Upton headed to Braves; Pettitte returns to Yanks

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Upton headed to Braves; Pettitte returns to Yanks

B.J. Upton is on his way to Atlanta, while Andy Pettitte is staying in pinstripes.

With the winter meetings only days away, baseball's offseason began to heat up Wednesday with a pair of moves involving potential closers: Ryan Madson joined the Angels and Jonathan Broxton remained with the Reds.

Hours later, the Braves made big news.

Looking for a new center fielder and some right-handed pop, Atlanta found both in Upton, who had 28 homers and 31 steals for Tampa Bay last season. The fleet-footed free agent agreed to a $75.25 million, five-year contract, a deal that was finalized Thursday.

Upton's deal is the biggest free-agent contract of the offseason so far and the largest in Braves history.

Pettitte, meanwhile, will return for another season with the New York Yankees.

Feeling strong at age 40, the veteran lefty completed a one-year deal worth $12 million, putting baseball's biggest postseason winner back in the Bronx.

``I think we're good enough to go all the way, I really do,'' Pettitte said on a conference call. ``I'm at the point where, if I didn't feel like we had a chance to win it deep down, I wouldn't do this.''

The five-time World Series champion retired after the 2010 season to spend more time at home but then decided to come back this year - while working as an instructor during spring training - and signed a contract guaranteeing him $2.5 million.

Pettitte went 5-4 with a 2.87 ERA in 12 starts. He missed almost three months because of a broken lower left leg, sustained when he was hit by a line drive off the bat of Cleveland's Casey Kotchman on June 27.

``I definitely think that if I would have pitched a full season and thrown 200 innings, that I definitely wouldn't feel as fresh and physically feel as good as I do right now,'' Pettitte said. ``Obviously, I feel like that helped lead me to a quick decision.''

The move means the AL East champs are set to start 2013 with the same rotation as last season: CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Pettitte, Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova or David Phelps.

Next up for general manager Brian Cashman could be a contract for 43-year-old closer Mariano Rivera, determined to come back from a torn knee ligament.

Madson is making a comeback from Tommy John surgery, and he agreed to a $3.5 million, one-year deal with the Los Angeles Angels five days before the start of baseball's winter meetings in Nashville, Tenn. He can earn an additional $3.5 million in roster and performance bonuses.

The longtime Philadelphia reliever missed last season with Cincinnati, which signed him in January after a stellar performance in 2011 with the Phillies. He had surgery in April on a torn ligament in his right elbow.

Well ahead of schedule in his recovery, Madson said he expects to be the Angels' closer. General manager Jerry Dipoto agreed the veteran is likely to supplant Ernesto Frieri when fully healthy.

``I feel like if I can throw the ball like I'm capable of, I expect to have that role,'' Madson said. ``I expect to come to spring training and earn the job.''

Broxton isn't sure what role he'll have in Cincinnati after securing a $21 million, three-year contract that gives the NL Central champions a chance to reconfigure their starting rotation.

The two-time All-Star came to the Reds last July in a trade with Kansas City. He filled in as the closer when Aroldis Chapman developed a tired shoulder and had four saves in six chances overall with a 2.82 ERA.

Now the Reds have the option of turning Chapman into a starter, which was the plan last season until Madson blew out his elbow. The team has told Chapman to prepare for next season as a starter, although it hasn't committed to Broxton as the closer.

``Nothing's in stone right now,'' assistant general manager Bob Miller said. ``When we talked to Jonathan we said he was going to be at the back end of the bullpen. What happens depends on spring training and how things play out in the offseason.''

Broxton wanted a multiyear deal so he could settle in one place. He didn't insist on assurances he'd be a closer.

``I went into the offseason with an open mind,'' Broxton said. ``I've got experience in both roles. Even if Chapman doesn't work out as a starter, he can come back in and fill in as the closer. I'll be happy to throw the eighth (inning). It doesn't matter. You saw what he did last year.''

The 28-year-old Upton hit .246 with 78 RBIs for the Rays last season. He will replace free agent Michael Bourn as the Braves' center fielder and should provide much-needed power from the right side.

Upton's first full season with Tampa Bay was 2007, when he hit a career-best .300 with 24 homers and 22 stolen bases. His home run totals have increased in each of the last three seasons, but he has hit below .250 with more than 150 strikeouts in four straight years.

Bourn was the Braves' leadoff hitter, but Upton is not expected to fill that role.

Elsewhere, the Boston Red Sox made a flurry of minor moves, trading right-handers Zach Stewart and Sandy Rosario as well as third baseman Danny Valencia.

Stewart was sent to Pittsburgh and Rosario to Oakland for players to be named. Valencia was shipped to Baltimore for cash.

Boston also hired Greg Colbrunn as hitting coach.

Athletics reliever Pat Neshek agreed to a $975,000, one-year contract that avoided salary arbitration, while Kansas City traded right-hander Vin Mazzaro and first baseman Clint Robinson to the Pirates for minor league pitchers Luis Santos and Luis Rico.

The Chicago Cubs designated right-hander Casey Coleman for assignment to make roster room for newcomer Scott Feldman, who agreed to a $6 million, one-year contract the previous day.

Feldman's former team, the Texas Rangers, acquired right-hander Cory Burns from San Diego for a player to be named or cash.

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AP Sports Writers Charles Odum, Greg Beacham and Joe Kay contributed to this report.

Orioles open big Red Sox series with big loss

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Orioles open big Red Sox series with big loss

BALTIMORE—The Orioles don’t see many knuckleball pitchers.

There’s Toronto’s R.A. Dickey and Boston’s Steven Wright. After a Memorial Day game against Wright, the Orioles will want to forget that he exists.

After nine innings of flailing away at Wright, the Orioles are hoping they can just forget about him for now and move on to more conventional pitchers. 

As the Orioles looked at this week’s four-game series with the Boston Red Sox, they knew it would be a duel for the top of the American League East, but a chance to miss the great David Price. 

Price might have been preferable to nine innings of Wright. 

Wright baffled the Orioles, pitching his third complete game of the season as the Red Sox pull away for a 7-2 win before 43,926 at Oriole Park on Monday. 

The Orioles (28-21) now trail Boston (31-20) by two games. 

Boston led 3-2 heading to the eighth inning, but four runs off Ashur Tolliver and Mychal Givens enabled the Red Sox to win going away. 

The Orioles had just four hits off Wright (5-4), none after the fifth inning when they tied the score at 2. 

Baltimore’s top five hitters, Adam Jones, Hyun Soo Kim, Manny Machado, Chris Davis and Mark Trumbo, were a combined 0-for-17 against Wright.

“It was a challenge. He had great stuff today. It never ended up where it started. You can’t really predict where to swing. You just hope that you get one that maybe doesn’t move quite as much. If you do, hey, hang with them,” Trumbo said. 

The Orioles tied the game at 2 when Nolan Reimold tripled in the fifth. He scored on Ryan Flaherty’s double. After Caleb Joseph’s single, which snapped an 0-for-19 streak, Jones’ sacrifice fly scored Flaherty.

That was it for the offense. Wright did walk five and throw two wild pitch, and catcher Ryan Hanigan was charged with a passed ball. 

“How do you prepare for it? It’s different. You hope they don’t have a real good one,” manager Buck Showalter said. 

Showalter didn’t have a great day because he knew a call that cost the Orioles a first inning run was wrong, and nothing could be done about it. 

Mookie Betts led off with a single off Tyler Wilson. He moved to second on an infield out by Dustin Pedroia. Xander Bogaerts’ tapper was to the left of home plate. Joseph threw to first, and Betts rounded third and easily scored. 

Showalter came out to argue that the ball was fouled off Bogaerts’ left foot, but none of the umpires saw it, and the call is not one that’s subject to review by replay. 

“I was hoping the first base ump would see it, but it's hard. We can't see it from the dugout and we're closer than the first base umpire for sure. Usually the hitter gives you a reaction that shows you what's going on but he didn't. He smelled a hit and took off. Made good use of the play. We were able to overturn a couple other mistakes but we couldn't overturn that one,” Showalter said. 

Wilson, who allowed three runs on eight hits in 6 2/3 innings, didn’t use the play as an excuse. 

“I saw a great play by Caleb. I thought he got out of there quick, and made an outstanding play to get him at first. He’s a good runner too, and I was a little frustrated with not getting to home plate, though it’s one of those things that you can’t really practice,” Wilson said.

“It just looks a little different and they don’t score there, it’s 2-2 in the seventh rather than 3-2.”

Boston took a 2-0 lead in the third when Betts singled with one out, and after Dustin Pedroia’s single, Bogaerts’ double drove in Betts. 

Jackie Bradley, Jr., led off the sixth with his ninth home run of the season, and Boston led 3-2. 

Wilson (2-4) walked Bogaerts with two outs in the seventh, and Tolliver came in to face David Ortiz. Bogaerts tried to steal second, and was initially called safe, a ruling that was overturned by replay. 

When Tolliver faced Ortiz to start the eighth, he hit a home run to right field, his 14th, and the Red Sox had a 4-2 lead. 

Travis Shaw walked with one out, Blake Swihart singled, and Mychal Givens replaced Tolliver. 

Rookie Marco Hernandez hit his first major league home run with two outs, a three-run shot, and Boston had a five-run lead. 

NOTES: The Orioles have three triples this season, the fewest in baseball. … Bogaerts has a 23-game hitting streak. … The Orioles made two successful replay challenges, and they’re 6-for-12 this season. … Eduardo Rodriguez, making his season debut, faces Kevin Gausman (0-2, 3.24) on Tuesday night. … Joseph injured his groin in the eighth inning and was going to the hospital for an examination. 

Joseph still waiting for first RBI of 2016

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Joseph still waiting for first RBI of 2016

BALTIMORE—It looked like an ideal spot for Caleb Joseph’s first RBI. The Orioles had loaded the bases with two outs, but Joseph grounded out to end the inning.

Joseph began the game with a .175 average and no RBIs in 22 games. His fifth inning single didn't drive in a run, but it snapped an 0-for19 streak. 

In his first two years with the Orioles, Joseph had 20 home runs and 77 RBIs. 

Manager Buck Showalter said that he has confidence that Joseph will start to hit, but defense comes first for a catcher.

“He will again. I think they all know where the priority is. It’s stressed all through the organization. Offense is just a plus. If you can get offense at a position that normally doesn’t bring it…it’s an added plus,” Showalter said. 

“He makes a lot more contributions catching defensively than he does offensively. Caleb can hit. He’ll hit. I know he’s getting a little frustrated by it because he knows he’s better than that. It’s not one of those things that I stay up at night about.”

RELATED: SHOWALTER REITERATES THAT JIMENEZ GETS NEXT START

Showalter reiterates that Jimenez gets next start

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Showalter reiterates that Jimenez gets next start

BALTIMORE—Ubaldo Jimenez will be the Orioles starter on Thursday, Buck Showalter said. 

“He’s had some really good bullpen sessions that don’t transfer to game day,” Showalter said. 

“The bullpen sessions are fine and dandy. It’s about the game.” 

Showalter thinks that mechanics are at the root of Jimenez’s problems.

RELATED: GALLARDO WILL GET AT LEAST TWO REHAB STARTS

“The same reason why he has a deceptive delivery is why he has trouble staying in sync with it. Very frustrating for him and the pitching coach. It’s part of why he’s in the zone that he’s effective,” Showalter said.

Jimenez has had trouble keeping runners on base. On Saturday, he allowed four stolen bases.

“Sometimes he loses focus or concentration,” Showalter said. 

If Jimenez didn’t start, the logical choice to replace him would Vance Worley, who worked 4 1/3 innings in relief of Jimenez when he was knocked out in the second inning on Saturday. 

“How do you know what he’s going to do as a starter?” Showalter asked about Worley, who started twice last month.

“[Worley is] one of the reasons why our bullpen has been healthy and stays intact,” Showalter said. 

He would prefer having Worley and T.J. McFarland as long relievers. 

“It’s hard to relate to a lot of people how important the job that Vance and Mac have done for us,” Showalter said.

MORE ORIOLES: KIM'S FIRST MAJOR LEAGUE HOME RUN HELPS ORIOLES TO 6-4 WIN