Red Sox

Francona: 'Time for a new voice'

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Francona: 'Time for a new voice'

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen
BOSTON -- At 1:25 Friday afternoon, the Red Sox released a statement from general manager Theo Epstein saying there are no immediate plans for an announcement regarding the future of manager Terry Francona with the team.

Just a few hours later, that had all changed. Francona and the Sox were going their separate ways.

In an evening press conference, Francona confirmed it was his decision to leave the Sox after eight seasons as the manager. Franconas contract was up after this season, with two option years at 4.25 million for 2012 and 4.5 million for 2103. The Sox never exercised the options.

The last month has been pretty tough, Francona said. I think, as anybody thats been around the club knows, I had been talking to Theo probably more than people realize. And we had agreed -- Theo and I talked a bunch like I said. We agreed to talk Friday morning with ownership and I just felt like . . . I think its time for a new voice here. I was frustrated with some of my inabilities to get some things done here. After talking to ownership and Theo at length multiple times, I think its the right thing to do for the organization and myself.

Francona cited as the primary reason for his decision, his inability to reach maybe guys that Ive been able to in the past or affect the outcome a little bit differently and that bothers me.

Another reason was that he didnt feel that he had the full support of ownership.

To be honest with you, I didnt know or Im not sure how much support there was from ownership. he said. And I dont know that I felt real comfortable. You got to be all in in this job. And I voiced that today, that there were some things that maybe I, going through things here to make it work, its got to be everybody together. I was questioning some of that a little bit.

I didnt feel like I was a lame duck. I had made an agreement with them that I wouldnt talk about my contract and I didnt. Saying that, I think everybody would like to have their, I think it wouldve made it easier. But I didnt feel like a lame duck. I wouldnt have done anything different if I had guaranteed money or not.

Francona led the Sox to two World Series championships, including its first in 86 years in 2004. But, he acknowledged eight years of managing in the cauldron of Boston sports can be trying.

Thats probably whats part of so special about Boston, he said. What we accomplished was incredible. Some of the tougher moments are really tough. I wouldn't change it. I feel like Im a better person because i was here. Met some unbelievable, made unbelievable friends, people Ive worked with. I have a lot of respect for that. But it is a tough place to be the manager.

The last month of the season, when the team went 7-20 while issues in the clubhouse became exposed, brought him to his decision.

Obviously the first week of the season was difficult, he said. But actually thought we did a good job of getting to the players. Theo spoke to the group, and I did, and we made some adjustments and we started paying attention to detail, and I thought we really did a good job. This last month I thought some of the things, when things go bad your true colors show and I was bothered by what was showing. And, it was my responsibility, like I said.

Asked if he felt some players had let him down, Francona replied.

Actually I feel I let a lot of people down. Walking out of the clubhouse in Baltimore the other night that was the one thing I told Theo was I felt like I let them down. Its my responsibility to get this done and it didnt happen. And I take responsibility for that.

It had been reported that some players who were not in the games had been drinking in the clubhouse while games were going on. Francona deferred directly addressing that issue.

I would say that i think Id rather talk about generalities, he said. I'd never single out a player or an event. I wouldn't do that. Think Ive been pretty open about that I was frustrated and that I couldnt reach some of the things that I thought needed to be reached. But would never single out players or anything like that. Thats not my style now nor will ever be.

But he did say that he did not think the players were loyal enough to each other. It was an issue for which he had no answer.

Thats the big question and thats what I was beating my head against so much because I didnt feel like, I talk so much about the players didnt have to go out to dinner together, but they need to be fiercely loyal to each other on the field and I didnt always get that feeling, he said. And it bothered me because I thought ok, if were going to get where were going, we better do some things a little bit better. As we got nicked up it didnt mean we couldnt win, but our margin for error got less. So there were some things that again I was frustrated with.

Francona endorsed bench coach DeMarlo Hale as the next manager. Hale has interviewed for several managerial positions, including those of the Blue Jays and Mets last season.

I think, I hope he gets serious consideration," Francona said. If not here, somewhere else because I think he is a tremendous manager-in-waiting. He is a tremendous friend. We talked about this last night, I hope he, hell manage somewhere and hell be very good.

Francona is not sure what is next for him, but he would like to stay in baseball.

I always said when came here if i thought it was time to go, I would go and I think its time, he said. Its not easy and I know itll hurt me a lot but I think its the right time.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

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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