Phillies trade two All-Stars to the West Coast

831445.jpg

Phillies trade two All-Stars to the West Coast

From Comcast SportsNet

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Shane Victorino will hear an unfamiliar sound at Chavez Ravine: cheers.

The Phillies traded the two-time All-Star center fielder to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday for reliever Josh Lindblom and minor league pitcher Ethan Martin.

Philadelphia also gets a player to be named or cash for the 31-year-old Victorino, who can become a free agent after the season. The last-place Phillies then sent two-time All-Star right fielder Hunter Pence to the San Francisco Giants for three players.

Victorino is batting .261 with nine homers, 40 RBIs and 24 steals. He helped the Phillies win five straight NL East titles and the 2008 World Series championship.

"We're excited to add an All-Star caliber player with postseason experience," Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said. "He plays the game with passion, gives us a top of the order bat from both sides of the plate, can steal bases and is solid defensively in the outfield."

Victorino has been booed at Dodger Stadium since Game 3 of the 2008 NL championship series. Victorino took exception to a fastball thrown over his head by Hiroki Kuroda. He shouted at Kuroda while pointing at his own head and upper body as if to say: "It's OK to throw at my body, but not my head." Benches cleared, but no punches were thrown.

Since that day, Victorino has been a villain to Dodgers fans.

Not anymore.

Victorino joins a team that's tied for first place in the NL West with the Giants. Though he's a three-time Gold Glove winner, he could move to left field because reigning Gold Glove winner Matt Kemp plays center. Kemp, however, told team officials that he'd be willing to move to left before the trade.

The Phillies also traded two-time All-Star right fielder Hunter Pence to the San Francisco Giants for three players on Tuesday.

The last-place Phillies got outfielder Nate Schierholtz, minor league catcher Tommy Joseph and minor league right-handed pitcher Seth Rosin.

Pence is batting .271 with 17 homers and 59 RBIs this season. Schierholtz is hitting .257 with five homers and 17 RBIs in 77 games.

Earlier, the Phillies sent two-time All-Star center fielder Shane Victorino to Los Angeles for two pitchers.

Joseph was San Francisco's No. 2 ranked prospect by Baseball America. He's hitting .260 with eight homers and 38 RBIs in 80 games for Double-A Richmond. Rosin was 2-1 with 10 saves and a 4.31 ERA in 34 games (five starts) for Single-A San Jose.

Pence fills a major need for the Giants, giving them a right-handed hitter with power. He'll help replace the injured Pablo Sandoval in the lineup. Sandoval was placed on the disabled list last weekend with a hamstring strain.

The Phillies acquired Pence from Houston on July 29 last year, and he helped them win their fifth straight NL East title. But Philadelphia is stuck in last place this season and is cutting payroll.

Pence is making 10.4 million this season and stands to get a raise in arbitration next year.

Giants lineup: Nunez scratched, Williamson in left field

Giants lineup: Nunez scratched, Williamson in left field

Bruce Bochy and Joe Maddon issued their lineups for today's series finale in Chicago:

Giants (20-28)
1. Denard Span (L) CF
2. Joe Panik (L) 2B
3. Brandon Belt (L) 1B
4. Buster Posey (R) C
5. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
6. Eduardo Nunez (R) 3B
7. Justin Ruggiano (R) RF
8. Mac Williamson (R) LF
9. Jeff Samardzija (R) P (1-5, 4.57 ERA)

Cubs (24-21)
1. Ben Zobrist (S) 2B
2. Kyle Schwarber (L) LF
3. Kris Bryant (R) 3B
4. Anthony Rizzo (L) 1B
5. Ian Happ (S) CF
6. Jason Heyward (L) RF
7. Miguel Montero (L) C
8. Javier Baez (R) SS
9. Eddie Butler (R) P (1-0, 2.00 ERA)

Cooper: 'I can go nowhere but up,' wants improved play down the stretch

nfl-generic.jpg

Cooper: 'I can go nowhere but up,' wants improved play down the stretch

The Raiders searched in vain for dynamic receiving production before Amari Cooper came along. Thousand-yard seasons proved elusive even in the golden age of passing stats, with a full decade’s drought after Randy Moss posted a four-digit total in 2005.

Cooper’s made that old hat.

The 2015 first-round pick has two 1,000-yard campaigns in as many seasons. Ditto for Pro Bowl honors. Those feats have become increasingly common, Cooper’s already in rarified air.

Cooper’s career is off to a solid start, but the No. 4 overall pick two years ago believes he can be much better. That especially true later in the season, where production has waned in his first two seasons.

He has nine 100-yard performances in two seasons, with just two coming after week 8. He noticeably struggled with injury at the end of 2015, but wouldn’t make excuses for a production drop last season.

Cooper wants to finish as strong as he starts, and has full confidence that will happen this season.

“Of course it’s been on my mind, but it’s a good thing to me because I feel like I can go nowhere but up,” Cooper said after Tuesday’s OTA session. “I know that I can have a lot more production than I’ve had in the past two seasons, so we’ll just see.”

Cooper has sought counsel from other NFL greats – Calvin Johnson has been in Alamenda this week, offering sage advice – and Raiders coaches have identified ways where he can be even more dynamic working with quarterback Derek Carr.

“Certainly there are things that we think we can do to help,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “Also, for him, I think he has a much greater understanding. I thought last year was a step forward. I know he wants to continue to push. It’s great when you have a young, talented player that’s really eager to be special, wants to make a mark in this league. The way he’s working at it right now is outstanding. That’s all we want of our guys.

Cooper is a versatile presence, able to do most everything well. His route running was luaded out of college, though he can be a good deep-ball receiver and can create big plays after the catch. Cooper knows his hands much be more consistent, but the Raiders want to exract more from his natural talents.

“There are a lot of different facets to him,” Del Rio said. “Where his speed is really one of his greatest strengths, obviously, his route running ability was pretty doggone polished when he got here, but even that can continue to improve and the timing with Derek. We think he’ll continue to ascend.”

That’s the goal heading into his third NFL season now armed with greater knowledge of how he’s being covered and muscle memory of what went wrong at times later in the year.

Cooper believes detail work will help him this fall and winter, and that starts in earnest during the offseason program.

“It’s easy to forget the small things like high-pointing the ball, looking the ball all the way through and not trying to run before you actually catch the ball,” Cooper said. “Overall, I’m just working hard in the offseason so that you can come back and you can be dominant.

“I want to be the best Amari Cooper that I could possibly be. I want to be better than every other year that I’ve played football, so that’s how I am looking at this year.”