Red Sox

Notes: Beckett highly critical of recent schedule

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Notes: Beckett highly critical of recent schedule

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs

KANSAS CITY Josh Beckett finally went off on the Major League Baseball schedule after winning his 10th game of the season Thursday night against the Royals, and the outspoken Sox hurler was speaking for many of his teammates.

The Sox traveled to Minnesota and Seattle last week for a fairly far-reaching road trip that included the long journey to Washington State, hopped back on a flight to Boston for three games in two days against the Tampa Bay Rays punctuated by an ill-timed double-header, and then jumped right back onto the road for series against Kansas City and Texas in the blaring August heat.

Kevin Youkilis and Marco Scutaro have both come down with back injuries during the long plane flights around the country, and the Sox managed to amass only nine hits in the three home games against the Rays earlier this week. That amounts to the worst offensive output the Sox have ever put together in their home ballpark, and to Beckett was a clear indicator of how heavily fatigue was weighing on the Sox as a team.

Our travel hasnt exactly been great," Beckett said. "Our offense has taken a lot of flak for that, but how can you not be tired after the crap that weve been through over the last week-and-a-half? I dont know how they do it. There have been several days where these guys have played and I dont know how they do it. I want to pick them up because this travel has been horrible.

Several of the Sox players have grumbled about the yoyo effect that the travel has had on a team treading water during the month of August, and the doubleheader played on Tuesday against the Rays was the last straw for Beckett. The Rays will be back for a four-game series in the middle of September, and Beckett was frosted over fact that the doubleheader wasnt scheduled for the later series.

Instead it was shoehorned into a quick two days at home for the Sox, and the right-hander believes his team is paying for price for it now. The Sox have lost four of their last seven games, and look very much like a team falling victim to the dog days of August in the process.

I dont know who the expletive made the doubleheader that day when they come back one more time, said Beckett. We havent exactly been treated fair here in the last week. That doubleheader being the most glaring thing for me . . . I dont know how it gets thrown onto that day.

Beckett battled through the fatigue to finish seven full innings and 110 pitches for the 4-3 victory over the Royals, and reached double digits in wins for the sixth time in his career. It wasnt easy, but Beckett said he feels like hes coming through on the other side of some seasonal fatigue that normally hits him around the 150 innings mark in a normal year of work.

He managed to scatter seven hits and three runs, and retire 14 of his final 18 batters after surrendering a two-run bomb to Alex Gordon all while suppressing his apparent rage at the Major League Baseball schedule-makers.

I just felt a little fatigued, said Beckett. It was more my legs than anything and trying to get them back under me. Once you get to 150 innings you really have to focus on maintaining your legs.

Beckett looked like he had plenty of legs passing the game on to Daniel Bard and Josh Beckett in the ninth inning as he worked a 1-2-3 seventh frame before giving way to the bullpen.

Dustin Pedroia has hit safely in 50 of his last 57 games, and cleaned up in Thursday nights win with three hits and three RBI including the game-winner in the 4-3 victory over the Royals. Pedroia has again shifted to the cleanup spot in Bostons lineup with injuries to DH David Ortiz and 1B Kevin Youkilis, and the little second baseman continues to shine there. Pedroia is now hitting .481 (25-for-52) with six doubles, five home runs and 14 RBI in 12 career starts in the clean-up spot. Its getting close to the end of the season and everybody in here is just trying to do their part to help us win games. Thats all that this is about, said Pedroia.

Carl Crawford snapped an 0-for-15 streak with a single in the fifth inning, and recorded his first multi-steal game since April 6 when he stole both second and third base in the same frame. Crawford was thrown out at home attempting to score on a shallow fly ball to center field, but the aggressiveness to the left fielders game is something the Red Sox desperately need moving forward. His two stolen bases in the same inning was the 17th time in his career that hes pulled off the trick, but the first time since July 27, 2010 when he was a member of the Rays playing against the Detroit Tigers.

The Red Sox were pretty adventurous on the base paths throughout the game and stole four bases while also getting thrown out attempting to advance three different times in the game. It might be time for the Sox to stop running on the Royals as their outfielders lead the Major Leagues with 11 double plays from the outfield this season.

It appears the Red Sox are going to soldier on without David Ortiz for at least a week.

Hes wearing a boot on his right foot to treat the bursitis in his right heel, and itll be at least 4-5 days out of cleats before Big Papi is potentially ready to start taking batting practice. The Sox havent ruled out Ortiz potentially going on the DL retroactively if their designated hitter doesnt feel any better when he gets out of the protective boot, but early indications were that he was feeling better.

Until he gets out of that boot, were probably not going to know a lot, said Terry Francona. There comes to a time when you run out of players and youre forced to put somebody on the DL, but were hoping to avoid that. He could be in the boot for 2-3 days and then out of spikes for another 2-4 days depending on how hes doing. Then hed need to take BP for a couple of days.

Theyre hoping that itll knock it out, but if it doesnt then well have to revisit.

Counting Thursday nights tilt against the Kansas City Royals, Ortiz has missed four straight games with the bursitis in his right heel.

Marco Scutaro reported that his back is feeling better, and that things seemed to loosen up during the double-header against the Rays. He took full batting practice with his teammates at Kauffman Stadium, and should be ready for a return sooner rather than later.

I hope hes doing a little better, said Francona. He called Mike Reinold and said he was feeling a little better. Well see how he does today.

J.D. Drew was set to take batting practice with his teammates and his situation will be reevaluated by this weekend with a decision pending on activation or a potential rehab assignment.

Well see how hes doing and then hopefully in the next couple of days well be able to reevaluate him, said Francona.

Mike Aviles said he had a lot of good friends in the Kansas City clubhouse in his first return to his former home with the Royals, and was looking forward to playing against them while batting ninth and playing shortstop. Aviles was dealt to the Sox prior to the July 31 deadline, and has settled in nicely as a right-handed utility man capable of playing both infield and outfield while also bashing left-handed pitching.

I have a lot of good memories here, and I think I was a good guy while I was here. Im still a good guy, actually, said Aviles with a wide smile on his face. This was the team that gave me a shot in the big leagues, so Ill always have a special place in my heart for the Kansas City organization.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs.

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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