M's, Guillen close to reaching deal

The Mariners and outfielder Jose Guillen are close to completing a contract extension. The deal, apparently for three years, would replace the one-year mutual option that would have kept Guillen in Seattle for the 2008 season. "We've been talking and we've been making very good progress," Guillen said Tuesday. "I really don't want to talk about it, but I'm pretty sure it will be done soon." -- Seattle P-I
Twins could shop Santana?

This winter could become wonderland if the Twins shop Johan Santana. Santana was openly critical of the Twins' management earlier this month over the meager payroll. They can't keep him and their core players. So it would not be a shock to see them gauge his value on the market. -- Denver Post

Red Sox might let 3B Lowell leave?

There is no guarantee that Mike Lowell will be back with the Red Sox in 2008. Not when the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez, another third baseman, could become a free agent, too. The Red Sox were enamored with Rodriguez when they tried to acquire him from the Texas Rangers in 2003, and those feelings could resurface. While Lowell is focused on helping the Red Sox clinch the American League East, he, like those fans chanting in Chicago, occasionally wonders if he will be back next season. Ortiz, one of the most powerful voices on the team, has said the Red Sox should re-sign Lowell. "I'd be lying if I said I never thought about, but I'm not consumed by it," Lowell said. "I know I'm going to sign somewhere next year. I obviously have my preferences. We'll see what happens." -- NY Times

A's dealing Loaiza?

In the wake of two successful starts, veteran right-hander Esteban Loaiza -- due to earn $7 million next season -- might be fitted soon for an eighth major-league uniform. Teams have until Friday to add players and have them be eligible for postseason play. "I'm not really concentrating about other teams," Loaiza said. "I just want to finish strong and stay healthy, and we'll see where it goes from there." Loaiza, who has pitched in the playoffs for the A's, Yankees and Texas Rangers, is not publicly lobbying for a trade to a contender but knows his fate is in the hands of A's general manager Billy Beane. "If something happens, it happens," Loaiza said. "This is my seventh team. I understand business is business. It's not my decision." -- Contra Costa Times

Astros search for GM continues

Astros president of baseball operations and interim general manager Tal Smith said the club hasn't yet put a list together of possible candidates to replace fired general manager Tim Purpura. "We've had very little time to discuss anything since the events of (Monday)," Smith said. Smith said the ideal candidate will be player personnel-oriented, and he didn't envision getting permission to interview any current general managers. Smith had gotten e-mails from some interested candidates. -- Houston Chronicle

Marlins president meets to clear air with Olsen

Pitcher Scott Olsen's agent confirmed that Olsen and Marlins president David Samson met to clear the air after Samson said on a radio show he would be disinclined to welcome back Olsen if he's convicted on charges of DUI and resisting arrest. Olsen told Samson he didn't appreciate him disclosing that he's taking anger-management therapy, but Samson said he thought Olsen's agent had implied that in an earlier radio interview. -- Miami Herald

MLB could make all coaches wear helmets?

What started as a way to honor the late Mike Coolbaugh could inspire a rule change. Rockies first- base coach Glenallen Hill began wearing a hard helmet while coaching first base after Coolbaugh was killed by a foul ball with Double-A Tulsa. Oakland coach Rene Lachemann followed suit and now the idea of all base coaches wearing helmets will be addressed at the annual general managers' meetings in November. "It will be a topic of discussion," said Joe Garagiola Jr., MLB's senior vice president of baseball operations. It could eventually include minor league teams, too, though rule changes require approval from the MLB Players Association. -- Denver Post

Damon not in Yanks plans for '08?

As for next season, right fielder Bobby Abreu is a free agent, and right now there are no plans to re-sign him. Will Johnny Damon survive if Abreu goes? Or will the Yankees try to move him? "You'll have to ask Brian Cashman that," said Damon. "I have no idea on what is going to happen. Once the season is over, I'll go into hiding and just wait to hear what they're going to do." -- Boston Globe

Braves Andruw looking at $150 mil contract?

If A-Rod stays in New York on his current deal, Atlanta's Andruw Jones jumps to the top of the marquee list. Jones has not performed to expectations, but still has a shot at 30 home runs and 100 RBIs. He's still also a premier center fielder. With Alfonso Soriano landing $136 million last year, Jones will surely be looking for $150 million. -- Denver Post

Dodgers owner says $70 mil in renovations won't affect offseason plans?

The Dodgers plan to pour $70 million into stadium renovations this winter, but owner Frank McCourt said that investment would not reduce the amount of money available to sign players during the off-season. Two totally different things, McCourt said. In announcing the latest round of stadium upgrades -- this one to widen concourses on the field level, double the number of restrooms and concession stands there and equip every stand to grill Dodger Dogs -- McCourt emphasized the need to accommodate large crowds by blending modern amenities within a stadium that opened in 1962. -- LA Times

Bidders balk at Bonds HR ball

Bidder up! Barry Bonds' record-breaking home run ball went on the block yesterday, but there wasn't a big rush to start the bidding in the online auction. Offers can be placed at until Sept. 15. The bidding starts at $100,000. As of late evening, there weren't any takers. Auctioneers said they expect the ball to be worth as much as $500,000 to Matt Murphy, the 21-year-old Queens student who was on vacation in San Francisco when he caught the historic horsehide. Murphy, who went back to work as a contractor supervisor at 930 Fifth Ave. after a brief moment as a media celebrity, said he hopes to open a physical therapy practice. -- NY Daily News

Phils Myers could go back to rotation in '08?

The Phillies will decide Brett Myers' role for 2008 in the off-season. It basically depends on which area of the pitching staff needs him more. If the Phils can upgrade their bullpen, they may put Myers back in the starting rotation. If they can make some moves to shore up the rotation, Myers might stay as closer. Myers would like to continue closing, but he says he'll do whatever helps the team most. If a former Phillies closer had a vote, Myers would continue closing. -- Philadelphia Inquirer

Reds Mackanin wants Interim tag lifted

Reds interim manager Pete Mackanin doesn't want to be judged by his predecessor's success or lack of it. "Judge me on who I am and how I'm doing, and how's the team reacting," Mackanin said before Tuesday's doubleheader with the Pirates. "Don't judge me because I'm an interim manager and so was the other guy and that didn't work out." Like Mackanin, the Reds' last two managers - Jerry Narron and Dave Miley - took over the team on an interim basis before being hired full-time. Going into Tuesday's doubleheader, Mackanin had gone 29-19 since taking over for Narron on July 3. Since that day, the Reds have the best record in the National League and only the New York Yankees have a better record at 34-18 in that span. -- Cincinnati Post

Rockies Cook ready for return to rotation?

Aaron Cook's smile explained his health before he opened his mouth. The Rockies right-hander threw 46 pitches to hitters Tuesday, leaving him in position to soon rejoin the team, possibly without the prerequisite rehab assignment. Not once did he feel a twinge in his left ribcage muscle, the first time he hasn't experienced pain since injuring it against the Chicago Cubs on Aug. 10. "I felt strong. It was a very huge step," Cook said. "The key is how I am (today) to see where we go from here." Given the Rockies' position in the standings, they are considering activating Cook without a health checkup in the minor leagues. Pitching coach Bob Apodaca left Tuesday's session impressed, admitting, "He's close." -- Denver Post

Kennedy bumps Mussina from Yanks rotation

Mike Mussina is getting a start off, and Ian Kennedy is getting a shot at the majors. The Yankees announced after last night's game that the right-hander Kennedy, last year's No. 1 draft pick, will start Saturday against Tampa Bay in place of Mussina, who has lost his past three starts. "We'll skip the one start, and we'll see what we see," manager Joe Torre said. "We'll look at this and then make an evaluation." Kennedy, 22, is 1-1 with a 2.08 ERA in six starts for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He began the year at Class-A Tampa -- like best friend and fellow 2006 first-round pick Joba Chamberlain -- and in 26 games at three levels has gone 12-3 with a 1.91 ERA and 163 strikeouts in 146 1/3 innings. -- Star-Ledger

O's dump Shuey

In the latest attempt to repair their battered bullpen, the Orioles yesterday designated veteran Paul Shuey for assignment and recalled Triple-A Norfolk left-hander Kurt Birkins for the fifth time this season. "To be honest with you, everything I've tried hasn't worked," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. "We have to try to do something different. I think roles and all that other stuff, at this particular time, I don't know." Trembley said that informing Shuey that the club was letting him go was difficult because of how hard the 36-year-old worked to return to the game. Before this season, Shuey hadn't pitched in the big leagues since April 2005. He retired that month because of recurring hip problems, but made a return after having a hip resurfacing procedure in Canada. -- Baltimore Sun

Pirates waiting for word on Torres

It will be at least another day before the Pirates know if reliever Salomon Torres will pitch for them again this season. Torres had an arthrogram Monday, which revealed no structural damage to his right elbow. He was to be examined further, however, by Dr. Patrick DeMeo, the team's medical director, yesterday. -- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Phils expect Garcia to have surgery, leave

There was no official report on the condition of pitcher Freddy Garcia, who was in Alabama to have his injured right shoulder examined by orthopedist James Andrews. Phillies officials expect that Garcia will opt for surgery and move on to another organization next season. -- Philadelphia Inquirer

Papelbon ready for BoSox stretch run?

After an offseason of uncertainty and a 2007 season of carefully controlled and scripted appearances as the closer, Jonathan Papelbon's shoulder and his faith in it have never been stronger. "I'm ready for Tito (Francona) to start cracking the whip, I'm ready for him to jump on my back and start riding me, if he needs, too," said Papelbon before last night's game. "I know he's not going to but I'm able to do that. If he had to do it, I'd be able to do it." A year ago at this stage, Papelbon had been used in 56 games for 66 innings with 10 appearances in August for 13 innings. Entering last night, he had been used in 10 fewer games (46) for a whopping 20 fewer innings (46). Papelbon has 71 strikeouts, an average of 13.69 strikeouts per nine innings, the best in AL history for a pitcher with at least 45 innings. -- Boston Herald

Rivera will join Halos this weekend?

Manager Mike Scioscia said outfielder Juan Rivera, who is batting .231 in 10 games for triple-A Salt Lake after sitting out the entire season because of a broken leg, will join the Angels this weekend, when rosters can be expanded. -- LA Times

Cairo set to join Cards

Tony La Russa said "four or five" position players would come up from Memphis, probably on Sept. 1, which is the first day teams can expand rosters to as many as 40. Outfielder Skip Schumaker and infielder Miguel Cairo are sure to be among the reinforcements. Catcher Kelly Stinnett also is expected to be called up, though Stinnett has been on the restricted list since the Cardinals waived him. -- St. Louis Post-Dispatch

O's Bedard a longshot for CY

AL Cy Young Award — Baltimore's Erik Bedard (13-6, 3.35 ERA, AL-most 224 strikeouts) might be having the best year of any AL pitcher but playing on a losing team hurts his chances. It's up for grabs with Boston's Josh Beckett (16-5, 3.21 ERA), Oakland's Dan Haren (14-5, 2.72 ERA), Minnesota's Johan Santana (14-9, 2.97 ERA), Cleveland's C.C. Sabathia (14-7, 3.38 ERA), and Los Angeles' Kelvim Escobar (15-6, 2.77 ERA) and John Lackey (15-8, 3.34 ERA) in the running. It would not be a shocking upset if Seattle relief pitcher J.J. Putz (2-1, 37 saves, 1.35 ERA) beat them all out. -- Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

BoSox Pedroia and Brewers Braun leading ROY race?

NL Rookie of the Year — Milwaukee's Ryan Braun (.334, 25 HRs, 66 RBI in 332 official at-bats) has been outstanding but don't discount Colorado shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (.296, 18 HRs, 72 RBI), who has played in the majors all season and looks like a long-term star.
AL Rookie of the Year — Boston second baseman Dustin Pedroia (.319, 28 doubles, 6 HRs, 42 RBI) should win in a landslide. Teammates Hideki Okajima (3-1, 24 holds, 4 saves, 1.17 ERA) and Daisuke Matsuzaka (13-10, 3.76 ERA) and Kansas City's Brian Bannister (10-7, 3.28 ERA) have had fine seasons but haven't been as valuable as an everyday infielder. -- Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

Danks fired up to face Rangers

In case someone hasn't called John Danks yet, the former Rangers prospect and Round Rock native said he's "technically" ran out of tickets. The lefty, who went to Chicago in an off-season trade, makes his first start against Texas and at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on Thursday. "It's going to be fun," Danks said. "Being close to home, there's going to be a lot of people here, and you know, knowing a lot of those guys over there." -- Star-Telegram

Rays No.1 pick goes back to Vandy for class

Rays first-round pick David Price, who has been throwing bullpen sessions and getting accustomed to pro baseball at Class A Columbus, returns to Vanderbilt for the first day of classes today. Price, who received a six-year major-league deal that could be worth as much as $11.25-million, is taking 12 credits this semester, which he enters 36 short of earning his sociology degree. -- St. Petersburg Times