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MLB notes: Writer defends leaving Maddux off ballot

MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick voted for only Jack Morris to join the Hall of Fame, not Greg Maddux (right).
MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick voted for only Jack Morris to join the Hall of Fame, not Greg Maddux (right).ethan miller/getty images

Greg Maddux could break a 22-year-old record Wednesday, though he won’t become the first unanimous selection in the history of the baseball writers’ Hall of Fame ballot.

When Tom Seaver received 425 of 430 votes in 1992, his 98.84 percentage topped the mark set by Ty Cobb in 1936. A dominant pitcher when offense ruled in the Steroids Era, Maddux has a chance to enter Cooperstown with a little extra bit of fame.

Maddux is among three high-profile players on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot for the first time, joined by former Atlanta Braves teammate Tom Glavine and Chicago White Sox slugger Frank Thomas.

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Holdovers include Craig Biggio, who topped voting at 68 percent last year, 39 votes short of the 75 percent needed for election. It was only the second time in four decades the BBWAA failed to elect anyone.

Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, a former reporter for the Los Angeles Herald Examiner, said Tuesday the only player he voted for was Jack Morris, on the writers’ ballot for the 15th and final time after falling 42 votes shy last year.

‘‘To me, I didn’t exclude Maddux. I excluded everybody from that era, everybody from the Steroid Era,’’ Gurnick said. ‘‘It wasn’t about Greg Maddux, it was about the entire era. I just don’t know who did and who didn't.’’

Gurnick said Morris also was the only player he voted for in 2013 and added he intends to abstain in future elections. ‘‘Some people quibble over when the era starts, but the bulk of his career was in my opinion well before all of the widespread use of performance-enhancing drugs,’’ Gurnick said.

Given that 569 ballots were submitted in 2013, Maddux likely could be omitted from six this year and still break Seaver’s record.

In 1992, Seaver was left off by Paul Hagen of the Philadelphia Daily News, Bob Hertzel of The Pittsburgh Press, and freelancer Bob Hunter. They all submitted blank ballots to protest the decision by the Hall of Fame board of directors to bar Pete Rose from the vote because of his lifetime ban from baseball following a gambling probe.

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Retired writers Deane McGowen and Bud Tucker also did not vote for Seaver.

‘‘If it had cost Seaver anything, yeah, I probably would regret it at some level, but it didn’t really cost him anything,’’ Hagen, now with MLB.com, said Tuesday. ‘‘He still got the highest vote [percentage] total ever, and he wouldn’t have been unanimous anyway.’’

The Steroids Era has impacted the vote totals of players with stellar statistics. In initial appearances last year, Mike Piazza was at 57.8 percent, Roger Clemens at 37.6, Barry Bonds at 36.2, and Sammy Sosa at 12.5. Mark McGwire received 16.9 on his seventh try.

Glavine, a 10-time All-Star and a two-time Cy Young winner, was 305-203 over 22 seasons. At the induction ceremony in Cooperstown on July 27, Maddux and Glavine figure to join their former manager Bobby Cox, elected last month by the expansion-era committee along with Joe Torre and Tony La Russa.

Sox pick prospects for program

The Red Sox announced the participants in the team’s 2014 Rookie Development Program. The program takes place from Jan. 13-18 in Boston and seeks to familiarize prospects thought to be within 18 months of playing in Boston with the team’s major league staffers.

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The participating prospects are RHP Matt Barnes, 3B Garin Cecchini, RHP Dalier Hinojosa, SS Deven Marrero, LHP Henry Owens, RHP Noe Ramirez, RHP Anthony Ranaudo, 1B Travis Shaw, C Blake Swihart, and C Christian Vazquez.

Barnes, Swihart, Marrero, and Ranaudo are first-round picks. The Sox signed Hinojosa out of Cuba this winter. Barnes, Ranaudo, Hinojosa, Vazquez, and Ramirez potentially could help the big club this season.

Pitcher Chavez, A’s agree

Righthanded reliever Jesse Chavez reached agreement on a $775,000, one-year contract with the Athletics. He went 2-4 with a career-low 3.92 ERA and one save in 35 appearances over two 2013 stints with the two-time defending AL West champions. He made $500,000 . . . Infielder Robert Andino has agreed to a minor league contract with the Pirates. The 29-year-old hit .302 with nine RBIs in 25 games with Triple A Indianapolis last year after being acquired by the Pirates in July. Andino has a .232 career big league batting average in nine seasons with the Marlins, Orioles, and Mariners . . . Former All-Star catcher Ramon Hernandez agreed to a minor league contract with the Royals. The 37-year-old is a career .263 hitter in 15 seasons in the major leagues . . . The Cardinals added an outfield prospect to the 40-man roster, claiming 22-year-old Rafael Ortega on waivers from the Rangers.

Gary Dzen of the Globe Staff contributed to this report.