Red Sox

Saddened Middlebrooks forced to be Sox 'cheerleader'

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Saddened Middlebrooks forced to be Sox 'cheerleader'

CLEVELAND It was a pretty grisly revelation, but Will Middlebrooks wasnt afraid to share it.

He thinks he actually heard an audible crunch when a 96-mph fastball cracked a bone in his right wrist in Friday nights win over the Cleveland Indians. He said he wasnt sure whether it was the sound of his bone cracking or his batting glove Velcro fastener coming loose.

But there was a sickeningly audible sound in the press box Friday that simply wouldnt echo from a batting glove, and usually signals baseball thumping against unprotected bone.

It was a stomach-turning sound that signaled the end of his marvelous rookie season with the Red Sox, and it marks the first significant injury of his professional baseball career.

Its just broken. Ill have to see how it goes over the next few weeks," Middlebrooks said. "Hopefully it only takes me a month to come back, but well see how it goes. They said it should heal up fine, but recovery times vary so well see how it goes.

I almost felt it crunch. I dont know it was my wrist or the Velcro on my batting glove. This is horrible. Theres a month-and-a-half left and Im stuck being a cheerleader. We all want to win games here, and I cant do anything to help now.

Middlebrooks will have to be a spectator waiting for his wrist to heal over the next couple of months, and wont be a factor in Bostons ultimate fate when it comes to the playoffs.

Hell be missed as Bobby Valentine tries to slide guys like Danny Valencia, Pedroia Ciriaco and Nick Punto into the void left by Middlebrooks absence, and the Sox offense will need to step it up as it did in Sundays 14-1 win.

Hes our third baseman of the future, said Adrian Gonzalez. He was off to a great year and were all going to have to pick up the slack for him.

But the young third baseman wont need surgery to repair the injury, and hes optimistic he can pick right back up next year with everything hes learned during an impressive first tour around the major leagues.

Its hard to say now because I want to win and I want to be in the playoffs," Middlebrooks said. "But I think once the season is over with I can be happy with what I did. Could I have done better? Sure. Do I have things to build on for next season? Absolutely.

I learned a ton. The experience you gain playing every day and being around these guys every day. Even going out to dinner you talk about baseball and you learn a lot from guys like Adrian and Pedroia. I know I can compete up here now. I feel like I have a job and I have a spot here. Thats a big deal for me.

Perhaps the only thing left for Middlebrooks aside from cheerleading is waiting to see how much Rookie of the Year support he gets once the season is over. He probably could have put together some pretty compelling numbers with another six weeks of regular at-bats, but .288.325.509 in 75 games with 15 home runs and 54 RBI is nothing to sneeze at.

With a full spring training and the swaggering confidence that hell be the starting third baseman for the Red Sox to start next season, the future will be very bright for a young building block that will be in Boston for a long, long time.

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

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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

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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.