Reports surfaced early this week that the Phillies had renewed interest in Pedro Martinez and now it sounds like the two sides could be close to a deal. Martinez said Thursday that his agent is negotiating with the Phillies after they scouted his workout Tuesday and a report out of the Dominican Republic even claimed that a one-year deal worth $4 million was already in place.
General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. refuted reports of a done deal, but clearly the Phillies are seriously interested in Martinez and an official announcement by the end of the week wouldn't be surprising. If healthy he remains capable of being a solid fourth or fifth starter for a contending team like the Phillies, but Martinez will probably need some time to shake the rust off before being an NL-only option.
While the Phillies hope that Martinez has another half-dozen wins left in the tank, here are some other notes from around baseball …
* Joel Pineiro tossed his third complete game of the year Thursday as Milwaukee managed just one run on three hits and no walks. Pineiro is having a career year with a 3.20 ERA through 17 starts, yet with just 48 strikeouts in 115.1 innings his strikeout rate is horrible after previously just being poor. Instead of missing more bats he's simply become the most extreme ground-ball pitcher in the league.
He recorded 19 ground-ball outs Thursday and is the only starter in the league to induce a ground ball on over 60 percent of his balls in play, which is remarkable given that Pineiro never even cracked 50 percent grounders from 2000-2008. In the past hitters have teed off on his low-90s fastball, but now he's working in the high-80s with significantly more sink and the results are amazing.
* Ozzie Guillen was very pessimistic Thursday when asked about Carlos Quentin returning from his foot problems, saying that he expects him to remain out for "a while." Quentin has already played multiple games on his rehab stint at Triple-A, so Guillen admitted that he "maybe" ready shortly after the All-Star break despite wanting to avoid rushing him back until "he's ready to help us here."
* Dusty Baker announced Thursday that he's benching Jay Bruce for at least two days in an effort to break the recent slump that has his batting average down to .209. "I'm letting him clear his head, like Jimmy Rollins … and Magglio Ordonez," Baker said. While his average isn't pretty, Bruce is actually showing more power and plate discipline than last year and his OPS is only down about five percent.
* David Price showed how great he can be when he actually throws the ball over the plate Thursday, holding Toronto to one run over six innings while out-dueling Roy Halladay with seven strikeouts and one walk. Price has been maddeningly inconsistent while going 3-3 with a 4.70 ERA overall, but has 47 strikeouts and a .241 opponents' batting average in 44 innings. He's very close to breaking out.
AL Quick Hits: J.P. Howell received Thursday off, so Dan Wheeler picked up his first save of the season … Brandon Inge won the "Final Vote" competition for the AL's last All-Star roster spot, beating out Ian Kinsler … Clayton Richard is in danger of being replaced in the rotation by Bartolo Colon after struggling again Thursday … Ryan Garko started in the outfield Thursday for the eighth time this season and went 4-for-5 at the plate … Kevin Slowey (wrist) is slated to begin a throwing program Friday … Mark Teixeira took Francisco Liriano deep Thursday for his first homer since June 12 … Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak indicated Thursday that he'll contact the Blue Jays about Roy Halladay … After having his rehab delayed by a knee injury, Jed Lowrie (wrist) is set to come off the disabled list within the next two weeks … Handed nine runs of support, David Huff couldn't make it through five innings to get the win Thursday.
NL Quick Hits: Manny Parra returned to the Brewers' rotation with seven shutout innings Thursday … Manny Ramirez went 2-for-2 with two RBIs and two walks Thursday … Shane Victorino won the "Final Vote" competition for the NL's last All-Star roster spot, beating out Pablo Sandoval … Raul Ibanez (groin) is slated to come off the disabled list Friday after being out since June 18 … Matt Kemp went 3-for-4 while again batting eighth in the Dodgers' lineup Thursday … Javier Vazquez has been scratched from his scheduled Sunday start due to a strained abdominal muscle … Fernando Martinez (knee) and his .517 OPS landed on the disabled list Thursday … Kyle Lohse (forearm) is scheduled to rejoin the rotation Sunday … Orlando Hudson left Thursday's game after being hit on the knee by a pitch … Livan Hernandez coughed up eight runs on 11 hits Thursday, finishing the first half at 5-5 with a 5.10 ERA … John Bowker could have some NL-only value after being called up Thursday by the Giants.