Red Sox

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.

Christian Vazquez hits first career grand slam, 20th home run of 2019

Christian Vazquez hits first career grand slam, 20th home run of 2019

Christian Vazquez's career year at the plate continued Sunday, hitting his first career grand slam against the Phillies. 

It was also the 20th home run of the year for the fifth-year catcher, blowing away his former career-high in home runs (five in 2017).

Vazquez holds career highs in virtually every offensive category, which has earned him the regular starting job behind the plate as opposed to sharing time with Sandy Leon. 

His resurgence has also helped the Red Sox maintain an elite level of production offensively from last year's dominant World Series run.  Unfortunately subpar pitching will keep the team from returning to the playoffs, but if Vazquez can build off this season there's no reason to believe this lineup can't continue into 2020.

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Alex Cora: Eduardo Rodriguez has been "throwing like an ace" all season

Alex Cora: Eduardo Rodriguez has been "throwing like an ace" all season

After another superb outing against the Phillies Saturday night, Eduardo Rodriguez earned high praise from his manager Alex Cora. 

"He’s throwing like an ace," Cora said on NESN postgame. "We’re very happy with the progress. The fact that it’s Sept. 14, 15, and he’s as strong as early in the season. That’s good to see.”

Rodriguez didn't secure his 18th win of the year thanks to a seventh-inning walk with the bases loaded, but that doesn't take away from a 12-strikeout performance.

Rodriguez now has a 3.64 ERA in over 185 innings pitched. The Sox need Rodriguez to come into his own if they hope to stay in contention long term, and he continues to show progress toward reaching his potential. 

Rodriguez still has a chance to get to 20 wins, but he'll have to win each of the three starts he has left in 2019. 

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