- Associated Press - Sunday, July 31, 2011

CHICAGO (AP) - After a deal with Oakland for Rich Harden fell through, the AL East-leading Boston Red Sox were still able to find a starting pitcher to bolster their rotation Sunday.

They got oft-injured lefty Erik Bedard from the Seattle Mariners in a three-team trade before the deadline. Bedard’s stint with the Mariners has been problematic but his years in Baltimore were strong ones. And that’s the pitcher the Red Sox hope they will eventually see.

“All starting pitchers in the big leagues have nicks and knacks on them,” Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein said Sunday in a conference call.

Erik’s case, he has injuries in his past like most starting pitchers, but the first half he was throwing the ball well and he certainly looks to be on his way back to form.”

The Red Sox, whose deal for Harden fell apart late Saturday night, also got right-hander Josh Fields, a 2008 first-round draft pick.

Boston first sent minor league right-handers Stephen Fife and Juan Rodriguez and catcher Tim Federowicz to the Dodgers in exchange for outfielder Trayvon Robinson and then traded Robinson to Seattle with minor league outfielder Chih-Hsien Chiang in exchange for Bedard and Fields.

Boston needs some insurance with starter Clay Buchholz sidelined by back problems.

“We thought, looking at our club, that we certainly need to add a starting pitcher, if nothing else, for depth purposes. That was the best way we could impact club right now,” Epstein said.

“We like the starting pitching we have, but there are health questions with (Buchholz). That would be a really nice way to improve the club. We were out looking at every available starter,” Epstein added. “It wasn’t clear we were going to be able to get anything done until the last minute.” Epstein continued: “We’re glad not just to get any starting pitcher, but a guy who is capable of shutting down any lineup in the league when he’s right, and can pitch big games down the stretch. He has the talent to take the mound in a pennant race if the opportunity presents itself.”

Red Sox manager Francona remembers facing Bedard when he was dealing for the Orioles.

“He was real tough on us,” Francona said.

“He’s a guy who has shown he can pitch in the American League East. First half of the year before he tweaked that knee he was pretty solid,” Francona said. “His stuff was good. We’re excited.”

Francona said he would talk to Bedard before lining up his rotation for the coming week.

“We’ll kind of build him back up,” Francona said. “He just came off the DL Friday. We’ll build him back up and get him in there.”

Second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who had a key two-run single in Sunday’s 5-3 win over the Chicago White Sox, was told of the trade after the victory.

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