Red Sox

Notes: Ellsbury scorching hot in June


Notes: Ellsbury scorching hot in June

By SeanMcAdam Red SoxInsider Follow @sean_mcadam
TORONTO -- Jacoby Ellsbury was already having a fine season for the Red Sox -- reaching base regularly, leading the league in stolen bases and helping to ignite the Red Sox offense.

Then came the month of June. And now Ellsbury has taken his game to another gear, another level.

Friday night, in the Red Sox' 5-1 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays, Ellsbury had three hits and three runs scored while extending his hitting streak to seven straight.

In the month of June, Ellsbury is 17-for-38 (.447) and in eight games, has scored nine runs and stolen six bases.

"He's stealing bases, running . . . '' said Terry Francona. "We've talked about it. When he's going in that leadoff spot, we're a different team.''

Unsurprisingly, the Red Sox have gone 7-1 in those eight games with Ellsbury leading the offense.

He's hitting .316 for the season and on-base percentage of .374.

And thanks to his team-best 21 doubles and seven homers -- good enough for third on the Sox, behind only sluggers Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz -- Ellsbury's slugging .482, giving him an impresssive .857 OPS.

Dustin Pedroia rejoined the Red Sox Friday and was immediately inserted back in the lineup, a day after a procedure revealed that there's nothing more wrong with his ailing right knee that a deep bruise.

"The safe thing to do was to go in there and let Dr. Gill see it,'' said Pedroia. "It's been bugging me for a while, so as long as I continue to play and just deal with it, that's good, I guess.

"The biggest thing was to make sure I'm okay right now and he said I am, so I'll play.''

Pedroia said "the pounding'' of the knee has made things worse, but he'll continue to ice it and get treatment.

"I landed awkwardly one time,'' he said, "and it kept bugging me. But I'll figure it out.''

The infielder said it's unlikely occasional rest is going to help much.

"I like playing, I like being out there,'' he said. "If I'm hurting, I'll be smart and go tell Francona.''

"He plays . . . that's what he does,'' said Francona. "I wouldn't look for him to have too many days off.''

Pedroia said he doesn't necessarily get any benefits from a day off.

"One day is really not going to help,'' he said. "I actually feel better when I don't have a day off. I guess I get some blood flow in there. That's why I don't really like taking days off.''

Pedroia is hitting just .247 and said earlier in the week that he sometimes finds it difficult to achieve the proper balance in the batter's box, what with his surgically-repaired left foot and the sore right knee.

"I've been driving the ball,'' he said, ''but it's been in the middle of the field. That's the part that's been tough. Instead of pulling it or hitting the ball to right-center. That will change.''

Nor is Pedroia concerned over the prospect of playing the next six games on artificial turf surfaces -- three at Rogers Centre and three at Tropicana Field at St. Petersburg.

"I actually feel better on turf,'' said Pedroia. "Turf doesn't bother me. I don't weigh that much.''

"I'm sure he'll relax a little bit more now,'' said Francona. "He still has pain in his knee, but he knows now that he's not going to hurt himself.''

By his own admission, Jarrod Saltalamacchia doesn't yet feel 100 percent after spending Wednesday night in a New York hospital thanks to either food poisoning or a stomach infection.

But he felt good enough to be back in the lineup Friday.

"Usually I get real sick once a year,'' said Saltalamacchia, "but that was by far the worst.''

"As long as he can play Friday,'' said Francona, "that helps us because Jason Varitek can come back and catch Saturday. He might not be his most energetic self, but sometimes, you've got to play.''

Francona wasn't willing to commit to Tim Wakefield permanently taking Daisuke Matsuzaka's spot in the rotation, but it certainly seems like the spot is Wakefield's for now.

Last week, Francona had said the team might alternate Wakefield and Alfredo Aceves in that spot, depending on opponent and other factors, but Aceves' fine work in the bullpen, finishing games with multiple innings twice, may have changed his perspective.

"For now, Wake starts Tuesday,'' said Francona. "Wake's been throwing the ball pretty well. So has Aceves. But with Wake throwing the ball pretty well as a starter, I think Aceves can be a little bit more valuable . . . he does so many things out of the bullpen, maybe we can maximize both guys better.''

The team said Daisuke Matsuzaka underwent successful Tommy John surgery Friday, with Dr. Lewis Yocum performing the procedure.

Rich Hill, who underwent the same procedure Thursday in Pensacola, Fl., texted Francona Friday and said he was doing fine.

Sean McAdam can be reached at 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.