Red Sox

Gonzalez homers in the midst of struggles

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Gonzalez homers in the midst of struggles

BOSTON With his three-run, go-ahead home run in the seventh inning, Adrian Gonzalez was destined to be the star of Sundays game.

That was until Sean Rodriguezs two-run, go-ahead home run off Alfredo Aceves in the ninth inning proved to be the game winner, as the Rays beat the Red Sox, 4-3, at Fenway Park.

The home run was Gonzalezs only hit in four at-bats in the game. While it gave him a seven-game hitting streak, a season high, Gonzalez has been mired in a slump for his standards.

Since going 2-for-4 against the Indians on May 13, Gonzalez has had more than one hit in a game just once, on May 20 in Philadelphia.

In 13 games since May 14, Gonzalez is 10-for-49 (.204) with three doubles, two home runs, seven RBI, two walks, and 14 strikeouts.

If I have a good game plan and Im able to execute it, with the swing Ive got I should be able to have success, Gonzalez said. Ive just got to game plan better.

As he did in the seventh. The home run just his fourth of the season and second at Fenway off Rays right-hander Jeremy Hellickson Sunday, into the first row of seats in the Monsters left field corner could be a sign that he is rebounding.

David Ortiz walked to lead off the seventh with Kevin Youkilis on with a single to set the stage for Gonzalezs home run on a 1-0 changeup.

"That was huge. That was huge, Ortiz said of Gonzalezs home run. Especially against Hellickson. He don't give you anything man. He tries to hit his spot always, otherwise, you've got to chase something out of the strike zone. That's what makes him so good."

Gonzalez entered the game just 2-for-14 (.143) with a home run and four RBI against the Rays starter. Hellickson knew almost immediately Gonzalezs ball was gone.

"I thought I made a pretty good pitch to Gonzalez, but he got it up, Hellickson said. I thought it was gone. He put a good swing on it."

"It was big, Valentine said. It put us ahead. If he gets on a roll, we could let him carry us for a little while. It would be good to see him do that."

Gonzalez started the last two games and six of the last eight games in right field. He entered this season with just three games in the outfield, all in right field. But had appeared in the outfield in an American League park just once prior to 2012 on Sept. 30, 2005, while with Texas against the Angels.

Before the game, Valentine said he had no reservations about putting Gonzalez in right field for an afternoon game.

On Saturday, though, in a bit of a head-scratching move, he took Gonzalez out for pinch-runner Che-Hsuan Lin in the sixth inning of a scoreless game for defensive reasons. In the eighth inning on Sunday, though, Valentine again subbed Lin for Gonzalez. This time, however, Valentine moved Gonzalez to first base, with Kevin Youkilis, who started at first, over to third, and Will Middlebrooks coming out of the game.

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.