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Halos acquire Kazmir, hope to boost rotation

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Scott Kazmir has been traded from the Tampa Bay Rays to the Los Angeles Angels, giving the AL West leaders a major boost to their unsteady rotation.

The Angels acquired Kazmir, a two-time All-Star, on Friday night for two minor leaguers and a player to be named. The left-hander was 8-7 with a 5.92 ERA this season for the defending AL champion Rays.

Tampa Bay receives left-hander Alex Torres and infielder Matt Sweeney in the deal. Looking to lock up their third straight division title, the Angels began the night four games ahead of second-place Texas

Because he was dealt before Aug. 31, Kazmir is eligible for postseason play with Los Angeles. He had to clear waivers to be traded at this point in the season.

HOFFMAN HEADED TO GIANTS?: Milwaukee Brewers closer Trevor Hoffman was placed on waivers and claimed by another team, but Milwaukee general manager Doug Melvin said Friday he had not had any trade discussions involving the career saves leader.

Melvin declined to say which club claimed the 41-year-old Hoffman, but ESPN.com reported it was the San Francisco Giants.

"I did talk to Trevor about my feelings about him being claimed," Melvin said before the Brewers played the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night. "But I haven't talked to the team that claimed him."

Milwaukee can work out a deal to trade Hoffman to the club that claimed him, assign him to that team for no compensation or pull him back off waivers. If Hoffman is pulled back, the Brewers can't trade him for the rest of the season. "He's wearing our uniform now," Melvin said. "I hope we can use him more than we've been able to use him. That's the ultimate goal."

Milwaukee began the night 100x00BD> games out in the NL wild-card race. Melvin told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel the Brewers likely wouldn't trade any players who can become free agents this offseason because the team probably would receive more value in draft pick compensation if those players sign elsewhere than it would get back now.

The Brewers appear to have interest in resigning their closer next season. Hoffman is 1-1 with a 1.85 ERA this year, converting 27 saves in 29 chances. He had a major league-record 581 saves going into Friday night's game.

TWINS' BULLPEN GETTING BIGGER: Minnesota Twins fans have been clamoring for years for their team to make a big move to help them make a postseason run.

They don't come any bigger than Jon Rauch. The Twins acquired the 6-foot-11 Rauch, the tallest player in baseball history, from the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday to help their beleaguered bullpen.

The 30-year-old Rauch went 2-2 with a 4.14 ERA in 54-plus innings for Arizona. He walked 17 and struck out 35 in 58 games this season. The Diamondbacks promoted catcher John Hester to fill Rauch's roster spot. The 25-year-old Hester, who was called up before Friday night's home game with Houston, hit .328 with nine homers and 66 RBIs in 92 games at Triple-A Reno.Hester is pegged to be the No. 2 catcher behind Miguel Montero until the club can evaluate MRI results on catcher Chris Snyder's back. Snyder, who missed more than a month with a strained lower back in midseason, remains on the active roster.

NATIONALS LOSE LEADOFF HITTER: Nyjer Morgan likes to slide headfirst. The dangerous habit caught up with their leadoff hitter.

Morgan was placed on the 15-day disabled list Friday with a broken left hand, a day after he was injured stealing third base in a 5-4 victory over the Chicago Cubs. Manager Jim Riggleman said he talked with Morgan a few weeks ago about trying to do it feet-first, which is less hazardous to player's health.

Riggleman said Morgan agreed, but hasn't been able to break the habit. Now he's out for the season."I think most guys who are stealing bases the last 10 years, that's the only way they've done it," Riggleman said. "We've just got to really impress on him, and others in the system, that we need to kind of mandate that you're just going to have to learn how to go feet-first."

Morgan hit .307 with 42 steals for Washington and Pittsburgh. Riggleman said he'll miss his defense in center field the most. BOONE COMING BACK FROM HEART SURGERY: Five months after open-heart surgery, third baseman Aaron Boone rejoined the Houston Astros. Boone completed a minor league rehab assignment and will be activated when major league rosters expand on Sept. 1.

"Everything's gone well," Boone said before the Astros met the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday night. "To see yourself improve every day, every week, every month, has been satisfying."

The 36-year-old Boone signed with the Astros in the offseason, then had an operation in late March because of a congenital defect in his aortic valve.Boone's role with the Astros is unclear; he may see only occasional at-bats in September.

Asked what is the biggest hurdle he's facing on the field, Boone replied, "Just getting to that elite. You realize how tough it is to play this game at a really high level, and just to get all the way back there, it's a fine line."

Boone said he had long known that surgery was a possibility with his condition, and he didn't think about the possibility that his career might be over when doctors told him during spring training that he would need an operation.

"Initially, I didn't care," Boone said. "Once I was OK, my whole thing was, I was going to try and get myself in shape, and whatever that led to, great. I love this game. I'm not addicted to it, and if it was over, that would have been OK, too."

A member of one of baseball's most famous families, Boone is best known for hitting a pennant-winning homer for the New York Yankees in the 11th inning of Game 7 of the 2003 AL championship series.

The son of former big league catcher Bob Boone, Aaron Boone is also grandson of infielder Ray Boone. Aaron's brother, Bret, played 14 seasons in the major leagues, too.

If Aaron Boone plays this year, it would be his 12th season in the majors. He has played for Cincinnati, the Yankees, Cleveland, Florida and Washington, batting .264 with 126 homers and 555 RBIs. Boone was a member of the 2003 NL All-Star team as a Red.