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NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Syracuse F Jerami Grant

As part of WEEI.com’€™s coverage of the 2014 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of players who could be available to the Celtics when they make their two selections in the first round.

Jerami Grant

Jerami Grant

JERAMI GRANT

Position: Forward
School: Syracuse
Age: 20
Height: 6-foot-8
Weight: 214 pounds
Wingspan: 7-foot-3

Key 2013-14 stats: 12.1 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.3 assists

Scouting report: Grant has youth and athleticism on his side, but does he have the skills? That’€™s the question NBA teams have to ask themselves as they evaluate the 20-year-old. Grant’€™s long wingspan and explosive vertical make him one of the more impressive athletes in the draft, and that should at least translate into productivity on the defensive end.

Grant’€™s fantastic lateral quickness and long arms will make him a fine man-to-man defender, but some players lack “feel for the game,” and that might be the case with Grant. His low block and steal totals in Syracuse’€™s zone are alarming considering his athleticism, and he often made poor choices with his rotations and weak-side help. It’€™s a legitimate concern, because if he has a hard time in the zone, playing a complicated man-to-man defense might prove to be too difficult.

And it’€™s not like he will definitely make up for it with his scoring. Grant, the son of former NBA forward Harvey Grant, is a high-flier and can throw down alley-oop slams, and he’s also very good if it takes him only one dribble to get to the rim. This gives him the upside required to be a threat in the pick-and-roll and off of offensive rebound putbacks. But Grant rarely, if ever, uses his left hand when dribbling the ball, which hinders his shot creation skills.

More alarming, Grant’s perimeter jumper is quite broken. He spreads his feet too much, has a hitch and he seems to lack touch. If he doesn’t develop his shot, it will limit his ability to get to the basket, which will be his most valuable attribute on offense. Nevertheless, the skills Grant brings as a high-energy role player will undoubtedly put him in the conversation as a mid-to-late first-round pick.

How he fits: If the Celtics go with a slow rebuild, Grant could be a good fit for them with the 17th pick. He brings fantastic potential on the defensive end, and the team may believe it can progress his raw scoring talents.

Related articles:

Grantland: Don’t forget about Jerami Grant

Sports on Earth: Making a name for himself

Video: Here is a video scouting report of Jerami Grant.

(Kevin O’€™Connor also covers the Celtics for SB Nation and can be reached on Twitter @KevinOConnorNBA.)

Blog Author: 
Kevin O'Connor

Friday’s Red Sox-Rays matchups: Brandon Workman vs. David Price

Brandon Workman

Brandon Workman

The Red Sox will kick off a three-game series against the Rays at Fenway Park on Friday, as Brandon Workman will take the mound against David Price in the opener.

Tensions are expected to be high between both clubs, as the last matchup between the Rays and Red Sox was highlighted by a bench-clearing brawl on Sunday.

Workman (0-0, 3.18 ERA) was solid in his first start of the season on that day, allowing three runs and five hits over five innings. While Workman put his team in a position to snap its then-nine-game losing streak, a five-run seventh inning off of Boston southpaw Craig Breslow put the game out of reach, as the Rays sealed the 8-5 victory.

“Everything went really good then the last couple of innings I fell behind a few too many hitters, making pitches from behind in the count. They got some base hits on and scored some runs off me,” Workman said after the game.

In 13 career innings against the Rays, Workman is 0-1 with a 4.85 ERA and 1.54 WHIP.

It looked as if Price (4-4, 4.42 ERA) was on pace for an early exit in his last start on Saturday, also against the Red Sox. An anemic Boston lineup that had only scored 16 runs in its previous eight games quickly tagged Price for five runs in the first, putting Tampa Bay in an early hole.

Price would quickly rebound following his poor start to the game, letting just two baserunners on over the next seven frames, allowing his team to storm back and defeat Boston by a score of 6-5.

“This team just doesn’t quit,” Price said after the game. “I put them in a hole 5-0 before we even had a chance to swing the bats, it was a good job by our offense and especially by our bullpen.”

Price has been susceptible to the long ball this year, surrendering 12 home runs in 77 1/3 innings pitched, but still boasts and impressive 84-to-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

In 21 career starts against Boston, Price is 10-6 with a 3.09 ERA.

Rays vs. Workman (RHP)

Matthew Joyce (7 plate appearances): 000/.143/.000, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

James Loney (7): .333/.286/.833, 1 home run, 3 RBIs

Evan Longoria (7): .571/.571/1.143, 1 home run, 2 RBIs

Yunel Escobar (5): .250/.400/.250, 1 single, 1 walk

Desmond Jennings (4): .333/.333/.333, 1 single, 1 strikeout

Wil Myers (4): .000/.250/.000, 1 walk, 1 RBI

David DeJesus has one double and one strikeout in three plate appearances vs. Workman.

Logan Forsythe has one single and one RBI in two plate appearances.

Jose Molina has one strikeout in two plate appearances vs. Workman.

Red Sox vs. Price (LHP) 

Dustin Pedroia (55): .250/.345/.396, 1 home run, 11 strikeouts

David Ortiz (42): .216/.310/.297, 3 doubles, 7 strikeouts

Jonny Gomes (24): 190/.250/.238, 1 double, 6 strikeouts

Daniel Nava (22): .100/.143/.100, 2 singles, 8 strikeouts

A.J. Pierzynski (19): .176/.222/.353, 1 home run, 3 RBI

Ryan Lavarnway (9): .222/.222/.333, 1 double, 4 strikeouts

David Ross (8): .375/.375/1.125, 2 home runs, 2 RBI

Grady Sizemore (8): .250/.250/.375, 1 double, 3 strikeouts

Xander Bogaerts (4): .500/.500/.500, 2 singles

Mike Carp has one RBI and one strikeout in 4 plate appearances vs. Price.

Brock Holt (4): .250/.250/.250, 1 single, 2 strikeouts

Jackie Bradley (3): .000/.000/.000

Blog Author: 
Conor Ryan

NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith critical of commissioner Roger Goodell

NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith has some issues with the league. (AP)

NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith called out commissioner Roger Goodell. (AP)

NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith criticized commissioner Roger Goodell on Thursday for the way he’s handled the punishment of Colts owner Jim Irsay.

Irsay has yet to be disciplined following an arrest in March in which he was charged with two misdemeanor offenses, a response much slower than Goodell would’ve made if it were a player facing disciplinary action, according to Smith.

“The commissioner understands that there is a significant credibility gap that exists in the National Football League,” Smith said. “What troubles our players is the speed and the deliberateness of the punishment that they have seen in the past when it comes to a player. There isn’t the same speed or deliberate action when it comes to an owner, and that’s a problem.”

Irsay was arrested March 16 for allegedly operating a vehicle while intoxicated and while in the possession of $29,000 and prescription drugs that weren’t in his name, according to police reports.

Goodell responded to these criticisms Thursday while in Foxboro for a football safety clinic for mothers. The commissioner said the disciplinary process in regards to Irsay is ongoing.

“As I said before, the personal conduct policy applies to commissioners, owners, players, coaches,” Goodell said. “It applies to all of us. We all have a responsibility to do things the right way. Yes, it is ongoing.”

Goodell added: “I think you know there are several players that we haven’t taken any action on either. We like to get the facts, we like to be thorough, and we like to understand them. Charges were just filed last week. So I don’t believe there is a credibility gap.”

Smith also criticized Goodell for his stance on expanded playoffs and HGH testing.

Blog Author: 
Nick Canelas

With Red Sox rotation in flux, Jake Peavy steps up, overpowers Braves

Jake Peavy turned in eight strong innings in one of his best starts of the season Thursday night. (AP)

Jake Peavy turned in eight strong innings in one of his best starts of the season Thursday night. (AP)

The gameplan for Jake Peavy was relatively simple: Attack the Braves lineup the same way that John Lackey had on Wednesday. Peavy went into Thursday knowing that he needed to challenge the Braves lineup with a high percentage mix of his fastballs and cutters. After seeing the success that Lackey had with the mix between his fastball and slider during 6 1/3 shutout innings, Peavy and catcher David Ross formulated a similar attack plan.

Through his eight innings Thursday en route to a 4-3 Red Sox victory, Peavy executed that strategy, nearly to a cue. In his outing Peavy threw mostly fastballs and cutters, throwing a total of eight breaking balls and an astounding 91.9 percent fastballs or cutters.

“It’s just all gameplanning,” Peavy said. “You gameplan towards a team and with Atlanta, that was our gameplan. Me and [Lackey] go about it in different ways. My hard stuff is a little bit different than his movement-wise, but at the end of the day, a scouting report is a scouting report and you’re going to mimic as much as you can the guy before you who had a lot of success.”

Prior to his start on Thursday, Peavy had been struggling in May, posting a 6.59 ERA with opponents batting .313/.373/.518 with 16 strikeouts and 12 walks in 28 2/3 innings pitched. While the outcome on Thursday was much better for Peavy, the righty said that he did not make a lot of adjustments. Peavy believes that the change in outcome had a lot to do with receiving more breaks than he had in his previous starts.

“We made a lot of good pitches in Tampa and just hadn’t been catching any breaks,” Peavy said. “Miguel Cabrera, three starts ago, just loops that ball in and that leads to three runs right there with [Victor Martinez] hitting a home run that inning. If we get out of that inning, it’s a different story. We would’ve won the game in Tampa if we didn’t have two balls hit off the turf, we win that game and we’re not talking about it being a bad start. Tonight, we could’ve caught some breaks as well and been better than it was, but at least we were able to find a way to win this one.”

Peavy did not seemed concerned with the fact that he received a no-decision in the walk-off victory. The righty was more focused on the fact that the team won its fourth straight game for the first time this season.

“I’m not worried about my win-loss record or stats,” Peavy said. “We needed a win and we need a win tomorrow. The boys battled hard. Their guy did a really good job, but we stayed in it, caught some breaks early, got some big hits late and caught some breaks there and got some breaks there in the ninth.”

Manager John Farrell says that Peavy is the type of veteran pitcher that he has set a certain standard for each and every single start.

“[Peavy]‘s a veteran guy that you begin to have a certain expectation and dependability that Jake has shown through the course of his career,” Farrell said. “We need every starter, regardless of who it is to keep the game under control and in cases like tonight, when you can work deep into a ballgame, just give some much needed rest to the guys in the pen.”

Despite the win, Peavy was frustrated with the balk call that second base umpire Bob Davidson called. The balk call moved Freddie Freeman into scoring position and subsequently allowed him to score on an Evan Gattis single.

Both Peavy and Ross did not see what triggered Davidson to call a balk.

“I didn’t do anything,” Peavy said. “I didn’t feel anything. I didn’t move. I didn’t feel like I made any kind of balk move at all. Bob Davidson likes calling balks. I think we’ve established that at this point in time. I didn’t feel any big movement or anything that would insinuate a balk there. Went back and looked at it, still don’t think I balked. Nah, I didn’t get an explanation. I was too upset and I thought I should probably not talk to Bob anymore after it was over.”

“I didn’t see anything, honestly, and neither did the home plate umpire,” Ross said. “Must’ve been something with his … I don’t know what it was. Gotta go ask Bob that. Go wake up Bob.”

With injuries to Clay Buchholz and Felix Doubront, the Red Sox will look to Peavy to help lead the pitching staff. Peavy knows what his role is for the team while both Buchholz and Doubront sit out.

“With Clay and [Felix] falling on some hard times and some injuries, we’ve got to do our part,” Peavy said. “We believe in Work and whoever makes the start for Buchholz. We know, as starters, that we have to go out and give the team those efforts to win. Lester and Lackey have been doing that and I expect to do the same.”

Blog Author: 
Joon Lee

Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Donald Sterling reportedly ruled mentally incapacitated, still wants to fight $2B sale of Clippers to Steve Ballmer

Welcome to Friday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

FRIDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
MLB: Rays at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Cubs at Brewers, 8 p.m. (WGN)
MLB: Orioles at Astros, 8:10 p.m. (MLB Network)
NBA playoffs: Pacers at Heat, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN; WEEI-AM)
WNBA: Connecticut Sun at Chicago Sky, 8:30 p.m. (NBA TV)
NHL playoffs: Blackhawks at Kings, 9 p.m. (NBCSN)
MLL: Boston Cannons at Long Island Lizards, 7:30 p.m. (CSNNE)
Tennis: French Open, 10 a.m. (Tennis Channel)

AROUND THE WEB:

– Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has a $2 billion deal in place to buy the Clippers, although Donald Sterling — who reportedly was declared mentally incapacitated, allowing his estranged wife to be the sole trustee of the Sterling family trust — insists he will continue his fight.

It would mark the second-highest price ever paid for a sports franchise in North America, trailing only the $2.1 billion paid for the Dodgers in 2012. The Bucks recently sold for $550 million, which was the highest price paid for an NBA team.

“I am delighted that we are selling the team to Steve, who will be a terrific owner,” Shelly Sterling said in a statement. “We have worked for 33 years to build the Clippers into a premiere NBA franchise. I am confident that Steve will take the team to new levels of success.”

The 58-year-old Ballmer was Microsoft’s CEO from 2000 until this year and is said to be worth $20 billion. He was part of a group that attempted to buy the NBA’s Kings last year with plans to move the team to Seattle, but the NBA rejected the plan.

“I love basketball,” Ballmer said. “And I intend to do everything in my power to ensure that the Clippers continue to win — and win big — in Los Angeles. L.A. is one of the world’s great cities — a city that embraces inclusiveness, in exactly the same way that the NBA and I embrace inclusiveness. I am confident that the Clippers will in the coming years become an even bigger part of the community.”

The NBA is expected to postpone a Tuesday vote by owners on the banishment of Donald Sterling and instead focus on pushing through the sale quickly to rid itself of the issue. However, Sterling’s lawyer continued to insist he has no plans to allow a change of ownership.

“Sterling is not selling the team,” attorney Bobby Samini said. “That’s his position. He’s not going to sell.”

Ballmer has the support of Sehawks coach Pete Carroll, who tweeted: The Clippers would be so fortunate to get Steve Ballmer as owner. He’s a great competitive force & would bring big energy to the LAC fanbase.

He also received support from Magic Johnson, who tweeted: Steve Ballmer owning the Clippers is a big win for the City of LA and all the people who live in the City of Angels!

– If the NBA does have a vote Tuesday on Donald Sterling, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said he won’t be pressured into voting with the majority, and he didn’t mix his words when explaining his position.

“[Expletive] ‘em. I don’t care if nobody shows up to games. If I think the ethical thing to do is to vote against 29 other guys, I will,” Cuban said on SiriusXM Radio Thursday (via the New York Daily News).

Cuban previously made comments indicating he was concerned about the precedent the league would be setting by booting Sterling for his racist comments made in private.

“I think you’ve got to be very, very careful when you start making blanket statements about what people say and think, as opposed to what they do,” Cuban said. “It’s a very, very slippery slope.”

Meanwhile, according to a poll by E-Poll Market Research, Donald Sterling is the most hated man in America, with 92 percent of respondents who are familiar with the banned Clippers owner indicating a strong dislike for him.

Sterling outpolled con artist Bernie Madoff (90 percent), O.J. Simpson (88), former Michael Jackson physician Conrad Murray (88) and singer Justin Bieber (87). Former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez ranks seventh at 81 percent.

– Manhattan basketball coach Steve Masiello completed his coursework at the University of Kentucky and will receive his degree in August, a school representative told ESPN.com.

Masiello lost out on a new job at South Florida when it was discovered that he did not have an undergraduate degree as he had implied. He returned to Manhattan, which said it would allow the coach to return for a fourth season if he completed his degree.

Masiello, a Rick Pitino protege, has a 60-39 record in three years at the New York school, including a 25-8 record last season that ended with a near upset of Pitino’s Louisville team in the NCAA tournament.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On May 30, 1997, which Red Sox player hit three home runs in a 10-4 rout of the Yankees at Fenway Park?

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “You don’€™t want a walkoff error. I mean, I’€™ll take [Thursday night's] one. I’€™ll take that. Especially in the big leagues, yeah, I’€™ll take that one.” – Xander Bogaerts, after his ground ball was misplayed by the Braves infield, allowing the Red Sox to walk off with a 4-3 victory

STAT OF THE DAY: 18 – Total shots for the Canadiens in their 1-0 loss in Thursday night’s Game 6 that sent the Rangers to the Stanley Cup finals

‘NET RESULTS (mobile users, check the website to see the videos): At the Scripps National Spelling Bee on Thursday, 15-year-old Jacob Williamson of Cape Coral, Fla., shows some confident enthusiasm before misspelling the word “kabaragoya.”

Following the Spurs’ Game 5 rout of the Thunder, San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich is stunned by a question asking him to explain why all of the games in the series have been blowouts.

Yasiel Puig makes a nice running catch in right field during the Dodgers’ loss to the Pirates on Thursday night.

Mets pitcher Bartolo Colon continues to put on a show during his at-bats. In Wednesday’s game — in which he pitched seven-plus shutout innings in a 5-0 victory over the Pirates — he struggles to keep his helmet from falling off, and then he carries the bat with him when he runs toward first (he doesn’t make it the whole way).

The Bryan brothers show off their latest golf trick shots.

TRIVIA ANSWER: Mo Vaughn

SOOTHING SOUNDS: Cee Lo Green was born on this day in 1974.

Blog Author: 
Jerry Spar

Rubby De La Rosa to start for Clay Buchholz

Rubby De La Rosa will start for the Red Sox on Saturday. (AP)

Rubby De La Rosa will start for the Red Sox on Saturday. (AP)

With the Red Sox in need of a starter while Clay Buchholz is on the disabled list, right-hander Rubby De La Rosa will get the summons from Triple-A Pawtucket, manager John Farrell announced.

De La Rosa has been inconsistent in Triple-A this year. He opened the season with absolute dominance, a 1.19 ERA through four starts in which he seemingly punched out or got a groundout from every batter he faced. Then, he struggled over his next four starts, forging a 5.95 ERA while walking 16 in 19 2/3 innings. However, in his two most recent starts, he bounced back with a 1.64 ERA with 13 strikeouts, three walks and tons of groundballs in 11 innings.

The decision to call up De La Rosa over Allen Webster, Farrell said, was based on “the recommendation of the staff in Pawtucket. You look at their numbers overall on the course of the year, they’€™re pretty similar. The last [two] starts for Rubby have been strong. And that was pretty much the deciding factor.’€

While Saturday will mark De La Rosa’s first start with the Red Sox, he’s worked in a big league rotation before. In 2011 with the Dodgers, he was 3-5 with a 3.88 ERA, 8.9 strikeouts per nine innings and 4.9 walks per nine innings in 10 starts before he blew out his elbow, resulting in Tommy John surgery.

Amidst the four-start season-opening stretch, De La Rosa — who struggled at times in 2013 while working his way back from Tommy John surgery he underwent in late-2011 — suggested that he was throwing the ball better this year than he was in that promising big league unveiling.

“I’ve been working on keeping my ball down, throwing strikes, working with my off-speeds, mix it up a little bit, making the hitter confused. It’s worked. I’m happy with the results — a lot of groundballs,” said De La Rosa. “I made a lot of adjustments this year compared to last year. This year, I feel like my arm is completely loose. I feel I can get through my pitches, throw the ball anywhere.

“Right now, I feel better [than in 2011],” he added. “In 2011, I kept the fastball up. Right now, I feel like anything I want — if I want the fastball down, I can do it. In 2011, I felt good. All that year was great. But my feeling this year, I feel more positive, more healthy.

“I feel good. I feel ready. There’s no more [concern] about my arm,” said De La Rosa. “I feel prepared for that moment [in the big leagues]. I feel like how I felt before. My arm feels 100 percent. I feel good in my body, mentally, physically. I feel good for that moment. Right now, I feel 200 percent. I feel like everything is going in the right spot.”

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier

Ryan Lavarnway to receive MRI on left wrist

Injuries keep mounting for the Red Sox at first base. Mike Napoli is on the disabled list. Mike Carp was limited to defense and baserunning by a sore foot that was hit by a pitch earlier in the week. David Ortiz was out of Thursday’s lineup due to tightness in his right calf and available only for a single pinch-hitting appearance.

Add to the wreckage. Ryan Lavarnway, who was called up from Triple-A Pawtucket when Napoli landed on the DL to give the Sox a right-handed option at first base, suffered a wrist injury in an eight-pitch, second-inning at-bat that culminated in a groundout. He stayed in the game for the next few innings, but soon realized something was wrong to the point where it became necessary for him to come out of the game.

“It was on one of the balls I fouled straight back in my first at-bat. I felt a pain in my hand/wrist area,” said Lavarnway. “I thought I would be able to play through it. Tried to stay in the game, obviously, tried to play through it. When I got in the on-deck circle for my next at-bat, when [Grady Sizemore] ended up making the last out, I was having a real difficult time swinging. So I wanted to let a healthy guy have that at-bat instead of trying to force my way in and giving them an easy out.”

Lavarnway, manager John Farrell said, will undergo an MRI on Thursday. At a time when a long-awaited major league opportunity had arrived, the 26-year-old’s ability to play is now in question.

“There’s never a good time for an injury,” said Lavarnway. “I’m disappointed right now, but hopefully it’s nothing major and I can get back out there pretty quick.”

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier

Xander Bogaerts on walkoff: ‘I’m just glad I didn’t have the bunt sign’

Xander Bogaerts' hit set in motion the Red Sox' game-winning run on Thursday. (AP)

Xander Bogaerts’ hit set in motion the Red Sox‘ game-winning run on Thursday. (AP)

Technically, it wasn’t a walkoff hit. Yes, Xander Bogaerts set in motion the decisive play of the game when he rocketed a ball to the left of Braves third baseman Chris Johnson. But while Bogaerts was credited with a hit after Johnson dove to knock down the ball and fired to second, had second basemanTommy La Stella gloved the catchable throw, the bases would have been loaded.

La Stella did not secure the ball, however, and so Jackie Bradley Jr. sprinted home from third with the game-winning error, sending the Red Sox to a 4-3 victory. The play had echoes of Bogaerts’ last walkoff hit — a walkoff error in Double-A Portland — but proved considerably more satisfying.

“We won [in the Double-A game], but you don’t want a walk off error,” mused Bogaerts. “I mean, I’ll take [Thursday night's] one. I’ll take that. Especially in the big leagues, yeah, I’ll take that one.”

Though Bogaerts wasn’t credited with the game-winning RBI, the fact that he played a central role in the game-winning rally has moved beyond the realm of surprise. The 21-year-old has been on a tear over his last dozen games, hitting .417 with a .472 OBP and .646 slugging mark. He went 3-for-5 on Thursday, his second straight three-hit game.

While Bogaerts crushed a double off the Green Monster early in Thursday’s game, however, it was his late-innings at-bats that commanded the most notice. First, with the Sox trailing, 3-1, in the bottom of the eighth and Brock Holt on second with no outs, Bogaerts fell behind reliever David Carpenter, 1-2. But after getting back to 2-2, Bogaerts scorched a 96 mph heater away to right-center for an RBI single.

“You can’t start thinking in your mind you’re going to get a strikeout. Go up there, be confident and put the ball in play,” Bogaerts — who is hitting .261 with a .359 OBP and .387 slugging mark when one strike away from a punchout — said of his two-strike approach. “I went to talk to [third base coach Brian Butterfield] and he said just use the whole field. … It’s been a while since I’ve gone the other way. Guys are pitching me different now, so I’m happy I got that one and just hit it where no one was.”

Then, after the Sox tied it in the eighth, Bogaerts once again stepped up in the ninth, this time with runners on first and second and no outs and Braves closer Craig Kimbrel on the mound, an opportunity for his first big league walkoff hit. His thought?

“I’m just glad I didn’t have the bunt sign on. That’s Craig Kimbrel. He’s throwing 99 and nasty curveball,” said Bogaerts. “I’m just glad I didn’t get a bunt sign because that would not have been fun.”

Kimbrel started Bogaerts with back-to-back curveballs that resulted in a called strike and a foul ball. Bogaerts acknowledged feeling the tension of the moment.

“I was a bit nervous. I even bit my lip and then I told myself, you know what? Just calm down,” Bogaerts recounted. “Try to get the run in or hit a deep ball so a guy can advance and [Dustin Pedroia] can do some damage.”

Kimbrel decided to go to a 98 mph fastball. Bogaerts smoked it, but looked up in horror as he saw third baseman Johnson gloving it.

“Oh, man. When I saw he caught it, I’m like, come on,” said Bogaerts. “I think he dropped it and he threw bad. I didn’t know what the scoring was, but we won, so it’s OK.”

Bogaerts isn’t supposed to be doing this sort of thing at age 21. If he’d grown up in the States, he might be a college junior preparing for the draft right now. Instead, he’s delivering critical hits for a Red Sox team looking for a lift.

For Bogaerts, the torrid stretch coincides roughly with the news that the Red Sox were going to re-sign Stephen Drew. How does he explain the confluence of his production and that piece of information?

“I guess I want to play, you know?” he grinned. “Just being happy to be in the lineup and helping the team out, that’s important for me.”

It appears safe to imagine that Bogaerts will remain in the heart of the Red Sox lineup for a long, long time.

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier

Rangers eliminate Canadiens to advance to Stanley Cup finals

The Rangers eliminated the Canadiens in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals to advance to the Stanley Cup finals Thursday. Henrik Lundqvist stopped all 18 shots he faced in a 1-0 win for his first shutout of the postseason.

The Canadiens, who upset the Presidents’€™ Trophy-winning Bruins in the conference semifinals, played the final five games of the season with top goaltending prospect Dustin Tokarski in net after Carey Price was lost for the series after an injury suffered in Game 1 against the Rangers.

The upcoming series, which will played against either the 2012 Cup champion Kings or 2013 Cup champion Blackhawks, marks Lundqvist’€™s first trip to the Cup finals. The Rangers were last in the Cup finals in 1994, when they won the Stanley Cup in seven games over the Canucks.

It also marks a quick turnaround for a team that fired coach John Tortorella after last season and replaced him with former Canucks coach Alain Vigneault.

The Kings lead the Western Conference finals, 3-2, entering Friday’€™s Game 6.

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean

Robert Kraft: Tom Brady ‘has a lot of play left’

Robert Kraft said Thursday he believes Tom Brady "has a lot of play left." (AP)

Robert Kraft said Thursday he believes Tom Brady “has a lot of play left.” (AP)

FOXBORO — The arrival of Jimmy Garoppolo has initiated a lot of questions about the state of Tom Brady‘s football mortality, but as far as the owner is concerned, the veteran quarterback has a “lot of play left.”

Speaking with the NFL Network Thursday during a break in the action at the team’€™s ‘€œMom’€™s Football Safety Clinic,” Robert Kraft said he hopes that Garoppolo “doesn’t get a chance to start for a long, long time.”

“From my point of view, and I think from our organization, we believe that Tom has a lot of play left,” Kraft said. “The way he takes care of his body, the way he eats, the way he plays, the way he trains, people look up to him.

“At the same time, that’€™s a position (where) if you don’€™t have someone strong at that position, look what happened how Tommy took over in that game after 9/11 when we delayed a week? Mo Lewis, our friend from the Jets, took Drew (Bledsoe) out and if we didn’€™t have someone like Tommy in our system, it would have been very devastating. In any business, you always need disaster insurance (for) the most important thing. And now we have a young man (in Jimmy Garoppolo) that I hope he’€™s as good as everyone feels. I also hope he doesn’€™t get a chance to start for a long, long time.

‘€œHis drive and desire and burn — I don’€™t think people understand the amount of tape he watches and how he prepares. Whatever he feels is the biggest weakness in his game, he addresses them and comes on very strong. He’€™s gone to eight (championship games) I believe in his career — that doesn’€™t happen by accident. But we’€™re privileged to have a great coach and a great supporting cast.’€

Kraft was asked if he believes Brady will only wear the Patriots uniform for his entire career.

“I sure hope so,” he said. “We did something creative; he was a visionary and he allowed us to restructure his contract in a way that was good for us. I know I personally and our whole fanbase only want to see him always have that flying Elvis or Pat Patriot if we’€™re doing throwbacks.”

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Blog Author: 
Christopher Price