Red Sox

Farrell adjusting to life as a manager

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Farrell adjusting to life as a manager

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- John Farrell sat in the dugout at City of Palms Park Friday afternoon, watching the Red Sox take batting practice.

That much was the same.

Everything else was different.

Farrell was in the visitor's dugout, not the home one on the third-base side. He wore the uniform of the Toronto Blue Jays and not the Red Sox. And instead of filling the role of pitching coach, Farrell was a manager.

Wave after wave of Red Sox well-wishers visited him, from players (Jon Lester, Dustin Pedroia, Jason Varitek), to members of the baseball operations staff (GM Theo Epstein, player development director Mike Hazen), and, of course, Terry Francona, with whom he worked closely for four seasons.

"I'm sure it will be strange,'' said Farrell before his Blue Jays met the Red Sox for the first time this spring. "Four years made a major impact, personally and professionally. And there were a lot of great relationships, that's for sure, with a lot of people.

''Being on this side of the field will probably be different.''

The Jays hired Farrell last October, selecting him over Red Sox bench coach DeMarlo Hale, and this spring has been a whirlwind. After concentrating on the pitching staff alone with the Red Sox, Farrell is now in charge of an entire roster for the first time.

"The biggest learning curve,'' he related, "has been inside the game - dealing with the other side of the ball, for lack of a better term. Running an offense, taking input from the staff. Other than that, I can't say that it's been a complete surprise in any way.''

Farrell has had to broaden his scope in the dugout. No longer does he have the luxury of focusing solely on "one pitcher's delivery. In that way, it's been fun. It's a much broader scope. That's been new, obviously. But it's been a lot of fun.''

He's leaned on bench coach Don Wakamatsu, hitting coach Dwayne Murphy and third base coach Bruce Butterfield to help with the learning curve, in much the same way Francona once relied on Farrell and others on his staff.

Farrell inherits a team in transition. Gone are outfielder Vernon Wells, first baseman Lyle Overbay and catcher John Buck, who combined for 71 homers last season.

In their place, the Jays are intent on being a more athletic, aggressive team, somewhat in the mold of the upstart Tampa Bay Rays, who have used a modest payroll, strong pitching and a daring offensive gameplan to win the American League East two of the last three seasons.

"(The Rays) are tangible evidence that you can put together a team which can compete in this division,'' he said. "I think the days of sitting back with unathletic, one-dimensional kind of players is probably behind the game as a whole -- for obvious reasons.

"We feel like we've got a good nucleus of pitchers. But we'd like to play an uptempo style of game. Having prepared against different styles of teams, that's one that can create a little bit more uncertainty. If we can be that much more unpredictable rather than one-dimensional, that's the ultimate goal.''

Even from afar (and now a division rival), Farrell finds himself occasionally leaning on Francona for advice. The two were close friends for years before they joined together with the Red Sox and Francona's influence is still felt.

"I can go on and on about the time spent together and what he means to me,'' said Farell. "I'm forever grateful. There's quite a bit of (Francona's influence). Let's face it -- I haven't had a chance to develop my own managing style. So I'm going to take with me a lot of what he did, either with players or staff or the way he respects the game, the way he dealt with umpires, the media.

"Certainly, I'm my own person. I'm not trying to be Tito. But there's a lot of things that, having experienced first-hand, that are going to have an influence. That goes without saying.''

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

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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