Hamilton can't wait to jump into the NHL battle

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Hamilton can't wait to jump into the NHL battle

While its natural to think that 19-year-old Dougie Hamilton is going to face his biggest challenge manning up against bigger, stronger, crazier opponents bearing down on him in the battle zones within his own end of the ice, the young defenseman has his own ideas. With the NHL season-opener finally on tap and intense, hard-charging forwards like Ryan Callahan ready to invade the TD Garden ice along with the rest of the Blueshirts, Hamilton said that making the jump from the OHL to the NHL will allow to battle a little bit more himself.

The 6-foot-5, 199-pound Hamilton has a big frame that will allow him to pack on much more muscle as he fills out, and he has a long reach with his stick that will frustrate opponents defensively if he has the proper technique and position. But the former first round pick also felt that refs watched him closely in the OHL because he so much bigger than many opponents he matched up against.

That kind of scrutiny allowed him less chance to unleash his physical play, and in theory should free him defensively in the corners and in front of the net.

This is a day Ive been waiting for and looking forward to, and Im excited to get it going. Theres adrenaline and thats something you get used to, but Im just going to go out there, smile and have as much fun as I can, said Hamilton, who had 41 points and a plus-24 in 32 games for the Niagara IceDogs this season. There are a few things that will be different than Im used to, but it was nice to get into that scrimmage on Tuesday night. I can visualize it a bit now.

The battle level is different, and for meI like that. At times cross-checking guys and things like that you cant do in the OHL because youll get a penalty. Thats something Ive got to get used to: what I can get away with and what I can do. Its another thing Ill adjust to.

On the other side of the coin, however, Hamilton could get the rookie treatment, and that means getting sent to the penalty box early and often by referees if he takes too many liberties with aggressive opponents. But thats the balancing act a talented young defenseman must perform while learning his craft, and its something hell only learn through on-the-job training.

With an opening night spot in the Bs lineup skating with Dennis Seidenberg and a point position on the teams second power play unit, Hamilton will get a good, long look from the Bruins.

Hes a pretty good all-around defenseman, and what hes got to do is just gain some experience, said Claude Julien. That can only be done with time. We all know hes got the size, we all know that he can move the puck well, we all know he skates well and hes got great hockey sense.

Where is his weakness? The only weakness hes got is the lack of experience and weve got to allow him to get that. We like where he is and what hes brought so far. Weve seen a lot of guys the same way he has and done well, and we expect him to be that kind of guy.

The NHL apprenticeship for the teen-aged Hamilton begins tonight against the Rangers, and its expected to be a crowd-pleaser here in Boston.

Deal is done: Patriots announce they've traded Stork for conditional 7th rounder

Deal is done: Patriots announce they've traded Stork for conditional 7th rounder

FOXBORO -- The Patriots didn't release third-year center Bryan Stork, though they informed him they would do so early on Wednesday. Instead, they traded him to the Washington Redskins. 

The deal was announced on Wednesday afternoon. In return for the former fourth-round pick out of Florida State, the Patriots received a conditional 2017 seventh-round pick from Washington.

Stork is reportedly mulling retirement. If he does not report to the Redskins, and the conditions of the deal are not met, the Patriots would not receive compensation.

The seventh-round pick would provide the Patriots with a seventh-rounder in 2017 that they didn't have when the day began. The team traded its original seventh-rounder to the Lions last season in exchange for tight end Michael Williams.

(The Patriots could, in theory, receive a seventh-rounder from the Lions since they received a conditional seventh in a trade for linebacker Jonathan Bostic, who was sent to Detroit in May. But because Bostic is recovering from foot surgery, the conditions of that trade may prevent the pick from ever making its way to New England.)

The Patriots informed Stork of his release early Wednesday, but before that move was processed, the Patriots and Redskins were able to work out a deal. 

Stork has had difficulty staying healthy as a pro, his emotions sometimes got the best of him on the field, and teammate David Andrews had beaten him for the starting center role with the Patriots. Still, Stork's teammate and friend Jimmy Garoppolo said it was tough to see Stork move on.

Despite the question marks that accompany Stork's arrival in Washington -- that is, if he decides to report -- the Redskins were more than willing to pay the modest price to acquire him. They are desperate for help at the center position.

Sandoval happy to return to the field after shoulder surgery

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Sandoval happy to return to the field after shoulder surgery

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- For the first time in months, Pablo Sandoval met up with his Red Sox teammates Wednesday, breaking from his rehab program two hours away in Fort Myers.

Sandoval, who underwent shoulder surgery in April to repair a torn labrum, has been working out six days per week at the club's spring training complex and appeared noticeably lighter.

"I just starting taking ground balls two days ago,'' said Sandoval. "I feel a little better. I'm happy to be back here with my teammates and happy that I'm starting to work in the field.'' 

Sandoval said his surgically repaired left shoulder is "not back to normal, but it's feeling a lot better. I've started doing a lot of things in the field -- ground balls, playing catch, handling the ball, working out.''

He plans to see Dr. James Andrews soon, and hopes to get clearance to start swinging a bat.

Sandoval appeared to make some veiled references to his weight and conditioning, saying "you learn a lot. You learn from all the mistakes you make, all the things in the past. I have good people around me, supporting me every single day.''

He added that he feels "way different'' than he did in spring training.

"Now that I've learned my lesson,'' he said, "I can do a better job out there. Everything out there is not easy. You have to work hard to learn all the things you were doing wrong. I'll keep working hard and do everything I can to be a better person on the field and off the field.''

As he grinds through conditioning and rehab, Sandoval said he's motivated by "my little boy (Leon). Every time I wake up, I want to do everything for (him), so he can see me back on the field, playing baseball.''

He deflected a question when asked what role he envisioned for himself next February at the start of spring training.

"Whatever,'' he said. "I'm just going to do best that I can. I just want to prepare myself to be better next year.''

Sandoval met with John Farrell Wednesday afternoon.

"He's in good spirits,'' Farrell said. "I think he feels good with all the work he's done. To date, he's done a good job with what he's been capable of doing. The one thing that's clear in getting to know Pablo, I see a guy who's got a lot of pride. Maybe things haven't worked out the way he anticipated through the first two years.

"But it's clear through my conversation with him that he's motivated, he feels like he's got a lot to prove. And I think when you combine his ability with the drive and motivation, this has got a chance to prove to be a productive player here in Boston.''

Meanwhile, Sandoval acknowledged that the Red Sox had not seen him at his best in his two seasons with the club.

"I know that I can prove more and do a better job out there,'' he said. "Things happen for a reason. I'm happy, but I'm not satisfied with the things I'm doing. I'm just going to keep working hard, continue my rehab and be better for next year.''

Sandoval said he misses the game, but watches the Red Sox on TV "every single day.''

"This (time down) is a bonus for me,'' he said. "I want to play, but at the same time, I (get) to see my baby growing up.''

 

All signs point to Rodriguez returning to rotation Sunday, Buchholz to bullpen

All signs point to Rodriguez returning to rotation Sunday, Buchholz to bullpen

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- It won't be made official until Thursday, but all signs point to Eduardo Rodriguez returning to the Red Sox' starting rotation Sunday night against the Kansas City Royals.

That, in turn, should also result in Clay Buchholz going back to the bullpen after three spot starts recently.

Rodriguez, who pulled himself out of his last scheduled start Sunday in Detroit when he wasn't confident that he could compete with a strained left hamstring, threw a three-inning simulated game Tuesday and emerged from that session convinced that he was heading toward a return to the rotation.

But just to make sure, the Sox want Rodriguez to test himself physically Thursday morning before the Sox complete their road trip with a game here Thursday afternoon.

"He went through some aggressive long toss today,'' said John Farrell of Rodriguez, "and came out that feeling fine, no restrictions in the hamstring. We'll take this each work day at a time. Once we get through tomorrow, we'll have a little bit more clarity going forward.''

Buchholz threw 94 pitches while allowing a run on five hits over 6 1/3 innings Tuesday night, so he wouldn't be available out of the bullpen for a few days.

"He's going to need a couple of days down regardless,'' noted Farrell.