Red Sox

McDonald moves to other side of Rivalry

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McDonald moves to other side of Rivalry

BOSTON -- As usual, Darnell McDonald was at Fenway Park on Friday afternoon. It just wasn't in his usual seat to the left of David Ortiz.
Instead, McDonald got ready for Friday night's game in the locker between that of Nick Swisher and Robinson Cano.

The former Red Sox outfielder was designated for assignment last weekend, and was claimed by the Yankees earlier this week. He arrived at Fenway Park after sitting home all week, waiting for a call from another team.

His agent called him on Wednesday, and a conversation with Brian Cashman soon followed, in which the Yankees' general manager told him to stay in Boston until the rest of his new team came to town for this weekend's four-game series.

McDonald, who was hitting .214 with two homers and nine RBI in 38 games this season, realizes that the transaction is just part of the game, but also admitted that the news of being waived by the Red Sox came "out of the blue."

"Obviously we had some guys that were coming back with the Red Sox, a crowded outfield," said McDonald on Friday afternoon, inside the visiting clubhouse at Fenway. "But it's the nature of the business. I've been in this game a long time, and I understand the business side of it. It's always a tough thing to deal with. But, you've just got to keep pressing on."

McDonald, 33, will continue to press on, just now, after 2 12 seasons in Boston, it will be in pinstripes. He admitted that it is a weird feeling to be joining the other side of the historic rivalry, but also acknowledged just how special it is to be able to play for both organizations in his career.

"Ya, I mean, it's strange," said McDonald. "It's just good to be back playing baseball. It's been a tough couple of days just sitting at home, not being able to go to the yard.

"But if you've got to leave and go somewhere, this is not a bad place to come. So, I'm happy to be here and be a part of this organization.

"It's a great group of guys over here," McDonald later added. "I'm still playing the same game. So that makes it easier, making that switch. It's a great clubhouse over here. They welcome you over here. And as you can see, I cut my hair off, and starting a new chapter."

As usual, the Yankees told McDonald he would have to clean it up. So McDonald won't just be in pinstripes. He'll also no longer be sporting his long dreadlocks, as all of his hair now sits in plastic bags inside his locker, following a clean shave and a fresh buzz cut.

While he'll certainly have a different look, he said he envisions himself playing the same role that he played while in Boston the last two-and-a-half seasons.

"Just come to the field and be ready when your name's called," said McDonald. "Work hard, have fun, all those type of things. For me, I just try to pride myself on being ready."

McDonald wasn't in the Yankees' starting lineup on Friday night against Josh Beckett. But Yankees manager Joe Girardi said before the game that he will get some at-bats against lefties in this four-game set.

"He'll play some outfield for us against some of the lefties," said Girardi. "We can move some people around and it gives us a few more options, on maybe who we DH sometimes. Especially in a weekend like this."

Why the Red Sox should sign not one but two relievers

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Why the Red Sox should sign not one but two relievers

BOSTON — There is a world outside of Giancarlo Stanton. 

Stanton, at this point, simply doesn’t appear likely to end up in Boston. That should feel obvious to those following along, and so should this: it can change. 

But there are other pursuits. Besides their search for a bat or two, the Red Sox have been actively pursuing left-handed relief options. Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski is a fast mover, but this year’s market has not been.

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Robbie Ross Jr. and Fernando Abad are both free agents, leaving Robby Scott as the lone incumbent southpaw from last season's primary group. Brian Johnson is bound for the pen, with Roenis Elias as a depth option too.  Still, even if Johnson’s transition pans out, the Sox still have an opening for a late-inning reliever with the departure of free agent Addison Reed. 

Reed is a righty, but between Matt Barnes, Joe Kelly, Heath Hembree, Carson Smith, and Craig Kimbrel, the Sox have more right-handed choices than left. Coming back from surgery, Tyler Thornburg, should be in the mix eventually too, but it's difficult to expect too much from him.

What the Red Sox should do: sign one of each for the bullpen, one righty, and one lefty. And then trade a righty or two. Turn some of that mishmash into an addition elsewhere. Be creative. 

Because inevitably, come midseason, the Sox will want to add another bullpen arm if they sign just one now. Why wait until you have to give up prospect capital when you can just add the piece you want now?

Go get a near-sure thing such as Pat Neshek, a veteran who walks no one and still strikeouts a bunch. At 37 with an outgoing personality, Neshek also brings leadership to a team that is looking for some. He walked just six guys in 62 innings last season. Entering his 12th season in the majors, he’s looking for his first ring.

All these top of the market relievers may be handsomely paid. But relievers are still something of a bargain compared to position players and starting pitchers. One of the key words for this winter should be creativity. If there’s value to be had in the reliever market, capitalize on it. 

Comeback kid Mike Minor, Jake McGee and Tony Watson headline the crop of free agent lefties available. Brad Hand of the Padres could also be had by trade but his market isn’t moving too quickly (and he won’t come cheaply).

Minor, 29, who posted a 2.55 ERA in 2017 after health issues kept him out of the majors in 2015-16, is expected to be paid handsomely. He is also open to the idea of potentially starting if a team is interested in him doing so. The Royals reportedly could give him that shot.

McGee’s American League East experience could be appealing.

He's 31 and had a 3.61 ERA with the Rockies in 2017 and has a 3.15 ERA lifetime. He’s not quite the strikeout pitcher he was earlier in his career — he had an 11.6 K/9 in 2015 — but a 9.1 K/9 is still very strong, particularly when coupled with just 0.6 homers allowed per nine.

For what it’s worth: McGee has also dominated the Red Sox, who have a .125 average, .190 on-base percentage and .192 slugging against him in 117 regular-season plate appearances. 

McGee throws a mid-90s fastball with a low-80s slider. He can operate up in the zone, and he actually has been even more effective against righties than lefties in his career, including in 2017. McGee’s been a closer, too, with 44 career saves.

The Sox had the second-best bullpen in the majors by ERA in 2017, at 3.07. Yet, come the postseason, there wasn’t a sense of great confidence or even a clear shape to the pecking order behind one of the absolute best relievers in the game, Kimbrel. 

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