From Comcast SportsNetNEW YORK (AP) -- Mike Trout and Bryce Harper were teammates on the Scottsdale Scorpions last fall. The outfielders arrived in the major leagues on the same April day this year, both played in the All-Star game and they won Rookie of the Year awards a half-hour apart Monday, the vanguard of baseball's next generation.The 21-year-old Trout was a unanimous pick as the youngest AL rookie winner, and the 20-year-old Harper edged Arizona pitcher Wade Miley 112 points to 105 to become the second-youngest winner of the NL honor."It's pretty neat," said Trout, the son of former Minnesota minor leaguer Jeff Trout.For the first time, players learned the voting results when they were announced on television."My heart was beating a little bit," Harper said.Trout, who turned 21 on Aug. 7, received all 28 first-place votes from the AL panel of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. The Los Angeles Angels center fielder was the eighth unanimous AL pick and the first since Tampa Bay's Evan Longoria in 2008.There could be more to come, too. Trout is among five finalists for AL MVP and is considered the chief challenger to Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera for that award, which will be announced Thursday."It would just top it off," Trout said.Trout hit .326, second-best in the league to Cabrera's .330, with 30 homers and 83 RBIs, and he led the majors with 129 runs and 49 steals. He joined Ted Williams, Mel Ott and Alex Rodriguez as the only players to hit .320 or higher with 30 or more homers in seasons they started as a 20-year-old.Trout received the maximum 140 points. Oakland outfielder Yoenis Cespedes was second with 63, followed by Texas pitcher Yu Darvish (46), who joined Trout as the only players listed on every ballot.Detroit second baseman Lou Whitaker had been the youngest AL winner in 1978, but he was 3 months, 5 days older than Trout on the day he took home the award.In addition to Trout and Longoria, the only other unanimous AL winners were Nomar Garciaparra, Derek Jeter, Tim Salmon, Sandy Alomar Jr., Mark McGwire and Carlton Fisk.Trout's father made it to Double-A as an infielder with the Twins in the mid-1980s and watched his son build a career growing up in New Jersey, where the seasons are short and cold."He went out and did it and endured it," Jeff Trout said.Added mom Debbie: "All the hard work paid off."Trout, taken by the Angels with the 25th overall pick in the 2009 amateur draft, still lives at home with his parents during the offseason. The award will join others in the family house."He gets a lot of good home cooking," Jeff Trout said.Trout spent some time in the majors last year but still retained his rookie status. He began this season in the minors and made his first big league appearance this year on April 28 -- the day of Harper's major league debut.Trout was on a flight from Salt Lake City to Cleveland when he saw on Twitter that Harper was being called up the same day.Harper turned 20 on Oct. 16 and has been hyped for years. When he was just 16, he appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated with the headline "CHOSEN ONE.""He's been put on the spotlight since he was 15 years old," Trout said.The Washington Nationals outfielder got 16 of 32 first-place votes from the NL panel. Miley was second with 12 first-place votes, followed by Cincinnati slugger Todd Frazier with three firsts and 45 points. Harper appeared on every ballot, and Bill Center of U-T San Diego was the only voter who didn't include Miley.Harper was the top pick in the 2010 amateur draft and batted .270 with 22 home runs and 59 RBIs as Washington brought postseason play to the nation's capital for the first time since 1933. Only Tony Conigliaro (24) hit more home runs as a teenager."Every little kid's dream is to be a big league ballplayer or a doctor or a firefighter or whatever everybody wants to be," Harper said. "That was my dream and I wanted to make that dream come true as quickly as possible."At 20 years, 27 days on Monday, he was 24 days older than New York Mets pitcher Dwight Gooden when he won the NL award in 1984."This game is unbelievable. I love it with everything I've got," Harper said, "and I'm going to play every single day like it's my last."And the admiration of Harper and Trout is mutual, especially after their time together last year with Scottsdale in the Arizona Fall League, for the game's premier prospects."He's one of the best players in baseball, if not the best right now," Harper said. "He's pretty impressive every day he plays."For now, each has a rookie award. In the future, they may earn MVPs on the same day."We play the game the right way," Trout said. "We're always running out balls. He's always hustling, trying to make that big play."NOTES:For winning the award, Trout earned a 10,000 bonus on top of his 482,500 salary. ... Harper became the first Nationals player to win a BBWAA award since the franchise moved from Montreal to Washington in 2005. ... Under a new format this year, both league's winners are announced on the same day with the winner revealed on the MLB Network. Manager of the Year voting will be revealed Tuesday, followed by the Cy Young Awards on Wednesday and MVPs the following day.
BOSTON -- Noel Acciari missed a month of game action with a lower body injury, so it would have been perfectly acceptable to show plenty of rust in his game upon returning to the Boston lineup.
But the former Providence College standout didn’t look rusty, a step behind or out of place in any way as he played the fourth line energy forward role to a perfect fit after missing the last 13 games. Acciari did get in one game with the Providence Bruins prior to suiting back up for the Black and Gold on Saturday, and perhaps that helped him manufacture a couple of shots on net to go along with three thumping hits against the Maple Leafs.
The 25-year-old Acciari didn’t factor into the scoring at all for the Bruins, but that’s just as well given that his focus should be on killing penalties, being hard to play against and taking the body whenever the chance presents itself. Claude Julien reformed the B’s energy line that had so much success earlier in the season with Acciari, Dominic Moore and Tim Schaller, and didn’t hesitate tossing them back into the mix together while looking for energy and a spark for an offensively stunted team.
“It’s good to be back with my linemates, and you know, I think we kind of picked up where we left off, but there’s definitely things we need to work on. That’ll come with a couple more practices and games together,” said Acciari, who finished theSaturday loss with three registered hits packed into 11:35 of ice time. “Kind of getting back to our familiarity and kind of get back to where we were before I got injured.
“It was a good start tonight, but we definitely just weren’t clicking like we used to, but that’ll come. I think that will come. Like I said, a couple practices and just kind of getting some games in [are good things]. I thought we were pretty good tonight, but, you know, should get more pucks to score [goals].”
Clearly there is room for improvement for everybody including Acciari, but it was encouraging to see the fearless competitor again flying around on the TD Garden ice playing high intensity hockey for a fourth line that could use every little bit of that.
BOSTON -- This may not come as a surprise, but the Boston Bruins are having some trouble putting the puck in the net.
Despite outshooting the Maple Leafs by an 11-2 margin in the first period and outshooting them by a 32-21 margin over the balance of the 60 minute game, the Bruins scratched for just a single goal in a frustrating, constipated 4-1 loss to Toronto at TD Garden. Clearly some of the offensive difficulty was caused by a solid Frederik Andersen, who improved to 6-0-0 in a career against Boston that’s beginning to take on Bruins Killer proportions.
But a great deal of the B’s struggles to finish scoring chances on Saturday night is a malady that’s dogged the Bruins all season, and marked the 20th time in 29 games this year that Boston has scored two goals or less. In most of these games the Bruins have dominated puck possession and outshot their opponents, but still have come away mostly empty handed in the goals scored department while dropping deep in the bottom third of NHL offenses this season.
“It seems like every game we’re out-chancing teams, but we don’t outscore teams. That’s where the biggest issue is right now. Our scoring is not there and if you don’t score goals you don’t win hockey games,” said Claude Julien. “Because of that we criticize everything else in our game, but our game isn’t that bad.
“If we were scoring goals people would love our game right now, but that’s the biggest part. There’s not much more I can say here except for the fact that if we don’t score goals it’s going to be hard to win hockey games.”
But the Bruins aren’t scoring goals consistently, their power play is below average while trending in the wrong direction and the team has been forced to watch steady offensive players like Patrice Bergeron suddenly slump in a concerning way. Clearly David Pastrnak is doing his part with 18 goals scored this season in 24 games, and others like Brad Marchand and Dominic Moore have also performed above, or beyond, their acceptable level of play.
But there are other players failing with the chance to make an offensive dent: Austin Czarnik has been on the roster for nearly two months, and has zero goals and two points in his last 15 games as the offense is again dried up on the third line. He missed wide on a shorthanded chance in the third period after a Moore centering pass set up him all alone in front, and was critiquing himself for fanning on a perfect dish to him in the slot.
Moments later the Leafs had an insurance score from James van Riemsdyk to make it a 3-1 game, and it was all over for the Black and Gold at that point.
Czarnik is an easy target because he’s young and inexperienced, but there is more than enough struggle and frustration to go around with a bunch of offensive players that can’t seem to get out of their own way. David Backes admitted it’s reached a point where the Bruins are frustrated when they can’t score enough to beat a team like Toronto, and that it falls squarely on the lead guys in the Black and Gold dressing room that are underperforming.
“I think offensive frustration is warranted at this point; we just haven’t done a good enough job scoring goals. We played a heck of a first period. We limited them to two shots and we had an opportunity to have a team that’s coming in here that’s a younger team, to really put them behind the eight ball,” said Backes. “Instead, they think they got a second lease on life and they were able to capitalize. All of the sudden, they were up 2-0 and we’re fighting an uphill battle again rather than -- we have that opportunity to play a heck of a first period and we don’t find a way – it’s easy to talk about, but it’s going out there and doing the job and putting it past or through the goalie, or however it needs to happen. “You’ve seen our goals; you want to do a study on it unless you’re Pasta [David Pastrnak] with the one-timer on the side, it’s been ugly, it’s been rebounds, it’s been greasy goals and that’s our equation and we need more of it, and we didn’t do it. They did a good job of being in front of their net and boxing out, eliminating those second chances. But, we’ve got good players in here that need to create more and find those second chances and win those battles, find those loose pucks, and throw them in the net.”
The Bruins have been talking seemingly all season about the need to get to the “dirty areas in the offensive zone”, and for players to jump all over the second and third chance opportunities currently going by the board unchallenged on goalie rebounds.
Now it’s about speaking with action for the B’s, and more specifically speaking volumes with goals and offensive finish instead of “chances” that aren’t doing much of anything if they’re not being snapped into the back of the net.