From Comcast SportsNetBOSTON (AP) -- The Boston Red Sox moved forward with their strategy of giving free agents short-term contracts by reaching a 9.5 million, one-year agreement with shortstop Stephen Drew.A person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press on Tuesday that Drew will take a physical before the deal can be finalized. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the agreement was not complete.Boston also finalized a 4.25 million, one-year contract with 37-year-old reliever Koji Uehara, a deal agreed to two weeks ago atr the winter meetings.Drew hit .250 with five homers and 16 RBIs in 39 games for the Oakland Athletics last season after being traded by Arizona on Aug. 20. In 40 games with the Diamondbacks, he hit .193 with two homers and 12 RBIs. Drew, 29, is the brother of former Boston outfielder J.D. Drew and had been with Arizona for his entire big career until the trade.In seven seasons, Drew is hitting .265 with 77 homers and 349 RBIs. In addition to his salary, he would earn a 500,000 bonus if he has 500 plate appearances.With several top prospects needing more seasoning, the Red Sox are adding players who can help until, and perhaps after, those youngsters are ready.So far this offseason, they've agreed to 39 million, three-year contracts with outfielder Shane Victorino and first baseman-catcher Mike Napoli; a 26.5 million, two-year deal with right-hander Ryan Dempster; a 10 million, two-year contract with outfielder Johnny Gomes and a 6.2 million, two-year deal with catcher David Ross.Napoli's deal hasn't been finalized yet while the Red Sox address their concerns about his health.Their lineup will have a much different look after a 69-93 record that led to the firing of Bobby Valentine after one year as manager.Drew would become Boston's 11th starting shortstop in nine seasons. Mike Aviles started 123 games there last season then was sent to Toronto as compensation for the Red Sox prying their new manager, John Farrell, away from the Blue Jays. Aviles later was traded to the Cleveland Indians.Slick-fielding Jose Iglesias, 22, has been considered Boston's shortstop of the future but is a weak hitter, batting .118 in 24 games last year. He may have been overtaken in the Red Sox long-term plans by Xander Bogaerts, 20, who has played just 23 games at Double-A.Other top prospects are outfielders Jackie Bradley and Bryce Brentz, right-handers Matt Barnes and Allen Webster and left-hander Henry Owens.Uehara, had a 1.75 ERA last season for Texas, allowing seven earned runs in 36 innings with no record, 43 strikeouts and three walks. The right-hander pitched for 10 years in Japan before signing with the Baltimore Orioles in 2009.He would earn a 125,000 bonus if he has 15 games finished and that same amount for each additional five games finished through 50.
Clayton Kershaw stands between the Cubs and the World Series, a possibility that left veteran catcher David Ross thinking about Ric Flair inside Dodger Stadium’s visiting clubhouse late Thursday night: To be The Man, you got to beat The Man.
“Woo!” That’s how the Cubs like to punctuate their postgame celebration routine, channeling the professional wrestling legend in a ritual with so much sensory overload that the fog machine set off fire alarms throughout the underground Wrigley Field lair…after a win in the middle of August. “Woo!”
The Cubs left Los Angeles one win away from their first National League pennant since 1945, and with two chances to pull it off this weekend at Wrigley Field, beginning on Saturday night in Game 6. So imagine how this crew would trash the Party Room if they beat Kershaw, a three-time Cy Young Award winner and 2014 NL MVP.
“The guy competes,” manager Joe Maddon said. “It’s pretty much like mechanics be damned, it’s just about me beating you somehow.
“He’s got a good fastball that he locates. He doesn’t walk people. He’s got a dynamic curve and slider. And he’s got deception. He’s a little bit funky, and that’s got to be hard to pick up. The ball gets on you pretty quickly, and then he commands it.
“So there’s nothing you could possibly ask for that he doesn’t already have.”
Now we’ll see if something clicked while the Cubs turned a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 NLCS lead – handling rookie starters Julio Urias and Kenta Maeda and the softer parts of the Los Angeles bullpen – or if those 18 runs combined in Games 4 and 5 were a mirage.
In 16-plus innings so far, the Cubs still haven’t scored a run off Kershaw, if-necessary Game 7 lefty starter Rich Hill or dominating closer Kenley Jansen, who got this review from Maddon: “He’s like a 100-pound heavier version of Mariano Rivera. He’s the bigger man with the same kind of stuff.”
Why are the Cubs so confident? Remember, this offense scored 808 runs during the regular season, more than every NL team except for the Colorado Rockies. This lineup knocked out October legend Madison Bumgarner after five innings in the divisional round (though pitcher Jake Arrieta delivered the three-run homer in a game the San Francisco Giants would win in extra innings).
The Cubs should at least have a better idea of what to expect after getting that up-close view during a 1-0 loss in Game 2, the end of a 10-day period where the Dodgers used Kershaw for three starts and a division-series save against the Washington Nationals.
Ben Zobrist – a veteran of 11 postseason series – explained: “His heater – as straight as it is – (comes from) the deception of his funky windup. You think you’re there, and it’s right above your barrel.”
“We’ll all be ready to go,” All-Star first baseman Anthony Rizzo said. “Any time you see a guy back-to-back, it’s always to our advantage as hitters. We just have to go out there and play our game and have good at-bats off a left-handed pitcher.
“I know it’s Clayton Kershaw, but we really got to just focus in on having good at-bats.”
The Dodgers still have to beat a leading Cy Young contender (Kyle Hendricks) and last year’s award winner (Arrieta) on back-to-back nights in a building that will be shaking if the Cubs take an early lead with a Kris Bryant home run. And until this October, Kershaw had a reputation for underachieving in the playoffs.
“We got to battle,” Bryant said. “We know Kershaw likes to keep his pitch count down, because he wants to pitch the whole game. He’s a competitor, so we got to find a way to work counts and not swing at the pitches that he wants us to.
“Any time you got the best in the game going at you, it’s a challenge. And it’s going to be fun.”
That’s exactly how the Cubs have approached everything this year, with an Embrace-The-Target attitude and all this Flair for the dramatic.
“To be the best, you got to beat the best,” Rizzo said.
Tune in to CSN at 6 p.m. for a postseason edition of Cubs Postseason Live as our crew gets ready for Game 6 of the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Wrigley Field. Be sure to flip over to CSN immediately after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on Cubs Postseason Live.
Saturday's starting pitching matchup: Clayton Kershaw (2-0, 3.72 ERA) vs. Kyle Hendricks (0-1, 3.00 ERA)
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