Red Sox

Moncada happy for Devers, embracing opportunity with White Sox

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Moncada happy for Devers, embracing opportunity with White Sox

BOSTON — When it comes to Red Sox prospects, a four-game series with the White Sox that started Thursday at Fenway Park will highlight two: the one who got away and the one who stayed.

Except, if we’re being fair, it’s a big stretch to say Yoan Moncada got away. He was dealt as part of a package for a pitcher angling toward a Cy Young award, Chris Sale.

But Moncada’s not exactly going to be forgotten by the fan base, even as Rafael Devers thrives for the Red Sox.

“I feel happy for [Devers] because I know that he’s a very good player and I really believe that he’s going to have a very long career in the majors because he’s a very, very talented player,” Moncada said Thursday through a translator. “I’m just happy for him to have that experience.”

A second baseman now rather than a third baseman, Moncada batted cleanup for the White Sox on Thursday at Fenway Park — the third time in his still young big league career he’s batted fourth. (He’s hit everywhere but first and ninth.)

Last season, Moncada was the Sox starting third baseman for about eight minutes, going 4-for-19 (.211) and striking out 12 times compared to just one walk. A promotion straight from Double-A just didn’t work out as it did for Andrew Benintendi.

“Last year, I wasn’t expecting to play in the majors,” Moncada said through a translator. “When they called me up, I was happy because of course, that’s what every ballplayer wants, but I think I wasn’t ready. This year, I know my role. I know that I’m going to be playing every day. That’s something that, because I have that experience last year, that’s something that made me feel more comfortable and I think I’m more prepared for this opportunity.”

Asked to elaborate on what he meant when he said he wasn’t ready, Moncada hedged on the speed of his promotion — which seems a matter of semantics more than anything else.

“It is not that I wasn’t ready,” Moncada said. “It’s like it was too fast for me. I was playing in the minors and then suddenly I was in the majors. That was really fast for me. But probably the things didn’t go well at that time and that created or made it a bigger issue.  But it wasn’t like I wasn’t ready for that. It’s just that it was too fast for me.”

Perhaps the point is this: Moncada felt he could have handled it if he had more time to adjust, that he was physically ready. Either way, he’s getting his chance now, although his time in the majors this season hasn’t seen him take off either. He was 4-for-38 (.105) in 12 games entering Thursday, with one home run, 16 strikeouts and six walks.

“I wasn't expecting to be traded when the team traded me but it was a good opportunity for me,” Moncada said. “Now I'm on this team, and I think that was the best for me and my career, I'm just glad that it happened.

“I learned a lot from the veteran players like [David] Ortiz. They taught me how to play at this level, how to make adjustments. At this level, it's a process for young people like me. I took all that advice and it helped me.”

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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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