Red Sox

Gonzalez 'grateful' and 'excited' to sign with Sox

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Gonzalez 'grateful' and 'excited' to sign with Sox

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com

BOSTON It felt like groundhog day at Fenway Park on Friday. Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein sat at the podium to the right of first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, just as they had last December.

Only this time it wasn't to announce a trade, as they'd done five months ago when the Sox acquired Gonzalez from the Padres. It wasn't to announce they were confident they would eventually reach agreement on a new contract.

It was to announce Gonzalez had signed a seven-year contract extension, worth 154 million.

This is the culmination of a process that started several months ago, and were very pleased to get it done, said Epstein. More pleased to have Adrian as a Red Sox for now and for the long term. Even more pleased, now, than the day that we acquired him initially, having gotten to know him.

I hope this will go down, and I believe this will go down, as a great day for the organization. Adrians going to make a major impact here for a long time.

Gonzalez is hitting .268 with one home run and seven RBI in 11 games with Boston. Everybody involved was more than optimistic that the extension would get done. Now, he said, its time to focus strictly on winning, and thats why he decided to stay in Boston long term.

Im very grateful for this opportunity, like I said back in December, said Gonzalez. Im really excited about being able to play here for the next seven years, hopefully longer . . . Im really excited about being here, and winning some championships.

Im a person that really likes to just focus on winning, he added. When the focus isnt on the team, from my personal standpoint, thats not where I want to be. I want to be where, lets forget about everything else, and lets just focus on winning, and being part of the team.

This is something that takes all those questions out of the way. And lets focus on what we need to do on the field, to start winning.

That starts tonight, as Gonzalez is hitting third against left-hander Brett Cecil.

You never want to start the season by losing 10 of your first 12 games, which is their record after Friday night's defeat, but we have faith in ourselves. We know were a better team . . . And were going to turn this around.

The one good thing about starting poorly it means that were going to win a lot more games than were going to lose, going forward. I know, and Im fully confident, that come September, were going to be in the middle of a pennant race, and in a position that were going to make the playoffs.

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard. You can listen to Danny on his streaming radio show I'm Just Sayin' Monday-Friday from 9-10 a.m. on CSNNE.com.

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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