Bailey confident in role as closer in 2013

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Bailey confident in role as closer in 2013

BOSTON After throwing just 15 13 innings, and missing the first 116 games of the season because of injury, Andrew Bailey is happy to put the 2012 season behind him.

It was very frustrating, Bailey said. My performance last year, Ill be the first to say wasn't who I was or wasn't anything that I was proud of. This year I'm going to go out and do my job to make sure I hammer down those games.

Bailey appeared in just 19 games, posting a record of 1-1, with a 7.04 ERA, six saves, and three blown saves. In a strange play during spring training, he collided with another player while attempting to cover first base. The result was a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right thumb and undergoing surgery on April 4. This was after injuring a lat muscle early in spring training during the vertical leap portion of his physical. Bailey did not appear in a game until Aug. 14.

It wasnt just the long layoff that affected his performance, though.

No, unfortunately Ive had that happen before, where I had to sit out for a little bit and come back, he said. Ive done it in the past. Last year may have been a bit longer but theres no reason I cant go out and do my job. I dont forsee any issues like that. Looking forward from day one to the end of the World Series to be pitching for this organization."

Bailey is confident in his role going into 2013 as the Sox closer.

I think I have to, he said. Right now I would think I'm the only guy in that role. I feel like they traded for me for a reason. Last year was very frustrating on a lot of counts. Even when I was healthy, I didn't do my job to my full expectations or the organization's expectations. So I'm taking that into my off-season workouts, and knowing that Ive got to hammer down games for this organization and this team and we've got to get to the playoffs.

"That's where my mindset is, and anything else happens, I'm just looking forward to being out there and throwing a lot of innings this year.

Bailey has made some changes to his off-season program because of the injury. His goal is to be strong going into spring training and stay healthy throughout the season. He will begin doing some throwing this week, and will throw off a mound in early January. Hell plan to be in Fort Myers by the beginning of February.

Nothing too crazy, but throwing a little bit earlier just to make sure I get ready for camp, he said. You really cant predict any crazy run-ins with players or anything and freak thumb injuries but for me thats always been an issue is health. And this year I'm out to prove that I can stay healthy for a full season. I need to for myself and for the organization. They traded for me for a reason, and there's no doubt in my mind I can do what they want me to."

He is pleased with the moves the Sox have made so far this offseason, including the hiring of manager John Farrell and pitching coach Juan Nieves.

"I think it's great, he said. I think the organization isheaded in the direction the front office wants it to. With the respect and the history with Farrell I think is great for this team and great for the organization. I was just talking with some of the guys this offseason. They're excited about it. I think the relationships are already kind of built in that regard. And the newer guys, myself included, that's a good thing going into camp to have a lot of the veteran guys, and a lot of the core guys who have been here, already have those foundations set.

I talked to Nieves the other day and it was great. Were going to work together and put a little program down. He loved my thoughts of kind of starting just a little bit of throwing program next week just to kind of get things going,. And Im a guy that Id rather scale things back than to rush and feel like you have to catch up. So we have plans to talk again next week to talk over about the throwing program and that kind of stuff. I think its great. Im looking forward to working with him. Its going to be fun.

Bailey, who made 3.9 million in 2012, is arbitration eligible for the second time. He hasnt had any contract talks with the Sox yet, but is not concerned. But hes happy to see the Sox addressing issues that became problematic last season.

I think right now Im focused on getting ready for the season, he said. And they might be focused on things elsewhere. But I think as a player its awesome to know that the organization saw some issues last year and realized that this may not be our year but we can get a head start on next year to fulfill those things. And we know we have the ownership and the front office that wants to win in a city that demands it and deserves it. So I think everyones alike in thoughts and has the same feelings on that.

Bailey is curious to see what the Sox do with the financial flexibility they reclaimed in the August blockbuster deal with the Dodgers.

I think theyve publicly said that theyre going to be pretty cautious with how they do it, he said. But theres a lot of good free agents out there. Well see what happens. But I think no matter what as a player were very confident that the front office is going to put a winning team and a competitive team on the field . But that being said theres expectations especially in this city every single year and last year we didnt meet those. And we know that the front office is going to put a team on the field with those expectations and we have to fulfill that.

Kraft should stop explaining and just accept Patriots fans' ire

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Kraft should stop explaining and just accept Patriots fans' ire

FOXBORO – Never mind what Robert Kraft was attempting to do last May when he folded the Patriots’ tent and said the team would “reluctantly” accept the league’s Deflategate penalties. 

Forget about the fact there was really no other option than to do what he did in San Francisco.

The hole Kraft dug for himself when he opted for politics over optics is one he’s trying furiously to dig out of. Still.

Friday night at a draft party the team hosted at Gillette, Kraft’s main talking point was – again – that he didn’t abandon Brady last May.

“Number one, there is no finer ambassador for the game of football, and the New England Patriots, than Tom Brady,” Kraft said. “We always have had, and will continue to have, Tom’s back. Especially when he’s being treated unfairly. He knows that. All the decisions that this organization and I personally have made throughout this ordeal have been focused on putting Tom in the best possible position for success.”

Kraft believed taking the hit on the draft picks would satiate other owners enough to leave Brady alone. But they – and their arrogant marionette Roger Goodell – wanted more than to see Bill Belichick’s program stung. They wanted to see Brady brought to heel.  

Once that dawned on Kraft over the coming months, he returned to the rhetoric he used when he began fomenting local outrage at the Super Bowl, demanding a league apology. He even ratcheted it up, speaking at the outset of training camp about having made a grave mistake when he put faith in the league to do the right thing.

But for too many New England fans, it was too late. In their minds, all it took was 24 hours of fellow owners giving him the stink eye in California for him to side with the billionaire boys club over Brady.

Kraft anticipated an unhappy reaction, saying last May, “I know that a lot of Patriots fans are going to be disappointed in that decision. But I hope they trust my judgment and know that I really feel at this point in time that taking this off the agenda, this is the best thing for the New England Patriots, our fans and the NFL. I hope you all can respect that.”

He never expected to be demonized the way he’s been. And, to Kraft, it’s maddening, saddening and hurtful that the vocal opinion in New England is that he screwed Brady.

He’s refusing to take the criticism in stride, which means every time he’s in front of a mic, he has to prove his bona fides.   

“I have been in constant communication with Tom over the past 16 months and we’ve had numerous conversations this past week,” Kraft said. “We are both on the same page and he knows exactly where my allegiances, and the total team’s [allegiances] are, relative to the extremely unfair discipline that he has been subjected to. I share in our fans’ anger and frustration with the penalties the league has levied, and the entire process and how it was conducted. But please trust that I am always trying to do what I believe is best for this franchise, and pledge that I will always continue to do that.”

This is where Robert Kraft is at the age of 74. A man who figured he’d be praised and adored in the autumn of his ownership reign having to pledge allegiance over and over to HIS region and HIS team.

It’s got to be unfathomable to him how it got to this point.

Here’s a lifelong New Englander who – he’s always happy to remind everyone – sat on the metal benches with all the other bedraggled fans in the old stadium. A guy who used his business savvy to leverage purchase of the team, stubbed his toe a lot in his first few years, then made decisions and gave resources that allowed the Patriots to become the greatest dynasty in NFL history. A guy that built a kickass stadium and donated millions around the region. This is a guy that now feels compelled to explain himself and beg understanding every time he gets in front of a microphone these days.

I don’t think he deserves that.

There are plenty of things that I’ve eyerolled about with Kraft in my 20 years covering the team. From white-collared shirts to his weird game-day lifeguard chair to the subtle switch from Bob to Robert, the damn sneakers with the suits, slinging spirituality a little too cavalierly at times and his happy engagement in the NFL’s backroom lever-pulling and deal-making. For almost 25 years, Kraft has ridden a lead horse in the NFL’s stampede for money and power. The Game of Thrones environment that’s come with that, replete with throat-slitting, backstabbing and vengeance has visited Kraft’s kingdom.

You can second-guess his strategy. You can point out that he’s the one that made a king of Goodell and sowed bitterness with fellow owners by pushing them to do what Roger says. You can rightfully point out that Kraft wants too much the love and respect of both his fellow owners and his New England constituency and that he can’t have his cake and eat it too.

You can’t reasonably regard him as a “traitor.”

Unfortunately for Robert Kraft, plenty of people do. And plenty of them aren’t going to move off that spot.

At some point, he’s got to get his mind around that and accept that too.

 

Patriots select Georgia WR Malcolm Mitchell in fourth round

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Patriots select Georgia WR Malcolm Mitchell in fourth round

With their first selection on Day 3 of the NFL Draft, the Patriots add another weapon for Tom Brady, selecting Georgia wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell, in the fourth round, No. 112 overall.

Mitchell, 5-11, 198, began his college career as a cornerback before moving to wide receiver. 

Ortiz's winning HR fulfills his promise to young fan

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Ortiz's winning HR fulfills his promise to young fan

David Ortiz's exploits with the Red Sox over the years can easily be described as "Ruthian."

That description became more fitting and Big Papi's legend grew Friday night when Ortiz made like the Babe by promising and delivering a home run to young fan named Maverick. 

Ortiz connected with a two-run shot over the Green Monster in the eighth inning to break a 2-2 tie and give the Red Sox a 4-2 victory over the rival Yankees. 

Here's the video Ortiz and former Red Sox teammate Kevin Millar, now with the MLB Network, made for Maverick before the game.

And here's Maverick's response, via Millar: