Red Sox

Pena wants another chance, 'ready for challenge' as manager

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Pena wants another chance, 'ready for challenge' as manager

DETROIT -- Tony Pena managed parts of four seasons with the Kansas City Royals from 2002-2005. If he got the chance to manage the Red Sox, Pena believes he would better at the job the second time around.

"I'm ready for the challenge, no question," said Pena, who became the second candidate to interview for the Red Sox managerial vacancy Monday. "When you manage the first time and you come around a second time, you have more time to think about it. You have more time to learn. Every day is something new in baseball and you know more, more and more about the game. Right now, I'm better than I was. There's no question about that."

Pena met with the Baseball Operations staff, led by general manager Ben Cherington, for about six hours and said he was "really comfortable," with the process.

"Anytime, whenever you talk about baseball, it's comfortable," said Pena. "It's nothing new to talk about baseball. If you know the game, it should be easy for you. It was six hours but it was a very, very quick six hours because when you're talking about something you love to do, a thing you have passion for, you can talk the whole day, you can talk 24 hours, you can talk the whole year about baseball. That wouldn't bother me at all."

As the bench coach on New York Yankee manager Joe Girardi's staff, Pena has kept his game management skills intact the last four seasons.

"I manage every night," he said before the start of Game 2 of the American League Championship Series. "I manage every night, along with Joe. Being a bench coach, I'm involved in the game, I'm involved in the decisions. It's like you're managing. You have to be aware of every single little thing and thank God that I'm working with a guy who keeps me involved in everything."

Still, Pena admits he wants another chance. He interviewed for the Yankees job that eventually went to Girardi and has been a candidate for other jobs.

"You're in the game for a reason," he said. "I'm a baseball man and obviously you want to manage. You don't want to be stuck in the same place. But I'm just the type of person who has a lot of patience. If it comes through, it comes through if not, life keeps going. One thing's for sure: as long as I have that uniform on, I'm going to enjoy myself. I'm going to enjoy every single moment. I'll just wait."

Pena also knows and understands Boston, having played four seasons with the Sox from 1990-1993. That experience would be a benefit, too.

"I know the city well, I know the fans," said Pena. "I played there for four years and I enjoyed every single moment there. But whatever happens, happens. I have no control over that right now. It's in their hands.

"I just want to concentrate on where we are right now. We are in the playoffs and I want to keep my mind right and keep my mind where it should be. Thank God yesterday was an off-day and we had time to relax and time to talk about it. Now, I'll just try to concentrate on where I have to be."

"I think Tony could manage anywhere," said Girardi. "I do. I have that confidence in him and I know how he prepares, and I know how he goes about his business. I think he could manage anywhere."

New York GM Brian Cashman said having coached in a big market like New York would help Pena in Boston -- but only to an extent.

"You'd like to think that, without a doubt, witnessing everything that takes place in a big market (would be beneficial)," said Cashman. "But then, when you take that seat, I don't care who you are, it's different. You could be on the front line as the bench coach in Boston and then replace the manager and it's going to be a huge difference . . . Living it is different than anticipating it."

Having been part of the Yankees staff since 2006, Pena is eminently familiar with the American League East and the Sox themselves.

"There's no question I know that ballcub real well," he said. "Nobody can tell me anything about them (I don't already know) because we have to go through it (18 times per year). We play them so many times each year. I don't know if it's an advantage or not -- depends on how they take things."

A native of the Dominican Republic, Pena is bilingual and as a catcher for 18 seasons, understands pitching.

"When you're a catcher," said Pena, "you have more understanding of the game. You have to be ready for every single pitch. Every pitch means something. You have to be ready for every single pitch that you're going to call. You have to know different people. That gives you an advantage -- when the pitcher has to go, when you have to make changes and things like that. I have to say yes.

"Being a catcher gives you a great idea because you're the only one to have everything in front of you and you have to be aware of everything."

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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