BOSTON – Josh Beckett strolled through the Red Sox clubhouse Monday afternoon en route to his locker. A couple reporters approached.
“Yeah, I’m still here,” Beckett said.
But that is all Beckett would say. He did not want to talk — does he ever? — especially about trade rumors.
And there are a lot of rumors floating about.
Welcome to deadline day.
Lots of excitement can occur on July 31, the last day teams can make deals without having to put players on waivers.
I remember standing in the Pawtucket clubhouse eight years ago when former Sea Dogs infielder Tony Schroeder approached with news he didn’t believe.
“I think we just traded Nomar,” Schroeder said. Indeed, Nomar Garciaparra was sent to the Cubs in a deal that some believe energized the Red Sox to become world champions.
In that same Pawtucket clubhouse that day, teammates were saying goodbye to journeyman outfielder Henri Stanley, who was traded to the Dodgers for an outfielder named Dave Roberts.
Roberts, an outfielder with speed and a .250 average, figured to be a backup who would have little impact for Boston … but then came The Steal.
Then there was the scene at Hadlock Field last July 31, when pitcher Stephen Fife, catcher Tim Federowicz and outfielder Chih-Hsien Chiang all packed their gear and said goodbye to their Sea Dogs teammates after they were traded in a three-way deal that yielded Boston two pitchers from the Seattle organization: Erik Bedard and Josh Fields.
Bedard was 1-2 in eight starts before leaving as a free agent. Fields is still a developing prospect in the Hadlock bullpen.
So, sometimes a deal can be magic for a club. Other times, not so much.
What will the Red Sox do today?
Nothing, if Bobby Valentine has his druthers — if you believe the Boston manager.
VALENTINE KEEPS REPEATING the same line about these Red Sox.
“I like my team,” he said. “I don’t see any gaping holes.”
(Think Dorothy clicking her heels. So maybe if Valentine says “There’s no place like the playoffs” enough, the team will make it to the postseason.
It’s one thing to be confident. But then Valentine added to his mantra.
“I see more holes in other teams,” he said.
What other teams? Going into Monday’s games, only four teams in the American League — Cleveland, Seattle, Minnesota and Kansas City — had a worse record than Boston.
TWO ADDITIONS THAT should help the Red Sox are closer Andrew Bailey and designated hitter David Ortiz. Bailey, out all season because of a thumb injury, begins a rehab assignment Wednesday in the Gulf Coast League.
Ortiz, out with a strained Achilles tendon, hoped to be back Wednesday. But his absence will be longer than that. Ortiz was unable to run on the ground Monday and worked out in a pool.
There’s also Daisuke Matsuzaka, who began another rehab stint Monday in Pawtucket. But the hope for Dice-K dwindled a while ago.
JUSTIN MASTERSON is a pitcher the Red Sox are reportedly interested in. Masterson, whom the Red Sox traded to Cleveland in 2009, is 7-9 with a 4.47 ERA. He is headed to his first arbitration year in 2013, and the Indians might not want to spend the money.
Masterson can be dominant, but he can also deliver some clunkers. He’s allowed six or more earned runs five times this year, including eight runs in his last outing.
WHO COULD BOSTON trade away today? Beckett is a long shot. But the Red Sox do have available players. Backup catcher Kelly Shoppach, starting pitcher Aaron Cook and reliever Vicente Padilla are on one-year deals. Outfielder Ryan Sweeney could bring a prospect back in return.
Concerning minor leaguers, don’t look for a mass exodus from Portland. But a former Sea Dogs player, outfielder Juan Carlos Linares, could be part of a deal.
THE SEA DOGS return to Hadlock Field Tuesday for a six-day homestand — a three-game series with the Akron Aeros, then three against Erie.
SEA DOGS SHORTSTOP Derrik Gibson said he will show off (in jest) his latest acquisition Tuesday — a Will Middlebrooks autograph.
Gibson spent his off day Monday at Fenway. Before the game, Middlebrooks was signing autographs. Gibson snuck into the crowd and handed the back side of his guest pass to Middlebrooks, who signed it.
It was not until Middlebrooks handed the card back to Gibson that he jerked his head back in surprise, finally recognizing his former teammate in the minors.
“I was in the zone,” Middle-brooks explained.
Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at: