Red Sox

Notes: Ellsbury, Ortiz back in lineup, Gonzalez to RF


Notes: Ellsbury, Ortiz back in lineup, Gonzalez to RF

By Sean McAdam Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
HOUSTON -- Jacoby Ellsbury returned to the lineup Saturday night, a night after missing a game because of illness.

"I don't think he feels great, but he's good enough to play," reported manager Terry Francona, "he's he's still kind of scuffling."

Francona also had Adrian Gonzalez back in right field for the second time in the last four games, with David Ortiz taking over at first base.

Ortiz had eight at-bats through the first seven game of the three-city road trip, enough so that he didn't get stale, though it's worth noting that Ortiz was hitless in those first eight at-bats and last got a hit on June 20.

"He's got his stroke," said Francona. "I'm thrilled about that."

Selections for the All-Star Game will be made Sunday and a number of Red Sox players seem positioned to make the American League squad.

It's a given that both Adrian Gonzalez (1B) and David Ortiz (DH) will be chosen for the game. Outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury and second baseman Dustin Pedroia are also strong possibilities.

On the pitching staff, it's expected that both Jon Lester and Josh Beckett will be given strong consideration, though Lester may be ineligible for the game since he's scheduled to start July 10, the final day of the first half.

Under rules introduced by MLB several years ago, starters who start games on the Sunday before the game can be chosen for the game, but aren't eligible to complete because of a lack of rest.

Reliever Daniel Bard, who had somewhat of a tough April, has been almost unhittable of late.

Bard went into Saturday night with a scoreless streak of 15 innings, covering 13 games. In that span, Bard has struck out 15 batters and allowed just four singles and three walks in that span.

At the same time, lefty Franklin Morales has been effective since coming off the DL following some elbow soreness.

He's made three appearances since being activated and has retired all five hitters he's faced. Francona is unafraid to use him in close-and-late situations and left him in the game Friday night when Houston manager Brad Mills went to a righthanded pinch-hitter.

Carl Crawford hit on the field for the first time since going on the DL and ran at about 70 percent effort. He's eligible to come off the DL Sunday, but probably won't be activated until the middle of next week.

Meanwhile, Francona acknowledged what's been obvious for a while: Clay Buchholz (back spasms) won't pitch again before the All-Star break.

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

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.

Corey Kluber beats Chris Sale for American League Cy Young


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

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.