Red Sox

Buchholz feels good during easygoing spring training


Buchholz feels good during easygoing spring training

By MaureenMullen

FORT MYERS, Fla. In past spring trainings, right-hander Clay Buchholz has been the guy whos had to prove himself, showing that he deserved a spot in the starting rotation. At times even that wasnt enough to secure a spot.

Thats in the past. This spring he has none of those worries. After going 17-7 -- his 2.33 ERA was second-best in the American League -- and earning his first All-Star berth, Buchholz has established himself.

It feels good, he said. Im not going to say spring training is stress-free, because theres always things that you know you can get better on and you dont do them as good as you think you should. But going in, having a little bit of confidence, and knowing the team has a little bit of confidence in me, its definitely a different feeling this spring.

Against the Twins Sunday night at Hammond County Stadium, Buchholz went two scoreless innings in the Red Sox 8-4 loss.

It went pretty well, he said. I got to mix in. The only pitch I didnt throw today was the cutter and that was sort of what I was wanting to do going into it. Threw a couple of breaking balls, and majority of fastball, changeup, two-seam, and felt good. First time out, and on the right road, so far.

Buchholz faced six batters, striking out catcher Drew Butera to open the third inning.

Buck looked great, said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Just downward angle from the beginning. Kept the ball down, mixed his pitches up, just lights out. Looked good.

Although Buchholz and Saltalamacchia worked together just once last season, Saltalamacchia sees no reason why Buchholz wont improve in 2011.

I dont see any reason why any of our guys wont improve, he said. They all got great stuff, and Buck, hes got four pitches. He can get you out. So, a guy like that makes it easy to sit back and call the game, for sure.

Buchholz likes what he sees from his new catcher, too.

Good, he said of their first Grapefruit League game together. Hes a big target. We got two catchers this year that are just huge targets. Its easier to throw to a guy thats wider than the plate than a guy thats sitting back there. Even with Victor Martinez last year, its the same case. Its definitely good.

"Saltalamacchia's got his things that he does and hes made sure hes come by everybody and asked if its alright. The little leg thing he does (the Tony Pena-style squat with his right leg out). But hes a big target, can call a game, knows what hes doing. Thats what it takes to be a good catcher, from that point of view. So hes doing a real good job.

Buchholz entered the game in the third inning, relieving starter Josh Beckett, giving Buchholz a slightly different feel. He hasnt entered a regular-season game from the bullpen since 2008. Its just part of the early spring training routine.

"I knew that it was basically going out there and getting my work done, he said. So it wasnt like a game in October or anything. No, I tried to do the same routine I do when Im starting. But it went pretty smooth out there.

Buchholz is expected to start against the Yankees on Friday in Tampa.

Sweet, he said when informed of his next opponent.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter athttp:twitter.commaureenamullen

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


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


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

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.