Blue chip baseball

BOB ELLIOTT

, Last Updated: 9:38 AM ET

Don't expect the Blue Jays to add another two-storey image of a Rickey Henderson or David Cone on the outside of the Rogers Centre on Wednesday morning.

There doesn't appear to be any season-saving deadline additions in the Jays' future this year.

"We're happy to see our starting lineup back, we've got everyone healthy but A.J. Burnett," Jays president Paul Godfrey was saying the other night. "We're adding people without making trades."

Still, there will be teams chasing the holy grail which either does or does not exist.

Cliff Johnson, Mookie Wilson, Tom Candiotti, Candy Maldonado and Tony Fernandez all joined the Jays via the trade route and helped them reach post-season play.

MISSING LINK

On the other hand, Mike Flanagan, Juan Beniquez, John Candelaria, Buddy Black, Steve Trachsel and Esteban Loaiza did not help.

As Tuesday's 4 p.m., non-waiver trade deadline approaches, teams will try to find the missing link.

Like in Casablanca, we rounded up the usual suspects to see where they've been:

n First baseman Mark Teixeira is the prime nugget available. The Los Angeles Angels, Atlanta Braves and New York Yankees are interested.

The Braves have the best blue chipper to offer in Jarrod Saltalamacchia, the Angels are dangling Casey Kotchman and the Dodgers, James Loney.

- The Yankees have a fallback plan as they look at both first baseman Paul Konerko and lefty Jon Garland of the White Sox. The Yanks had scout Jeff Wetherby watching Chicago against the Tigers in a doubleheader in Chicago early this week. The Sox had scout Bill Scherrer checking on the Yanks for a second-consecutive series at Kauffman Stadium.

New York does not appear interested in Cincinnati Reds' first baseman Scott Hatteberg. If he is moved, the Reds would promote Etobicoke's Joey Votto from triple-A.

- The Red Sox have been looking at versatile Tampa Bay infielder Ty Wigginton, as have the Twins, Yanks and Dodgers. The Yanks would move reliever Scott Proctor. The Twins may move centre fielder Torii Hunter.

- If the Angels can't obtain Teixeira, they'll try for Jermaine Dye of the White Sox or Mike Piazza of the A's.

- The Phillies had scout Charley Kerfeld in Pittsburgh looking at Astros and Pirates relievers: Houston's Brad Lidge, Dan Wheeler and Chad Qualls, along with Pittsburgh's Salomon Torres, Damaso Marte and Shawn Chacon.

General manager Pat Gillick and Mike Arbuckle were at the Indians-Rangers game in Arlington to see Eric Gagne. Assistant GM Ruben Amaro saw Josh Towers of the Jays and Twins' Kevin Slowey, pitching for triple-A Rochester. They also had scouts watching Giants relievers.

VETO POWER

- Tigers scouts have watched the Rangers and Gagne, who can veto a deal to Detroit, which had scouts Scott Reid and Al Hargesheimer in Pittsburgh watching Pirates relievers. They were also in Philly to see Washington Nationals relievers Jon Rauch and Chad Cordero.

- The Mets like second baseman Mark Grudzielanek of the Royals, but their scouts were also in Philadelphia looking at Cordero and Rauch of the Nationals, as well as available bat Dmitri Young.

- The Twins are interested in Young as well.

- The Braves have looked at Giants starter Matt Morris and some San Francisco relievers.

- The Dodgers want to add pitching help, but the asking price for Royals' Octavio Dotel, Jose Contreras of the White Sox or Proctor may be too steep.

- Cubs scout Gary Hughes was in Anaheim to see the A's, and specifically lefty Joe Kennedy.

Like other years, additions will be made, some will work out and most will not.

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QUICK HITS

BASE COACHES IN THE LINE OF FIRE

Garth Iorg had Mike Coolbaugh at instructional league in 1990 and managed him at double-A Knoxville in 1995.

"When he signed, you could see he was in for the long haul. He was solid, like Pat Borders," said Iorg, now a Brewers minor-league instructor.

Coolbaugh died when hit by a foul ball coaching first with double-A Tulsa last Sunday. An autopsy showed a burst blood vessel in his neck, near his brain. He was 35.

"It's scary, I'm surprised more guys don't get hit more often," Iorg said. "When you're coaching, the foul balls have a tendency to follow you no matter which way you move."

SPEED AND POWER

Grady Sizemore needs two more homers to become the second player in Indians history with three seasons of 20 or more homers and steals. Sizemore has 18 homers and 25 steals to date.

NORTHERN LIGHT

Reliever Kai Tuomi of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., is our Canadian minor-league player of the week. He made his pro debut with three saves and a 2.84 ERA for the rookie-class Gulf Coast Nationals.

Our runners-up: Reed Eastley of Brandon, Man., hit .471 (8-for-17) for single-A Wisconsin (M's); Taylor Green of Comox, B.C., hit .417 (10-for-24) with two homers and six RBIs at class-A West Virginia (Brewers); Jim Adduci of Burnaby, B.C., and class-A Peoria (Cubs) and Matt Rogelstad of Coquitlam, B.C., with class-A Potomac (Nationals) both hit .409 (9-for-22).

COMMISH HUMMEL

Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch will be honored as the winner of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for excellence in baseball writing at Cooperstown tomorrow. Hummel, who began covering the Cardinals in 1973, was nicknamed "Commish," as he did the schedule for press league softball. Young writers thought the nickname was due to the fact he made more sense than the MLB commish of the day.

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THE BOOK ON ...

Chicago White Sox outfielder JERMAINE DYE

What a major-league scout says: "A lot of guys think he is past his prime. But from what is out there, I would suggest taking a run at him. He was their guy when they won it in all in 2005. I've seen guys from the Red Sox, the Padres, the Mets and the Dodgers sniffing around.

"He is hitting .229, but it's a hard .229 if you like ... with the number of homers and RBIs he has in 85 games.

"He is not the prime guy clubs are talking about, but he's Plan B or Plan C for quite a few teams. I can't think of many teams with a chance -- and a need -- that wouldn't want him on their roster in the post-season."

Rating out of five: 2

AVG. HR RBI

.229 17 50

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MADE IN CANADA

Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder JASON BAY

The Trail, B.C., native homered three times in two games against the New York Mets this week at Shea Stadium -- including a two-run blast off Tom Glavine on Wednesday -- showing signs that he may be coming out of a two-month slump at the plate.

Bay, a former National League rookie of the year, hit .280 in April with four homers and 17 RBIs, then improved that to .336, four and 22 in May.

But June and July were downright cruel for Bay as the former Team Canada cleanup hitter has batted just .191 this month after a .173 June.

AVG. HR RBI

.252 16 66

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FARM REPORT

MOTTOLA TARGETS HOMER RECORD

Chad Mottola keeps on swinging. With triple-A Syracuse down 4-3 in the seventh earlier this week, Mottola homered to even the score and tie Hank Sauer for second on the club's career home run list. Mottola's 11th homer cleared the centre-field wall, close to where Sauer's No. 9 jersey is retired. Mottola now has 94 career home runs for the Chiefs, 17 short of Dutch Mele who sits in first place.

CLEARED FOR TAKEOFF

It took a while for his visa paperwork to be processed, but in just his second game, Richmond Hill catcher Joel Collins had two homers and knocked in five runs as the rookie-class Gulf Coast Jays beat the Tigers 11-8.

Collins is hitting .345 with three homers in five games.

A LATE BLOW

Chip Cannon hit a two-run homer, his 16th, with two outs in the ninth in a 6-2 double-A New Hampshire loss to Connecticut. Balancing out his homers, Cannon has 136 strikeouts in 341 at-bats.

Brooks McNiven of Vernon, B.C., pitched eight scoreless innings for Connecticut.

BIG HEAD

Matt Roney wears an 81/4-sized hat which caused the New Era Cap Co., to produce a special hat for the 6-foot-3, 240-pounder. After sitting out 50 games for failing a drug test Roney is 2-1 with a high-flying 7.47 ERA and one save for New Hampshire.

NO STONE UNTURNED

Chad Blackwell of the Gary SouthShore RailCats was signed by the Jays to be added to class-A Dunedin. Blackwell pitched in 29 games with the RailCats, posting a record of 4-0 with a 1.09 ERA and four saves. He allowed only 25 hits in 411/3 innings, walking 14 and striking out 38. Opposing batters hit only .188 off him.

STRUGGLING ALONG

Former No. 1 pick Ricky Romero is 0-3 with a 5.47 ERA in six double-A starts since returning from the disabled list.

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MY GREATEST DAY ...

Longtime umpire Tim Tschida recalls his most memorable moment on the diamond

"May 1, 1991," Tim Tschida, says without hesitation of working the plate when Nolan Ryan threw his record seventh no-hitter in a 3-0 win over the Blue Jays at Arlington, Tex.

"I remember (manager) Bobby Valentine coming out with the lineup card and saying:: 'Nolan's back is bothering him. He may go one hitter, he may go one inning. We have someone warming in the bullpen,' " Tschida recalled. "There were 30,000 people at game time and, by the fifth inning, the centre-field stands were full. Everyone around Dallas with the car radio on headed for the park."

Tschida knew early that Ryan's bad back was okay. He struck out John Olerud, Mark Whiten and Glenallen Hill looking at curves in the second.

"No one argued. They turned and headed to the dugout," Tschida said. "After the third out, I remember seeing the Rangers infielders -- Steve Buechele, Jeff Huson and Julio Franco -- looking at each other running off the field. It was like: 'Tonight may be something special.' "

Mike Stanley caught the no-no and, in those days, Tschida always threw a new ball back to the pitcher. After a foul tip in the eighth, he attempted to hand the ball to Stanley, who shot back: "Are you nuts? Throw it back. We aren't breaking this rhythm.' "

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HOT PROSPECT

Red Sox pitcher CLAY BUCHHOLZ

W L ERA K BB

7 3 2.20 130 24

The rich are about to get richer. The Boston right-hander, now at triple-A Pawtucket, struck out 10 last Sunday against Louisville and had four double-digit strikeout outings at double-A. Buchholz, a first-round pick in 2005, has fanned 130 in 941/3 innings at double-A Portland, where he was 7-2 with a 1.77 ERA in 16 games, and Pawtucket this season.

Rating out of five: 4

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7 -- RBIs by Detroit Tigers right fielder Ryan Raburn during Wednesday's 13-9 win over the White Sox. Carlos Pena was the previous Tiger to knock in seven runs in a game -- that coming in a 10-9 loss at Cleveland on, May 19, 2003.

207 -- Baserunners allowed in 133 innings by Brewers righty Jeff Suppan. He started well (5-2, 2.63 ERA) but in 15 starts since, he is 3-7 with a 6.46 ERA. In his past 10 outings, he is 1-4, 7.13. He leads the NL in hits allowed (159) and earned runs (75).

1,247 -- Consecutive game streak by Royals broadcaster Ryan Lefebvre which ended last Saturday. He'd worked every game since Sept. 19, 1999, but will be in Cooperstown to watch partner Denny Matthews receive the Ford Frick Award.


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