Red Sox

Spring training notes: Brentz injured by gun

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Spring training notes: Brentz injured by gun

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Outfielder Bryce Brentz, who finished last year at Pawtucket, will not be ready for the start of spring training after suffering a gunshot wound in his lower leg a few weeks ago.

"He had an accident,'' revealed general manager Ben Cherington. "It was at home, cleaning a gun. It accidentally went off and he was injured in the process. Fortunately for him, it's something he's going to recover from and be fine. It won't affect his baseball career. But he won't be 100 percent at the beginning of camp, so we ended up not bringing him to big league camp because he won't be able to participate.''

Cherington said "the bullet went into his leg and out the other side. I guess you could say he got lucky, relative to what could have happened. He's got to be careful. He's doing well. We wouldn't rule him out being in games at the end of spring training. We'll see how it goes the next couple of weeks.''

Cherington said the team doesn't have an established policy about players under contract having guns.

"Certainly, we've talked to Bryce,'' said Cherington, "and had a couple of conversations about how serious this is. He wasn't doing anything illegal or anything like that. He had a gun he was trying to clean and there was an accident. It's something we have to deal with case-by-case. We've talked to Bryce about it.''

In something of a departure, the Red Sox have invited shortstop Deven Merrero, their first-round pick from last year, to big league camp this spring. Typically, young players aren't invited to major league spring training until they've had a few seasons of pro ball.

"We haven't taken a college position player that high in a while,'' explained Cherington, "but he's a kid we've known for so long, back to high school. Typically, it's not something we do -- bringing in a draftee from the previous draft into camp.

"But we felt in this case, we knew him well enough, that he'd been through a lot, played a lot of baseball -- college, Team USA and played a premium position. We just want to get him exposed to the major league staff and we felt like it was appropriate to do it at this case.''

"We felt he was ready to be exposed to major league camp and he'll handle it in a way that's productive - despite the fact that he just joined us. I think we were a little comfortable with that because we've known him for so long. I don't think it's a departure (from policy) or anything. It doesn't mean that he's going to start at this level or that level. -- that will be determined at the end of camp.''

The organization's top two position prospects -- infielder Xander Bogaerts and outfielder Jackie Bradley -- will also be in major league camp.

"Both guys are pretty mature for their age and level,'' said Cherington, "and they've both accomplished some things on the field. I expect both to come into camp and be professional, treat the older guys with respect and when they're on the field, do what they can do.

"They're both talented kids and they don't need to take a back seat to anyone once they're on the field, so, it will be good for them and fun for us to see them.''

The Sox are still trying to determine how former players Jason Varitek and Pedro Martinez will be utilized in their new roles.

"We're still working on it,'' Cherington said. "Both he and Tek will be here periodically, maybe a few different times during the spring, probably for a similar amount of time. We're just trying to expose them to some different things on the field and off the field, to allow them to take advantage of what they have to offer but also for them to learn what areas they like the most, what areas they're most interested in. We expect this to be an evolving thing going forward. We'll start off this way and see how it goes and maybe it goes in a different direction going forward, depending on what their interests are.

"I think you'll see them both here, a few days here and there. It won't be a full-time role this spring.''

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.