Red Sox

Notes: Sox kicking the tires on Martin, Fuentes

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Notes: Sox kicking the tires on Martin, Fuentes

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Even as general manager Theo Epstein said the Red Sox would be ''comfortable'' with the catching duo of Jarrod Saltalamachia and Jason Varitek, the Red Sox were at least investigating Russell Martin, non-tendered by the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Martin had a hip injury in 2010, which contributed to the Dodgers' decision to non-tender him. He made 5.05 million last season and would have seen that figure go up in arbitration.

The Red Sox are among a handful of teams which have requested medical info on Martin. The New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays are among the others known to be looking into Martin's health.

A major league manager described Martin Monday as "more of an offensive catcher -- but he can really throw.'' Martin began his career as a third baseman and while he has made it clear that he would prefer to continue to catch full-time, he could fill in at other spots, including left field and DH.

Martin is a Montreal native and has said he would prefer to play in the Northeast, closer to his home.

Without mentioning Martin by name, Epstein said: "We're still open to exploring more depth at that position (catcher) if the right player were to be there. But we would be comfortable with (Saltalamachhia and Varitek).''

Asked to list his priorities for the remainder of the post-season, Epstein responded: "Bullpen...bullpen...maybe integrate a righthanded bat into the mix if we can find the right one in the right spot."

Optimally, Epstein said that righthanded bat could fit into the outfield mix, which boasts three lefties (Jacoby Ellsbury, J.D. Drew and perhaps Ryan Kalish) and one righthanded bat (Mike Cameron).

As such, the Red Sox have some interest in Magglio Ordonez, a free agent who was not offered arbitration by the Detroit Tigers. The Sox nearly traded for Ordonez in 2003 when they were attempting to obtain Alex Rodriguez.

Another, lower profile name that might make some sense is Matt Diaz, who is more of a platoon or semi-regular.

"There's been a lot of talk about our outfield,'' said Epstein. "I feel like if we brought back the same group, we'd be OK. There's some benefit to bringing in the right player into the mix for a couple of different reasons. It might allow some time for certain of our outfielders' development path to take hold; it might provide more depth for some guys coming off injury; and provide a better mix against right- or lefthanded pitching.

"If we don't find something that makes sense, we are comfortable going with the group we have. But the right piece might work as well.''

As for bolstering the relief crew, Epstein said: "There's certainly a good chance that we acquire, through trade or free agency, more than one reliever.''

One reliever who interests the Sox is Brian Fuentes, who wasn't offered arbitration by the Minnesota Twins. The Sox tried to make a deal with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for Fuentes last July, but were unable to work it out. He was later sent to the Twins.

It seems clear that Epstein doesn't want to give up compensation draft picks for signing set-up relievers, which would seem to rule out the likes of Type A free agent Scott Downs.

Epstein added that the Sox would have interest in bringing back Hideki Okajima, non-tendered last week, "under the right circumstances.''

Translation: If Okajima is willing to slice his 2.75 million salary from 2010 by more than half.

When asked if, with the addition of Adrian Gonzlaez, the Sox, as presently constituted, were too lefthanded, Epstein answered no.

"There have been some really good teams that were too left-handed,'' said Epstein. "You face righthanded pitching two-thirds of the time. I don't see anything wrong with building a team too be predominantly lefthanded, then building a bench that features a number of guys who really hit lefthanded pitching well.

"I think we actually have pretty good balance right now. I don't think it's overly lopsided, per se.''

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

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.

Corey Kluber beats Chris Sale for American League Cy Young

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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 baseball-reference.com.

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.

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