Red Sox

Lackey to undergo Tommy John surgery

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Lackey to undergo Tommy John surgery

BOSTON -- Forty-five minutes into his introductory press conference, new general manager Ben Cherington announced something that probably got him off on the right foot with most Red Sox fans:

John Lackey won't be pitching in Boston in 2012.

He'll probably be back in 2013 and beyond, though.

Cherington said Lackey, who's been bothered by elbow problems for the last several years and spent time on the disabled list last season, will undergo Tommy John surgery and will be sidelined for 12-18 months.

"Let me start by saying that John Lackey pitched through circumstances this year that I don't think any of us in this room can fully understand," said Cherington, referring to both Lackey's elbow problems and personal issues with his marriage (his wife underwent breast-cancer surgery last offseason, and he filed for divorce in August). "And he got beat up publicly for it a little bit along the way. This guy was dealing with some stuff, both on the field and off the field, that were really difficult. I thought he showed tremendous toughness pitching through that."

While he pitched well in stretches, Lackey finished with a 12-12 record and a 6.41 ERA.

"I talked to him the other day and he's really excited about the future," said Cherington, adding that Lackey "knows that he's a much better pitcher than what he showed in 2011.

"I believe he'll come back from surgery as a much better pitcher than what he showed in 2011. We'll look forward to having him as part of the staff, most likely in 2013."

Cherington said Lackey consulted with Red Sox team doctors as well as elbow specialist Dr. Lewis Yocum after a season of pitching through pain, and eventually decided to go ahead with the surgery. Dr. Yocum is expected to perform the surgery, according to Cherington.

There is language in Lackey's contract that could enable the Sox to realize nearly 3 million a year in luxury-tax relief if the right-hander misses a season due to elbow problems. The clause triggers a sixth season in Lackey's contract for the major-league minimum salary, which is currently 414,000. That would reduce the annual value of Lackey's deal from 16.5 million to approximately 13.8 million.

Cherington told CSNNE.com's Sean McAdam it's a possibility that this surgery may trigger that clause, but that will be determined at some point in the future.

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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