Red Sox

Agent says Wakefield wants to finish career with Sox

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Agent says Wakefield wants to finish career with Sox

MILWAUKEE -- The agent for free agent pitcher Tim Wakefield said Wednesday that his client "absolutely" plans to continue his career and the veteran knuckleballer wants to finish his career with the Red Sox.

"Our hope is that it's with the Red Sox," said Barry Meister. "We expressed that to them. Tim feels strongly that he can still pitch and pitch effectively, whether it's in a starter's role or in that hybrid. And I just think that If he didn't (continue to) pitch for the Boston Red Sox, it would be a shame."

Meister has had a few conversations with Red Sox GM Ben Cherington, but understands the Sox have bigger issues with which to deal, not the least of which is hiring a manager to replace Terry Francona.

"We'll keep the lines of communication open," said Meister.

Wakefield, 45, has pitched for the Sox since 1995. Last season, he was 7-8 with a 5.12 ERA in 32 games, 23 of them starts. He won his 200th career game on his ninth attempt in September.

Wakefield, said Meister, "loves being a Red Sox. But he loves being a baseball player. And if for some reason, they don't think he can (pitch), well, then he's going to win 15 games somewhere else and show them that, once again, they've underestimated him. But he loves Boston. Whether it's the Wakefield charity or the Jimmy Fund, that's his community and he feels like he can help this club. He feels like he had unfinished business. He wants to win. He wants to put another ring on his finger. He wants a parade. He's from Boston now, right?"

Part of Wakefield's motivation may be to come back and become the franchise's all-time winningest pitcher. He has 186 career wins with the Sox, six shy of the mark shared by Cy Young and Roger Clemens.

"But I don't want to lose sight of the fact that he wants to win another World Series," said Meister.

Meister said he's already fielded calls from other teams with an interest and hinted that if returning to the Red Sox wasn't an option, the National League would be a likely landing spot.

"I've done some research," said Meister, "and knuckleball pitchers that have changed leagues from the American League to the National League, I think it's 13 out of 15 in the last 40 years have lowered their earned run average by a run and a quarter or more.

"It's a huge difference, as the league takes a year to adjust. I have no doubt, if that's what he ends up doing, he'll have a geometric success because they'll be seeing a pitch they haven't seen before."

Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey is with the NL's New York Mets, but throws the pitch with less regularity and at a different speed than does Wakefield.

MLB will institute rules to pick up pace, with or without players' agreement

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MLB will institute rules to pick up pace, with or without players' agreement

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Major League Baseball will change rules to speed games next year with or without an agreement with the players' association.

Management proposed last offseason to institute a 20-second pitch clock, allow one trip to the mound by a catcher per pitcher each inning and raise the bottom of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level at the top of the kneecap. The union didn't agree, and clubs have the right to impose those changes unilaterally for 2018.

Players and MLB have held initial bargaining since summer, and MLB chief legal officer Dan Halem said this week he would like an agreement by mid-January.

"My preferred path is a negotiated agreement with the players, but if we can't get an agreement we are going to have rule changes in 2018 one way or the other," baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday after a quarterly owners' meeting.

Nine-inning games averaged a record 3 hours, 5 minutes during the regular season and 3:29 during the postseason.

Corey Kluber beats Chris Sale for American League Cy Young

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Corey Kluber beats Chris Sale for American League Cy Young

Max Scherzer heard his name and thrust his arms in the air, shouting and smiling big before turning to kiss his wife.

Corey Kluber, on the other hand, gulped once and blinked.

Two aces, two different styles - and now another Cy Young Award for each.

The animated Scherzer of the Washington Nationals coasted to his third Cy Young, winning Wednesday for the second straight year in the National League. He breezed past Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, drawing 27 of the 30 first-place votes in balloting by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Kluber's win was even more of a runaway. The Cleveland Indians ace took 28 first-place votes, easily outpacing Chris Sale of the Boston Red Sox for his second AL Cy Young.

Scherzer yelled "yes!" when his award was announced on MLB Network, a reaction in keeping with his expressive reputation. He showed that intensity often this year, whether he was cursing under his breath like a madman during his delivery or demanding - also with expletives - that manager Dusty Baker leave him in the game.

Just a little different than the pitcher they call "Klubot." Kluber was stoic as ever when announced as the AL winner. He swallowed hard but otherwise didn't react, only showing the hint of a smile moments later when answering questions.

Not that he wasn't thrilled.

"Winning a second one maybe, for me personally, kind of validates the first one," Kluber said.

Scherzer's win moves him into rare company. He's the 10th pitcher with at least three Cy Youngs, and among the other nine, only Kershaw and Roger Clemens aren't in the Hall of Fame.

"That's why I'm drinking a lot of champagne tonight," Scherzer said.

Scherzer earned the NL honor last year with Washington and the 2013 American League prize with Detroit.

"This one is special," he said. "When you start talking about winning three times, I can't even comprehend it at this point."

Scherzer was 16-6 with a career-best 2.51 ERA this year. The 33-year-old righty struck out a league-leading 268 for the NL East champion Nationals, and in an era noted for declining pitcher durability, he eclipsed 200 innings for the fifth straight season. He had to overcome a variety of ailments to get there, and Washington's training staff was high on his thank-you list.

"Everybody had a role in keeping me out on the field," he said. "I'm very thankful for all their hard work."

Kershaw has won three NL Cy Youngs and was the last pitcher to win back-to-back. He was 18-4 with a league-best 2.31 ERA and 202 strikeouts. This is his second runner-up finish. Stephen Strasburg of the Nationals finished third.

Kluber missed a month of the season with back pain and still easily won the AL award over Sale and third-place finisher Luis Severino of the New York Yankees. Kluber led the majors with a 2.25 ERA, and his 18 wins tied for the most in baseball. He added to the Cy Young he won with the Indians in 2014 and is the 19th pitcher to win multiple times.

The 31-year-old Kluber was especially dominant down the stretch, closing out the season by going 11-1 to help Cleveland win the AL Central. He and Minnesota's Ervin Santana tied for the major league lead with five complete games - nobody else had more than two. Kluber also led the majors with 8.0 wins above replacement, per baseball-reference.com.

Kluber and Scherzer both had rough outings in the playoffs. Kluber gave up nine runs over two starts in an AL Division Series against the Yankees, and Scherzer blew a save in the decisive Game 5 of an NL Division Series against the Cubs.

Scherzer said he couldn't even watch the League Championship Series, although he did tune in for the World Series.

"That will eat at me this whole offseason," he said.

Voting for the awards was completed before the postseason began.

The final BBWAA honors will come Thursday when the MVP awards are announced in the AL and NL.

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