Red Sox

Cook hopes to contribute

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Cook hopes to contribute

SEATTLE -- Aaron Cook's 2012 season has already been interrupted once before. Now, as mid-season appraoches, he hopes he can be a contributor to the Red Sox for the final three months.
Added to the team's 25-man roster in early May, Cook made just one start for the Red Sox before a collision at home plate resulted in his left kneecap being gashed open, requiring stitches and an extended stay on the disabled list.
Cook returned to action last weekend and earned a win over the Atlanta Braves. Now, as the Sox scuffle to re-arrange their rotation to give some of the regulars extra rest, Cook is, finally, part of the team's plans again.
Last time out, he went five innings and allowed three runs before being lifted. "I felt like I could have gone another 25-30 pitches,'' said Cook Thursday. "But the timing of the game, how many runs we had, it was just the perfect time to get rested up and get ready to go (in the next one). I feel like we're definitely building up, going in the right direction on that one. Hopefully, I can go out this time and try to push seven or eight innings.''
"Considering he's still finishing up a rehab,'' said Bobby Valentine, ''he was able to throw enough pitchers to progress from the last time he pitched. He threw pitches up in the zone that had enough sink on them to still be effective and he maintained all of his pitches through the 80 pitches that he threw.
"If he can build on that, I like what we have.''
The Red Sox began the season with a starting five of Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz, Felix Doubront and Daniel Bard, but since then, have worked in Daisuke Matsuzaka, Frankin Morales, and Cook.
"I think they did a great job of stocking us with arms this year,'' said Cook. "You never forsee having these types of injuries throughout the season. But they had a good plan and I was ready to come back when Clay got sick and Josh is ready to come back. It's really good timing.''
Even with Buchholz sidelined for a while, the Sox are going to a six-man rotation to offer some extra bounce-back time.
"If ever a guy's out of gas, it might be now,'' said Valentine of the turn to the six-man rotation. "It's not necessarily even a physical thing. You start looking at the finish line (at the All-Star break) and you lose a stride.''

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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