Nats ruin Oswalt’s debut; Yanks get Berkman

Published 10:53 pm Saturday, July 31, 2010

Roy Oswalt’s debut with the Philadelphia Phillies was a dud. Maybe ex-teammate Lance Berkman will make a better first impression for the New York Yankees.

On another busy day of wheeling and dealing leading up to baseball’s trade deadline, the Chicago White Sox added pitcher Edwin Jackson, and the Yankees landed outfielder Austin Kearns. New York also closed in Friday on acquiring Berkman, the switch-hitting slugger who played with Oswalt for 10 seasons in Houston.

The Yankees planned to complete a deal for the five-time All-Star on Saturday, a day after the World Series champions obtained Kearns from the Cleveland Indians for a player to be named or cash.

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New York will send a couple of prospects to the Astros, likely to be reliever Mark Melancon and infielder Jimmy Paredes, and Houston will pay part of the salary Berkman is owed, a baseball executive familiar with the discussions said Friday night. The executive spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal had not been announced.

Berkman sat out Friday night against Milwaukee, and his Astros teammates said their goodbyes.

“Nothing’s been completed,” he said before the game.

Berkman, who is from Texas, had full no-trade rights. His approval was necessary for a deal, accounting for the delay in its completion.

“This city is like the womb. I feel very comfortable here. To think about the possibility of going anywhere else is kind of scary,” Berkman said.

More trades were expected before Saturday’s 4 p.m. EDT non-waiver deadline. The Los Angeles Dodgers were exploring a deal Friday night with the Chicago Cubs to acquire left-hander Ted Lilly, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

Oswalt, a two-time 20-game winner and three-time All-Star, was dealt Thursday from Houston to the Phillies in a four-player swap. But the right-hander was roughed up in his first start for the NL champions Friday night, allowing five runs — four earned — and seven hits in six innings of an 8-1 loss at Washington.

The defeat ended Philadelphia’s eight-game winning streak and left Oswalt (6-13) leading the majors in losses.

“I came out amped up, held the ball a little tight,” Oswalt said. “Didn’t really start feeling better until the last two innings. Didn’t really go my way.”

J.A. Happ, one of the players shipped from Philadelphia to Houston for Oswalt, pitched his new team past the Brewers 5-0 in a stellar Astros debut.

Happ yielded two hits over six innings and struck out six in his fourth big league start this season. The left-hander, who went 12-4 with a 2.93 ERA as a rookie last year, had been sidelined because of a left forearm strain.

“It’s a strange thing to fly out this morning, meet the new teammates and then go out there and pitch. But it was good,” Happ said. “It was very emotional yesterday saying goodbye to the guys I’ve played with a few years and then coming in here and meeting new guys.”

Elsewhere, third baseman Jhonny Peralta hit two homers for Detroit in his first game since being acquired from Cleveland. Matt Capps worked a scoreless ninth inning for a save in his first appearance with the Minnesota Twins after he was traded by the Washington Nationals the previous night.

The White Sox, trying to hold off the Twins in the AL Central, obtained Jackson from the struggling Arizona Diamondbacks for rookie pitcher Daniel Hudson and prospect David Holmberg.

An All-Star in 2009 with Detroit, Jackson tossed the second no-hitter in Diamondbacks history June 25 against Tampa Bay. His arrival gives Chicago a talented, though sometimes wild, addition to a solid rotation that is missing injured ace Jake Peavy.

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said Jackson is scheduled to start Wednesday at Detroit.

Kearns left Cleveland’s game at Toronto in the seventh inning and will join the Yankees on Saturday. He is hitting .272 with eight homers and 42 RBIs.

“A corner outfielder that gives us depth and experience,” New York manager Joe Girardi said. “A right-handed bat that has power. We can use him a lot of different ways. It will give me a chance to rest our left-handed guys.”

Berkman, however, appeared to be the more significant move for New York, which has the best record in baseball (65-37) but only a one-game lead in the AL East over Tampa Bay.

The 34-year-old Berkman would fill the designated hitter slot originally intended for Nick Johnson, who has been on the disabled list since May 8 because of a right wrist injury that required surgery.

Berkman is hitting .245 with 13 homers and 49 RBIs. He has 60 walks and 70 strikeouts in 298 at-bats.

“I think it would be good for him,” Oswalt said. “Sometimes you get a change of scenery, turns you all the way around. Sometimes you get in a rut of doing the same thing over and over again.”

Berkman is making $14.5 million this year. His contract includes a team option for 2011 at $15 million with a $2 million buyout.