Red Sox

Nava breaks homerless streak with two-run shot in fourth


Nava breaks homerless streak with two-run shot in fourth

When Daniel Nava hit the first pitch he ever saw in the major leagues for a grand slam on June 12, 2010, he knew it wasn't going to be that easy.

But there was no way Nava could have known that it would take almost two years before he hit another one.

And yet, after failing to hit another one that rookie season and remaining in the minors for all of 2011, Nava's career homer total stood at one.

Until the fourth inning Monday night.

With Cody Ross on base with a leadoff single, Nava, hitting righthanded, drove a ball into the Monster Seats for a two-run homer, ending what had become a homerless drought that had stretched to 171 at-bats.

"I didn't think it was gone," said Nava after the Red Sox had completed a 6-1 victory over the Seattle Mariners. "Knowing how big the wall is and seeing some other balls guys have hit, I didn't feel like it compared (to others). I thought it was going to go off The Wall and then I was surprised that it barely squeaked over. But I'll take it. I'm not going to complain."

After all, when it's been nearly two years since your last one, any homer is welcome.

"We were joking in the dugout," said Nava. "They were congratulating me and I said, 'I'm just glad that I hit more than one.' A couple of years ago, (current teammate Kelly Shoppach) was with the Rays and I stepped into the box and he said, 'Hey, you're the guy who hit that home run on the first pitch.' I said, 'Yeah.' Then he said, 'You really haven't really done anything since.' I started laughing. I couldn't really say anything.

"So when I hit that one (Monday night), I thought, 'Thank God, I'm not going to have just one.' I wasn't expecting one or trying to. It just happened."

Home run or not, Nava has been in the middle of a torrid stretch at the plate. In the five games he's played since being promoted from Pawtucket, Nava's had 20 plate appearances and reached base 15 times on seven hits, six walks and two hit-by-pitch.

"It's been phenomenal," said Bobby Valentine of Nava's hot stretch. "Every hitter when they're in that zone says they're seeing the ball well. He's fouling off the tough pitches and putting a good swing on strikes. That's a hitter's wonderland. He's in it and I hope he stays in it for a long time."

"I hit a stretch (earlier this season) where I was pressing too much," said Nava. "I had to simplify things. Not press, just relax and let the game come to me. I'm really trying to go one at-bat at a time and not worry about the big picture -- the rest of the season, getting called up, stuff like that.

"It makes it a lot simper."

HOFer Joe Morgan's letter urges voters to keep steroid users out of Hall


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


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.