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Indians deal for All-Star reliever Hand

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

SAN DIEGO (AP) With an eye on October and beyond, the AL Central-leading Cleveland Indians scooped up All-Star closer Brad Hand and fellow reliever Adam Cimber from the rebuilding San Diego Padres in exchange for switch-hitting catching prospect Francisco Mejia.

The Indians need Hand, a lefty, and Cimber, a rookie right-handed sidearmer, to shore up a bullpen that has been without left-hander Andrew Miller since late May and has a 5.28 ERA, second-worst in the majors. The trade was announced Thursday, well ahead of the non-waiver trade deadline.

"We tried to have a really honest assessment, what are our strengths and what are the areas we can improve to help better position us to secure a postseason berth and advance once we get there," Indians President Chris Antonetti said in a conference call. "This not only impacts 2018, but it also reinforces our bullpen options for future years. Both of these guys, Brad and Adam, can do that for us."

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Cubs, Cardinals set to begin second half

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs used a strong push to enter the All-Star break leading the National League Central Division. The St. Louis Cardinals, meanwhile, finished the first half on a skid that cost manager Mike Matheny his job.

So as the longtime rivals open a five-game series on Thursday at Wrigley Field, the Cubs -- who have won six of their last eight games -- hope to create some distance between themselves and the rest of the division while the Cardinals look to improve on what has been a disappointing season thus far.

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Red Sox confident of maintaining pace

BOSTON (AP) The Boston Red Sox had the second-best start in franchise history, and still they are struggling to shake the New York Yankees in the AL East.

So manager Alex Cora doesn't have to fear that they will lose their focus when they return from the All-Star break.

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Story, Rockies rolling into second half

DENVER (AP) The Colorado Rockies are finding their stride behind a shortstop who's cutting down on his strikeouts, a converted first baseman who's rediscovering his swing and a rotation that's turning in quality start after quality start.

On top of that, third baseman Nolan Arenado's turning in an MVP-caliber season yet again.

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Twins surging but still far behind in AL

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) The Minnesota Twins took nine wins from an 11-game home stand into the All-Star break, a midsummer surge that can boost a middling team into the postseason race.

This might not be that kind of year in the American League.

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Dodgers land All-Star Machado from O's

The Los Angeles Dodgers won the Manny Machado sweepstakes, getting the prized All-Star shortstop from the Baltimore Orioles in a trade Wednesday night.

The Orioles received five prospects: outfielder Yusniel Diaz, right-handers Dean Kremer and Zach Pop, and third basemen Rylan Bannon and Breyvic Valera.

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MLB orders Hader to sensitivity training

WASHINGTON (AP) Major League Baseball said Wednesday that Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Josh Hader will be required to go through sensitivity training after years-old racist and homophobic tweets of his resurfaced during the All-Star Game.

MLB announced the commissioner's office would require Hader to participate in diversity and inclusion initiatives in addition to the sensitivity training. In a statement, Brewers general manager David Stearns said the team will continue to work through the issue with Hader.

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Angels laud Trout after Manfred remarks

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) The Los Angeles Angels publicly praised Mike Trout "for prioritizing his personal values over commercial self-promotion" a day after baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said the All-Star outfielder would be an even bigger star if he would spend more time marketing himself.

The team released a statement Wednesday congratulating Trout on his performance in the All-Star Game in Washington, then extolled the time he spends visiting hospitals, schools and charities and the quality time he spends with family.

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Fire sale looms as Orioles begin rebuild

BALTIMORE (AP) Buried in the AL East cellar and well on their way to a second straight losing season, the Baltimore Orioles enter the so-called second half with this unavoidable realization: It's time to break up the band.

The trade of shortstop Manny Machado to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night started the inevitable rebuilding process for a team that has bottomed out in 2018. After reaching the playoffs in 2012, 2014 and 2016, the Orioles own the second-worst record (28-69) in the major leagues, have endured six losing streaks of at least a half-dozen games and have been shut out nine times.

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