Red Sox

Ortiz continues to cherish All-Star Game appearances

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Ortiz continues to cherish All-Star Game appearances

KANSAS CITY -- After seven previous appearances, the All-Star Game is a familiar experience for David Ortiz. He's been part of winning teams and losing teams and his share of personal experiences.

Ortiz figured he would do the right thing Tuesday at Kauffman Stadium and come out of the game after one at-bat, giving playing time to Billy Butler, the host Kansas City Royals' lone representative.

American League manager Ron Washington had other ideas, though.

As the manager of the Texas Rangers, currently in the lead in the American League West and winners of the last two A.L. pennants, Washington had a selfish reason for wanting Ortiz to get more at-bats.

He wanted to win the 83rd annual All-Star Game, which would reward the Rangers with home field advantage in case they return to the World Series for a third straight October.

So the two compromised. Ortiz got two at-bats.

Against Matt Cain in the bottom of the second, Ortiz hit a fly ball to the warning track in left, just in front of the foul pole, which was caught by Ryan Braun.

Three innings later, he came up against lefty Clayton Kershaw and lined a single over shortstop Rafael Furcal's head to left. Ortiz then advanced to second on a single by Mike Napoili and to third on a groundout by Curtis Granderson. He was stranded at third, as the A.L. was blanked by the National League, 8-0.

"It was good, like always," said Ortiz of the experience. "Those guys (in the N.L.) came out hot (with five runs in the first). But it was a good experience. You just make sure that the fans enjoy it and have a good time. It's always good to put on a good show for them.

"It's always a blessing to be part of the All-Star Game. Having the fans voting and having you come out, it's great. It's something that never gets old and I always look forward to."

After his second at-bat, Ortiz was glad to cede the stage to Butler, who was left off the American League Home Run Derby team by New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano, who served as the team captain.

Cano was booed mercilessly Monday night during the Derby.

"I think what everyone did to Robinson was kind of wrong, man," he said. "He wasn't trying to keep anybody out of the competition or anything like that. He went out and picked three guys to help him out to win and keep the title in the American League. Those guys that he picked (Jose Bautista, Prince Fielder and Mark Trumbo) were actually pretty good.

"It was a little rough, but everybody knows that Robinson is a Class A guy and he just wanted to make sure things go well in the All-Star Game for everybody."

While stopped at third base, Ortiz chatted with New York Mets third baseman David Wright and inquired about his contract status.

"I asked him, 'How many years you got left on your contract?' recalled Ortiz. "He said (he's eligible after next season). I said, 'Good luck to you. Hitting .351 . . . wow."

Asked if Wright returned the question about contracts, Ortiz laughed.

"Actually, no," said Ortiz. "He knows what's up with me."

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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