Red Sox

Stephen Drew has heads up on Sox thanks to brother

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Stephen Drew has heads up on Sox thanks to brother

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Stephen Drew is new to Boston, the latest in a long line of seemingly endless shortstops the Red Sox have employed since trading Nomar Garciaparra in 2004.

But Drew already has a connection to the franchise. The infielder, signed as a free agent over the winter, is the younger brother of former Sox outfielder J.D., who played here from 2007 through 2011.

In fact, Drew will sport No. 7, the same number worn by J.D. in his five seasons here.

"For me, it's an honor to wear the jersey of my older brother" said Drew, "kind of looking up to him. But also, I talked to him two or three days ago, I (reminded) him that this was the number I had in high school. So, when he started wearing the number (in the big leagues), I was kind of like, 'He's taking my number.' We're always making a joke about it, but respecting him and for me, wearing it in high school, I thought it would be a good number."

Stephen is nearly seven years younger than J.D., but the two share the same laconic personality and slight Georgia drawl.

"We're both low-key guys," confirmed Drew. "That's what you'll see."

Then pausing for a second and with a bit of a twinkle, Drew added: "I'm a little more feisty."

Unabashedly, Stephen "looked up to him. He was a great role model for both my brothers (brother Tim, a pitcher, also made it to the big leagues). It's just unique. We all made it here and J.D. had a great career and hopefully, at the end of my career, I can say maybe I was a little better than him."

And yes, J.D. has provided his younger brother with a scouting report on Boston.

"He knows it will be a little different than in Arizona because of the fans and the media," said Stephen. "That's not a big deal. That's something I've dealt with in my career. It's nothing new to me. He did warn me about balls coming off the Monster and how I'll have to go out for them."

But the younger Drew isn't at all intimidated by the prospect of playing in a market with more pressure and expectations.

"Being in the major leagues," he said, "you're going to deal with that every night, no matter what. It doesn't matter where you're at -- you understand the pressures of the game. For me, I focus every day on one day at a time. Every game, I come out and I'm ready to play. My preparation is always the same.

Drew has made three previous visits to Fenway as part of interleague play and has an appreciation for the ballpark.

"I've had fun there," he said. "I like Fenway. I think it's an historic park and the fans get into it. At least I'll be on the home side this time. It's exciting. It's going to be a fun year for me."

The hope is that Drew can provide some extra-base offense in the lower third of the batting order. But given his position, he understands the priorities.

"It's been defense over the years," he said. "I think it's come a long way. I feel really good in the past two or three years with my defense. That's what I take pride in. I'm kind of old school -- I like to (focus on) defense and my offense will take care of itself.

Drew will be paired with second baseman Dustin Pedroia in the middle of the infield.

"It's going to be huge," said Drew. "I got to play early on in my career with Orlando Hudson, who was a Gold Glove (second baseman). Dustin, with the way he plays and plays the game hard, it kind of reminds me of (Hudson). It's going to help me out a lot. Hopefully, we'll (work) good. I don't see that as a problem. I think we'll mesh fine."

Drew missed nearly a year following an ugly ankle injury, the result of a collision at home plate. But after missing the first half of last season recovering, he's now fully recovered.

"I feel good," he said. "It was a long process getting back. All the hard work and preparation, I hope it pays off because I really did put a lot of work into it. There are no limitations at all. It was a normal off-season."

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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