Red Sox

Nava to lead off against Tigers

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Nava to lead off against Tigers

BOSTON Daniel Nava is back in the leadoff spot for the Red Sox tonight against the Tigers for the third straight game.And why not?He has hit in the first spot the last two games, and four times overall in his career. The Sox have won all four games. The last time the Sox won as many of a players first games in the lead-off spot was Steve Lyons first six starts leading off from May 27 through June 9, 1985.Nava had the big hit in the Sox 6-3 win over the Tigers Tuesday night, a two-out, bases-loaded double in the third off Justin Verlander to score all three runners.Thats what you try to teach a player, manager Bobby Valentine said. When the moment is intense, to slow it down. You keep hearing that, that you want to breath and not have things spin too quickly. It seemed like he was all of his at-bats. That at-bat didnt look any different than any of his other at-bats, which is pretty damned phenomenal I think.In 19 games this season, Nava has a .429 on-base percentage. He has reached base safely in 17 of those games.Hes had a pretty good on-base percentage all his life, Valentine said. So he has an ability to see the ball, to not get out of himself.Nava did not even receive an invitation to spring training after spending all of 2011 in the minor leagues despite making his major league debut and playing 60 games the previous season. Valentine has said the switch-hitting outfielder was not even on his radar this spring.Since being called up on May 10, he has started each game in left field.Daniel, his defense has been so good, Valentine said. Hes playing the wall so well. His throws are so accurate. His jumps are so precise. He wouldnt even have to be hitting if you wanted to put him out there because at the beginning of the season that wasnt the case in left field, as some of us might recall. He filled a big hole.Valentine pointed to Nava, along with shortstop Mike Aviles and catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, as providing some much needed, and perhaps unexpected stability to the team.Mike Aviles and Salty and Daniel could have created a real different situation if they werent playing as well as theyre playing, Valentine said. We had stability with Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz and Adrian Gonzalez. But if there wasnt stability at those starts, this would be more challenging than it is. Theyve been great.

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.