Red Sox

Q&A with new Red Sox manager John Farrell

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Q&A with new Red Sox manager John Farrell

BOSTON Before Thursday night's annual Boston Baseball Writers Association of America dinner, new Red Sox manager John Farrell -- who plans to be at the teams spring training complex in Fort Myers on Feb. 1 -- addressed some topics concerning the team:

On the teams offseason:
Productive in the standpoint of outing a staff together, getting familiar with guys that I've spent some time with before, getting to understand at least initially some interaction with the guys weve signed in the offseason, reconnecting with many in the organization. We just finished three full days of organizational meeting here that was almost maybe a re-centering as we go into this upcoming season. Above and beyond all, everyones eager to get on the field down in Fort Myers.

On the current roster:
Balanced, professional, successful individual track records. Guys that have come from winning, playoff teams and World Series teams and to bring those ingredients, those individuals here, were looking forward to bringing everyone together in spring training. We have a pretty good challenge ahead of us. Nine new players projected on a 25-man roster. Thats a lot to integrate, to understand that were coming together and sacrificing for one another towards a team approach and thats where I think the people above and beyond the talents that there are have that reputation.

Potential lineups:
If guys play to their abilities . . . I think everybody looks at Jacoby Ellsbury . . . as a leadoff guy with the kind of ability, not only to steal bases but to drive the ball with some consistency . . . The one variation to look at, against a left-handed pitcher we could see Shane Victorino in the 2 hole but then see him down in the 5, 6 hole against right-handers . . . But I think the one thing that stands out is with Stephen Drews addition, and now Mike Napoli, it gives us that complement, that balance, left-right all the way through the lineup.

Victorino has moved around in the past. it's something weve talked about with him and hes comfortable with it, as hes done it, so that switching back and forth in the lineup for him wouldnt be out of the norm.

Several players are already in Fort Myers, including left-handers Franklin Morales and Felix Doubront:

Like all pitchers, theyre going through their long-toss program. Theyre out to 120-150 feet, protocol, and they're right in line for spring training.

Doubront is strong. He looked in great shape. Having the benefit of seeing and being with guys a couple of years ago, and then I left to manage the Blue Jays for two years . . . and now that I'm back, I see some physical maturity having taken place with several players, as has been the case with Felix. This is someone who really started to come into his own last year and I fully expect that progression to continue.

On the addition of Pedro Martinez as a special assistant:
A lot of experience, a lot of great pitching experience. He and Jason Varitek, also a special assistant being back in our organization in roles where they can afford and give back to young players coming through the system right now and really at the big-league level to give advice. This is a unique place that when you have the ability of two guys that have had the success that they have to have them accessible to our players, its going to be an asset to all of us.

Just being around the last couple of days . . . I had an impression of him across the field (as a member of the opposition) but to be around him in these meetings and then meeting downtown with Boston Mayor Tom Menino, the life and the confidence that he has . . . are a genuine past of his personality. Thats infectious. That rubs off on people. And I think when you have that type of ability to tap into by others around him, those players will be able to pull some pieces of information or experiences that should help them.

We had a lunch today. Incredible because he spoke of a story that Mayor Menino gave him some advice his first year here: where to live, things to stay away from. And it was a really cool recount of that experience. It was almost like the father figure talking to a young, talented guy, giving advice and guidance. And his appreciation was very evident and really a pretty neat setting.

On the roster:
I think weve got a very good roster. I like our team as it stands today, and we havent even gotten to spring training yet. But not only the talent that general manager Ben Cherington and his staff have brought in, but they people that they are, and I will tell you, from Day One of being named to this position and talking to players throughout the offseason, there are many, many players that are eager to rewrite the story that took place a year ago and are looking forward to getting back on the field in Fort Myers.

On former manager Terry Franconas new book:
Ive seen some of the excerpts. Ive talked to Tito directly about it and hes given his innermost thoughts. All I can say is that hes had a tremendous amount of success here, as did everyone during those eight years . . . two world titles . . .we can only hope to continue in some fashion close to that.

What he takes from his time working with Francona:
Fortunate to stand by him four years here in Boston in a unique place. He did such a great job with balancing the demand of this position. There were a lot of different types of players that have come through his door for those eight tears and how he blended those personalities, how he kept issues in-house is a stroke of talent, a stroke of genius in some ways, to blend that and to let every player know that he had their back. They felt that, they played hard for him and as a result had a lot of success.

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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