Red Sox

Drellich: Price's path to Boston redemption unfolding as he rehabs

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Drellich: Price's path to Boston redemption unfolding as he rehabs

BOSTON — You can start to see it. Late innings, American League Championship Series. David Price on the mound.

We're trending that way.

Once it became clear Price was in position to return closer to the start of October than September, a different sort of path to redemption materialized.

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Maybe Price will barely pitch in the regular season, if at all. Maybe he’ll be strictly a reliever in the postseason. Or maybe he’ll be able to build up his pitch count as the playoffs move along, and he can join the rotation after initially returning in relief.

Any amount of Price in the playoffs, be it for two innings or eight, is valuable. As long as Price is pitching like he’s capable of, or close to it. The debate over what role he’ll take is a little pointless — whatever you can get out of him, you take it. As long as the health of his arm has not led to diminished stuff and performance. (Rust is probably inevitable, but a rusty Price is better than a lot of others, and it's not like you have November to worry about.)

Turn to tandem starters if you want to, piggybacking Price off say, four innings of Doug Fister in Game 4 of the Division Series.

However it unfolds, the groundwork is here. It’s been there, clearly marked. 

The narrative about Price could swing rather dramatically this October. The lefty could take on a knight-in-shining-armor persona, swooping in just in time to give the Red Sox pitching staff the extra boost it will need behind Chris Sale and Craig Kimbrel and an offense that doesn’t instill a lot of confidence.

Price on Saturday faced hitters for the first time as he comes back from his significant elbow injury this year. He threw a two-inning sim game at Fenway Park and his next step is another sim game, 

“Got through today fine: 32 pitches,” Sox manager John Farrell said. “As we intended to take care of the work today, which he was able to accomplish with no ill effects. A good step obviously in his progression to game activity. At a minimum, he’ll go through another sim game situation in the coming days, four or five days from now. That schedule has yet to be worked out given the day game on Thursday and time constraints with that. But today, a good day.”

Not all fans and media would immediately welcome back Price with open arms. Most probably would. But everyone should have an open mind and remember how capable a pitcher he is. A bad postseason record to date does not mean he cannot and will not, at some point, perform well in the playoffs. His track record gives you reason to doubt, but not reason to write him off completely.

If Price returns only as a reliever, people will still grumble and say, “Let’s see him do it as a starter.” That won’t be fair. He can only do what he’s asked, and what he’s physically capable of doing. If he's a reliever this postseason, accept it. 

What will matter is that Price, if given the chance, seizes it. And it won’t be easy having missed so much time.

“As he’s gone through this type of return before, it’s been with this type of intensity every fifth day,” Farrell said. “I think after the next sim game setting like this, we’ll have a chance to sit down and talk with him, what’s the best path as far as what the role could be. We’re not at that point yet.”

If Price gets hurt again and suffers a setback and winds up on an operating table, a debate about whether he should have sooner gone for surgery will ensue. If his UCL can hold up, he can help the Red Sox this October just as much as he can help his own standing in Boston.

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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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