Johnson skates in first practice with the Bruins

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Johnson skates in first practice with the Bruins

Aaron Johnson admits that he didnt really have much of a connection to Boston or the Bruins organization when he signed with the team over the summer.
The 29-year-old has bounced between the Columbus Blue Jackets, Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames, Chicago Blackhawks and New York Islanders over the last nine years, but seemed to finally found a home in Columbus last season. Johnson put up a career-high 16 points in 56 games taking defenseman shifts with the Blue Jackets last year, but didnt hesitate to sign on the dotted line when a perennial Cup contender like the Bruins expressed some interest.
The history speaks for itself here. As long as they expressed interest it was pretty much close the door and sign the contract, said Johnson. When a team like this comes along you just want to be a part of it.
Ive been in the league for nine years, so its trying to bring a little experience while playing well defensively. Hopefully I can chip in offensively every once in a while, but my game is playing good defensive hockey.
The 6-foot-2, 211-pound Johnson skated with his Bruins teammates for the first time on Thursday at Ristuccia Arena, but officially became a member of the team when he met up with his teammates for a group dinner on Wednesday night. Johnson originally signed on with the understanding that he might be a depth defenseman vying with rookie Dougie Hamilton for a spot among the top six.
But with Adam McQuaids blood clot scare in September, theres a good chance Johnson could be in the Bruins' opening lineup on Jan. 19. 
McQuaid is gaining strength and putting back the weight lost away from the weight room for a two-month period following surgery, but may not be ready for full duty when NHL training camp opens.
Johnson is preparing to jump right into the lineup, and will need to get comfortable quickly with a week-long training camp planned.
Im just trying to take it day-by-day. We did a pretty good job of skating every day in Dallas and just doing the best that we could, said Johnson. Hopefully now we go out and have a good camp. There will be a lot of adrenaline and guys excited to play, so Im sure there will be a few missed passes and guys falling down. Its all part of it as long as were ready when the puck drops.
Johnson and his Bruins teammates wont have much choice because little more than a week from now theyll be readying to ride a 48-game regular season roller coaster that wont stop until June.

Now a reliever, Kelly returns to Red Sox, Hembree sent down

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Now a reliever, Kelly returns to Red Sox, Hembree sent down

The Red Sox have recalled right-hander Joe Kelly from Triple-A Pawtucket, where he had been working out of the bullpen, and optioned right-handed reliever Heath Hembree back to the PawSox.

Kelly, originally in the Red Sox starting rotation this season, was plagued by injuries and ineffectiveness as a starter (8.46 ERA) but has rebounded as a reliever in Pawtucket (no runs allowed in five relief innings with one walk and nine strikeouts).

Hembree (4-0, 2.41) has been hit hard since the All-Star break, including giving up a run on three hits and allowing two inherited runners to score in a five-run seventh inning of an 11-9 loss to the Minnesota Twins on Saturday night. 

Three things we learned from the Red Sox’ 11-9 loss to the Twins

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Three things we learned from the Red Sox’ 11-9 loss to the Twins

Three things we learned from the Boston Red Sox’ 11-9 loss to the Minnesota Twins . . .

1) David Price isn’t having fun

Boston’s $217 million-dollar arm had another rough outing -- this time against a team that already has 60 losses.

Those are the team’s he’s supposed to dominate.

“It’s been terrible,” Price said on how his season has gone following the loss. “Just awful.”

Price’s mistakes have often been credited to mechanical mishaps this year. Farrell mentioned that following his start in New York, Price spent time working on getting more of a downhill trajectory on his pitches.

But Price doesn’t think his issue is physical.

So it must be mental -- but he doesn’t feel that’s the case either.

“Honestly I don’t think it’s either one of those,” Price said when asked which he thought was a factor. “It’s me going out there and making pitches. “

But when it comes down to the barebones, pitching -- much like anything else -- is a physical and mental act.

So when he says it’s neither, that’s almost impossible. It could be both, but it has to be one.

His mind could be racing out on the mound from a manifestation of the issues he’s had throughout the season.

Or it could just be that his fastball isn’t changing planes consistently, like Farrell mentioned.

Both could be possible too, but it takes a certain type of physical approach and mental approach to pitch -- and Price needs to figure out which one is the issue, or how to address both. 

2) Sandy Leon might be coming back to Earth

Over his last five games, Boston’s new leading catcher is hitting .176 (3-for-17), dropping his average to .395.

A couple things have to be understood. His average is still impressive. In the five games prior to this dry spell, Leon went 7-for-19 (.368) But -- much like Jackie Bradley Jr. -- Leon hasn’t been known for his offensive output throughout his career. So dry spells are always tests of how he can respond to adversity and make necessary adjustments quickly.

Furthermore, if he’s not so much falling into a funk as opposed to becoming the real Sandy Leon -- what is Boston getting?

Is his run going to be remembered as an exciting run that lasted much longer than anyone expected? Or if he going to show he’s a legitimate hitter that can hit at least -.260 to .280 with a little pop from the bottom of the line-up?

What’s more, if he turns back into the Sandy Leon he’s been throughout his career, the Red Sox will have an interesting dilemma on how to handle the catching situation once again.

3) Heath Hembree has lost the momentum he gained after being called up.

Following Saturday’s contest, the right-hander was demoted to Triple-A Pawtucket after an outing where he went 1/3 of an inning, giving up a run on three hits -- and allowing some inherited runners to score.

Hembree at one point was the savior of the bullpen, stretching his arm out over three innings at a time to bail out the scuffling Red Sox starting rotation that abused it’s bullpen.

His ERA is still only 2.41 -- and this has been the most he’s ever pitched that big league level -- but the Red Sox have seen a change in him since the All-Star break.

Which makes sense, given that hitters have seven hits and two walks against him in his 1.1 innings of work -- spanning four games since the break.

“He’s not confident pitcher right now,” John Farrell said about Hembree before announcing his demotion. “As good as Heath has been for the vast majority of this year -- and really in the whole first half -- the four times out since the break have been the other side of that.”

Joe Kelly will be the pitcher to replace Hembree and Farrell hopes to be able to stretch him out over multiple innings at a time, as well.