Expos unload Bradley, Urbina
The Montreal Expos were busy on baseball's trade deadline day Tuesday, sending closer Ugueth Urbina to the Boston Red Sox and dealing outfielder Milton Bradley to Cleveland.
In exchange for Urbina, the Expos picked up pitchers Tomo Ohka and Rich Rundles.
"No, it's not a fire sale," Expos general manager Jim Beattie said in Phoenix, Ariz., where Montreal was preparing to open a series against the Diamondbacks.
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"We got what we wanted in the trade. When we evaluated our personnel, it was clear that we needed starters.
"Ohka can help us now. If he's in shape when he gets here, he'll start Saturday in Houston."
The Expos nearly traded Urbina to New York in June, but the Yankees were concerned about bone chips in Urbina's right elbow.
Urbina, 27, led the National League with 41 saves in 1999. But the right-hander missed most of the last season following reconstructive elbow surgery.
Urbina was 2-0 with a 4.24 ERA and 15 saves this season.
The Red Sox needed bullpen help with closer Derek Lowe struggling all season, and found it with Urbina.
"He's death to right-handed hitters," said Red Sox general manager Dan Duquette. "If you need a strikeout in a key situation, he can provide that.
"I have a lot of confidence in Derek Lowe, but if I have the opportunity to add another top quality relief pitcher, I think it's in the interest of the team to add him to the team and let those things work themselves out."
The Red Sox, who also received cash in the deal -- Beattie would not confirm rumours that Boston received $1 million US -- began the day 3 1/2 games behind the Yankees in the AL East.
"It's a big play for them," said Yankees manager Joe Torre. "They're shoring up the area that could be a question mark.
"Urbina is a good one."
Duquette said he began talking to Montreal about Urbina last November.
"There was no doubt he was to go," said Expos infielder Geoff Blum. "We knew when we played Boston that they were watching and they were pretty impressed with him."
Ohka was 2-5 with 6.19 ERA for the Red Sox before being sent down to triple-A Pawtucket.
"We gave up a major-league pitcher in Ohka who's had several chances to help our major league team this year and it didn't look like he was going to help," Duquette said.
The Expos have a different idea.
"I think he's going to help," said Montreal first baseman Lee Stevens. "We're losing a stopper but we're getting a good pitcher in return."
Rundles was 7-6 with a 2.43 at single-A Augusta.
"As for Rich Rundles, he's a major player of the future," said Beattie. "We insisted right up to the end that he be included in the trade.
"It's like getting the first pick in the draft."
The Expos sent Bradley, 23, to the Indians for pitching prospect Zach Day.
In Bradley, the Indians believe they have a possible replacement for 34-year-old outfielder Kenny Lofton.
"In Milton Bradley, we are getting a top-of-the-order, middle of the diamond player we feel will have a major impact at the major league level in the near future," said Indians general manager John Hart. "He's a multi-tooled player who can run the ball down in centre field."
Bradley's arrival appears to indicate Lofton's days with the Indians are numbered.
Or Cleveland could just be trying to motivate Lofton, who has had a sub-par season.
"I think Kenny might be able to see it like that," Indians manager Charlie Manuel said before his club opened a crucial seven-game homestand.
"The biggest thing for Kenny to do, though, is to play like we know he can."
Bradley, who has been optioned to triple-A Buffalo for the time being, can bat leadoff and steal bases, something Lofton no longer tries.
Lofton is in his final season under contract with the Indians, who exercised their $8-million US option on the six-time all-star during the off-season.
Lofton entered Tuesday night's game batting just .240 with seven homers, 36 RBIs and 10 stolen bases.
The Expos, meanwhile, dispensed a player who has a reputation for being aggressive and having some attitude.
In 1999, he batted .329 at double-A Harrisburg but also was suspended for seven games for triggering a bench-clearing brawl after being hit by a pitch.
He finished that year in style, hitting a two-out grand slam in the bottom of the ninth as Harrisburg beat Norwich 12-11 in the deciding Game 5 of the Eastern League final.
Bradley batted .223 with 16 doubles, one homer and 19 RBIs in 67 games with the Expos this year before he was sent to triple-A Ottawa on June 22.
With the Lynx, Bradley batted .272 with two homers and 13 RBIs while stealing 14 bases and getting caught just once.
Bradley was selected by the Expos in the second round of the 1996 June draft.
Day was expendable as the Indians searched for the missing piece while trying to hold off Minnesota.
"I like Day," Manuel said. "He's got a style like Charlie Nagy's only bigger and stronger."
Day, 23, was 1-0 with a 1.50 earned-run average in one start at triple-A Buffalo after going 9-10, 3.10 ERA in 22 starts with double-A Akron.
The right-hander's overall minor-league record is 44-35 with a 3.22 ERA in 104 games since being taken by the Yankees in the fifth round of the 1996 June draft.
The Expos said Day will be sent to Ottawa where he will figure in the Lynx's starting rotation.