Red Sox

Pregame notes: Reddick starts again

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Pregame notes: Reddick starts again

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Follow @hackswithhaggs

BOSTON Once again Terry Francona had the choice between penciling either the red-hot Josh Reddick or the aging J.D. Drew into the starting lineup in right field.

Once again the Sox skipper chose the kid with the thunder in his bat.

Reddick is in the starting lineup for the Sox against the Seattle Mariners at Fenway Park in their opener of a three-game weekend series, and the 24-year-old has earned the nod while hitting .378 with a 1.102 OPS in 29 games with Boston.

Reddick flared before flagging in stints over each of the last two seasons with the Sox, but hes making a push for the regular gig in right field while 35-year-old J.D. Drew has been mired in a season-long hitting slump. While the batting average and on base percentage are off for the outfielder, the real concern is Drews punch-less bat thats given the Sox less-than-stellar production in right field all season.

The .219 batting average and .307 slugging percentage for Drew are way off his career norms with the Sox, and signal that perhaps his bat speed is slowing down on the sweet left-handed swing.

With David Ortiz jumping back into the lineup against Felix Hernandez tonight as well, Reddick will be in against the Seattle ace. Francona said it was something of a no-brainer to keep Reddick swinging the hot stick, and compared with the decision to go with shortstop Jed Lowrie earlier this season.

Reddick is swinging the bat awfully well. Its pretty hard not to play him. I actually called JD last night to let him know what we were going to do just out of respect to him, but its a little like Lowrie earlier in the season, said Francona. Josh deserves to play. He has given us such a lift in the lineup. I dont know where its going to go. Nobody does.

As much as we want to win games, at the moment, Reddick gives us a better chance so thats what were doing.

Francona said Drew was understanding during the Thursday night phone call discussing his situation, and gave the familiar managerial refrain that he wouldnt be giving up on his embattled player.

He said he understood. I think he does. I think cares maybe more than people realize. Also I told him that Id never give up on him either. And I wont, said Francona. We all know what JD has in there and if it comes out wed love that too. Id love to be in a position where its hard to figure out who is going to play. If thats the dilemma its a good one to have.

Clay Buchholz threw a long toss session prior to Friday nights game against the Seattle Mariners after both the team and player decided to go from flat ground once more before jumping up to throwing off the mound. There have no setbacks at this point, but Francona hadnt checked in with the right-hander after his bullpen session.

Francona reiterated that Jon Lester was on track for a Monday start against the Kansas City Royals, and was passing through all of the Sox medical checkpoints with flying colors.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

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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