Julien sees Bruins conditioning levels evening off quickly

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Julien sees Bruins conditioning levels evening off quickly

BOSTON -- The Bruins should hold some kind of competitive advantage with 12 members of their team playing overseas along with one expected roster player also coming from both the OHL (Dougie Hamilton) and AHL (Chris Bourque). Its the most players any NHL team had in Europe during the four-month lockout and that could be conducive to a quick start to the season.

But Bruins coach Claude Julien also observed that skaters like Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton and Brad Marchand who never went overseas like Tyler Seguin, Patrice Bergeron or Zdeno Chara are already catching up after just three days of official camp practices.

I think that the guys who didnt play, you can see improvement in every day. I find personally that its starting to level off pretty quickly, said Julien. What were going to have to be careful about obviously is the schedule part of it. Guys that are used to this every day on the ice -- and every second day playing -- can handle that.

Those guys who havent played, well have to see how they do in regards to that. Hopefully they do well, but right now I have no complaints. If anything Im pleasantly surprised at the pace and the sharpness in our hockey team.

Thats good news as many wondered whether a big-bodied player like Lucic, who didnt skate much at all in the months of November and December, would struggle badly coming out of the gate. It would appear all Bruins players are past that point, but the quick start could still bring on sore groins and balky hamstrings.

One NHL team has already lost a key player as David Booth blew out his hamstring while undergoing conditioning testing over the weekend, and will be lost to the Canucks for over a month. The Black and Gold arent out of the woods as far as injuries are concerned, and they could be killers during a shortened 48-game season.

But Juliens downright positive assessment of his players bodes well that everyone on the roster is ready to sprint out of the blocks this weekend.

Red Sox-Yankees: Pregame news and observations

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Red Sox-Yankees: Pregame news and observations

BOSTON -- As we get ready for the first Red Sox-Yankee series of the season, some pregame news and observations:

* Eduardo Rodriguez was at Fenway, to be checked by the training staff after his rehab outing in Syracuse Thursday night. Rodriguez allowed three runs -- two earned -- in 3 2/3 innings. He allowed six hits and walked three while striking out two.

"He came through it fine from a health standpoint,'' said John Farrell. "He was probably a little rusty. He's going to need some innings.''
Rodriguez is scheduled to pitch again Tuesday for Pawtucket. The Sox are undecided about what their plans are beyond that, but it seems likely he'll make another rehab start after that.

* Blake Swihart made his debut in the outfield Thursday, and according to Farrell, had just one chance in left: a ball that he initially lost in the lights before eventually recovering.

"The first game, after some work...(he's), as we all are: a work in progress,'' said Farrell. "The footwork was initially something that we had to address (in pre-game work). We've had (minor league outfield coordinator) Billy McMillon in there to work with him. It's been about some of that first-step reads and jumps to his routes to get accustomed to. Here's a guy, for the last four or five years, the game is coming to him (behind the plate). Now, all of a sudden, he's reacting to balls off the bat. It's a completely different view of the game. This is going to take some time in the outfield.''

Farrell said the goal is to get Swihart in the outfield a couple of times per week.

* Farrell hinted that the Sox may be close to dropping a pitcher -- they currently are carrying 13 - and adding another position player. For the past week, the Sox have had just three extra position players on the 25-man roster.

"Maybe (Friday night) might have some impact on that,'' said Farrell, suggesting that as long as starter Henry Owens doesn't need relief help early, the Sox may be in a position tomorrow to swap a reliever for a role player.

As it stands, the Sox have an extra catcher, outfielder Chris Young and infielder Josh Rutledge. Not long ago, they had infielder Marco Hernandez up, but Farrell said it wasn't a given that the player added will be an infielder.

"I don't think we need to center around an infielder,'' said Farrell. "The best complement would be a left-handed bat.''

On the 40-man roster, that profile fits only two players: Hernandez and Swihart, who's a switch-hitter.

Hernandez was optioned back to Pawtucket on April 20, and rules state that a player must spend 10 days in the minors before being recalled. On Saturday, that 10-day period will have elapsed.

It's highly unlikely that Swihart would be brought back so soon, since the Sox want him to continue his development behind the plate and get more comfortable in the outfield.

"We wanted him to come up here and not play more than half the week,'' said Farrell. "I think that derails everything that we're trying to accomplished currently.''

* Joe Kelly (shoulder impingement) threw a 35-pitch bullpen Friday and will throw long-toss Sunday, with another bullpen set for Tuesday. After that, the Sox will schedule his first rehab assignment for an affiliate.

"He's going to need some innings, obviously,'' said Farrell. "We haven't gotten him to full speed yet. For any pitcher, that last five to ten percent of intensity is always the benchmark. We're going to have to build him up to 80-plus pitches.''

* The Red Sox lost lefty Edwin Escobar on a waiver claim to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Escobar was taken off the 40-man roster and designated for assignment when the Sox had to get William Cuevas onto the 40-man roster.

Report: Three NFL owners want Goodell out

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Report: Three NFL owners want Goodell out

According to a site called The Daily Caller, a news site founded by conservative pundit Tucker Carlson, there are three NFL owners who want Roger Goodell out as commissioner. 

"I don't like him," one owner said. "I think it's time for a new commissioner."

Another owner told The Daily Caller, "He's doing things to make himself known, whereas past commissioners have acted only to make the league better. He is creating too many rules that make the game uninteresting. He can be accurately compared to our massive federal government."

A third owner took umbrage with Goodell's salary, which was estimated at about $34 million for last year.

"He’s a figure head that makes a lot more than the people risking their lives and futures every snap when he’s on his couch watching the games," the third owner said. 

Celtics, Hawks admit Bradley injury had big effect on series

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Celtics, Hawks admit Bradley injury had big effect on series

BOSTON - The Celtics weren’t looking to make excuses after their elimination from the playoffs Thursday night.

That said, there had to be a pretty big “if” going around the locker room throughout the series. There certainly was among Celtics fans.

If . . . Avery Bradley was healthy, the Celtics may have won the series.

Health as a whole was a big problem for the Celtics. Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, and Kelly Olynyk were all banged up.

But Bradley injuring his hamstring in Game 1 greatly changed the series, taking away Boston’s best on-ball defender (and one of the league’s best on-ball defenders). Bradley could also be counted on to hit the outside shot, opening up the floor for teammate Isaiah Thomas.

Without Bradley, the Celtics were forced to bring Evan Turner off the bench to start in his place. That took away the bench’s best offensive weapon.

Not having Bradley isn’t the only reason the Celtics lost the series, but it has to be considered a big factor.

“Yeah that hurt us a little bit. That’s a key part of what we’re about,” Jae Crowder said. “We tried to fight through it and the next guy tried to step up. But of course we missed him. We missed him a lot and we missed what he brings to the team. It sucks that it happens, but injuries are a part of it. He had one that he couldn’t fight through and we just tried to step up for him. But at this time of the season, a lot of guys hurt, and his was so unfortunate for us that it kept him out and it hurt us.”

The Celtics’ loss was the Hawks’ gain. Guys like Kyle Korver were able to get free easier at times. Korver  averaged 12.2 points per game and made three three-pointers a game (shooting 45-percent from the three-point line, five percentage points higher than in the regular season). Korver is well aware how important Bradley is to the Celtics.

“He’s a really good player. It’s been incredible to watch his offense catch up to his defense,” Korver said. “When he has it going I look at him as a great shooter. He’s so quick on the dribble handoffs and they run a lot of stuff for him. He’s really improved as a shooter and obviously his defense has always been great. It’s unfortunate that he got hurt, it does feel like they have a lot of guys similar to him; feels like they draft a new one every year. He’s a really good player and that definitely hurt them.”

It had to be tough for Bradley to watch from the bench as his team struggled, but that will hopefully only make him hungrier to win next season, with perhaps another former Texas Longhorn by his side in the starting lineup.