Braves trade for Justin Upton

Associated PressJanuary 24, 2013 

Arizona has traded outfielder Justin Upton to the Atlanta Braves in a seven-player deal that sends former All-Star infielder Martin Prado to the Diamondbacks.

The Braves also get third baseman Chris Johnson. Atlanta is giving up four minor leaguers in the deal, including top pitching prospect Randy Delgado. The other minor leaguers headed to Arizona are right-hander Zeke Spruill, shortstop Nick Ahmed and first baseman Brandon Drury. Prado, projected to play third base for the Diamondbacks, can become a free agent after this season.

Upton, who has five-plus major league seasons but still is just 25 years old, will join older brother B.J. Upton, who recently signed a free agent contract with Atlanta. The younger Upton, who has three years and $38.5 million left on his contract, had been the subject of trade speculation throughout the offseason and vetoed a trade to the Seattle Mariners.

Prado, who joins fellow Venezuelan Miguel Montero in Arizona, made the All-Star team in 2010 as a second baseman and played mostly in left field last season. A versatile infielder, Prado was projected to move to third base for the Braves this season to replace the retired Chipper Jones.

The Braves didn’t re-sign centerfielder and leadoff hitter Michael Bourn and Prado, the No. 2 hitter behind Bourn, had been a candidate to hit leadoff. Shortstop Andrelton Simmons now is expected to assume that role. Simmons hit .289 with a .335 on-base percentage in 49 games as a rookie last season.

Boston: Pedro Martinez has returned to the Boston Red Sox.

On Thursday, Martinez, a three-time Cy Young Award winner and eight-time All-Star, who spent seven seasons in Boston, was brought back to the franchise. He will serve as a special assistant to general manager Ben Cherington.

• Left-handed pitcher Craig Breslow, who had been eligible for salary arbitration, agreed to a two-year contract, with a club option for 2015.

In 63 combined appearances between Arizona and Boston last season, Breslow, 32, went 3-0 with a 2.70 ERA. He was acquired by the Red Sox on July 31 from the Diamondbacks in exchange for pitcher Matt Albers and outfielder Scott Podsednik.

Chicago White Sox: The White Sox say they have acquired right-handed pitcher Zach Stewart off waivers from the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Stewart, who pitched a game for the Charlotte Knights in 2011, was 1-4 with an 8.58 ERA in 20 games last season for the White Sox and Boston. He was traded to the Red Sox with infielder Brent Lillibridge on June 24 in exchange for third baseman Kevin Youkilis. He was traded to Pittsburgh in November and designated for assignment Jan. 17.

Stewart originally was acquired by the White Sox from Toronto on in 2011 with pitcher Jason Frasor in exchange for pitcher Edwin Jackson and infielder Mark Teahen.

Cincinnati: The Reds invited outfielder Billy Hamilton, 22, to spring training, giving him a chance to see firsthand what it’s like to take off running with a major league pitcher and catcher trying to keep him from taking the next base.

Hamilton set a professional record with 155 steals last season, which he split between Class A and Class AA. The Reds plan to start him at Class AAA Louisville this season, giving him time to develop his bunting and his new position of center field.

New York Mets: A person familiar with the deal tells The Associated Press the Mets and free agent right-hander Shaun Marcum have agreed to terms on a one-year contract.

The person said the contract is pending a physical. The person requested anonymity because the deal has not been announced. Several media outlets earlier reported the deal.

Marcum, 31, fills an opening created when Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey was traded to Toronto. He’ll join a rotation with Johan Santana, Jonathon Niese, Matt Harvey and Dillon Gee.

Marcum went 7-4 with a 3.70 ERA for Milwaukee last season in 21 starts, missing time with an elbow injury. He also missed the 2009 season after having elbow-reconstruction surgery while with Toronto. Marcum is 57-36 with a 3.76 ERA in seven seasons.

Big crowds turn out for Musial visitation

The entrance to the Cathedral Basilica looked more like that of a St. Louis Cardinals game on Thursday, just the way Stan Musial would have liked it.

Thousands of fans turned out for Musial’s public visitation at the ornate Roman Catholic church, many of them bundled up against the bitter cold in red Cardinals jackets. Musial, a 24-time All-Star who remained a beloved figure in his adopted hometown a half-century after his playing career ended, died Saturday after years of declining health. He was 92.

Family, close friends and perhaps some of baseball’s biggest names will be back at the cathedral for a funeral on Saturday. Thursday was for the fans.

Hours before the event began, hundreds lined Lindell Avenue leading to the steps of the cathedral. Just an hour into the six-hour visitation, 1,400 people had arrived, according to a woman keeping track.

When a bell chimed once as the doors opened, 68-year-old Evelyn Bourisaw, dressed in a red coat, exclaimed, “Time to play ball!”

Among the first to go in were Audrey Kissel, 86, and Erma Bergman, 88. The two were kindred spirits of Musial, not only of his generation but also former ballplayers. Kissel played second base and Bergman pitched in a women’s professional league during World War II.

Rope lines moved mourners toward the open casket. Musial was dressed in a red blazer and a Cardinals necktie. His harmonica was in the front pocket.

Associated Press

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