Bradley returns to practice for Celtics

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Bradley returns to practice for Celtics

CHICAGO When the Boston Celtics arrived at the United Center for today's practice, Avery Bradley was one of the first to enter the court area.

That's not surprising when you consider he was just moments away from practicing -- something he has not done in nearly six months.

It's still too soon to say when he will play again, but Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge told CSNNE.com recently that he anticipates Bradley's return to games being sometime in early January.

And Doc Rivers said on Monday that when Bradley does return, it will most likely be as a starter with Courtney Lee returning to the role of being a key perimeter reserve along with Jason Terry.

"That's what he was when he left," Rivers said. "But he'll have to earn that and get it. But I just think on paper, it looks better. But you have to wait and see once he gets back."

The last thing Bradley is thinking about right now is whether he will start or come off the bench. Knowing he's one step closer to actually playing in a game is all he's concerned about.

"I'm just excited," said Bradley who has been recovering this season from surgery to both of his shoulders. "Hopefully there are no setbacks and I have a good practice today."

Bradley has gradually been building up to this day.

First there was the time spent letting his body heal from the surgeries to both shoulders. After that came a slow but steady process of strengthening the muscles just so he could function normally.

From there, he went about trying to get the shoulders and the rest of his body back into basketball shape with the last few weeks spent prepping for today -- his first practice.

Bradley has been playing one-on-one with former Celtic Keyon Dooling who has since been hired by the C's as a player development coach. Bradley has also had coaches set screens on him which has forced him to fight through the screens.

"I've been working on game situation things," Bradley said.

His return to practice can only be a positive for a Celtics team that could use a bit of good news after what has been a rougher-than-expected start to the season.

Once considered on the short list of title contenders, the Celtics (12-11) have been wallowing in a cesspool of mediocrity all season.

While there's no argument among the C's and those throughout the NBA that Bradley's return will help, Rivers isn't about to put the team's fate moving forward solely on the surgically repaired shoulders of Bradley.

"We have to be a better defensive team. Avery is going to help us," Rivers said. "But he ain't the savior. But he absolutely is going to take a lot of pressure off of guys."

And he'll do that by doing what he does as good as any guard in the NBA -- putting pressure on opponents.

Bradley's impact will indeed have a domino effect on several players, and not all of them guards either.

Because he's such a strong on-the-ball defender, that will likely mean less double-teaming will be needed from the bigs which gives them a better chance of holding their own on the boards, and playing better interior defense.

"It's huge to have those type of guys on your team," Boston power forward Brandon Bass told CSNNE.com. "That's what Doc (Rivers) means when he says, 'give yourself up for the team.' There's going to be a lot of guys who are just numbers guys. And then there's guys who may not have great numbers but just as valuable as guys with numbers. It's going to be great having Avery back."

Indeed, Bradley provides the kind of intangibles that reminds Rivers of what former Celtic Kendrick Perkins meant to the C's when he was a member of the Green team.

"Completely different players," Rivers said. "But there are certain guys that transcend their numbers with their team. Avery does that; Kevin Garnett does that. He has numbers, but he really does. Garnett can have average numbers and his impact on the game is undeniable. Avery does that as well."

First-year Celtic Jason Terry has known Bradley for years with both hailing from the Seattle-Tacoma area in Washington. Bradley at one point played for the AAU team of Terry's father.

"I seen right away he had some talent, but he was a raw talent," Terry told CSNNE.com. "But immediately going into his senior year I could see the difference. He began to stand out."

Terry recalls Bradley playing full court defense at a basketball camp for high school All-Americans -- something that rarely happens.

"That spoke volumes to the kind of player he was developing into," Terry said.

First impressions of the Red Sox' 11-9 loss to the Twins

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First impressions of the Red Sox' 11-9 loss to the Twins

BOSTON -- First impressions of the Boston Red Sox 11-9 loss to the Minnesota Twins:

David Price was once again disappointing.

Minnesota is a team opposing pitchers should long to face.

Their No. 3, 4 and 5 hitters all have averages below .250 with average to below average home run totals.

The only hitter who poses and all-around legitimate threat is Eduardo Nunez, who would probably bat seventh in Boston’s lineup.

While there were other factors at play, Price once again left the ball up in the zone too much. That’s a big problem when nature’s playing a factor in the game.

Either way, with the Twins in town, Price has to be better.

Saturday marked the second time of the season where Sandy Leon registered back-to-back hitless performances.

The previous pair came back on June 29th and July 2nd with a layoff between the two contests.

In his last five contests, Leon is 3-for-17. His power numbers are also down in that stretch, with only two extra-base hits that came on the same night.

It could be a small rough patch given Leon was 7-for-19 with a home run and a double (in separate contests) in the five games preceding this dry spell.

Either ay it’s something to watch as Leon plays more and more.

The wind played a factor in the high-run total.

The second hit of the ball game seemed like a medium-depth fly to right, and nearly carried out of the ballpark.

Michael Martinez was twisting and turning on fly balls changing direction all night -- and there’s evidence it wasn’t just him.

David Ortiz reached on a pop up that Nunez went after, which never left the infield.

Trash and dust were flying everywhere in the first inning. While that intensity didn’t maintain all night, it was definitely an issue players had to consider throughout the game.

The bullpen mop-up crew couldn’t get the job done.

While some of the hits in the five-run seventh were luck, Clay Buchholz and Tommy Layne flat out couldn’t get the job done against a rough lineup.

Neither is a terribly great option -- so the Red Sox might want to reconsider using either one in those situations.

Even Heath Hembree couldn’t put together a decent night. Someone has to stop the bleeding when things get out of control.

The Red Sox pitchers can’t keep throwing away nine-run performances.

With Friday night serving as evidence, the offense will not always have great nights.

So when they do, the pitch has to be decent -- but they couldn’t even do that Saturday.

Nick Friar can be followed on Twitter: @ngfriar

Je-Vaughn Watson scores late, Revs beat Fire 1-0

Je-Vaughn Watson scores late, Revs beat Fire 1-0

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Je-Vaughn Watson scored on a header in the 85th minute and the New England Revolution beat the Chicago Fire 1-0 on Saturday night.

The Revolution (6-7-8) had a flurry of attempts leading up to the goal and Fire (4-10-5) goalkeeper Sean Johnson made three saves in the 2 minutes prior.

But Johnson came off his line to defend Chris Tierney's corner and failed to clear it with his outstretched hand while Watson connected and sent the header into the empty net.

Bobby Shuttleworth earned his fifth shutout of the season for New England.

Could Chris Sale's altercation open the door to get him at a lower cost?

Could Chris Sale's altercation open the door to get him at a lower cost?

Chris Sale -- this year’s American league starting pitcher in the All-Star game -- was a late scratch and sent home before his scheduled Saturday start.

This of course comes after the White Sox have begun to listen to offers for their bonafide ace -- including the Red Sox.

Preceding the game, the White Sox released a statement from senior vice president/general manager Rick Hahn explaining that Sale’s removal was “due to a clubhouse incident before the game.”

After ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported the altercation was with staff from the front office and had nothing to do with his teammates, there was another report that the issue pertained to the throwback uniforms the White Sox planned to wear for Saturday’s game.

Fox’s Ken Rosenthal has additionally been told the issue “was bigger than that.” 

Sale is a huge addition to any starting rotation -- never mind the Red Sox staff.

His stats are without a doubt impressive. An All-Star every season since 2012 thanks to his career 2.95 ERA and 10.1 K/9 -- this year posting a 3.18 ERA and 8.7 K/9.

But numbers can be deceiving -- especially with players playing for a small market club. That’s not the case with Sale though. While the White Sox haven’t contended in the postseason with the lefty, there’s no denying that Chicago isn’t a small market by any means.

The jump from Chicago to Boston is nothing compared to players coming from places like Miami or Atlanta -- or San Diego. So Sale presents a good fit in terms of approach -- in addition to having good stuff.

The incident makes Sale come across as a prima donna, the fact that the issue went past the uniforms shows there could be a deeper issue at hand -- and not so much an indictment of his mental make-up.

Additionally, this altercation could open the door to get Sale at a lower value. If it was that bad that he was sent home, it could take a lot more than a stern talk and hand shakes to resolve the issue, giving interested teams a much better chance to obtain the Cy Young candidate.

However, if the Red Sox do manage to strike a deal with the White Sox, they’d be wise to throw someone else on throwback nights.

Nick Friar can be followed on Twitter: @ngfriar