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Halladay talks with Rangers were above board

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Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels couldn't be more direct in blowing up speculation that Toronto GM J.P. Ricciardi took the Rangers down a blind alley in negotiations for pitcher Roy Halladay(notes).

"Let me be real clear on this: J.P. didn't mislead me or anyone in Texas,'' Daniels wrote in an email Tuesday. "He was upfront about what they needed to get a deal done, and we were equally upfront with what we were comfortable trading. It didn't match up, it's as simple as that. Both clubs have moved on.

"I'm sure there will be opportunities to work together in the future, and I look forward to it."

The Rangers had been deep into talks with the Blue Jays on Halladay, but there were reports that Halladay would not have accepted a trade to Texas after Ricciardi had led the Rangers to believe he would. With MLB loaning the Rangers money while owner Tom Hicks seeks a buyer for the club, there also was uncertainty about whether Texas could have taken on Halladay's contract, but that didn't keep Daniels from trying to land the Blue Jays ace.

Halladay has refused to discuss his situation since the trading deadline passed last Friday, which would seem to underscore how much the process wore on him.

"I know the All-Star game was really a little bit of a downer for him," Toronto pitching coach Brad Arnsberg told the Toronto Star. "He didn't really think he would have to deal with it like he had to. He had 30 to 40 media members around him before and after the [game] and the day before in the press conference. It was relentless, and I think that's when it really got to him that this isn't a whole lot of fun.

"I don't really think if he had his way he would want to go through that again."

Serving as a reminder of the type of haul Ricciardi was hoping to score by trading Halladay, the Rangers promoted pitching phenom Neftali Feliz(notes), who hit 101 mph on the radar gun in striking out four Athletics in two innings Monday night in his debut.

Feliz, who came with shortstop Elvis Andrus(notes), catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia(notes) and pitcher Matt Harrison(notes) in the Mark Teixeira(notes) deal the Rangers made with the Braves in 2007, followed the lead of 22-year-old rookie lefty Derek Holland(notes), who held the Mariners to two hits and a run in 8 2/3 innings in his last start.

The Rangers seem a long shot in the AL West and wild-card races, but the kids aren't blinking at being given some big-time responsibility.

"Bringing kids up this year has been a little different than in recent years – they're not here to get their feet wet, they're here to contribute,'' Daniels wrote. "I couldn't be happier with how they've stepped up and performed in the middle of a pennant race.

"[Give] credit to the staff and our veteran players too, for creating the right atmosphere for these talented kids to make a contribution."

HITTING THE CORNERS

World Baseball Calamity: News that Reds ace Edinson Volquez(notes) will likely miss all of next season because of Tommy John reconstructive surgery on his right elbow has once again drawn attention to the World Baseball Classic as a primary culprit in injuries to pitchers this season. Volquez's situation is complicated by the fact that he threw 99 pitches in his first Dominican winter league start, according to Reds pitching coach Dick Pole, but the Reds also believe that ramping up to pitch for the D.R. in the WBC also played a role in his breakdown.

The Boston Red Sox have already shut down Daisuke Matsuzaka(notes), the two-time MVP in the WBC for Japan, with a tired shoulder. Even after a month of rest, there's no telling when he'll be back. Other pitchers who pitched in the WBC and have been on the DL this season include Mets setup man J.J. Putz(notes) (done for the season), Padres ace Jake Peavy(notes), Cubs lefty Ted Lilly(notes), Yankees lefty reliever Damaso Marte(notes), Marlins closer Matt Lindstrom(notes), Astros setup man LaTroy Hawkins(notes), Mets lefthander Oliver Perez(notes), Royals closer Joakim Soria(notes), Braves reliever Jorge Campillo(notes), Twins setup man Jesse Crain(notes) and Blue Jays starter Scott Richmond(notes). Some of the injuries, like Peavy's torn ankle tendon, can't be tied to the WBC, but at this rate, good luck to the tournament finding enough bodies to pitch in the next go-round.

Changing places: Our statistical analyst, Ari Kaplan of ariball.com, offers observations about some of the big leaguers who changed teams at the trading deadline:

Victor Martinez(notes), Red Sox: He may have a catcher's speed, but Martinez proves surprisingly nimble scoring from second base on a single, doing so 13 of 18 times this season. As a left-handed hitter, his biggest hole is low and away off the plate (no hits in 39 swings). As a righty, it's low and inside (no hits in 16 swings).

Jarrod Washburn(notes), Tigers: Great command of curve, above average command of slider, but the separation between his fastball, which averages a hair over 88, and changeup is just 5.5 miles an hour. That's a big reason a whopping 91 percent of the swings at his changeup make contact.

Matt Holliday(notes), Cardinals: A line-drive machine. Forty-seven percent of the balls he puts in play are line drives; the big league average is 20 percent. Throw him a changeup at your peril; he's batting .464 on changeups he puts in play.

Jake Peavy, White Sox: He's probably a month away from coming back, but when he does, note how infrequently he throws a fastball to a left-handed hitter in a hitter's count – only 22 percent of the time when it's 2 and 0 (the average is 74 percent). On 3-and-1 counts, he threw a slider 35 percent of the time; the norm is four percent.

Nick Johnson(notes), Marlins: If you expect him to chase, don't throw Johnson a high pitch. He swung at just eight percent of 147 high pitches; the average is 31 percent.

Scott Rolen(notes), Reds: The veteran third baseman shows an impressive knack of handling the cutter; 23 percent of his hits and sacrifices have come against that pitch.

Nate McLouth(notes), Braves: McLouth gets ahead in the count 57.5 percent of the time, but has had trouble handling pitches high and tight (no hits in 18 swings).

Jerry Hairston Jr.(notes),, Yankees: Hairston not only brings the Yanks defensive versatility, but he was successful on 85 percent of his 29 bunt attempts.

At least the hot flashes have stopped: Manny Ramirez(notes) came into Tuesday night's game without a home run or RBI in the 10 games since he hit a grand slam at Dodger Stadium on Manny Ramirez Bobblehead Night. The most games he went without a HR or RBI last season after he was traded to the Dodgers was nine. Maybe that's why the club has scheduled a second bobblehead night for Manny.

Tangled Webb: The Arizona Diamondbacks will have little time to decide whether to exercise the $8.5 million option they hold on right-handed ace Brandon Webb(notes), who had season-ending shoulder surgery. Webb, whose surgery was termed mostly a cleanup and did not involve labrum or rotator-cuff damage, is expected to resume throwing in October. Arizona GM Josh Byrnes will have five days after the end of the World Series to make a decision whether to exercise the option or pay a $2 million buyout.

Fungo hitting: With the Washington Nationals interviewing GM candidates, leaving interim Mike Rizzo in limbo, there's little doubt that the burden of negotiating a deal for No. 1 pick Stephen Strasburg is falling on club president Stan Kasten … The White Sox are holding out hope that Peavy, who threw a bullpen session Sunday, might be ready at the end of the month to face the Yankees in a key series … The Rays aren't going to win anything unless Carlos Pena(notes) (8-for-59 since the All-Star break) starts hitting. Last season, when the Rays were staggered by injuries to Carl Crawford(notes) and Evan Longoria(notes), Pena hit 12 home runs and drove in 34 runs in a 34-game span from July 25 to Aug. 31, a stretch in which the Rays went 25-9 en route to their first division title … While the grand jury investigation of his father continues, Koby Clemens, the oldest son of Roger Clemens(notes), has been on a tear. Playing for the Lancaster JetHawks in the Class A California League, Clemens is batting .474 with five home runs and 14 RBIs in his last 10 games. Astros officials have said that Clemens' bat will get him to the big leagues. They've tried him at a variety of positions, including catcher, third base and now left field … In trades for five players – Cy Young Award winners CC Sabathia(notes) and Cliff Lee(notes), third baseman Casey Blake(notes), All-Star catcher Victor Martinez and do-everything utilityman Mark DeRosa(notes), the Cleveland Indians have received two outfielders, two catchers, a shortstop, eight right-handed pitchers (one since traded to Tampa Bay) and two left-handers. That's called stocking the system … Keep him inside: Royals ace Zack Greinke(notes) is 9-5 with a 1.88 ERA pitching outdoors. In dome starts, he is 1-2 with a 6.00 ERA … Oakland is thinking of switching to a six-man rotation to limit the workload on their young pitchers.