Infielder Brock Holt was surprised when the Pirates traded him to Boston before last season, but he’s doing his best to provide the Red Sox with value in the deal, writes WEEI.com’s Katie Morrison. “I was expecting to go to big league camp with them [the Pirates] with the chance to make the team,” says Holt. “Then a couple days after Christmas, Neal Huntington called me, and said, ’Hey, we traded you to the Red Sox,’ so then I didn’t have a clue what to expect.” Morrison points out that the other player the Red Sox received was Joel Hanrahan, who got hurt almost immediately and then left via free agency, so Holt represents the Red Sox’ only chance of recouping value from the trade (a deal that netted the Pirates a very good reliever in Mark Melancon, along with another interesting arm in Stolmy Pimentel). Holt has hit well this year while filling in at third base, with a .299/.349/.390 line in 87 plate appearances this season. Here’s more from around the big leagues.
- The Astros’ strong month of May suggests they might not be a punch line anymore, Fangraphs’ Jeff Sullivan writes for FOX Sports. The big differences between this year’s Astros team and the 100-loss teams of years past are, of course, rookie outfielder George Springer and breakouts from starters Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHugh. Keuchel and McHugh didn’t look like important parts of the Astros’ future before this season, and now it looks like they might be, so the next competitive Astros team might be coming more quickly than we think.
- Heath Bell will opt out of his minor-league deal with the Orioles next Saturday if he isn’t promoted, David Hall of the Virginian-Pilot tweets. Since being released by the Rays, Bell has pitched 6 2/3 innings for Triple-A Norfolk, allowing five runs while striking out five and walking six.
- Reliever Shae Simmons, whose contract the Braves purchased on Saturday, was so good in Double-A that the Braves didn’t feel he needed to go to Triple-A, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. Simmons struck out 30 batters in 23 Double-A innings this season, throwing a fastball that reaches into the high ’90s to go along with a good slider. O’Brien notes that Simmons has been compared to Craig Kimbrel and Billy Wagner — like those pitchers, Simmons has great stuff and is a bit small, at 5-foot-11.