Red Sox

Motivated Youkilis ready to prove he can still play

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Motivated Youkilis ready to prove he can still play

By Dan Hayes
CSN Chicago

MINNEAPOLIS -- Kevin Youkilis said before Mondays game he has moved on from the Red Sox, who traded him to the White Sox after nine seasons in Boston a day earlier.

No matter how politically correct he manages to be, Youkilis -- who didnt comment when asked about his relationship with Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine -- is motivated by the idea baseball observers doubt he still has the ability to play.

Youkilis said those questions offer more motivation than his sour ending with the Red Sox. His trade to the White Sox comes a little more than two months after Valentine, who is in his first season with the Red Sox, questioned the veteran third basemans desire to play baseball.

Youkilis is hitting .233 with four homers and 14 RBIs this season.

I dont think it has to do with (the end there), just that there was a lot of talk and saying You cant play baseball anymore, and I think I can, Youkilis said. I think I can play at a high level and go out there. But talk is one thing and I have to go out and prove it by my actions.

During Sundays press conference to announce the trade, general manager Kenny Williams said Youkilis has an edge and wants to prove his doubters incorrect. Catcher A.J. Pierzynski said Monday he believes the addition of a motivated Youkilis can only be a positive.

Its never bad when a guy has something to prove to himself and other people, Pierzynski said. I think Kevin is a proud guy. He has done a lot of good things in this game and wants to prove that hes not done and that he can still play.

Youkilis said he now feels healthy after he spent much of the early part of the season battling a lower-back injury. Youkilis has been limited to 42 games because of injury and after he lost playing time to Red Sox rookie Will Middlebrooks, who on Monday was named the American League player of the week.

The combination of poor play, injuries and lost playing time led to frustration for Youkilis.

I started out really cold and hadnt played up to my capability and it was very frustrating, Youkilis said. I wasnt very happy with how I was producing. I wasnt playing good baseball and it wasnt consistent playing time moving back and forth. It wasnt the way I was accustomed to playing. Im just excited to come to Chicago.

The White Sox are pleased to bring Youkilis on board. Manager Robin Ventura said acquiring Youkilis is a good message for the front office to send the clubhouse.

You know they care, Ventura said. They see the need and they understand and youre trying to get the best guy you can get. Hes the best guy we can get. Thats what guys feel. Theyre going out and getting somebody thats going to fit in and be a pro and has a history of being a good player.

As for how Youkilis fits in the clubhouse appears to be of little concern. Players greeted Youkilis with open arms in the visiting clubhouse at Target Field, including Adam Dunn, who wore and dirtied up Youkilis old Red Sox jersey before batting practice.

Were a pretty easygoing bunch and theres no reason why he shouldnt fit right in, second baseman Gordon Beckham said.

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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