From trading block to starting lineup

From trading block to starting lineup

BOSTON -- The lineup card that was viewable to the media at 3:30 p.m. ET on Monday was the first indication that the trade deadline would come and go without the Red Sox making a move. All those players who were rumored to be on the go the last couple of days (Mark Loretta, Mike Lowell, Coco Crisp and Wily Mo Pena) were in manager Terry Francona's starting nine.

In a market like Boston, where there is so much interest and coverage, players get caught in the middle during what is already an anxiety-provoking time of year.

Take, for example, Sunday night, when Loretta was out of the lineup and a rumor spread like wildfire that he was seen in street clothes exiting the ballpark just moments before the first pitch.

"I would think everybody's glad that [the deadline is] over, because it certainly gets a lot of play on TV and radio and it creates a lot of interest. It also creates a lot of headaches that aren't even close," said Francona. "So it will be good to let the players get back to playing baseball."

Loretta, the consummate pro, took it all in stride.

"Somebody said they thought they saw me leave the game in street clothes yesterday, but I was in the dugout the whole time," Loretta said. "It was kind of a coincidence that I had a scheduled off-day right during this time period, and that fueled speculation. It speaks to the market and the coverage that everybody gets excited about this and wants to talk about it. I think it's good for the game in general to have the banter and the discussions going on. That's OK, I can handle it."

So can Lowell, who has been seeing his name involved in trade rumors ever since he was a highly touted prospect with the Yankees.

"I think that most guys have kind of gone through this, whether it's concerning themselves or the team as a unit and other guys on the team," Lowell said. "I think most guys realize that it's kind of part of the business this part of the year. It comes and goes usually. All the talk about a deal that doesn't happen. No one had [Julio] Lugo going to the Dodgers. They had him going to 14 other teams. That's just the way it seems like it goes sometimes."

Though general manager Theo Epstein is never going to apologize for examining every potential scenario that might improve his team, he's grateful that the uncertain cloud hanging over some of his players has passed.

"One element that's tough to deal with is what our own players have to go through," said Epstein. "I think the nature of our modus operandi, we're aggressive and the nature of the way we're covered as a team, I think, leads to virtually every player down there having to hear his name mentioned at one point or another. It can be disruptive.

"I think we usually struggle in July. I don't think July is usually one of our best months. August and September is another story. We tend to do better in August and September. So I hope that there's a bit of relief as we move past July 31, and these guys know they'll be here for the long haul, and maybe that can manifest itself on the field."

So as the trade deadline passed, no suitcases or plane itineraries were needed in the Boston clubhouse.

"I think it should give all of us who are here confidence," said Loretta. "We're a first-place team with the guys we've had here all year long. We feel like if we play up to our capabilities, we'll be right there."

Ian Browne is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.