Red Sox

Gonzalez's life much different in Boston


Gonzalez's life much different in Boston

By Sean McAdam Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
BOSTON -- Some three months into his first regular season with the Red Sox, Adrian Gonzalez has adjusted to life in Boston and in the American League.

"I would say the games are longer,'' he said, "and there's a lot more runs scored here at Fenway (comapred to cavernous Petco Park).''

Of course, Gonzalez has had something to do with the longer games and the additional runs. After Monday night's 3-for-5 performance in the Red Sox' 14-5 thrashing of his former team, the Padres, he leads the major leagues in batting average (.353), RBI (67), total bases (180), extra-base hits (43) and doubles (25).

Strategy is different between the leagues, with more "small ball'' and bunts utilized in the National League.

"The game itself is different between the leagues,'' he said. "In the National League, you've got the pitcher, the bunt situations . . . there's a lot of different aspects.''

Off the field, of course, there are huge differences.

"The atmposhere at Fenway, it's always a packed crowd,'' he said. "I think off the field, walking around town, it's pretty similar between San Diego and here. The fans are great in both places. The biggest difference is that here, it's sold-out every night and Red Sox Nation is a lot greater on the road as well.''

Gonzalez said he tries not to "focus on the stuff outside the lines. That's something that has definitely helped me. I've always said I just answer the questions that are asked and go about it. I don't look into other things.''

"I think he has enjoyed the intensity of playing here,'' said manager Terry Francona. "I think that's what we certainly hope when we get players. Quite honestly, that's not always the case. This is a little bit different place to play.''

In the field, Gonzalez finds some of his talents wasted since the A.L. has far fewer bunt situations. Gonzalez always took pride in being an "aggressive first baseman,'' who could field bunts and throw to cut down the lead runner. In the A.L., he gets few opportunties to do that.

At the plate, he's found Fenway to his liking -- his wall-ball, RBI double in the seventh Monday night, which increased Boston's lead at the time to 5-3, would have been a routine fly to left in Petco -- though he insists he hasn't varied his approach.

"This is a definitely a way better place to hit than Petco,'' he acknowledged. "That helps a lot with confidence when you go to the plate . . . But I don't focus on the stadium; I just focus on having a good at-bat. When I go up to the plate here, I'm not looking to hit The Wall. I just have my approach and that's something when I came into the league that I didn't have.

"But I learned over my five years in San Diego that you don't set your mentality to the stadium, you set it to the pitcher. Now that I'm here, I just stay with that.''

On Monday, Gonzalez had a chance to see some old friends with the Padres. He had lunch with a few ex-teammates -- Chase Headley, Will Venable and Nick Hundley -- and walked to the ballpark.

"Now,'' he said, "it's about playing the game.''

Sean McAdam can be reached at Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

MLB will institute rules to pick up pace, with or without players' agreement


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


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

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.