Red Sox

Notes: Crawford bounces back up the order


Notes: Crawford bounces back up the order

By Sean McAdam

CLEVELAND -- For the third time in four games, Carl Crawford is in a different spot in the lineup.

Crawford hit third in the first two games in Texas before being dropped to seventh in the series finale Sunday, responding with a two-hit game.

For Tuesday's opener here at Progressive Field, Crawford is hitting second with Dustin Pedroia third.

"In the big picture, I don't think it matters," said Terry Francona. "I just thought hitting him third the first couple of days, coupled with being new, I thought he was trying to do too much. Maybe this will get him and Jacoby Ellsbury back-to-back, get them on base and let them cause some havoc.

"We may drop him down in the order, at least for while, at least against lefties just to kind of make our batting order look a little better. We'll see. But again, when guys are hitting and kind of get into a groove, that won't matter much. I just think he was trying too hard the first couple of days."

Francona hinted that he might flip-flop Crawford and Pedroia from the second or third spots from time-to-time.

"I don't think it matters," said Francona. "Our batting order might change a little bit early on, depending on who's pitching for them, who we have available, how we're swinging it. I don't think it's as big a deal as people are making it out to be."

Jarrod Saltalamacchia was in the lineup for the fourth straight game. There had been some speculation that Jason Varitek might be in the lineup Tuesday to catch Josh Beckett, with whom he's worked well in the past.

Saltalamacchia is hitless in 10 at-bats through the first three games, but Francona said he wanted to get the young catcher going at the plate.

"I'd like Tek to catch Wednesday night or Thursday afternoon," explained Francona, "one or the other, so if we did it tonight, it wouldn't match up right. He's going to catch one of the two and I'd really like to get Salty going here. He was so over-anxious and swinging it everything. I'd like to get him settled in."

Francona spoke to Saltalamacchia Tuesday and advised him to try to relax.

"It's a long year," he said. "It's human nature. This game can humble you in a minute."

It's possible that Saltalamacchia allowed the poor performance of the starting pitchers in Texas to carry over to his at-bats.

"I think he had a lot on his plate," said Francona. "A lot of balls we were throwing weren't going where we wanted them to. That was a tough couple of days. Any good catcher, I think they take the performance of the pithing staff personally."

Dennys Reyes pitched in each of the first three games of the season, the first Red Sox pitcher to do so since Jeff Gray (April 8-11, 1991).

Sean McAdam can be reached at Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

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.