Red Sox

Doubront insists fatigue not an issue

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Doubront insists fatigue not an issue

BOSTON Whatever his troubles have been recently, Felix Doubront insisted Saturday afternoon they are not because of fatigue.

No. Not at all, Doubront said. I think you saw what affects me now is confidence, something like that. Its not because Im tired. Its not tired. I feel good. My body feels good.

After Fridays loss, manager Bobby Valentine said the possibility of shutting down or resting Doubront would be discussed. Saturday afternoon, Valentine said that discussion had not taken place.

It would make sense if Doubront, who is 10-8, feels some fatigue at this point in the season. The left-hander has made 25 starts, spanning 134 23 innings this season, a drastic increase more than 50 percent -- over the 87 23 he threw last season.

Youd have to consider it but I know if he comes into next season and he gets to this high-water mark and everyone starts thinking about shutting him down again, its probably best if he feels good, to let that innings-pitched bar be as high as possible so he could extend it, Valentine said. As long as hes not going to be injured. You take that from him and the medical room and well see.

Earlier in the season, Doubront, who is in his first full big league season, was one of the more reliable and consistent pitchers in the Red Sox rotation. But, he has struggled mightily in his recent outings. He has said confidence has become an issue for him, which could be affected by his recent outings.

He took the loss Friday, falling to 10-8, as his ERA climbed to 5.21. He went four innings (plus one batter in the fifth), giving up five runs on six hits, including two home runs, and two walks with four strikeouts. It marked the fifth consecutive start, and sixth in his last seven, that Doubront has not been able to go more than five innings. He is 0-3 with a 9.70 ERA in that stretch. The last time he went longer was six innings on July 29 at Yankee Stadium. He has not won since July 18, seven starts ago.

He has also said concentration has become an issue.

Yeah. Sometimes I try to be too much perfect, Doubront said. Its one thing I can't control right now. I just want to get the hitter out and throw as many pitches as I can and they start fouling off thats the only thing I have to control: finish the hitter in three or four pitches. Im throwing too many pitches to get one hitter out.

One of the issues could be strikeouts. Doubront has a 9.1 strikeouts-per-nine innings ratio. If he had enough innings to qualify, that number would put him fifth in the American League, behind Justin Verlanders 9.21. Is he trying too hard to get strikeouts, rather than just getting outs?

Sometimes thats a mental situation, he said. Thats a pitching mentality. You want to strike out a guy, get him out on one or two pitches. Its not working for me.

Home runs have also become an issue. In 25 starts has given up 22 home runs, including two on Friday.

Doubront is planning to make his next start, planning to do the same things he usually does before then. And hes not planning to be shut down.

When I feel tired Im going to let them know, he said. But Im not. Im just going to keep pitching, and like I said, figure it out, learn how to pitch, and thats it.

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.