Red Sox

Saltalamacchia on Lester: 'Did a great job, just battled his butt off'

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Saltalamacchia on Lester: 'Did a great job, just battled his butt off'

BOSTON -- This has been a lost season for Jon Lester as much as it has for anyone in a Red Sox uniform. The left-hander took the loss Wednesday night in the home finale against the Rays, 4-2.Lester went six innings giving up three runs on four hits and walk with five strikeouts. It was his team-leading 17th quality start of the season. With a one-run lead, he did not allow a hit until there was one out in the fifth inning, a single to Jeff Keppinger. He quickly lost the lead, giving up back-to-back home runs to Carlos Pena, the next batter, and Ben Francisco.Lester fell to 9-14 with a 4.94 ERA. This is his first losing season in his seven-year career.I said before the game he was on the bottom of his tank but he pitched great, said manager Bobby Valentine. Who would have thunk it would be Carlos Pena against left-handers that beat us but I guess thats the way this seasons been going. He made really good pitches the whole night. The 2-1 pitch to Pena might have been in the sweet spot but he grounds out to second on the pitch a lot too. Gave us six innings, four hits, with a little more offense we might have been able to get him a win.Lester has lost each of his last three starts and has not won since Sept. 4 at Seattle, four starts ago.My stuff didn't change, said Lester, who had been under the weather going into the game. Had good stuff through the whole game, but yeah, two pitches.In his career, Pena, a left-handed hitter, is hitting just .206 against left-handed pitchers. But against Lester, he entered the game hitting .267, going 12-for-45. He has seven home runs off Lester.If I knew it wouldnt be that way, Lester said. Everybody has that guy. Im pretty good against other guys and hes pretty good against me.Valentine mentioned before the game he thought Lester was reaching the bottom of his tank. Lester made his 32nd start Wednesday, one behind his career high in 2008. Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia checked with the lefty after the fifth inning.Yeah, he was getting real tired, said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. I asked him if he was okay. You could tell just by his answer he was getting real tired. But he went back out there that next inning and pitched a scoreless inning. Just did a great job, just battled his butt off. Thats what hes done for us all year.Im down in the tank because I was sick, he said. Still taking the ball, still grinding it out. Ive just been under the weather for the past couple of days and that fifth inning kind of took a lot out of me and I didn't think it was fair for me to go back out there when I didnt have anything. I just went ahead and told him that.I felt fine through the whole game. When I got done through that sixth it kind of just hit me. Legs felt tired, body felt tired from being sick. As far as starting off good and being powerful, felt like I had a good fastball, good cutter early on. I had to, I keep saying, buying into what weve been working on and my stuff has gotten better, Ive gotten more consistent, just always comes down to just two pitches, three pitches a game that end up costing me the game.I felt like I threw the hell out of the ball tonight. The Pena ball I wouldnt take back. Wanted it down and away and it was down and away.Lester will have one more start this season, in New York on Tuesday. He cant salvage a winning record, but he can salvage a strong outing to take into the offseason.It would be nice, he said with a laugh. Would be great, but like I said before Im trying to forget about stats, Im trying to forget about wins and losses and ERA and just show my teammates that hey I can take the ball every five days and Im going to compete my butt off and at the end of it if we win we win, if we lose we lose. Im going to do everything I can to control what I can and its all I can do. Just keep taking the ball.

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.