Rollins promoted to Class AA Southern League

Former Winthrop right-handed pitcher Heath Rollins has been promoted to the Class AA Southern League by the Tampa Bay Rays.

Rollins was elevated to Montgomery a week ago from Vero Beach of the Class A Florida State League. He was sent to Montgomery when Rays prized left-handed pitcher David Price was promoted to Durham of the Triple-A International League.

Rollins, the Rays' 11th-round choice in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, made his Double-A debut Wednesday against Jacksonville. He pitched seven innings, allowed four hits and one run, didn't issue a walk and struck out nine batters. He left the game with a 2-1 lead. However, Jacksonville scored two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning against Montgomery reliever Eduardo Morlan to take a 3-2 victory. Rollins didn't get a decision.

At Vero Beach, Rollins appeared in 23 games and was 5-1 with a 3.30 ERA. He had 115 strikeouts and 27 walks in 136 1/3 innings.

• ELDRED MVP?: Hulking Charlotte Knights first baseman Brad Eldred is making a case for the most valuable player award in the International League.

The 6-foot-5, 275-pound Eldred currently is tied with Toledo's Mike Hessman for the IL lead in homers (32), but does pace the league in RBIs with 90. Hessman is playing with the U.S. Olympic team.

Both the home run and RBI figures are career highs for the 28-year-old Eldred, who missed several weeks of action because of a broken left hand.

Eldred, who started his professional career in the Pittsburgh Pirates system, is in his first year with the Chicago White Sox organization after signing as a free agent in December of last year.

• LONG HOMESTAND: The Charlotte Knights open an eight-game homestand, the longest remaining one of the season, on Tuesday against the Indianapolis Indians.

Tuesday's promotion will be "Jiffy Lube 2-For-Tuesday." Fans who purchase an oil change at any area Jiffy Lube can get a voucher for two free general admission tickets to Tuesday's game.

After four games with the Pittsburgh Pirates affiliate, the Knights will entertain Norfolk, a Baltimore Orioles farm team, for four games, beginning Saturday.

The Knights' final homestand of the season will be Aug. 31 and Sept. 1 with single games against the Durham Bulls, who are affiliated with Tampa Bay.

• EX-KNIGHT TRADED: Former Charlotte Knights right-handed pitcher Paul Byrd was traded last week from Cleveland to Boston for a player to be named or cash considerations.

Byrd, 37, spent parts of two seasons with the Knights in 1993 and 1994, when the franchise was affiliated with Cleveland. Byrd compiled a 9-6 combined record in his two years with the Knights.

Byrd has also seen major league time with the New York Mets, Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies, Kansas City Royals and Los Angeles Angels.

• GAMECOCK FLAVOR: The left side of the Minnesota Twins infield has taken on a recent South Carolina look with former Gamecocks Brian Buscher at third base and ex-USC standout Adam Everett at shortstop.

Buscher, a left-handed hitter, has appeared in 41 Twins games and is batting .303 with three homers and 32 RBIs.

Everett is hitting .214 in 34 games.

Neither Buscher nor Everett started their professional careers in the Twins organization. Buscher was the San Francisco Giants' third-round pick in the 2003 draft and went to the Twins in the 2006 minor league Rule 5 draft.

Everett was the Boston Red Sox's No. 1 selection in the 1998 draft, was traded to the Houston Astros in 1999 and then signed as a free agent with the Twins last year.

The Twins also have another player with Palmetto States ties in right-handed pitcher Kevin Slowey, a former Winthrop hurler.

• 'THROW ME THE (FOOT) BALL': The Chicago Cubs, leading the National League's Central Division, have a pretty fair team. The Cubbies may also have one of the best football passing combinations that's not in the NFL in infielder-outfielder Mark DeRosa and rookie right-handed pitcher Jeff Samardzija.

DeRosa attended the University of Pennsylvania, where he played baseball and football and was the starting quarterback on the football team (1993-95). He left school after his junior year to start his pro baseball career.

The 6-5, 220-pound Samardzija was an All-America wide receiver at Notre Dame, where he also played baseball for the Irish. He was the Cubs' fifth-round pick in the 2006 draft.