Crosby's return right around the corner?

594150.jpg

Crosby's return right around the corner?

From Comcast SportsNet
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Sidney Crosby's head is clear. The superstar's return, however, remains murky. The Pittsburgh Penguins captain participated in his first full practice since concussion-like symptoms resurfaced in December and there is growing optimism he'll be back before the playoffs begin next month. The ever-cautious Crosby insists there still is no timetable on when he'll be cleared to play in a game, but he looked crisp while spending more than an hour on the Consol Energy Center ice. "It's a good step," Crosby said. "Hopefully, I can keep the momentum and get out there soon." Though the headaches and motion issues that have bothered him intermittently since a loss to Boston on Dec. 5 have subsided, Crosby has been through this drill too often over the last 14 months to get too excited. The 24-year-old former MVP was spectacular in his return from a 10-month layoff in November, scoring twice in his season debut against the New York Islanders and collecting 12 points in eight games before he woke up with an all-too familiar feeling on Dec. 6. During that initial comeback he was cleared for contact in early October and had to wait about six weeks before getting the OK to suit up for a game. It may not take that long this time. "I'm going to give myself days, for sure, of contact," Crosby said. "If you look at our schedule, we have two more practices, I think, this week. No sooner than Sunday I would say but I'm not going to sit here and put a date on it. It would be total guesswork." Coach Dan Bylsma echoed Crosby's sentiments, but made sure Crosby got bounced around during a lively practice session. "It was man-on-man type stuff, some puck battles," Bylsma said. "We had him get through today, we'll see where we progress on day three, four, five and six." Crosby called the lineup "a dangerous place to be" and felt he "was getting a lot of bumps out there." It was a welcome feeling after three anxious months in which Crosby crisscrossed the country visiting specialists in hopes of getting a better handle on his health. Tests conducted out in California in late January discovered a previously undiagnosed soft tissue injury in his neck that mimics a concussion. He took a shot as part of the treatment and claims the results have been largely positive. "It's nice to be symptom free, but it's not as fulfilling until you get out there," Crosby said. "I just want to make sure that I take the right steps here and get back out there soon." The Penguins have surged over the last two months even with Crosby watching from a suite well above the ice. Pittsburgh has a six-game winning streak going into Wednesday's game against Toronto behind the play of MVP-candidate Evgeni Malkin and wingers Chris Kunitz and James Neal. Kunitz has typically teamed with Crosby since arriving in Pittsburgh in 2009, but Crosby doesn't expect Bylsma to break up arguably the league's hottest line whenever he's cleared to play. "They have a perfect mix of guys there to create every shift," Crosby said. Crosby has been pushing himself during non-contact drills in recent weeks and enjoyed getting knocked around on Tuesday. Yet he knows nothing can replicate game action. All he can do is get prepared. After that, it's up to chance. Either way, he's feeling better both on and off the ice. Considering what he's gone through the last 14 months, that's good news. "It's just one of those things where you get used to having things for so long you forget what normal is," he said. "I feel like normal has been a lot more regularly."

Pedro says David Price has shown signs of what it takes to be an ace

pedro_martinez_david_price.png

Pedro says David Price has shown signs of what it takes to be an ace

Pedro Martinez knows what it takes to be an ace. He also knows what it takes to pitch successfully in Boston.

And he believes David Price is capable of being the former and has the makeup to achieve the latter -- in time.

"I would just say, as a human being, I would say (he) has to make adjustments,'' said Martinez when asked what advice he would give Price. "It's the first year on a team that holds a lot of expectations. For David, it's just a matter of probably understanding how he feels comfortable around the things that he does, what David Price needs for David Price to feel more comfortable and make the adjustment as quick as possible.

"I believe he's capable of it. He's given a lot of signs that he's the ace we all expect. And, to be honest, I think he's going to be alright. It's just a matter of making the adjustment as quickly as possible.''

Whether Price may be trying too hard to justify his landmark $217 million deal, or unsure of how to handle the disappointing results he's provided, Martinez suggested that Price has to be mentally tough.

"Sometimes, it's within you what you can do,'' he said. "I think he has to trust what he can do. I think that probably trusting what he knows and what he's capable of doing would be the biggest key.''

Whatever the reason, Martinez doesn't believe there's a physical explanation for Price's struggles.

"I don't see anything wrong,'' he said. "His velocity is there. He can last eight, nine innings, easily. He's in great shape. He looks good overall, except some games just don't go his way and sometimes it doesn't look like everything (works) for him. But I believe he just has to trust what he is, the presence he has and his knowledge.

"It's up to you sometimes to say, 'Hey I know this. I know this situation, so I'm just going to go approach it.' And that's probably what he needs to do - is just trust who he is, what he knows and the stuff he has.''

When asked if he would approach Price and deliver a message, Martinez was careful.

''I don't want to invade anybody's territory,'' he said. "I would like to be respectful to him and also the coaching staff. I'm part of the organization. I'm here to help. But like I said, the biggest adjustment is the adjustment David Price makes. It's not really what Pedro says, or what Pedro used to do. David Price is David Price; Pedro Martinez is Pedro Martinez.''

Martinez was also asked about Clay Buchholz, who is currently serving a mop-up man in the bullpen.

"Bucky lost a little bit of confidence,'' said Martinez. "That's what it looks like to me. Right now, he doesn't really have a path to follow and I think he's missing (Jon) Lester, big time. He's missing (John) Lackey. He's missing probably relating to someone just like him, who really understands him from back (in the day) -- David Ross, Jason Varitek.

"I think he's mature enough to kind of understand what to do. But some people don't actually have that ability to understand what to do when times of struggles come.''

Finally, Martinez was asked about his reaction to the Red Sox dealing away pitching phenom Anderson Espinoza in the trade for Drew Pomeranz. Martinez had been a vocal supporter of Espinoza and predicted stardom for him.

"The thing is, you have to understand, this team is trying to work for today, for this year. That's the reason you produce those kind of players, so you can have the flexibility to move to different areas,” Martinez said. “I was extremely proud that I was part of the (group) that saw Espinoza from the first time and hopefully now the trade we made is going to end up helping us win the championship.

"And Espinoza probably will feel really proud that, if we win it this year, he was probably the biggest reason.''

Sean McAdam can be followed on Twitter: @Sean_McAdam

OFFSEASON

Report: Celtics’ pick Demetrius Jackson gets 4-year, $5.5M deal

ap_1603280119274550.jpg

Report: Celtics’ pick Demetrius Jackson gets 4-year, $5.5M deal

The Celtics and second-round pick Demetrius Jackson have finalized a four-year, $5.5 millon contract, Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe reported.

Jackson, a point guard out of Notre Dame, was the 45th overall pick. He was projected by some as a first-rounder before the draft and the first year of his deal is likely to be guaranteed. Last year, Celtics’ second-round pick Jordan Mickey signed a four-year, $5 million deal as the 33rd pick overall.

Jackson will face plenty of training camp competition in a crowded group of backcourt players for the C’s. 
 

Patriots celebrate 15-year anniversary of 2001 team with videos, Hall exhibit

gallery_slide_5_adam_vinatieri_062215_0.jpg

Patriots celebrate 15-year anniversary of 2001 team with videos, Hall exhibit

The Patriots have announced a series of initiatives to celebrate the 2001 Super Bowl championship team on the 15th aniversary of their title-winning season.

Throughout the course of the 2016 season, the Patriots will feature special content online and on Patriots All-Access that will lead up to Dec. 4, when Gillette Stadium will host a reunion of the 2001 team during halftime of the Patriots-Rams regular-season matchup. 

The Patriots have already featured images of moments from the 2001 campaign on tickets for their eight regular-season home games. They'll also have a special exhibit dedicated to the 2001 team at The Hall at Patriot Place beginning in the fall. In addition, issues of Patriots Football Weekly this year will include posters of shots from the 2001 season. 

"The Super Bowl XXXVI win over the Rams was the first championship for our team and will always hold a very special place in our hearts," Patriots chairman and CEO Robert Kraft said in a statement. "The victory made everyone that ever wore a Patriots uniform or rooted for the Patriots on the bleachers at Foxboro Stadium feel proud to be a fan. I know I am looking forward to reliving some of those great memories throughout the 2016 season."

The Patriots said that video vignettes of the 2001 season will launch this week on Twitter and Facebook as well as on Patriots.com.