Hanrahan impressed with Fenway after first visit


Hanrahan impressed with Fenway after first visit

BOSTON Fenway Park is one of the four ballparks in which Joel Hanrahan has never pitched. The new Red Sox closer had never even visited the ancient park before Tuesday. So, as a fan of baseball history, he made sure to work a tour of the park into his itinerary. He started with the home clubhouse, before a trip to left field and a peek inside the Green Monster before taking in the view from topside.

Its a lot nicer than I thought it was going to be, Hanrahan said. Obviously, theyve put some money into it over the years.

I thought, this place is amazing. A lot bigger than I thought it was. Obviously a ton of history here. Got to go up on the top of the monster, see what its like from that angle. I know my wife is going to be begging me to sit out there one day. It looked great. Got to go in the clubhouse for the first time, try to see where my new office is. Im definitely excited. It looks great.

Hanrahans wife, Kim, was born in Virginia but her parents are from the Greater Boston area and shes visited Fenway several times during family visits.

Shes been to one of the Red Sox-Yankees games here before, Hanrahan said. She said its awesome. The environment of a baseball game is completely different than any other place that shes been. So thatll be a fun experience.

Hanrahan, who turned 31 in October and was acquired in a trade with the Pirates in December, will soon get that experience for himself.

But, pitching in the American League East will also be a relatively new experience for him. In his six-season career with the Nationals and Pirates, Hanrahan has compiled a record of 22-17 with 96 saves and a 3.74 ERA in 353 games (11 starts). With the Pirates in 2012 he was 5-2, with 36 saves, and a 2.72 ERA in 63 games, spanning 59 23 innings.

But, he has appeared in just 15 games, spanning 14 23 innings, against AL East teams 10 against the Orioles, one against the Rays, and four against the Blue Jays. In all, he has compiled a record of 2-1 with three saves, a 4.29 ERA, and a .259 opponents batting average.

Hanrahan has heard the skepticism directed at pitchers going from the National League to the American League.

That's fine, he said. You can say that but you have to go back and look. My job is to get three people out in the ninth inning before I give up the lead so I feel like I've been in some big games. I feel like Ive been in some tough spots. I'm not going to go out there and strike out the side every time. That's not the kind of pitcher that I am. I'm going to come after guys and Im going to give up some hits and stuff like that but no matter where you go youre going to have doubters anyway so I just try not to pay attention to that. My job is to go out there and save the victory for the team and if we have a three-run lead and I give up two runs and we win that game, Im going to be the same guy. I'm going to be happy that we won that game and I think my laid-back personality will come back in that. And I like to have fun, too.

While it wasnt striking out the side, one of the signature moments of his career, Hanrahan said, was striking out Adrian Gonzalez, with the Pirates up by two runs and Dustin Pedroia on second base, to end the game on June 25, 2011, when the Sox visited PNC Park. The Pirates took two of three from the Sox in that series, with Hanrahan earning saves in both.

I think they did play the Gonzalez strikeout it on the Jumobotron every time at PNC, Hanrahan said. Every strikeout to me is awesome. In 2011 that was the time that the Pirates, everyone knew their history and we were right there in the middle of it. I think we were in first place at the time, if not second place. That was a big series for us. That kind of showed us that we could play with anybody at the time. So I think that's kind of like one of the things people remember. The fans were into it, the team was into it. It was a 1- or 2-run game I dont even remember the situation. Just for the Red Sox to come into Pittsburgh, we took two out of three from them, so that was one of the moments that the Pirate fans remembered that year.

Hanrahan knows a few of his new teammates. A second-round pick of the Dodgers in 2000 out of Norwalk High in Iowa, he was roommates with Shane Victorino in the Dodgers organization in 2004. He now lives in Texas and has worked out in the offseason with Will Middlebrooks back there. He was teammates with Pedroia on the 2009 USAS World Baseball Classic team. Hes played against Jonny Gomes and David Ross.

Other than that, he said, its going to be one of them things where Im going to need to study up on the program before I go to spring training.

Its also one of the reasons he wont be pitching in the WBC this year: He wants his new teammates and coaches to get to know him. He hasnt had much of a chance to talk with manager John Farrell or pitching coach Juan Nieves. Another reason he wont be in the WBC this year is that he and Kim are expecting their first child in March.

Hanrahan likes what he sees of the Sox bullpen and its possibilities.

Andrew Miller's always been one of those guys to watch for to see what he's going to do, Hanrahan said. I remember watching him as a starter coming up through Florida... big arm. Franklin Morales has another big arm. I feel like Craig Breslow's been getting people out for 12 years now. Koji Uehara's had a great career. Andrew Bailey I think if he comes back healthy he's got a lot of prove this year so he's going to be coming out strong. I'm not sure what the plans are with Daniel Bard but that's another big arm down there. There's a lot of arms that could get the job done at any time.

I was looking at something on the plane where MLB Network had the top five bullpens and I was thinking they might throw us on there but we'll have to work our way onto there. We'll have to work our way onto it but we belong there.

Former Bruins star Ray Bourque 'in unfamiliar territory'


Former Bruins star Ray Bourque 'in unfamiliar territory'

ANDOVER, Mass. — Former Boston Bruins star Ray Bourque, who's facing a drunken driving charge, says he accepts the responsibility of his actions.

Bourque was charged Friday night with operating under the influence of alcohol and following too closely. He posted bail and was released.

"For the first time in my life, I find myself in unfamiliar territory," Bourque said in a statement released Sunday. "I am not happy about the situation I put myself into."

Andover Police Chief Patrick Keefe said the 55-year-old Bourque was arrested about 11:30 p.m. after his Mercedes-Benz rear-ended a minivan in a construction zone in the city. No injuries were reported.

Bourque is to be arraigned in Lawrence District Court. Police haven't provided a date.

According to The Boston Globe, Bourque currently owns Tresca, a restaurant on Boston's North End.

Chile wins 2nd straight Copa America title as Messi misses


Chile wins 2nd straight Copa America title as Messi misses

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Lionel Messi still awaits his first title with Argentina's national team.

Messi put his penalty kick over the crossbar, Francisco Silva converted Chile's shootout finale and La Roja won their second straight Copa America title by beating Argentina 4-2 on penalty kicks following a 0-0 tie Sunday night.

Playing two days after his 29th birthday, Messi lost a final for the third year in a row following an extra-time defeat to Germany in the 2014 World Cup and a penalty-kicks loss to host Chile in last year's Copa America. The five-time FIFA Player of the Year has won four Champions League titles and eight La Liga crowns with Barcelona, but has never taken a trophy with Argentina's senior team.

For its 100th anniversary, South America's championship was expanded to 16 nations and played in the United States, and Argentina was hoping to win its first major title since 1993.

In an ill-tempered match that included an ejection on each side and eight yellow cards, the match was scoreless through regulation and 30 minutes of extra time, with Argentina's Gonzalo Higuain missing a clear goal-scoring opportunity for the third straight final. Argentina outshot Chile 16-4 and La Roja collapsed three, four and even five defenders around the bearded Messi, then chopped down the diminutive attacker when he tried to accelerate toward the goal.

Messi, who scored five goals in the tournament, had a free kick 28 yards out in the 115th minute after Francisco SIlva fouled him, but the ball deflected off the wall and over the crossbar. Messi's 35-yard free kick was headed on target by Aguero in the 10th minute of extra time, and Chile goalkeeper Claudio Bravo jumped extended his right hand to tip the ball over the crossbar.

Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero saved the opening kick by Arturo Vidal, and up stepped Messi, the best player of his generation and considered alongside Brazil's Pele and Argentina's Diego Maradona as the sport's greatest ever. While he won the titles at the under-20 and Olympic (under-23) levels for Argentina, in the minds of many he needs a title with his nation's senior team to solidify his place as one of the greats.

Messi sent his shot over Bravo — his Barcelona teammate — and into the stands. Messi turned, bowed his head and clenched both fists in frustration.

Nicolas Castillo and Charles Aranguiz converted their kicks for Chile, and Javier Mascherano and Sergio Aguero made theirs, leaving the teams tied 2-2 after three rounds.

Jean Beausejour put Chile ahead, and Bravo dived to his right, saving Lucas Biglia's shot and bringing up Silva, a 30-year-old midfielder. Messi briefly pulled his jersey of his face, as if not wanting to watch.

Romero dived to his left and the shot went in to his right, giving Chile another title.

Messi crouched over, as if in pain, then got up, took off his captain's armband and walked to the bench, where he was consoled by Angel Di Maria. After Messi came back on the field, Aguero put a hand on one of Messi's shoulders. And new FIFA President Gianni Infantino gave Messi a pat on the back when Messi came onto the podium with his teammates for his second-place medal. Messi almost immediately took it off.

It was the fourth final loss for Messi, who also played for Argentina in its penalty-kicks loss to Brazil in the 2004 final.

A crowd of 82,076 at MetLife Stadium — the largest to see a soccer game in New Jersey — raised the tournament total to just under 1.48 million. The average of 46,119, nearly double the 25,223 in Chile last year, will be used by the U.S. Soccer Federation as evidence it deserves to host a World Cup again, likely as part of a bid for the 2026 tournament.

Brazilian referee Heber Lopes became the focus in the first half, ejecting a pair of defenders: Chile's Marcelo Diaz in the 28th minute and Argentina's Marcos Rojo in the 43rd. After issuing six yellow cards during a World Cup qualifier between the nations in March, Lopes handed out eight yellows, including one to Messi for diving in the 40th minute, and the two reds.

Diaz got his first yellow for hacking down Messi about 28 yards out in the 16th minute, then got his second for obstructing a charging Messi about 30 yards out. Rojo received a straight red when he slid into Arturo Vidal from behind and poked away the ball, but Vidal's leg bent awkwardly under his body as he fell.

Higuain had the best first-half chance in the 21st minute when he picked up a giveaway from Gary Medel, dribbled in and chipped the ball over Bravo only to have it roll wide of the far post. It was almost the exact time he broke in alone during the World Cup final against Germany and also shot wide. Higuain also missed a tap-in of Ezequiel Lavezzi's cross during the final minute of regulation in last year's final, then sent his penalty kick during the shootout over the crossbar.