Sox had informed Tavarez that, even if he accepted the minor-league assignment, they wouldn't stand in the way if a team expressed an interest in him for a major-league spot.
He was expected to report to McCoy Thursday, but called and told the team that he had changed his mind and would become a free agent.
If he signs elsewhere, the Red Sox would get a small bit of salary relief, saving about $130,000, or the pro-rated share of the major league minimum.
Among the teams that had indicated an interest in either dealing for him or claiming him on waivers were Colorado, Milwaukee and Baltimore.
Click the play button below to hear Sean's comments, recorded this morning as Sean was just getting his day started in California. The topics: the Red Sox' remarkable 7-0 homestand, the rarity of two grand slams in one game, Daisuke Matsuzaka's latest walk-a-rama, and the Red Sox' next two opponents: Oakland and Seattle.
HOME WARRIORS: We'll remember this for a while. A no-hitter. Another impressive start by a rookie hopeful. A just-as-impressive beginning from a veteran being counted on to bolster the rotation. And yesterday, two grand slams in one day, one of them from Mike Lowell (above). Yes, this series -- and this homestand -- was one for the memory books.
What may fade over time are the details, which is just as well because, as Joe McDonald reports, yesterday's 11-8 dispatch of the Royals -- which completed a four-game sweep of Kansas City on the heels of a three-game wipeout of the Brewers -- was hardly a thing of beauty. And the wart of the edge of the nose was, once again, Daisuke Matsuzaka, whose sterling 8-0, 2.40 record (Projo Stats) gives no hint to the agonizing manner in which he got there. Steven Krasner examines yesterday's 5 2/3-inning, six-walk, six-hit, two-wild-pitch 118-pitch torture session, which seemed to wear down even the eternally upbeat Terry Francona, based on comments he made during his postgame session with the media. Kraz reports Dice-K had a built-in excuse this time: It was his first game with Kevin Cash, who handled the catching chores as Jason Varitek was given the day off. (And, indeed, that fifth-inning exchange where Matsuzaka shook off Cash, what, 71 times as grass began growing through cracks in the grandstand cement speaks to that unfamiliarity.) Whatever the reason, Matsuzaka himself was less than pleased with the whole thing (Boston Globe), though pitching coach John Farrell was more upbeat about it. (Boston Herald) Still, there's no arguing with the results: 11th Red Sox pitcher since 1956 to begin 8-0; Sox victories in each of his last 12 regular-season starts, dating back to Sept. 22, 2007; first eight-game winner in the American League. Could be worse. A lot worse.
NO, IT'S NOT ALWAYS LIKE THIS: I'm sure many of us know someone who attended both Buchholz' and Jon Lester's no-hitters. Edes found a guy who not only went to both of them, but they were the only two times he's ever been to Fenway. Not only that, he's from Utah. In addition, Gordon reports that -- unlike the reward Tom Yawkey gave to Mel Parnell for his 1956 no-hitter -- John Henry had no bonus for Lester, and he answers a question I get all the time: What's the difference in salary between the major leagues and minor leagues? He gives us Masterson's numbers.
FINITO: It appears Kevin Youkilis' days as a blogger are over.
WE'RE NOT ALONE: Annoyed by the at-times-subterranean level of intelligence displayed by sports talk-show callers? Apparently they're no smarter in Canada, as our pal The Tao of Stieb tells us. Because, yeah, Ernie Whitt's time as first-base coach makes him the obvious choice to replace J.P. Ricciardi as Blue Jays general manager.
(Watch out, Theo. You're in Luis Alicea's cross hairs!)
MY DAY'S COMING: Speaking of the Hall of Fame, Bert Blyleven's candidacy has been a hot topic for some time now. But in an interesting -- and sometimes hilarious -- interview with Big League Stew, he says he thinks he'll make it.
MINE'S NOT, IF I HAVE ANYTHING TO SAY ABOUT IT: Marvin Miller, on the other hand, wants no part of being in the Hall of Fame because of "the voting mechanism and what he feels are conflicts of interest that stack the deck against any labor executive who spent a career battling management." (New York Times)