Red Sox

Cherington shoots down rifts between Red Sox, Valentine

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Cherington shoots down rifts between Red Sox, Valentine

BOSTON -- Red Sox executive vice president and general manager Ben Cherington appeared on SiriusXM's "Inside Pitch" on Tuesday, and shot down rumors that players were going to his office to complain about manager Bobby Valentine.

"Not a single player has come to my office," said Cherington. "That's the truth. I'm sitting in my office right now. Not a single player has come into it this year. I talk to players from time to time. Bobby obviously talks to players. If I talk to a player, almost all the time, it's in the clubhouse, and it's in plain view of everyone else who's in the clubhouse. There's no cloak and dagger going on here.

"We've always had an open-door policy here," added Cherington. "When Theo and Tito were here, the players knew that if they wanted to talk about something, they could go and talk about it. When it comes to baseball-specific things, like the things that go on in the clubhouse or when it comes to lineups and roles and how guys are being used on the field, that's the domain of the manager. And players, if they have an issue, need to go into the manager's office and talk about it.

"We had a change this winter. And the biggest change was the manager. And it's on all of us -- starting with Bobby -- but on all of us to make that change work. And he's working to make that change work. And the players are working to make that change work. And if I can help along the way, somehow, help each other help everyone understand what's going on, I'll try to do that. But this notion that players are walking into my office, complaining about things is just not accurate."

Cherington was then asked about the relationship between Dustin Pedroia and Valentine, but said he didn't feel comfortable going into specifics.

"I don't think it's my place to speculate on that relationship," said Cherington. "I know I've talked to both. I know that Bobby has an incredible amount of respect for Dustin, as a player, the way he plays the game, what he means to the clubhouse. I know that Dustin just wants to play and win games. Anything beyond that, any conversation that needs to happen beyond that, will happen.

"Look, every year, this happened when Tito was the manager here. This happened prior to Tito being here. You just don't get through a year without a player needing to go into the manager's office or go to someone and vent some frustration, especially in a place like Boston. That has happened. That will continue to happen. We know how much Pedroia means to this team, on the field and off the field. He's going to be here for a long time. And I know Bobby knows how much he means to this team.

"So, we're focused on winning games, and like I said, anything that happens behind closed doors, in a perfect world, would stay behind closed doors. In Boston, sometimes, things are talked about more than in other places. And it's our job just to get guys focused back on their jobs."

HOFer Joe Morgan's letter urges voters to keep steroid users out of Hall

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HOFer Joe Morgan's letter urges voters to keep steroid users out of Hall

Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan is urging voters to keep “known steroid users” out of Cooperstown.

A day after the Hall revealed its 33-man ballot for the 2018 class, the 74-year-old Morgan argued against the inclusion of players implicated during baseball’s steroid era in a letter to voters with the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. The letter from the vice chairman of the Hall’s board of directors was sent Tuesday using a Hall email address.

Read the full text of Morgan's letter here. 

“Steroid users don’t belong here,” Morgan wrote. “What they did shouldn’t be accepted. Times shouldn’t change for the worse.”

Hall voters have been wrestling with the issue of performance-enhancing drugs for several years. Baseball held a survey drug test in 2003 and the sport began testing for banned steroids the following year with penalties. Accusations connected to some of the candidates for the Hall vary in strength from allegations with no evidence to positive tests that caused suspensions.

About 430 ballots are being sent to voters, who must have been members of the BBWAA for 10 consecutive years, and a player needs at least 75 percent for election. Ballots are due by Dec. 31 and results will be announced Jan. 24.

Writers who had not been covering the game for more than a decade were eliminated from the rolls in 2015, creating a younger electorate that has shown more willingness to vote for players tainted by accusations of steroid use. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens each received a majority of votes for the first time in 2017 in their fifth year on the ballot.

Morgan said he isn’t speaking for every Hall of Famer, but many of them feel the same way that he does.

“Players who failed drug tests, admitted using steroids, or were identified as users in Major League Baseball’s investigation into steroid abuse, known as the Mitchell Report, should not get in,” Morgan wrote. “Those are the three criteria that many of the players and I think are right.”

Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez were inducted into the Hall of Fame in July. They were joined by former Commissioner Bud Selig and retired Kansas City and Atlanta executive John Schuerholz, who were voted in by a veterans committee.

Some baseball writers said the election of Selig, who presided over the steroids era, influenced their view of whether tainted stars should gain entry to the Hall.

Morgan praised BBWAA voters and acknowledged they are facing a “tricky issue,” but he also warned some Hall of Famers might not make the trip to Cooperstown if steroid users are elected.

“The cheating that tainted an era now risks tainting the Hall of Fame too,” he wrote. “The Hall of Fame means too much to us to ever see that happen. If steroid users get in, it will divide and diminish the Hall, something we couldn’t bear.”

© 2017 by The Associated Press

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.