Mark Portugal, recently removed from the Red Sox' starting rotation, was released last night with just nine games left and a playoff berth likely.

"We released Mark Portugal. We felt it was the best thing for the organization," Red Sox Manager Jimy Williams said.

He refused to elaborate and Portugal didn't comment. But several players appeared upset that a pitcher who had started 27 games and was second on the team with 150 1/3 innings pitched would be released so late in the season with Boston holding a comfortable lead in the wild-card race.

"You hate to see a guy stay here all year and then get released with [nine] games to go," DH Reggie Jefferson said. "It doesn't make any sense."

Portugal was 7-12 with a 5.51 earned run average.

INDIANS PULL CAMERA: After Jimy Williams complained that the Indians were using a camera above the center field wall at Jacobs Field to steal signs, the team had the camera covered. Now, at the AL's request, the Indians are removing a TV monitor from the "bat-swing area" behind their dugout. The AL did not demand the Indians cover the camera or pull the monitor. The league simply asked, and the team obliged.

MONTGOMERY RETIRING?: Royals' all-time saves leader Jeff Montgomery will retire at the end of the season, the Kansas City Star reports. Montgomery, 37, has struggled to a 1-4 record with a 6.34 ERA and 12 saves this season. He has a 46-52 career record with 304 saves.

REGGIE ON SHOPPING SPREE: Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson, already part of a group trying to buy the Athletics, said he might be interested in entering a group bidding for the Angels.

SHULOCK SUSPENDED: Umpire John Shulock was suspended by the AL for three games for his "display of temper" in a game this week. AL President Gene Budig suspended Shulock for the final three games his crew is to work this season and fined him an undisclosed amount.

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