Hazelbaker 'relieved' after not being taken in Rule 5 draft


Hazelbaker 'relieved' after not being taken in Rule 5 draft

PAWTUCKET The Rule 5 draft can produce mixed results, for the players taken and the teams involved. Roberto Clemente is perhaps the most surprising name on the list of players that were once Rule 5 draft picks. Recent Red Sox acquisition Shane Victorino is also on the list. Clemente was taken by the Pirates from the Brooklyn Dodgers and went on to a Hall of Fame career that was cut short by a tragic plane crash. Victorino was returned by the Padres to the Dodgers just a few months after he was taken.

Either way, though, it can be an unsettling time if youre a player who is left exposed by a team to the Rule 5 draft. Jeremy Hazelbaker found himself in that position for the first time this year. He was one of several players the Sox chose not to put on their 40-man roster, leaving them available to be taken.

I dont know if surprised is the right word, Hazelbaker said. You hope for something good to happen with the 40-man roster, being put on the 40-man. Everybody hopes for something to happen thats good for them in their baseball career. Thats just something that every minor leaguer thats in that situation hopes for. But you just cant let that affect you. You just have to treat it like its just one more thing in your baseball career that you have to deal with.

I wasnt paying attention to the draft on Thrusday. But, of course, my family was and my agent was telling me what was going on. But, of course, I wanted to know how it turned out. But I wasnt going to sit there and watch it on the computer.

Hazelbaker, 25, the Sox fourth-round pick in 2009 out of Ball State, was not taken.

I guess you could say I was relieved, he said. But it was nice to know where you stood. As a player it was nice to know where I stood and what that meant for me and my career at this point and how to go about the offseason.

Hazelbaker, who was at McCoy Stadium Saturday for Pawtuckets Christmas party, ended last season with the PawSox. In seven games, he hit .267, going 8-for-30, with three RBI and three stolen bases, playing four games in left field and serving as the designated hitter in three. He carried a seven-game hitting streak into the postseason after a 10-game hitting streak before his promotion from Double-A Portland -- as the PawSox won the International League championship for the first time in 28 years. In 114 games with the Sea Dogs, he hit .273 with 19 home runs, 64 RBI, and 33 stolen bases in 44 attempts, a 75 percent success rate. He tied a franchise record with four stolen bases on July 22 at New Hampshire. He also had 10 outfield assists in 80 games eight assists in 65 games in left field, two in 16 games in right.

It was great, Hazelbaker said of his time in Pawtucket. They were making a playoff push, and being able to be one of the players to come up here and help it was great to be a part of that and kind of get my feet wet for next season. And to know I came up here at the time where the best teams are playing, theyre putting their best players out there to be a part of that so you know what to expect for next season.

I cant say one certain thing really as the biggest difference between Double-A and Triple-A but I guess just the caliber of players. You play ex-big leaguers, current big leaguers, guys that are just down here because theres not enough spots on the roster in the big leagues. Theres so many talented guys here and so many guys with big league experience. You just hope to be one of those guys one day where another up-and-coming player looks at you and is like Man, hes played in the big leagues or hes playing in the big leagues. So just being around guys with big league experience.

For the first time, Hazelbaker played winter ball this offseason. Appearing in eight games with Obregon of the Mexican League, he hit .261 (6-for-23) with two home runs, three RBI, and three stolen bases in four attempts.

It was a great experience, he said. Its like a Yankees-Red Sox game every game. Everybodys excited. Everybodys on their feet, cheering, yelling every pitch. It was great to be a part of that.

Hazelbaker will likely start the season with the PawSox. His take on the outfield situation between Boston and Pawtucket?

A lot of guys, he said. A lot of players. We got a lot of money in the outfield right now, a lot of great players, a lot of big leaguers that have been up there for a while that know the game. Its good for me as a young player to be able to see them, to see what they're going to do and hopefully I get a chance to be around them in spring training so I can learn from them. But theres a lot of guys.

Hazelbaker, a native of Indiana, will be in Massachusetts now until spring training, working out at a facility in Hudson. In each of his four seasons with the Sox except 2010 when he spent the whole season with Single-A Greenville hes earned a promotion during the season. Hes hoping to do that again in 2013.

Just to keep performing and do what I did last season the second half of the season, to go up another level, he said of his goals for next season. Ive gone up a level each season and hopefully I can do the same thing next season. I just want to tighten my game up.

Celtics-Bulls preview: C's quickly turn page to new-look Bulls


Celtics-Bulls preview: C's quickly turn page to new-look Bulls

BOSTON – Change is an inevitable when it comes to NBA rosters.

Just as the Boston Celtics significantly altered the outlook many had for them this season by signing Al Horford to a four-year, $113 million contract, they face a Chicago Bulls team tonight that has also undergone significant change.

The Bulls traded away one favorite son (Derrick Rose) and went about adding another in Dwyane Wade.

In addition to Wade, Chicago also signed former Celtic All-Star Rajon Rondo to join a team headlined by All-Star guard Jimmy Butler.

As easy as it could have been to worry about the struggles they had in disposing of the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday, the Celtics knew they had to immediately turn the page and shift their focus towards a Chicago Bulls team that’s looking to start its season with a quality win over the Celtics.

“They’re a good team. They have great players over there,” said Jae Crowder. “They’re trying to figure it out. They’re going to be very excited to play of course. We have to take care of business, play the way we want to play and impose our will even more.”

One of the keys to knocking off the Bulls will be to get better play from their second unit.

Boston’s backups were outscored 58-40 but more significant than that was their inability to hold off the late-charging Nets which forced head coach Brad Stevens to bring his starters back on to the floor with about two minutes to play.

Among the reasons contributing to the bench’s ineffective play on Wednesday was the fact that Marcus Smart (left ankle sprain) was out.

Remember, Smart has been with the second unit for all of training camp minus the second half of their 121-96 preseason loss to the New York Knicks.

Crowder believes not having Smart, who will be out for another week or so, was indeed a factor in the second unit’s struggles.

“They trying to figure it out on the fly,” Crowder said. “With a few days of practice and probably one tough day of practice without him. It’s tough but they’re figuring it out. There’s no other way to figure it out but in a game. They’ll figure it out as soon as possible.”

Ortiz wins Hank Aaron Award as top hitter in American League


Ortiz wins Hank Aaron Award as top hitter in American League

CLEVELAND -- David Ortiz is heading into retirement with some more hardware.

The Boston Red Sox slugger captured the Hank Aaron Award on Wednesday as the top hitter in the American League this season. Budding Chicago Cubs star Kris Bryant was honored as the top hitter in the National League.

The award was presented before Game 2 of the World Series between the Cubs and Cleveland. It was determined through a combination of fan voting and a panel that includes Aaron and other Hall of Fame players.

The 40-year-old Ortiz hit .315 with 38 home runs, 127 RBIs and 48 doubles in the 20th and final season of his major league career. His 541 career home runs rank 17th all-time.

The 24-year-old Bryant hit .292 with 39 home runs and 102 RBIs while helping the Cubs cruise to the NL Central title and eventually a spot in the World Series. Shortly after being honored, Bryant singled in the first inning for his first Series hit.