Red Sox

Tough situation for Youkilis

781486.jpg

Tough situation for Youkilis

BOSTON Its not an easy situation for Kevin Youkilis. The veteran player, who has been with the Red Sox since being drafted in the eighth round of the 2001 draft, very likely has very little time left with the Sox as trade rumors continue to heat up.

And with Will Middlebrooks playing like the highly prized prospect the Sox thought he was, Youkilis playing time will become increasingly limited, if as manager bobby Valentine said, he wants to play the hot hand.

I have no thoughts on anything, Youkilis said. I havent been told anything so until Im told anything I can't really respond.

You want to play. I definitely want to play. You want to play the game, you want to enjoy it and you want to have fun. I dont know my situation. I never was told whats going on here. Lets put that straight. And Ill leave it at that. I dont want to start up anything. There was no conversation. That was it. But it has been addressed.

Its been addressed Im not playing today, but other than thatbasically there was no conversation about it. Im just coming in and getting my work done and if I need to pinch hit and play the game, Ill come in and play.

Asked how it was addressed, Youkilis replied:

Ill leave it at what was said.

With the July 31 trade deadline a little more than five weeks away, Youkilis will continue to hear his name attached to trade rumors.

Its definitely different and youve got to go day to day, he said. its definitely unknown waters but all you can do is come to the field, do your work and try to improve with going in the cage or going out on the field and working on ground balls, So thats what Im doing, is taking ground balls, hitting in the cages, doing some extra work today and trying to do whatever I can to keep fresh.

Trying to do whatever I can to keep fresh.

Youkilis made his big league debut in 2004, the year the Sox won their first World Series title in 86 years, and was a central figure in the 2007 title. He has been a three-time All-Star with the Sox. But the last few seasons, hes been limited by various injuries.

Definitely hit all the ups and downs, he said. I probably could describe it to you 10 years down the road better. When you're in it you really cant describe the stuff you're in. Somebodys going to have to remind me about a lot of the times here. Ill ask Pedey. Pedey remembers everything. You see it all and to be continued, I guess.

He said hes trying not to focus on the what ifs.

No. I just go out andIm just trying to work on things, he said. Im trying to hit, stay fresh, get my work in. Thats my whole mindset every day I come to the field, just get my mind set and ready to play.

I have no control of that. I can only control the stuff I can control and Im just going to go out there every day and take batting practice and cheer on the guys when they play.

He missed 22 games earlier this season with a low back strain, and is hitting just .225. He cant improve his offense if hes not in the lineup, he said.

I dont know. I went 2-for-3 my last time but if you dont play I dont know how much closer you can get, he said. If you dont hit and you dont play, you can't put up any stats or hits. I raked in the cage, if you want to know that. I was hitting missiles all over the place, but you dont get credit for that.

I was hitting the ball good. In the game in Chicago too I hit the ball good and had nothing to show for it. Im definitely going in the right move but Ive got to keep working at it and keep grinding away, in the cage and taking ground balls and just try to stay fresh in case my name gets called at any time.

Asked about his time with the Sox and winning a World Series, Youkilis replied:

Is this a goodbye thing? Whats going on here? Im just sitting in my locker. I havent been told anything. Lets talk about today. Im still here. Im not dead.

Middlebrooks has started the last three games, while Youkilis has watched from the bench.

I dont know. Im a paid employee here so they make the decisions, Youkilis said. When you're a paid employee and your boss tells you to do something you do it. Until they tell me something Im here to play for the Red Sox.

Middlebrooks credited Youkilis with helping him make the transition to the big leagues.

Will and Ryan Kalish and the young guys it's fun to help them out because sometimes they need it, Youkilis said. its fresh to them and they're going to make mistakes, like the veterans make mistakes, too, on the field and they look up to the veterans sometimes. And some of the mistakes that we made early on in our career we had a veteran come up to us and tell us what to do. When you play this game you're an ambassador to the game as a player so you have to be that way and you can't be selfish if you're not playing. Youve got to teach these guys how to play this game because someday were all going to retire and these guys are going to be playing, and theres going to be guys after them, so if they can pass along the messages to the guys after them, the guys that are playing to them when theyre young too down the road, thats the key. I was taught that in 2004 by some great players here and Im just trying to pass on the knowledge that was given to me.

God, there were so many of them. That 2004 team, I mean I hung out with Mark Bellhorn a lot but Trot Nixon was always great. Mainly the guys that were there to talk a lotDave McCarty was really big and helped me out and Doug Mirabelli was always good at making fun of me and joking around, and Tim Wakefield and Jason Varitek. Theres a list. Bill Mueller was great, too. I can't say one person but theres such a good core ground and that helped, and thats how its got to be. That happens on all the teams.

But taking his replacement under his wing cant be the easiest situation for Youkilis.

Cant change who you are and what you do and Ive always tried to help them out, he said. Im not going to change who I am and what I do. Im just going to try to help them out every day.

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

mlb_rob_manfred_081414.jpg

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

cy_young_corey_kluber_chris_sale_111517.jpg

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.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE