AL East Links: Lester, Hinojosa, Cruz, Orr

George Digby, a Red Sox scout from 1944 to 1994 and a scouting consultant until 2004, passed away on Friday at age 96.  Digby’s long career earned him a spot in the Red Sox Hall Of Fame and his many signings included such notable names as Wade Boggs, Mike Greenwell and Jody Reed.  An even bigger name, however, eluded Digby through no fault of his own.  As ESPN Boston’s Gordon Edes relates, Digby pushed the Red Sox to sign Willie Mays in 1949 yet got nowhere thanks to the club’s ban on black players that shamefully existed until 1959.  The MLBTR staff extends our condolences to Digby’s family and many friends around baseball.

Here’s the latest from the AL East…

  • Jon Lester recorded a career-best 15 strikeouts over eight innings of one-hit ball in a 6-3 Boston win over Oakland today.  MLB.com’s Mike Bauman notes that such performances are what makes Lester so valuable to the Red Sox and it only raises the southpaw’s asking price on his next contract.  When last we heard about negotiations, Lester and the Sox had reportedly suspended talks until the end of the season.
  • Dalier Hinojosa has a 7.15 ERA and 12 walks over his first 11 1/3 innings with Triple-A Pawtucket, yet the PawSox coaching staff isn’t yet concerned about the Cuban right-hander, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal writes.  This is not only Hinojosa’s first taste of American pro baseball since signing a $4.25MM contract with the Red Sox in October, but it is also his first time pitching in cold weather, which the PawSox coaches believe is affecting his performance.
  • Nelson Cruz is off to a hot start and is only under contract through 2014, though MASNsports.com’s Steve Melewski opines that the Orioles shouldn’t be in any rush to extend Cruz’s contract.  The O’s have other long-term deals for building block players (i.e. Chris Davis, Matt Wieters, J.J. Hardy) to consider first, plus Baltimore can also extend a qualifying offer to Cruz in the offseason.
  • Infielder Pete Orr wanted to sign with the Blue Jays last winter, his agent Blake Corosky tells Sportsnet.ca’s Ben Nicholson-Smith.  “Pete made it clear to them that they were his first choice and starting in [Triple-A] Buffalo was fine.  But they were equally clear there were better options and that they liked him but not enough,” Corosky said.  Orr, born just outside Toronto in nearby Richmond Hill, instead signed a minor league deal with the Brewers.

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