Red Sox

Valentine on McClure dismissal: Time for a new voice

840849.jpg

Valentine on McClure dismissal: Time for a new voice

Bobby Valentine, tacitly acknowledging that he and former pitching coach Bob McClure had some issues along the way, said the reason behind McClure's dismissal Monday was to provide"a little different voice in the clubhouse'' and a "stabilizing force.''

"Obviously, coming into a situation, there were adjustments that he and I were making as year went along,'' said Valentine. "I thought we were making them. (But) at this time, with six weeks to go, we thought that maybe a little different voice in the clubhouse would make a little difference.''

Recounting the hiring process last winter, Valentine seemed to refute the notion that McClure was hired without the manager's input.

"He came in and he interviewed,'' said Valentine. "I liked the interview. I continued to interview people. Then, we were running out of time and he was the best candidate out there, I felt and Ben felt. If that means he was my choice, he was my choice.

"I didn't have someone I was going to take over him.''

Speaking about some communications issues within the organization, though not specifically about McClure, Valentine admitted that communication has been a problem "at times . . . It's not one person that delivers messages and I think there have been some breakdowns -- maybe from Ben (Cherington) to the training room, that goes through my office, to the coach's office, to the clubhouse, to the training room, or however we want that to be set up.

"There's probably been a few glitches and coming in, I expected them. Someone would be a fool not to. There's always problems getting the word out properly.''

Randy Niemann, who replaces McClure, becomes the fourth Red Sox pitching coach since the end of the 2010 season, and the Sox run the risk of again, having their pitchers hear a different voice when it comes to approach and philosophy.

"Since Randy's been here (all year),'' said Valentine, "I'm not sure that idea really applies. And he did it for a few weeks ago without a wrinkle (when McClure went home to attend to a medical situation with one of his children). I think of (Niemann) as one of this year's pitching
coaches right from the beginning. And (bullpen coach) Gary Tuck is a kind of a constant, too, and I think he'll take a little role in this six-week project, too.''

Niemann, Valentine said, has "a common sense approach to things. He's worked with all the guys on rehab this year. He's been totally in charge of that, so I think they understand that he understands their throwing motions. He was in the bullpen for a couple of weeks when Gary
wasn't here, so the relievers got to know him in game situations.

"He was in the dugout for a couple of weeks when Bob wasn't here. What he brings is what is needed -- a nice stabilizing force.''

HOFer Joe Morgan's letter urges voters to keep steroid users out of Hall

cincinnati-reds-joe-morgan-hall-of-fame.jpg

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

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.