Red Sox

Cherington reflects on 2012 season

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Cherington reflects on 2012 season

NEW YORK -- Ben Cherington wouldn't address a report that the Red Sox will fire manager Bobby Valentine shortly after the conclusion of the season, but the general manager had plenty else to say during a wide-ranging pre-game interview Wednesday afternoon.

-- On Valentine's contention that was at times undermined by members of the coaching staff:
"He expressed his feeling and that's his feeling. If he feels that way, I'm sorry he feels that way. It's hard for me to comment on it because I don't know of any examples that would lead to that kind of feeling.
"I'm not in his office all the time. I'm not in the clubhouse all the time, so I don't know what exactly he was referring to. But he's got a right to his opinion and he expressed it. If he feels that way, I feel bad. I don't want any manager feeling that way.''
Cherington acknowledged that "we did have to work through some issues,'' between Valentine and some coaches, but said Valentine never communicated to the GM that he was being undermined.

-- On his own first year as GM:
"It's tough,'' he said. "We're nowhere near where we want to be. On a personal level, I've been here 14 years and we've had some highs and lows and this is certainly a low. I take it personally. As long I'm here, I'll do whatever I possibly can to help restore the team to what our ownership and fans deserve. It's been hard. It's been hard on all of us.''

-- On getting a head start on the off-season:
"We fell out of it earlier than we wanted to,'' he said, "and when that happens, you have to start looking forward and looking at to potential opportunities in the off-season. We've done a lot of work and we'll continue that work.
"I'm confident we will improve. But it's not going to happen overnight and we have to get after it this off-season and start working at it. I'm confident we can be better (next year). I think people are tired about hearing how good we can be before the season starts. We talked a lot about that the last several off-seasons and it hasn't worked out that way. I'm just confident we're going to be better. I'm confident in time we're going to be very good. I don't know yet whether that's going to be April 2013 or beyond. But I know we'll be back. This team will be back.''

-- On off-season priorities:
"We've got a couple free agents we're talking to now,'' said Cherington. "David (Ortiz) is a priority and we're talking with Cody Ross also. David is someone we feel strongly about bringing back. We're trying to figure out a way to do that. I hope that happens.
"With Cody, he came in here this year and fit in well and had a good year. It's an area of need going forward, we've talked to him. We'll have to see how those conversations go.''

-- On what went wrong and the role injuries had:
"I don't think we're doing our jobs if we just assign blame for the season to injuries,'' he said. "We've got a look a little deeper than that. We've got to look first at our own decisions, my decisions, last winter, what I did or did not do to help the team more.
"We've got to look at players that are here and guys we feel can perform better and why they didn't and how we can help them get back to the level they've been at before. Yeah, injures are a part of it. But they've been mostly of the traumatic variety and those things happen on the baseball field.
"As far as getting better, we really need to look at the decisions we've made, and aside from that, the guys that are here and how we can help guys perform at their best level.''

-- On his own failings:
"I made some decisions that didn't work out. No other way to put it than that. I still believe in a lot of the players here and the players we acquired, but this year, they didn't work out, so that's on me. I think I didn't do enough to help stabilize the rotation last off-season.
"We can parse out how or why or what we could have done differently, but the bottom line is the performance of the rotation wasn't good enough to be the team we wanted to be, so I didn't do enough to help that.''

-- On the failings of the starting rotation:
"I think we need to find ways to improve it,'' said Cherington. "A lot of that is going to be the guys who are here. Jon Lester is capable of being better than he was this year. He knows that. He's said that. We believe he will be. He's healthy, he's pitched 200 innings again. We know he's one of the best starters in the league when he's feeling right and it's our job to help him feel right.
"(Clay) Buchholz is a very talented pitcher who can be as good as anyone in the league and had a stretch of very good performances after a tough start. So we feel confident about him in the rotation. (Felix) Doubront showed a lot of potential this year, particularly late when he's in uncharted territory as far as the innings total and has shown really good stuff lately. That's a really good sign and he has a chance to be an important part of the rotation.
"John Lackey worked his tail off coming off Tommy John surgery. He's going to have a normal off-season. Our hope is that we see a healthy John Lackey and he's been really good before.
"A lot of it is helping the guys here be as good as they can be. But it's an area we need to improve in and if that means some additions from the outside, we need to consider those, too.''

-- On the disappointing late-season play of callups Ryan Lavarnway and Jose Iglesias:
"Neither guy has lit the world on fire offensively, obviously,'' Cherington said. "Both have shown flashes and I think Ryan has done a good job behind the plate handling the pitchers. He's driven the ball some but probably hasn't quite gotten into a groove offensively.
"Jose has made some highlight plays at short and struggled a little bit with the bat. He's made some hard contact here and there and hit balls at guys. A work in progress for both guys. But there are plenty of big leaguers who have struggled in their first September and both guys are going to be good players going forward.''

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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