Red Sox

Red Sox notes: Gonzalez hits unusual homer


Red Sox notes: Gonzalez hits unusual homer

By Sean McAdam

NEW YORK -- It wasn't a called shot. More like a called approach that resulted in a shot.

Adrian Gonzalez had had three rough at-bats against CC Sabathia Saturday night. He chased a pitch out of the zone for strike three in the first, then broke his bat grounding out weakly to first, then hit into a double-play.

Something had to change.

"He said 'I'm going to give it a little Ichiro and leak a little bit,'" recounted Terry Francona. "He said, 'Do you have a problem with that?' I said, 'Not if you get a hit.'"

"I was just trying to get ready early and clear the inside part of the plate,'' said Gonzalez. "I didn't predict anything. All I said I was going to hit like Ichiro. He had struck me out with a fastball in and broke two bats with two-seamers in, so I was trying to clear my hips a little bit and cover the inside pitch.''

Sure enough, Gonzalez cleared his hips out and swung as though he was wielding a tennis racket. The result? The ball landed in the right field seats for his fifth homer in the last four games and eighth in his last 11 games.

"He amazes me,'' gushed Francona. "When you say you're going to do it, and then you do it... that's pretty impressive. He's really good and he's intelligent.''

This stretch marks the fourth time in his career that Gonzalez has homered in at least four straight games. He did it twice in 2009 and once in 2010.

In addtion to handling Josh Beckett's superb start, Jason Varitek had two big at-bats at the plate.

In the fifth, with runners and first and second and one out, he drew a walk in a long at-bat. The walk pushed the baserunners over to second and third, from where they scored on Jacoby Ellsbury's double to left.

"That's why you grind them out,'' said Francona. "You never know what's going to happen.''

Then, in the seventh, with the Sox still clinging to a 2-0 lead, Varitek lashed a line single to right, scoring Mike Cameron from second.

"I'm just trying to go about my work and have good at-bats every day,'' said Varitek.

It was just his third RBI of the season, but it was huge.

And it got bigger when Gonzalez later added his three-run homer in the same inning.

"He had some real quality at-bats against CC,'' said Gonzalez. "They were huge for us. That base hit was really big. It opened it up to 3-0 and gave us a little breathing room.''

Kevin Youkilis came out of the game in the bottom of the ninth, with his hip stiff. The hip has been plaguing Youkilis some for the last two weeks and when he dove in the Friday night series opener, it became sore.

Throughout the course of the night Saturday, it got tighter.

"If we get him out of there, I don't think it's anything that will keep him out tomorrow,'' said Francona.

Sean McAdam can be reached at Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

HOFer Joe Morgan's letter urges voters to keep steroid users out of Hall


HOFer Joe Morgan's letter urges voters to keep steroid users out of Hall

Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan is urging voters to keep “known steroid users” out of Cooperstown.

A day after the Hall revealed its 33-man ballot for the 2018 class, the 74-year-old Morgan argued against the inclusion of players implicated during baseball’s steroid era in a letter to voters with the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. The letter from the vice chairman of the Hall’s board of directors was sent Tuesday using a Hall email address.

Read the full text of Morgan's letter here. 

“Steroid users don’t belong here,” Morgan wrote. “What they did shouldn’t be accepted. Times shouldn’t change for the worse.”

Hall voters have been wrestling with the issue of performance-enhancing drugs for several years. Baseball held a survey drug test in 2003 and the sport began testing for banned steroids the following year with penalties. Accusations connected to some of the candidates for the Hall vary in strength from allegations with no evidence to positive tests that caused suspensions.

About 430 ballots are being sent to voters, who must have been members of the BBWAA for 10 consecutive years, and a player needs at least 75 percent for election. Ballots are due by Dec. 31 and results will be announced Jan. 24.

Writers who had not been covering the game for more than a decade were eliminated from the rolls in 2015, creating a younger electorate that has shown more willingness to vote for players tainted by accusations of steroid use. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens each received a majority of votes for the first time in 2017 in their fifth year on the ballot.

Morgan said he isn’t speaking for every Hall of Famer, but many of them feel the same way that he does.

“Players who failed drug tests, admitted using steroids, or were identified as users in Major League Baseball’s investigation into steroid abuse, known as the Mitchell Report, should not get in,” Morgan wrote. “Those are the three criteria that many of the players and I think are right.”

Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez were inducted into the Hall of Fame in July. They were joined by former Commissioner Bud Selig and retired Kansas City and Atlanta executive John Schuerholz, who were voted in by a veterans committee.

Some baseball writers said the election of Selig, who presided over the steroids era, influenced their view of whether tainted stars should gain entry to the Hall.

Morgan praised BBWAA voters and acknowledged they are facing a “tricky issue,” but he also warned some Hall of Famers might not make the trip to Cooperstown if steroid users are elected.

“The cheating that tainted an era now risks tainting the Hall of Fame too,” he wrote. “The Hall of Fame means too much to us to ever see that happen. If steroid users get in, it will divide and diminish the Hall, something we couldn’t bear.”

© 2017 by The Associated Press

MLB will institute rules to pick up pace, with or without players' agreement


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.