Red Sox

Lavarnway back up with the Red Sox

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Lavarnway back up with the Red Sox

BOSTON -- It was probably a bit longer than anybody might have expected, but 24-year-old Ryan Lavarnway is back in a Boston big league clubhouse.
The young catcher impressed Sox officials last season when he hit .231 with a pair of home runs and 8 RBIs in 17 games in Boston at the tail end of last season.
But Lavarnway had spent the entirety of this year at Triple-A Pawtucket paying his dues while waiting for another chance.
That all changed on Wednesday as the Sox sent outfielder Daniel Nava to the 15-day disabled list with a pair of sore wrists, and brought up Lavarnway to add a little more right-handed pop to the bench.
Lavarnway also gives the Sox another able-bodied catcher as Kelly Shoppach deals with a nagging shin injury caused by a couple of poorly placed foul balls off his in-step.
Both of his wrists have been bothering Nava a little, so were going to make sure he gets fully healed on the disabled list, said Bobby Valentine. Since Mike Aviles is still dealing with that turf toe and Kelly has the shin issue, Lavarnway is here for right-handed protection well need later in the game.
One thing Lavarnway wont be: the smartest guy in his clubhouse for the first time in his pro baseball career. Thats because the Red Sox also traded for fellow Yale graduate and molecular biophysicist enthusiast Craig Breslow during the July 31 trade deadline. Breslow was yet to arrive 90 minutes before game time due to inclement weather in Boston, and there was some question whether hed be ready for game time.
Ive never claimed to be the smartest guy in any room, but this might be the first time people dont give me credit for it, quipped Lavarnway.
Lavarnway slugged .295.376.439 in 367 at bats with the PawSox this season while serving as their every day catcher, and continued to add to his resume as one of Bostons best young prospects.
Strapping on the catching gear every day was something a little different for a player that had routinely switched off between designated hitter and catcher during his career.
But Lavarnway said he was enjoying the challenge, and his defense has vastly improved over the last couple of years.
Its great to be back. It doesnt matter what the situation is, said Lavarnway. Its been my first opportunity to catch on an everyday basis and Ive got to tell you its a lot different than DH-ing all the time.
Its more of a physical grind. I think Ive already caught 20 more games than I did all of last year, but Ive got a great postgame routine and my conditioning is as good as its ever been.
He knew he was headed for Boston after finishing a rain-delayed game around midnight on Tuesday night, and was clearly happy to be back. But Lavarnway also hadnt allowed frustration to creep into his mind while lodged behind Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Shoppach on the organization depth chart this season.
If you focus on the day-to-day routine then its easier, but if you get away from that then its a little tougher, said Lavarnway.
Did Lavarnway ever get ahead of himself in Pawtucket?
You try to focus as best you can, said a smiling Lavarnway.
Good answer, smart kid.

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.