Red Sox

Sox may consider Cook in relief

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Sox may consider Cook in relief

CHICAGO -- Aaron Cook has an opt-out in his contract that allows him to become a free agent if the Red Sox haven't added him to their major league roster by May 1, and all along, it was presumed that the Sox would have to bump someone from their current rotation to make room for Cook.

Now, there may another path.

Bobby Valentine acknowledged that "there have been discussions'' about using Cook out of the Boston bullpen. That would allow the Sox to keep Cook and not displace anyone in the rotation.

Cook has a history of shoulder trouble and the Red Sox delayed his use in games for a bit this spring to give him additional time to build up strength in the shoulder.

"Bob McClure thinks, after talking to him, that it's feasible,'' said Valentine of the Red Sox pitching coach. "Initially, there was a non-consideration. But reports are that he hasn't felt this good about his shoulder in a long time.''

"That surprised me,'' admitted McClure of Cook's willingness to try pitching in relief, "because with Aaron's shoulder, the trainers did such a good job with him this spring, when I talked to him right before we broke (camp), he said he felt that he could pitch out of the bullpen. Before, I don't think he could have, physically -- got up, got down and up.

"He said his shoulder hadn't felt this way in three or four years. So, that being said, right before we broke camp, I asked him and he said he could. Now, it still remains to be seen. But if a guy tells you that, you've got to think maybe he could.''

McClure said he believes Cook's stuff could play well in relief, thought "it's not strikeout stuff; it's mis-hit stuff.''

Until Cook gets comfortable, McClure said the Sox would want to limit to clean innings and not bring him into a game in the middle of an inning.

"You'd try to bring him at first in a clean (inning),'' said McClure. "Matty (Albers) could come in and clean an inning up and then you'd have Cookie behind him.''

Asked if the Sox would like to see Cook pitch in relief in Pawtucket before asking him to do it in the big leagues, McClure, noting the calendar, said: "I don't know if we have enough time to do that.''

Cook is scheduled to start for Pawtucket tonight, his last outing before the May 1 opt-out day arrives.

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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