Big bats on the move

BOB ELLIOTT

, Last Updated: 10:24 PM ET

Only 17 shopping days until the July 31 non-waiver trading deadline and one big move already has been made.

The Chicago White Sox gave lefty Mark Buehrle a four-year, $56-million US deal rather than deal him.

Who else could be moving and staying?

- Cincinnati's Ken Griffey, with 586 homers at the break -- not all this year mind you, but he has hit 23 -- and a $16- million US salary, could finish the season elsewhere. As a 10-and-5 year player, Griffey can turn down any deal. He has said he would like to finish his career where it began, in Seattle.

- The Dodgers need a power bat to reach the post-season, whether that is Blue Jays third baseman Troy Glaus, a first baseman or outfielder. L.A. has the "most candy in the candy store," compared to the prospects of other teams, a Jays scout says. The Rangers have a match if they move first baseman Mark Teixeira. The Dodgers could deal Matt Kemp or James Loney, plus young arm Chad Billingsley.

- The Red Sox have looked at Brad Lidge, the Astros' struggling former closer. They also would move either Coco Crisp or Wily Mo Pena. For a team that had a horrible off-season, they are doing okay. They signed free agents J.D. Drew (five years, $70-million) and Julio Lugo (four-years, $36 million). Drew has six homers entering the weekend -- not what you want from a No. 5 hitter. Lugo has had an 0-for-33 streak and hit the break hitting .197.

- With the Tigers growing uncertain of setup man Joel Zumaya's return date, they may look south to Texas for relief help: Either the Rangers for Eric Gagne, or Lidge. Detroit could move Craig Monroe.

- Phillies' all-star centre fielder Aaron Rowand is a free agent at the end of the season and there is little interest in trying to re-sign him. He's their best trade chip. How much value does he have to a team that would have to re-sign him? If the Phillies think about making the playoffs, he is a popular guy to move. Yet, they dumped Bobby Abreu's salary a year ago. Michael Bourn would replace Rowand.

- The Mariners will move Jose Guillen for pitching help. That would open the door for outfielder Adam Jones, who is hitting .309 with 22 homers at triple-A Tacoma.

- The slumping Reds also could move Adam Dunn, who will earn $13 million in 2008. Veteran relievers David Weathers and Mike Stanton, as well as Jeff Conine and Scott Hatteberg, are available. If Hatteberg is dealt, Toronto's Joey Votto would be promoted from triple-A Louisville. He is hitting .315 with 11 homers and 50 RBIs.

- The Rockies could move third baseman Garrett Atkins. Not that he is scuffling, but they are dealing from strength. Ian Stewart is waiting at triple-A to take over.

- The West Coast Oldtimers club, also known as the San Francisco Giants, may move right-hander Matt Morris. Morris is 7-5 with a 3.55 ERA and is signed through next year at $9.5 million.

- The White Sox are trying to move Jose Contreras, who has a full no-trade clause. He says he will waive it. The White Sox need major-leaguers in return. Jermaine Dye and Tadahito Iguchi probably will be locked up or dealt before the deadline.

- The Twins need a bat so badly they considered signing Shea Hillenbrand, to whom the Angels bid adieu. The Twins have not made an impact trade during the season since they acquired Shannon Stewart from the Jays in 2003. Since Wayne Krivsky left to become the Reds GM, Terry Ryan has made three major trades -- two with Krivsky (Juan Castro and Kyle Lohse).

- The Rangers will be as busy as your 80-year-old neighbour's yard sale. They'll move Sammy Sosa, Kenny Lofton as well as Teixeira and Gagne.

- The A's have made catcher Jason Kendall available, but his contract -- $13 million, with the Pirates paying $5.5 -- and his no-trade clause makes him tough to move.

There lots of talk. There will be some movement.

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QUICK HITS

BEDARD'S 15K BALL GOES TO THE HALL

Lefty Erik Bedard of Navan, Ont., struck out 15 -- a record for a Canadian -- in pitching the Baltimore Ofrioles to a 3-0 win over the Texas Rangers last weekend. According to North Bay's Neil Munro, Ferguson Jenkins of Chatham, Ont., had struck out 14 in a game three times. Bedard allowed two hits in his first career shutout and faced the minimum 27 hitters, tying a franchise record with 15 whiffs. Bedard autographed a ball and the Orioles are shipping it to the Canadian Baeball Hall of Fame in St. Marys.

CANUCK MARK II

Justin Morneau equalled a Canadian record when he hit three home runs in the Minnesota Twins' 12-0 romp over the White Sox last weekend. Morneau had a two-run homer in the first off Gavin Floyd, a solo shot off Floyd in the third and a two-run blast off Boone Logan in the seventh. Morneau became the seventh Canadian with 100 career homers. Larry Walker, of Maple Ridge, B.C. had hit three homers in a game three times.

BIG MONEY

The Blue Jays gave their sandwich pick, Vancouver's Trystan Magnuson, a $462,500 US signing bonus. The University of Louisville closer is the fifth Canadian from the June draft to get a six-figure bonus, which equals the previous high in 2004. Besides Magnuson, the Reds gave Kyle Lotzkar of Tsawwassen, B.C., $594,000, the Rockies handed out $337,000 to Grand Priarie catcher Lars Davis, the Royals gave Vancouver righty Mitch Hodge $225,000 and the Mets wrote a $120,000 cheque to Guillaume Leduc. And first-rounder Phillippe Aumont of Gatineau, Que., has yet to sign. The five to sign in 2004: Philippe-Alexandre Valiquette ($300,000) from St. Laurent, Que.; Alexandre Periard ($243,000) of St-Eustache, Que.; Victoria's Mike Saunders ($237,500), Vancouver's Mike Nickeas ($200,000) and Craig Langille ($107,000) of Bedford, N.S.

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THE BOOK ON ...

Syracuse reliever BRANDON LEAGUE

What a major-league scout says: "I think he has a future as a setup guy in the big leagues. League is the best they have at Syracuse.

"He has a sinker/slider type arm with plus stuff. He sometimes fights with his command but he has recovered most of the velocity he lost when he was hurt in spring training when, I think, he was down seven or eight miles per hour on his fastball.

"I like his upside. Big time. I told my guy we should try to acquire him. It's not that we have a dire need, but I'm not sure he is a fit with Toronto."

Rating out of five: 3

W-L SAVES ERA

0-0 0 3.38

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MADE IN CANADA

Texas Rangers closer ERIC GAGNE

Eric Gagne was a gamble for the Rangers when they signed the closer, a former Cy Young Award winner.

It turned out to be a good one (he is 12-for-13 converting saves) and a bad one (Texas is 38-50). Gagne, 31, of Mascouche, Que., has walked 11 and fanned 23 in 272/3 innings. He has been on the disabled list twice -- most recently with a hip injury -- and has worked back-to-back days only twice.

A dominant closer on a team going nowhere means that Gagne and what's left of his $6-million US salary likely will be moving before the July 31 non-waiver, trading deadline.

W-L SAVES ERA

2-0 12 1.32

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MY GREATEST DAY ...

Orioles pitcher ADAM LOEWEN recalls a couple of shining moments on the diamond

The highest-ever drafted Canadian player -- fourth overall in 2002 -- Loewen has made 25 major-league starts

Yet, since 2000, he has been dominant on the international scene for Team Canada. After beating Taiwan in an '01 game, opposing players asked Loewen to pose for pictures.

His best day in baseball?

"Getting promoted to the big leagues was a special day (May 22, 2006)," the Surrey, B.C., native said. "One of the best feelings I've had was the day I got called up. I've never felt that happy before. There were so many emotions. It was a long day, but one of the best days of my life. I'll never forget the feeling, showering after our game (at double-A Bowie) and getting congrats from my buddies in the clubhouse."

There was another special day, when Loewen started for Team Canada working 32/3 scoreless against Team USA March 8, 2006 in an 8-6 win at the World Baseball Classic.

"Beating the U.S. was fun, too," Loewen said. "Playing with the guys we had on our team, we all knew each other. We had a real tight-knit group. It was like we were a team forever, right away, as soon as we got together. That kind of win in that kind of spectacle, it's one of our best wins in national team history."

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FARM REPORT

SANTOS SWINGS TO DERBY WIN

New Hampshire Fisher Cats' Sergio Santos won the double-A Eastern League home run derby, besting Binghamton's Caleb Stewart in the final 3-2 at Dodd Stadium in Norwich, Conn. Santos, currently second in the league with 15 home runs, won a tractor and two airline tickets. The all-star game started in a dense fog and was called in the top of the third after the South tied the game at 2-2. Santos reached on an infield single in the first for the North. Rob Cosby tripled and scored on a Robinzon Diaz grounder.

BIG-LEAGUE ARM

Class-A Dunedin got to face a blue-chipper this week in Yankees rookie lefty Phil Hughes, who was making a rehab appearance on his way back to the majors.

Anthony Hatch managed a leadoff walk for Dunedin, leading to an unearned run.

Josh Kreuzer, Cory Patton and Brian Jeroloman struck out against Hughes in his two innings.

BIG-LEAGUE ARM II

Victor Santana hit his second homer of the season for class-A Auburn in a 9-5 loss to Staten Island and Jeff Karstens, who also was making a rehab start on his way back to New York.

ROOKIE PLAY

Edmonton right-hander Brad Cuthbertson pitched five scoreless innings as the rookie-class Jays edged the Yanks' Gulf Coast affiliate 3-1 on Thursday. Cuthbertson allowed three hits and struck out five, lowering his ERA to 3.00. The Jays' No. 1 pick in June, shortstop Kevin Ahrens, singled and is now hitting .203. Third baseman Balbino Fuenmayor, given a $1.2-million US signing bonus in 2006, was hitless and owns a .221 average.

CAN WE MOVE HERE?

Fisher Cats owner Art Solomon is trying to block a developer from building condos near the team's downtown stadium in Manchester, N.H. Solomon has asked the city to reject the proposed development, a six-storey, 36-unit building.

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HOT PROSPECT

Jacksonville SS CHIN-LUNG HU

AB H AVG. HR RBI

325 107 .329 6 34

Taiwan-born shortstop won the Larry Doby Award as the most valuable player of the Futures Game at AT&T Park, doubling, singling, knocking in two runs and stealing a base. For the season, he has 12 steals in 82 games for the double-A Suns in the Los Angeles Dodgers system.

His range and hands are rated as extraordinary.

Rating out of five: 4

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1 -- Number of home runs combined hit by Albert Pujols (zero) and Scott Rolen (one) since June 14 for the struggling pair of St. Louis Cardinals sluggers.

15 -- Number of triples by Detroit Tigers centre fielder Curtis Granderson, who will take a run at Sam Crawford's team and American League record of 26 triples. Joe Jackson also shares the record.

372 -- Career homers by Chipper Jones, moving him past Dale Murphy as the Atlanta franchise leader. Hank Aaron hit 335 home runs in Atlanta, 398 as a Milwaukee Brave and 22 with the Milwaukee Brewers.


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