Red Sox

Breslow 'more confident' this time around

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Breslow 'more confident' this time around

BOSTON The last time Craig Breslow wore a Red Sox uniform he was a 25-year-old lefty attempting to establish himself as a big league ballplayer.
He shuttled back-and-forth from Boston to Pawtucket during the 2006 season and put up a respectable 3.75 ERA in 13 games spanning 12 innings for Boston.
Breslow stayed with the Red Sox organization through the 2007 season and then was waived by both the Sox and the Cleveland Indians within a week during the final week of March in 2008.
Fast forward six years and stints with the Minnesota Twins, Oakland As and Arizona Diamondbacks: Breslow is returning to Boston as an established reliever that has appeared in 60 plus games in each of the last three seasons. In 2010, Breslow appeared in 75 games for the As and actually racked up five saves for Oakland. The lefty wont be dropped into that role in Boston, obviously.
But Breslows place in the bullpen might just allow the Red Sox to move hard-throwing lefty Franklin Morales back into the starting rotation that looked like a natural fit for him.
Its exciting for me. I appreciate the time that I was away, but this is home for me. I want to help the guys. The last time I was here filling in while I was shuffling back and forth between Triple-A. Now Im more confident, more seasoned and more better-prepared for the situations I might find, said Breslow. Hopefully I can contribute as another left-hander out of the bullpen. I can do matchups or pitch multiple innings at a time.
Ive always fought the notion that Im strictly a left-on-left guy and my splits have always been pretty even in my career. If its eating innings or matching up, I feel like I can do both of those.
This season Breslow is actually holding right-handed hitters to a .226 batting average and lefties to a .243 batting average in a similar number of at bats against him.
More importantly hes aware of the constant pressure and potential reward that comes along with wearing the home whites at Fenway. Thats a must for a reliever that can sometimes live and die with that nights results.
For better or for worse this is Boston. Growing up in Connecticut this is a team that Im very familiar with and at times you can be scrutinized, said Breslow. But I dont think theres a better place to be successful.
The 31-year-old also cost the Sox two major league-caliber players in Scott Podsednik and Matt Albers during a July 31 trade deadline deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Breslow made it to Fenway Park prior to game time after flying all the way in from Los Angeles, and actually pitched 1 13 of scoreless relief while striking out a pair of hitters. It didnt ultimately lead to a winning end product for the Sox as they ended a four-game winning streak in a 7-5 loss to the Detroit Tigers at Fenway Park.
But theres no mistaking that Breslow can help, and who better to do that than a New England native from Trumbull, Connecticut.
He looked good. Everything was moving. Ive faced him a couple of times, but not enough to know a lot about him, said Jarrod Saltalamacchia. He has really good stuff; a sinker-in to lefties and a changeup as well and a cutter. Everything is working and it was fun to catch that.
In a sign of the times only Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, Josh Beckett and Jon Lester remain from that 2006 Sox team that Breslow made his Boston debut with.
Its an almost entirely different group of players in the Sox clubhouse and an altogether different Breslow looking to make it work a second time around.

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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