Red Sox

Talk therapy: Francona seving as ALCS broadcaster


Talk therapy: Francona seving as ALCS broadcaster

By Sean McAdam Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Terry Francona had hoped to be at the ALCS as manager of the Red Sox. Instead, he was here Saturday night as a fill-in announcer for FOX, his baseball future uncertain.

"I still catch myself saying 'we,' '' Francona said of the Sox before the start of Game 1 on Saturday. "It's hard to go eight years and stop saying 'we' or 'us' . . . I'm trying to be under the radar a little bit and let it go away.''

Francona said he's not indulged in much analysis of what went wrong in his final season as manager of the Red Sox.

"I think I did that (while it was happening),'' said Francona. "The whole time, I kept thinking 'Okay, we've got to turn this around.' I think what's hard now is you're emotional. Any time you're emotional, it's hard to look at stuff. I think as I get less emotional, I'll have a better perspective. But I'm probably not there yet.''

Francona has been preparing for his work in the broadcast booth, so has not been paying as much attention to the fallout at Fenway or Theo Epstein's future.

"I don't know (what Epstein is going to do),'' he said. "It's none of my business.''

After the Chicago White Sox made the surprise move of hiring Robin Ventura Thursday, there are no current managerial vacancies, meaning Francona might have to take some time off in 2012.

"I just don't know,'' he said. "That's something I'll have to sit down with, take a deep breath and try to make a good decision on. That's not an easy decision to make. I took that year off the field with Cleveland (after being fired by the Philies), which is probably the best thing I ever did.''

Asked if he would be willing to work as a bench coach or work in scouting, Francona said: "I don't know. First of all, you don't know what people want. Sometimes those things kind of arise, where someone calls and says, 'Are you interested in this?' It's still a little early for me.''

In the past, Francona has found it tough to watch post-season games, with the disappointment of being eliminated or failing to reach the playoffs too raw.

But this weekend, he's preoccupied with doing well on TV.

"I'm so nervous with what I'm doing,'' he said, "I just want to get through this. I watched the games the other night and you get mad because you want to be there. I think people can understand this.''

Francona again added that he has no interest in pursuing TV work full-time and that his focus remains on the field.

"I hope I have fun,'' he said. "But I'm more comfortable in uniform . . . I wouldn't have done this without Joe Buck, FOX' lead announcer because I've known him since Triple-A. He says he'll get me through this and I trust him.

"And he says he's got a multiyear deal, so I can't take him down if I stink.''

Victor Martinez, whom the Red Sox allowed to walk last winter, was the Tigers' second-best offensive player during the regular season, hitting .330 with 12 homers and 103 RBI.

Martinez was second on the team to Miguel Cabrera in RBI, batting average, doubles, and OPS.

Of the 145 games, Martinez played, 113 were at DH. He made 26 starts behind the plate and six more at first base.

Martinez had wanted to continue catching, but served almost exclusively as DH for Detroit.

"I really have to give him a lot of credit,'' said Detroit manager Jim Leyland, "because I think a lot of guys at some point have an issue with just DH-ing. And I think that GM Dave Dombrowski and his assistants made it pretty clear that's what he would be doing most of the time. I think he's accepted that and I think he's settled into that role tremendously. So it's not an issue.

"With some guys, well, they say, 'I want to DH . . . I don't mind DHing, but I would rather play a position.' We don't have that problem with Victor. Victor has been a total team guy from Day One. It's really worked out well.''

Sean McAdam can be reached at Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

MLB will institute rules to pick up pace, with or without players' agreement


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


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

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.