Red Sox

Red Sox hope to finish spring training injury-free

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Red Sox hope to finish spring training injury-free

By SeanMcAdam
CSNNE.com

SARASOTA, Fla. -- There are still two games remaining in Florida and another in Houston before the 2011 Red Sox play a game of consequence. But with less than a week to go, it seems as though the team will accomplish what every club hopes for each February and March: an injury-free spring training.

It's likely that the only member of the organization to start the season on the disabled list will be pitcher Junichi Tazawa, who is less than a year removed from Tommy John surgery.

None of the players expected to make the Opening Day roster is hurt, quite a change from last year in which the Sox endured a seemingly endless litany of injuries. Four regulars missed most of the second half of the season -- Dustin Pedroia (foot), Kevin Youkilis (thumb), Jacoby Ellsbury (ribs) and Mike Cameron (abdominal strain) -- and the Sox lost a total of 1,018 games with 19 different players spending time on the disabled list.

All four of the aforementioned players are completely healthy, with no residual issues. Just as critically, the Sox suffered no injuries during spring workouts or games.

Manager Terry Francona said the team's good health isn't an accident.

"We try to be really careful especially with pitchers,'' said Francona. "I know you can't help some things from happening. I think our medical staff really deserves a lot of credit.''

Francona said head trainer Mike Reinold and two staff assistants visited every member of the pitching staff over the offseason to make sure that winter programs were being followed.

"It's not just a phone call,'' said Francona. "Every guy got visited and we made sure their workouts were where they were supposed to be, so there were no surprises coming into camp.''

That means, when it comes to the final two roster decisions, the Red Sox can make their evaluations and personnel moves without regard to health.

"That's nice,'' Francona said. "Guys aren't limping and we haven't been thinking about it. Except for Felix Doubront, who felt some elbow soreness in February and fell behind, it's been basically guys competing and not, 'Well, we've got to back him up and his arm is sore.' "

Other clubs around the game haven't been nearly as fortunate.

The San Diego Padres lost projected Opening Day starter Mat Latos. Several other N.L. teams, including the St. Louis Cardinals (Adam Wainwright) Cincinnati Reds (Johnny Cueto) and Milwaukee Brewers (Zack Greinke), have all lost starting pitchers to spring injuries.

Closer (competitively and geographically) to home, the Yankees will start the season without outfielder Curtis Granderson and projected backup catcher Francisco Cervelli.

The Chicago White Sox will be without front-line starter Jake Peavy for at least the first month and Texas, the Red Sox' first opponent of the season, just learned that Tommy Hunter will open the season on the DL with a groin injury.

Not so with the Sox, for whom an injury-free spring could be attirbuted to good planning and, perhaps, after last year, some good karma.

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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