Sox will not acquire Blanton from Phillies


Sox will not acquire Blanton from Phillies

By Sean McAdam

Overnight talk of a deal that would send pitcher Joe Blanton to the Red Sox appears to be grossly overstated.

A source familiar with the discussions betweenthe Phillies and Red Sox said Tuesday that the Monday talks neverprogressed to the pointwhere the clubs exchanged potential names from the Red Sox organization.

While numerous reports had Blanton heading to the Sox, a source familiar with the talks dismissed that out of hand.

"(I) don't know where this is coming from,'' said the source.

Sources confirm that the Phillies called the Red Sox Monday in an attempt to move Blanton and his remaining 17 million in salary, helping to clear the way for the signing of free agent Cliff Lee.

Readying to land Lee for five years, 120 million the Phils were desperate to shed salary. Blanton is scheduled to make 17 million over the next two seasons.

Naturally, the Phils called some big-market teams to determine interest in Blanton and, sources said, the Phils and Red Sox talked twice Monday regarding Blanton.

But failing to have a deal in place to move Daisuke Matsuzaka elsewhere, acquiring Blanton never made much sense for the Red Sox.

The Sox could use some starting pitching depth, with their reserve options down to 46-year-old Tim Wakefield. Junichi Tazawa is recovering from Tommy John surgery and may not be ready to start the year and Felix Doubront is, for now, ticketed for the bullpen.

Still, Blanton's 8.5 million was high for a "depth'' starter. The Red Sox weren't about to take on that kind of money and then have Blanton as a swingman, waiting around in case someone in the rotation went down with an injury or failed to perform.

Blanton, who just turned 30, was 9-6 with a 4.81 ERA in Philadelphia last year. Lifetime, he's a 72-60 with a 4.13. His best season was 2007 when he won 14 games and posted a 3.30 for Oakland. He pitched 4 12 season for the A's, working with current Red Sox pitching coach Curt Young, then the A's pitching coach.

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MLB may make rule changes for '18 season

MLB may make rule changes for '18 season

PHOENIX - Major League Baseball intends to push forward with the process that could lead to possible rule changes involving the strike zone, installation of pitch clocks and limits on trips to the pitcher's mound. While baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed hope the ongoing process would lead to an agreement, he said clubs would reserve the right to act unilaterally, consistent with the rule-change provision of the sport's labor contract.

Union head Tony Clark said last weekend he did not foresee players agreeing to proposed changes for 2017. Under baseball's collective bargaining agreement, management can alter playing rules only with agreement from the union - unless it gives one year notice. With the one year of notice, management can make changes on its own.

"Unfortunately it now appears that there really won't be any meaningful change for the 2017 season due to a lack of cooperation from the MLBPA," Manfred said Tuesday during a news conference. "I've tried to be clear that our game is fundamentally sound, that it does not need to be fixed as some people have suggested, and I think last season was the kind of demonstration of the potential of our league to captivate the nation and of the game's unique place in American culture."

Yet, he also added: "I believe it's a mistake to stick our head in the sand and ignore the fact that our game has changed and continues to change."

Manfred said while he prefers an agreement, "I'm also not willing to walk away." He said he will send a letter to the union in the coming days and plans to continue dialogue with Clark and others in hopes of reaching agreement.

Clark met with Cactus League teams last week, five at a time over Thursday, Friday and Saturday, before departing Monday for Florida to visit each Grapefruit League club - and proposed rules changes were a topic.

"I have great respect for the labor relations process, and I have a pretty good track record for getting things done with the MLBPA," Manfred said. "I have to admit, however, that I am disappointed that we could not even get the MLBPA to agree to modest rule changes like limits on trips to the mound that have little effect on the competitive character of the game."

Clark saw talks differently.

"Unless your definition of `cooperation' is blanket approval, I don't agree that we've failed to cooperate with the commissioner's office on these issues," he wrote in an email to The Associated Press. "Two years ago we negotiated pace of play protocols that had an immediate and positive impact. Last year we took a step backward in some ways, and this offseason we've been in regular contact with MLB and with our members to get a better handle on why that happened. I would be surprised if those discussions with MLB don't continue, notwithstanding today's comments about implementation. As I've said, fundamental changes to the game are going to be an uphill battle, but the lines of communication should remain open."

Clark added "my understanding is that MLB wants to continue with the replay changes (2-minute limit) and the no-pitch intentional walks and the pace of game warning/fine adjustments."

Manfred said he didn't want to share specifics of his priorities for alterations.

"There's a variety of changes that can be undertaken," Manfred said. "I'm committed to the idea that we have a set of proposals out there and we continue to discuss those proposals in private."

MLB has studied whether to restore the lower edge of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level - at the top of the kneecap. Management would like to install 20-second pitch clocks in an attempt to speed the pace of play - they have been used at Triple-A and Double-A for the past two seasons.

Players also have been against limiting mound meetings. The least controversial change appears to be allowing a team to call for an intentional walk without the pitcher having to throw pitches. In addition, MLB likely can alter some video review rules without the union's agreement- such as shortening the time a manager has to call for a review.

"Most of this stuff that they were talking about I don't think it would have been a major adjustment for us," Royals manager Ned Yost said.

Manfred said starting runners on second base in extra innings sounds unlikely to be implemented in the majors. The change will be experimented with during the World Baseball Classic and perhaps at some short-season Class A leagues. Manfred said it was a special-purpose rule "beneficial in developmental leagues."

Manfred also said Tuesday that a renovated Wrigley Field would be a great choice to host an All-Star Game and Las Vegas could be a "viable market for us."

"I don't think that the presence of legalized gambling in Las Vegas should necessarily disqualify that market as a potential major league city," Manfred said.