Red Sox

Notes: Beckett shines, Reddick climbs

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Notes: Beckett shines, Reddick climbs

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The game ended hours after he left the mound, but there was no overlooking the start turned in by Josh Beckett.

Making his first start since suffering a hyper-extended knee in his last start before the All-Star break, Beckett was masterful, tossing eight shutout innings and allowing only one baserunner.

Beckett gave up a two-out infield single off his shoe, then retired the final 22 hitters he faced. It was nearly as brilliant as his last start here, June 15, when he tossed a complete-game one-hit shutout.

"This was a pretty wild one," said Beckett. "It was fun to be a part of."

Beckett said the knee wasn't an issue Sunday night. Only five days earlier, he had pulled himself out of a scheduled inning of work in the All-Star game when the knee was stiff and he felt some inflammation.

In 17 innings against the Rays this season, he's faced 53 batters and given up only two hits: both infield singles.

Had Beckett pitched one more inning without allowing a hit, he would have become the first pitcher since Sam McDowell to toss back-to-back complete-game one-hitters against the same opponent.

Dustin Pedroia was the offensive hero, but he might not have had the chance had it not been for Josh Reddick.

In the bottom of the tenth, Tampa Bay's Justin Ruggiano hit a ball to left center. Reddick, pursuing the ball with center-fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, timed his leap perfectly and snared the ball, taking away extra bases from Ruggiano.

"He got a good swing on the ball," said Reddick. "Luckily, we work on that kind of stuff in BP and you keep an eye of where you're at on the (warning) track and time your jump right. That's all you can do.

"Once it came off the bat, I saw it real well. I got a good jump. I figured I had it all the way with Ells being where he was.

Luckily, we communicate real well out there. The good thing for me is I've been able to scale the wall pretty good. I played basketball in my day, so I've got a little bit of ups."

Reddick's playing time is likely to be reduced when Crawford returns, but Reddick will still get some opportunities in right field over J.D. Drew.

"At some point, when he's hot like this, the kid's got to play," said Francona prior to the game. "It's kind of like (Jed Lowrie) earlier in the year. You're doing your team a disservice (if he's not in there). He's been terrific.

"Until we're there, I don't know how to make that work perfectly. But we're just going to try to win. Whoever we think will help us win will play."

Alfredo Aceves got credit for the win with three scoreless innings, helping to save the bullpen. He then gave way to Jonathan Papelbon for the save in the bottom of the 16th.

"It's kind of a unique thing he can do," said Francona. "He goes out there in a game like that and he kind of saves you because he can go out and pitch multiple innings -- and get them out.

"He was tremendous. That was invaluable."

Aceves, 5-1, has thrown two or more innings of relief 11 times this year, including each of his last five appearances. Over his last four appearances, he's thrown 10 13 scoreless innings.

The Sox must make a roster move to make room for Crawford's activation. It's widely expected that Drew Sutton will be sent back to Pawtucket to make room for the outfielder's return.

Yamaico Navarro would still give the Sox a second shortstop on the roster behind Marco Scutaro and while both Sutton and Navarro can play the outfield, Navarro's bat is far more potent.

David Ortiz expressed hope that there's no carryover this week from last week's dust-up with the Orioles.

"Hopefully, not," said Ortiz, who is appealing a four-game suspension for charging the mound after Kevin Gregg pitched him inside on July 8. "MLB is paying attention to all this stuff. I'm not a pitcher. I can't tell you anything about that. I don't throw no balls. Hopefully, they're smart and put that away and play the game the way it's supposed to be."

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam.

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.