Red Sox

Notes: Crawford delivers grand performance


Notes: Crawford delivers grand performance

By Jessica Camerato Follow @JCameratoNBA
By Maureen Mullen Follow @maureenamullen
BOSTON -- It had been over a year since Carl Crawford last cleared the bases with a grand slam. The old feeling quickly came back on Saturday as he belted his first one as a member of the Red Sox in their eight-run fourth inning against the Texas Rangers.

Its a good feeling when the stadiums cheering for you like that and everybodys happy, he said following the Red Sox' 12-7 win.

Crawford missed Fridays game with a stomach illness but bounced back the following day, finishing the game with two hits (including a double) and four RBI.

His offensive performance was a turnaround from a recent three-game series against the New York Yankees in which he went 3-for-12 and a homestand where he had gone just 3-for-19 prior to Saturdays game.

When you hit a grand slam, it definitely helps your confidence out a little bit, just hoping thats something that can get you going, he said, adding, Ive been feeling all right. Unfortunately I cant go 5-for-5 or something like that but Ive been feeling better.

After a slow start and inconsistent production this season, solid performances like this are often contrasted with previous struggles. Crawford stays looking ahead to the remainder of the season -- and to the postseason -- while leaving the rest behind him.

The games that passed, I dont really worry about them, he said. I just try to take the approach try to do well the next day and the day after that. Everything that happened is pretty much behind me.

The Red Sox plan to do the same.

Said Terry Francona, If his batting average at the end of the year is a little short of what expectations were, that doesnt mean he cant be a force like he was today.

Josh Reddick had a career-high four hits (he also scored three runs) but his night was cut short when he was hit on the left hand by a pitch from Darren Oliver in the eighth inning. X-rays taken after the game came back negative and he will ice his hand for treatment.

We didnt see anything too serious, so luckily missed the bone and just keep icing and covering it up and wrapping it up and reevaluate tomorrow, he said. Its a lot better. The numbing went away about ten minutes after it happened. Its a good sign.

Reddick only recalls being hit in the majors once before, in 2009 -- a 95 mile-an-hour fastball off his ankle. While he does notice a difference in getting hit in the majors and minors, he tries to avoid it either way.

A little bit of a difference, he said. They all hurt but Ive never been a guy who gets hit a lot so I like to get out of the way. But any time I get hit I dont really like it.

Francona, who expects Reddick to be sore on Sunday, offered plenty of praise for the outfielder.

So many times hes given us such a lift, and thats hard for young players to do that, he said. Were in the middle of a pennant race and this kid comes in, like when Carl Crawford wasnt playing, and gave us a lift there. And now hes playing the majority of right field and hes had some pretty good days. He had a little time there when he kind of came back, they made some adjustments, but he still has that ability to put some sock in his bat, not just singles. Theres some production in that bat.

Jed Lowrie, who started at shortstop, also left the game in the fourth inning with left shoulder tightness. Jed is just stiff, I think probably from a little bit of fatigue. Hes played a lot, said Francona. I dont think well play him tomorrow. Hell certainly be available, so were OK there. That might be me overreacting a little bit. Just dont want to lose guys.

Adrian Gonzalez turned two unassisted double plays which, according to Elias, makes him the first Red Sox first baseman in the Divisional Era to do so.

Dustin Pedroia hit his 200th career double in the sixth inning.

Jacoby Ellsbury (1-for-3) extended his hitting streak to eight games. He is batting .323 during that stretch.

Erik Bedard made the start on Saturday, following JonLester on Thursday and Andrew Miller on Friday. That marks the first time sinceMay 18-20, 1995, the Sox have started three lefties in a row. The Sox went 1-2in those games.

Entering August, Matt Albers had an ERA of 2.09.In 12 games since Aug. 1, spanning 12 23 innings, he has allowed 19 earnedruns with eight walks, 11 strikeouts, and four home runs, for a 13.50 ERA. Hehas allowed runs in eight of the 12 outings. He is not hurt, though, Francona said.

No, hes had a tough time, Francona said. Hisvelocitys good. Sometimes his velocitys real good. Theres been times whenhes been behind the count and paid the price and theres been times when hesmade mistakes over the middle of the plate. When hes good hes working aheadand hes allowing that two-seamer to just come through the zone with some life,an occasional breaking ball andrightnow its elevating a little bit.

Francona is not considering giving Albers a mental ofphysical break. No, actually he wants to pitch more, Francona said. Physicallyhes fine so . . . sometimes for whatever reason he goes through ruts or things dontgo well. If you look up at the end of the year and his ERAs a little higherbecause he had that one stretch, that doesnt necessarily mean he can't be thatguy again that hes been for most of the year. Just his ERA might pay the pricea little bit."

With the Sox getting pummeled by the Rangers Friday night, Albersentered with the Sox trailing by seven runs, a lower pressure situation than hehas pitched earlier in the season. He gave up three runs.

Things kind of go hand-in-hand, Francona said. When your startergoes an inning and a third, somebodys got to pitch. Were just trying to lineit up where last night we had it mapped out where Wake was going to come in andhopefully finish the game. So we had right-handers coming up for the most partbefore Wake and it seemed like a good time to just limit Albers to one inning andthen we could bring in Tim Wakefield.

Francona said he is not yet ready to line uphis starting rotation in preparation for the postseason.

When we know were supposed to, he said. Not until. Wecertainly look at things like we always do but we also dont want to get aheadof ourselves. Were trying to do what we do.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at!JCameratoNBA

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.