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Mike Petraglia, Chris Price talk Vince Wilfork, Robert Kraft and Patriots spending habits

FOXBORO — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Chris Price analyze the return of Vince Wilfork, following his three-year, $22 million extension and what it means for the Patriots going forward. Petraglia and Price also discuss Patriots owner Robert Kraft and his growing fatigue with ‘petty’ financial issues every season.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Closing Time: Mike Napoli, David Ortiz make sure Orioles know who they are in Red Sox win

Mike Napoli and David Ortiz led the Red Sox' offensive charge Wednesday night. (AP)

Mike Napoli and David Ortiz led the Red Sox‘ offensive charge Wednesday night. (AP)

BALTIMORE — Mike Napoli made a name for himself Wednesday night.

A day after President Barack Obama mispronounced Napoli’s last name, the Red Sox first baseman gave the world a second chance to familiarize themselves with the moniker. Napoli starred in the Sox’ 6-2 win over the Orioles, knocking in four runs via a two-run homer and double which scored a pair.

(For Napoli’s comments on the presidential mispronunciation, click here.)

The Red Sox’ starting pitcher did his job for a second straight game, this time with John Lackey doing the honors. The righty held the Orioles to just three hits over six innings, throwing 90 pitches. The righty struck out six and walked one.

Here is what went right (and wrong) for the Red Sox in their first win of the season:

WHAT WENT RIGHT

- David Ortiz launched a two-run homer in the third inning against Baltimore starter Ubaldo Jimenez, landing on Eutaw St. past the right field fence. The home run marked the first time he has rounded the bases since hitting his only spring training home run, March 10. He has now hit four homers April 2 or earlier in his career.

- Napoli broke a 2-2 tie by launching the Red Sox’ second two-run shot of the day, this one clearing the center field fence with two outs in the fifth inning and Daniel Nava standing on first. The homer came with two strikes, a count he hit eight homers on in 2013 while carrying just a .622 OPS.

- Xander Bogaerts continued his solid start, getting on base three times via a pair of walks and a single. In his first seven at-bats, the rookie had reached five times.

- Dustin Pedroia continued to swing a hot bat, carrying over from the final week of spring training. Wednesday night the second baseman notched four hits, scoring on both Ortiz’ homer and Napoli’s seventh-inning double. Pedroia also made the defensive play of the night, diving for a J.J. Hardy grounder up the middle and springing up in time to throw the baserunner out.

- The Red Sox once again didn’t let the Orioles’ starter get past six innings, this time driving Jimenez from the game after six, having thrown 96 pitches. Monday, Baltimore starter Chris Tillman lasted just five innings.

- The Red Sox relievers — Edward Mujica, Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara — all did their part, combining for three shutout innings following Lackey. Uehara — who allowed two baserunners (error, infield single) — picked up his first save.

WHAT WENT WRONG

- Nelson Cruz did some damage for a second straight game, this time hitting his home run the opposite way, over the right fence, to tie the game at 2-2 after four innings. Cruz was the difference-maker in the season opener, breaking a 1-1 tie with a seventh inning solo blast off Jon Lester.

- After a standout performance in the opener, Grady Sizemore came back down to Earth a bit. The center fielder went 0-for-4, stranding a pair. Also going hitless for the Red Sox were Will Middlebrooks, and Jonny Gomes.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

Why I gave Ty Law, Rodney Harrison and Bill Parcells a Hall pass

FOXBORO — Getting a chance to take part in the nomination process for the Patriots Hall of Fame is one of the great perks of my job. Along with some local writers and organizational staff, as well as retired reporters, broadcasters and alumni, it’s a terrific experience. Every year, there’s great discussion about the history of the team and the merits of those under consideration for the honor. From this viewpoint, I always end up learning something new.

After the nomination process, we vote on three finalists — the first choice gets five points, second choice gets three points and third choice gets one point. The votes are tabulated, and the three finalists will be announced April 15. Fans will then have a month to vote on Patriots.com, and one will be announced as this year’s inductee.

After some really engaging back-and-forth between committee members that lasted almost almost two hours — and included a healthy debate over a variety of players and coaches, including Raymond Clayborn, Ty Law, Willie McGinest, Leon Gray, Rodney Harrison, Chuck Fairbanks and Raymond Berry — I decided to cast my votes were cast for Law, Harrison and Bill Parcells.

Law: The cornerback hit most of my requirements — he was not only considered one of the best cornerbacks of his era, he played a major role in helping win three Super Bowl championships. An elite level player in his first year of eligibility, despite the fact that there were a few others who have been on the ballot a longer time, he was a no-brainer in my opinion. (From this viewpoint, he’ll likely be the fan favorite to be the one who will be fitted for a red jacket come this summer.) A two-time All-Pro, Law ended his career in New England with 36 picks in 10 seasons.

Harrison: In Harrison’s second year of eligibility, I’m proud to say I was the one who entered his name into consideration. He didn’t have the lengthy career with the Patriots that some of the other players under consideration — in truth, you could identify him just as much as a member of the Chargers as you could as a member of the Patriots — but he had so many signature moments while in Foxboro. His work on and off the field as a key point in the history of the franchise cannot be overlooked, as he helped guide the secondary through the post-Lawyer Milloy era. A two-time Super Bowl champion and two-time All-Pro, he was one of New England’s most important defensive players over the last decade.

Parcells: A finalist in 2011 and 2012, a past look at my votes reveals that I’ve been fairly consistent when it comes to Parcells and the Hall. He was a transformative presence for the franchise, one of a handful of people who restored a sense of relevancy to the Patriots. Once again, we were reminded that his departure from Foxboro was less than ideal, but you can’t argue that he played a key role in reviving New England and helping create a winning culture that has endured for the better part of the last 20 years. Besides, if he’s in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he should be acknowledged accordingly in Foxboro.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

David Ortiz: ‘Selfie’ was not part of a promotional ploy

David Ortiz takes a photo with President Barack Obama Tuesday. (AP)

David Ortiz takes a photo with President Barack Obama Tuesday. (AP)

BALTIMORE ‘€“ David Ortiz said it wasn’€™t planned.

The Red Sox‘€™ designated hitter said the ‘€œselfie’€ he took with President Barack Obama ‘€“ which has gotten almost 40,000 retweets ‘€“ was not part of any promotional plan.

‘€œIt was right at the moment when I gave him the jersey and he asked to take a picture now or whatever, so I said, ‘€˜Oh, wait a minute, let’€™s see if I can get away with one.’€™ I was lucky that I did,’€ Ortiz said. ‘€œIt was fun. I think it was something I’€™m never going to forget. People went crazy about that. You don’€™t get to see that every day. It wasn’€™t promotional or anything like that. Who knows you’€™re going to be able to take a picture with the President, a selfie? How many people can guarantee that? It’€™s something you don’€™t even have to talk about.’€

There was some talk that Ortiz had struck a deal with Samsung, the company which makes the phone he took the photo with, to take the shot. But the DH insisted that while he does have a business relationship with the company, the moment wasn’€™t orchestrated.

‘€œI did take a lot of pictures at the White House, but it wasn’€™t like anything on purpose,’€ he said. ‘€œI went around just like everyone and took pictures. I signed a deal with Samsung a couple of months ago and they supply me with phones and all that stuff. The photo with the President was ‘€¦ once in a lifetime moment. How did I know he would let me take a picture with him.’€

And about the day and meeting the President?

‘€œWe were talking about it afterward. I think it was super cool the way everybody at the White House was, how friendly,’€ Ortiz said. ‘€œThe person we see on TV, the person we all know, to see how humble and how cool he was, was a great experience. It gets no better.’€

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Oregon State WR Brandin Cooks

WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2014 NFL draft. Here is one in a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’€™s time for the Patriots to make a selection.

Brandin Cooks helped his stock with a solid showing at the NFL combine. (AP)

Oregon State receiver Brandin Cooks helped his stock with a solid showing at the NFL combine. (AP)

BRANDIN COOKS

Position: Wide receiver

School: Oregon State

Height: 5-foot-10

Weight: 189 pounds

Achievements: 2013 Biletnikoff award (nation’€™s top receiver), 2013 first-team All-American, 2013 first-team All-Pac-12, 2012 Biletnikoff award semifinalist, 2012 All-Pac 12 honorable mention

What he brings: Cooks is known for his good vision and creativity after the catch, although his size is an issue. There were some concerns about his speed, but at the NFL scouting combine he was the top performer in the 20-yard and 60-yard shuttles with times of 3.81 and 10.72, respectively, and had the best wide receiver time (4.33) in the 40-yard dash.

Where the Patriots could get him: Round 1

Notes: Cooks, who has never missed a name at any level, set the Oregon State and Pac-12 records for catches with 128, receiving yards with 1,730 and touchdown catches with 24 as a junior in 2013. He also served as a team captain. … His stepbrother, Maurice Washington, was a star receiver at Texas A&M-Kingsville who attended Raiders training camp in 2005 but was diagnosed with kidney cancer and died in 2007. Cooks changed his number to 7 when he got to college in honor of Washington, who had been assigned that number by the Raiders.

Related articles:

FOXSports.com: 3 Up/3 Down: Who made/who lost big bucks at the NFL combine?

The Seattle Times: Brandin Cooks turns heads at NFL combine, hopes he can break mold at wide receiver

ESPN.com: Draft spotlight: WR Brandin Cooks

Video: Here is a video highlighting Cooks’ career at Oregon State.

Blog Author: 
Meredith Perri

Mike Napoli wants to clarify that we have not been saying his name incorrectly

BALTIMORE ‘€“ Mike Napoli was not offended, but he did want to clear things up.

‘€œTo clarify, it’€™s pronounced ‘€˜NApoli,’ not ‘Napolee.’€™ But I chuckled about it,’€ he said.

What the first baseman was referencing was President Barack Obama’€™s mispronunciation of his last name while delivering Tuesday’€™s speech at the White House.

(To hear the audio of the speech, click here. Napoli reference is at 5:35)

‘€œI was like, ‘€˜Oh, damn!’€™ in my head,’€ Napoli said of the moment. ‘€œThen I heard some of the boys chuckle a little bit, and have some body movement.’€

While the President’€™s recognition made the headlines ‘€“ resulting in a flood of text messages to the infielder — Napoli said there was so much more to take away the day.

‘€œIt was cool,’€ he said. ‘€œWhen you’€™re with the President of the United States, standing behind him, and he’€™s talking to people about our season and what happened last year. It was cool. It was cool to be inside the White House and see all the security and everything you have to do to get in.

‘€œI think I liked going to Walter Reed (Hospital) better. It interested me. All those people ‘€¦ Got to see a couple of patients and we tried to brighten their day a little bit. It was a long day, but it was cool to go to Walter Reed. That was probably the best part of my day.’€

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

Red Sox lineup: Jonny Gomes gets start in left field against Ubaldo Jimenez

Jonny Gomes

Jonny Gomes

BALTIMORE — The Red Sox made one change Wednesday from their Opening Day lineup, inserting Jonny Gomes in left field (where Mike Carp had started Monday).

Gomes is hitting .417 with two homers in 17 plate appearances against Orioles starter Ubaldo Jimenez. Other members of the Sox’ lineup who has had success against the Baltimore righty include Daniel Nava (3-for-6) and Mike Napoli (3-for-4). (For a complete list of tonight’s matchups, click here.)

Here is the Red Sox’ lineup for Game 2 of the three-game set:

Daniel Nava RF

Dustin Pedroia 2B

David Ortiz DH

Mike Napoli 1B

Jonny Gomes LF

Grady Sizemore CF

Xander Bogaerts SS

A.J. Pierzynski C

Will Middlebrooks 3B

John Lackey P

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

Buster Olney on M&M: ‘Middle ground is apparent’ for Jon Lester extension

Buster Olney

Buster Olney

ESPN MLB insider Buster Olney joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to talk about Jon Lester‘€™s contract negotiations and other Red Sox and MLB news. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington recently said that the Red Sox and Jon Lester‘€™s representatives were “going to hit the pause button” on contract talks. Olney sees a happy medium for both sides, but he indicated Lester will have to be the one to seal the deal.

“I don’€™t think they’€™re close, but I think the middle ground is apparent,” Olney said. “I think the Red Sox‘ comfort level is probably four years, [$20 million]-something a year and I think Lester is probably looking for six years, probably [$20 million]-something a year. And the middle ground is going to be somewhere in five years and $110 million, $115 million, $120 million, whatever number they come upon. And they’€™re both going to have to go out of their comfort zones.”

Added Olney: “It’€™s going to be because Jon Lester makes it happen, the way that Dustin Pedroia made it happen last year. The Red Sox, philosophically, are not going to box themselves in.”

On Tuesday, CC Sabathia did not look like his previous dominant self, pitching six innings and giving up eight runs on six hits. While Olney concedes that he did look bad, he noted that Sabathia can make it work based on what he saw in spring training.

“I think early on, yesterday, CC Sabathia was absolutely terrible,” Olney said. “And I talked to some scouts this morning about it and they were like, ‘Oh my god, he was in the middle of the plate, he wasn’t throwing hard.’ … He did have times in spring training like he — it looks like he’€™s been able to start to figure out how to pitch with less stuff. But man, he was terrible yesterday.”

Miguel Cabrera signed a reported eight-year, $248 million contract extension last week with two years left on his deal. Many were puzzled by the large investment in the 30-year old, whom Olney sees as an offensive player only.

“He already is kind of a glorified DH,” Olney said. “€œWe just saw David Ortiz get the highest salary for a DH, $16 million. They’€™re going to pay him twice that. And that’€™s why people all around baseball are scratching their heads about that deal.”

Added Olney: “€œEveryone thinks he’€™s a great player, but they do think at some point he’€™s going to be worth a lot less than what they’€™re going to pay him.”

While there haven’€™t been any major issues with instant replay so far, Olney said the system can improve by removing the manager’s ability to challenge and having an automatic review for close calls.

“€œWhy are the managers even part of this,” Olney said. “Why have a challenge system? Why not just have something in place, an official, or a fifth umpire and a crew is involved and if there’€™s a mistake, they can correct it.”

Blog Author: 
Arjuna Ramgopal

Mike Petraglia, Chris Price dish on Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater and Patriots in NFL Draft

FOXBORO — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Chris Price address the visit of Johnny Manziel, a.k.a. ‘Johnny Football’, to Foxboro on Wednesday, where he was expected to sit down with Patriots coach Bill Belichick and others in the organization. Petraglia and Price look forward to the NFL Draft in early May and other players like quarterback Teddy Bridgewater who might be on the Patriots’ radar in May.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

WR DeSean Jackson reportedly finalizes deal with Washington

Former Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson has agreed to a three-year deal with Washington worth $24 million, $16 million of which is guaranteed, according to ESPN.

Jackson tweeted Wednesday: ITS GOIN DOWN !! BURGUNDY & GOLD

 

Jackson met with the team’s coaches and later some players Monday night, and he met with team officials Tuesday.

Jackson was released by the Eagles on Friday, shortly after NJ.com published a story addressing his alleged ties to gangs. Jackson issued a rebuttal, denying that he has ever been a gang member.

Blog Author: 
Jerry Spar