From Comcast SportsNetPHILADELPHIA (AP) -- In just a few months, Delmon Young went from MVP of the American League championship series to a guy hoping for an opportunity.Young got that chance Tuesday, signing a one-year deal with the Philadelphia Phillies for 750,000.The 27-year-old outfielder batted .267 with 27 doubles, 18 homers and 74 RBIs for Detroit last season. He hit .313 with three homers and a team-high nine RBIs during 13 playoff games and was MVP against of the ALCS against the New York Yankees. The Tigers were swept by San Francisco in the World Series.Young made 6.75 million last year, but off-field issues cost him a lucrative, multiyear deal. He was suspended without pay for seven days by Major League Baseball after an incident outside a New York City hotel last spring. Young later pleaded guilty to aggravated harassment for shouting an anti-Semitic slur and tackling a man to the ground.The Phillies are counting on Young to stay out of trouble and provide balance in a lineup that's filled with left-handed hitters. The team has sought a right-handed corner outfielder with power throughout the offseason. He could fit into the lineup in the No. 5 spot behind Chase Utley and cleanup hitter Ryan Howard."Delmon is an experienced major league bat who will add some depth to our relatively inexperienced outfield and another layer of competition for playing time there as well," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said in a statement.Less than a month before the start of spring training, the Phillies were sure of just one starting outfielder. They acquired Ben Revere from Minnesota to be the regular center fielder. Amaro talked about possible platoons for the two other spots.Now he expects Young to be the regular right fielder, a position he hasn't played since 2007. Young revealed he had ankle surgery in November, so there's a chance he may have to start the season on the disabled list.Darin Ruf, who hit 38 homers at Double-A Reading last year, is competing for playing time in left field. Former top prospect Domonic Brown had been in the mix in right field. Laynce Nix and John Mayberry Jr. were mentioned in a leftright platoon.But if Young ends up starting every day, Ruf and Brown could platoon in left while Nix and Mayberry come off the bench.Young started 29 games in left field last season and primarily served as Detroit's designated hitter. He has 156 career starts in right field, including 127 for Tampa Bay in 2007.Outfield had been a strength for the Phillies during their string of five-straight NL East titles from 2007-11. They had five All-Star outfielders in that span, including Aaron Rowand, Jayson Werth, Raul Ibanez, Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino. They also had slugger Pat Burrell, who never made an All-Star team but averaged 32 homers and 92 RBIs in 2007-08.Pence and Victorino were traded away last July 31, opening up two holes. Revere and Young could end up filling both spots at significantly less salary. Pence will earn 13.8 million with San Francisco this year. Victorino signed a 39 million, three-year deal with Boston.Young was Tampa Bay's first overall pick in the 2003 amateur draft. He has batted .284 with 89 homers and 482 RBIs with Tampa Bay (2006-07), Minnesota (2008-11) and Detroit.Young's best season was in 2010 with the Twins. He hit .298 with 21 homers and 112 RBIs and finished 10th in AL MVP voting.Young's deal includes performances bonuses.
Avery Bradley was a member of the NBA’s All-Defensive first team a year ago. And Al Horford has been among the league’s best interior defenders for a number of years.
But as talented defensively as they may be, the Celtics are still learning how to play with each other as well as off of one another.
Injuries have slowed down the chemistry developing as quickly as some might expect. Horford missed nine games due to a concussion, and another game due to wife giving birth to their second child, Alia Horford.
And in Boston’s 107-106 win over Philadelphia on Saturday night, defensive chemistry -- not only among Horford and Bradley, but with all of the players -- remains a work in progress for sure.
Boston had a number of defensive issues in the first half which factored in the Sixer shooting 46.1 percent from the field while shooting 9-for-18 from 3-point range.
But the second half was an entirely different story as Boston’s defense picked up his intensity and focus level which would prove to be just enough to beat a scrappy Sixers team.
The Celtics (12-8) are four games over .500 for the first time this season currently have the third-best record in the Eastern Conference behind Cleveland (13-5) and Toronto (14-6).
And while the players point to a handful of games that they felt they gave away, Avery Bradley reminds all that the success of this team this season has for the most part come with key players out of the mix or limited in some capacity.
“We haven’t played that many games with the full roster,” Bradley told reporters after the win. “We’re still learning how to play with each other.”
Bradley pointed out a moment in Saturday’s victory where a miscommunication between him and Horford led to a defensive miscue.
Boston has had similar mistakes made on offense this season, too.
“We haven’t really been in pick-and-roll that much,” Bradley said. “Every single game we need to improve.”
And that improvement has to continue evolving on the defensive side of things for this team to achieve its goals this season which include being among the last teams standing in the East.
Doing that will likely mean Boston re-establishing itself as a defensive force, something that should come with time and experience playing with each other.
Horford, who signed a four-year, $113 million deal with Boston in the offseason, says it’s an ongoing process for all involved.
“I have to learn to play with our concepts, the guys have to learn to play with me,” Horford told reporters after Saturday’s win. “We just have to make sure we keep playing the right way, be more consistent with that. I feel like we’re getting better but there’s still some work that we need to do.”
The pressure that comes with a tight game in the fourth quarter can be a weighty proposition for some NBA players.
Then there’s Boston’s Isaiah Thomas who continues to save his best work for the fourth quarter.
Saturday’s 107-106 win at Philadelphia had yet another Thomas-like finish for the Celtics as the 5-foot-9 guard was at his most dominant state in the game’s final minutes.
Thomas finished with a season high-tying 37 points which included a stretch in the fourth in which he scored 12 straight.
“I just love the fourth quarter,” Thomas told reporters following the win. “I just want to win. Whether it’s making plays for myself or making plays for my teammates, it’s about making the right play. I get ultra- aggressive in that fourth quarter. That’s what I’ve always done.”
And his teammates appreciate how Thomas elevates his play in the game’s most pivotal moments.
“A lot of the credit is to Isaiah, how he was able to finish the game tonight,” said Avery Bradley. “He was able to make shots when we needed him to.”
And while Thomas knows his shots won’t fall all the time down the stretch, his fourth quarter mentality does provide him with a level of confidence that no matter what the defense does to him or what the score may be, he can swing the game’s momentum in his team’s favor.
“Some guys get a little tight, they get a little timid (in the fourth quarter),” Thomas said. “I embrace it. I want to be great. I want to be somebody my teammates can call on when the game is close.”
Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Saturday night’s game.
Isaiah Thomas: There was no more dominant player on Saturday night than Thomas. He finished with a game-high 37 points along with seven assists.
Dario Saric: It was a breakout game for the 22-year-old rookie who led the Sixers with 21 points as well as 12 rebounds for his third double-double this season. Both his points and rebound totals tied his career highs in those categories.
Avery Bradley: Boston’s surge towards victory did not kick in until the third quarter which is when Bradley elevated his play offensively. In the third he scored 10 of his 20 points on the night, to go along with a team-high nine rebounds.
Ersan Illyasova: He finished with 18 points which included a pair of three-pointers in the closing seconds of the game. He also grabbed six rebounds and two assists.
Celtics first half defense: There wasn’t much to like about Boston defensively in the first half. The Celtics struggled to take away or limit Philadelphia’s only strength Saturday night which was three-point shooting. The Sixers nailed nine of their 18 three-point attempts in the first half in addition to hurting the Celtics’ transition defense which gave up seven fast-break points to Philly compared to Boston scoring just one point in transition.