Youkilis hopes additions bring 'fun', title

191542.jpg

Youkilis hopes additions bring 'fun', title

The importance of team chemistry is sometimes pooh-poohed in baseball's analytical circles, but Kevin Youkilis endorsed it Wednesday night.

In an interview with Comcast SportsNet's Jessica Moran, Youkilis emphasized chemistry as half of his two-pronged reaction to the acquisitions of Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford. The other? The increased chance of winning a World Series.

"It's very exciting just to have these guys come help and try to win a championship," Youkilis told Moran. "Hopefully, they can step in and we'll just try to have fun and enjoy ourselves this year and just keep it loose around the clubhouse."

Youkilis knows Crawford personally, and has high hopes for the new power-hitting first baseman in town.

"Carl Crawford's a great guy," he said. "Adrian Gonzalez I don't know much about, but I've heard good things."

Gonzalez, who batted .298 with 31 home runs and 101 RBI in San Diego last season, was acquired in a trade over a week ago. But it was general manager Theo Epstein's Winter Meetings' coup of signing Crawford that secured the offseason A.L. East space race for the Red Sox.

The welcomed additions came as a surprise to many on the team's roster, but that carries no odd flavor.

"We never know what's going on," Youkilis said, going as far as to share his response to the question he most-often hears: Did you have any input?

"I had no idea. They just told me where I'm playing -- I'm playing third base -- and I'm just getting ready for the season," he said. "We're happy that the moves were made."

His shift to third base is necessitated by the acquisition of Gonzalez, a career first baseman. Youkilis said a week ago he actually welcomes the move across the diamond to the position at which he started with the organization.

"It's not that big of a transition; I've played there my whole life," said Youkilis. "We take so many ground balls in Spring Training that you kind of get sick of ground balls, so it'll be good to work over at third base."

"I'll be ready by Opening Day," he added.

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.

Massarotti: '0% chance Ortiz comes out of retirement'

Massarotti: '0% chance Ortiz comes out of retirement'

Tony Massarotti in the Cumberland Farms lounge believes there is 0% chance David Ortiz comes out of retirement.