Red Sox

Buchholz optimistic about returning to team


Buchholz optimistic about returning to team

By Maureen Mullen Follow @maureenamullen
BOSTON Clay Buchholz, on the disabled list since June 17 with a lower back strain, threw off the mound today and is optimistic, if cautiously so, about returning in time to join the Red Sox in the playoffs.

I felt good today, 30 pitches from 60 feet, threw everything, he said. I had Conor Jackson standing there as a hitter so it gave me a little different feel today. Had no issues with the back today. It felt fine. The main thing, arm strength not quite there with the four-seams and everything. But theres no issues as far as the back goes.

He will wait to see how he feels tomorrow and Monday to re-evaluate before taking the next steps.

Probably throw another bullpen at some point, he said. I dont know if its going to be an every-other day thing. But I think thats how it has been in the past, but like I said, tomorrow well reevaluate, see how the body feels and then go from there.

Having a batter standing in helped him evaluate his pitches, which he was throwing at about 75 80 percent effort.

Its more realistic, I guess, He said. Obviously hes not swinging so it just helps out with where you want to throw your pitches. You can go in with your two-seamer and see what a hitters thinking. Having that guy up there and knowing whats coming and still seeing the pitch and how its moving, gave me a little bit of feedback to see if its a good pitch or not.

I hadnt thrown in 2 months, so yeah, thats just a pitch thats going to come in time. Its not a pitch that bounces right back. Cutters the same way. The first pitch that usually comes right back is your four-seam and changeup just because the same arm action. Its a different grip. So two-seamers a different pitch.

At this point, Buchholz is looking, hopefully, more to the playoffs than to the regular season.

My thought process hasnt ever been pitching in the regular season, he said. I want to be back for the playoffs. So if we work up to that point and I feel good enough to pitch in that last series in Baltimore, then I dont see why not. My whole goal was to pitch in the playoffs and get to the playoffs and try to help this team win.

Its a time thing. Its how everything feels. If I feel fine about it. then I feel confident, then its, I dont know if its going to be the role that I want to be in, obviously I want to start. I dont know if theres going to be enough time for me to build up to that. If the team thinks I can help them in a different role, then Ill do it. If not, then dont want to make the team worse.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http: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.