Mallett moving into second position

Mallett moving into second position

By Tom E. CurranFOXBORO - The ins-and-outs of the decision to release Brian Hoyer and make Ryan Mallett the lone back to Tom Brady in 2012 was not a topic Bill Belichick wanted to delve into Sunday. There's no doubt it took some deliberation. Hoyer's got three seasons in the system and has shown an ability to manage the team. Mallett is in his second year and coming out of his first full training camp, one that seemed uneven. Hoyer didn't light it up in the preseason games either but seemed much more accurate, composed and effective in camp practices. But we are left to conjecture on the reasons because Belichick wasn't tipping his hand. "I think I really already covered it," said Belichick. "All the decisions we made were what we felt was best for our football team. That takes into consideration a lot of things: it takes into consideration some of the players that are involved, it also looks at other things on the team and where our other strengths and depth is or isnt. We could be here all day talking about. "We did what we thought was bestfor our team," Belichick continued. "There are several players that arent on our team that I think are good football players. Thats nothing against them, but in the end, we did what we feel was best for the New England Patriots. Thats not a negative commentary on anybody else; its a positive commentary on the players who earned a position on the team."Belichick rebuffed the idea that Hoyer may be more effective now but that Mallett will be better given increased time in the system and practice reps. "I personally wouldn't characterize it that way, but that's alright," he said.In the locker room Sunday, Mallett was all business. Im going to prepare like I always do-like Im starting-and be ready to play when its my turn or Im called upon, he said.Mallett's improvement has been lauded by Belichick throughout training camp. Even in the midst of messy practice after messy practice. I feel more comfortable with the offense and knowing whats going on," he explained. "Im still working every day to improve that and I feel like I can gauge that by the decisions I make on the field and going back and watching film.Mallett says he's still working on throwing refinement and adds that success is about choices. Its about the decisions you make," he said. "You have to be able to get the ball to them. Im not worried about my arm strength as much as everyone else is worried about it. Im just worried about decision making and making the right decisions and getting the ball where it needs to go.A peep about Mallett's arm strength hasn't been heard in these parts. Concerns about the accuracy of his cannon? No doubt. With just two quarterbacks on the roster, though, Mallett's going to get a ton of reps in practices. Belichick said that, two quarterbacks or three, every player gets his practice reps physically and mentally. As for expectations for the third-rounder from Arkansas?"Hes in the on-deck circle," said Belichick. "Hes the next guy, which he wasnt really in that position before. Hes earned that spot now. His position is the same, his responsibility is the same but hes going to get more opportunities in practice to prepare and hes closer to being in the game as the backup rather than as the third. I dont think his preparation is any different, I dont think the process is any different because where he was last year, you could be two plays away instead of one. Who knows whats going to happen? He should have prepared last year the way he prepared this year or the way Tom Brady prepares as the starter. Everybody prepares like theyre going to be in the game, theyre going to play it and were going to count on them. Everybody should be doing the same thing as far as that goes. But his practice opportunities will go up as the second guy as opposed to the third guy, of course."

Monday's Red Sox vs. Orioles lineups: Ortiz back from sore foot

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Monday's Red Sox vs. Orioles lineups: Ortiz back from sore foot

David Ortiz makes his return to the Red Sox lineup after being a late scratch on Sunday due to a sore left foot is sore after getting hit by a pitch Saturday. However, Hanley Ramirez is getting the day off, with Travis Shaw getting the start at first.

The lineups:

ORIOLES:
Adam Jones CF
Hyun Soo Kim LF
Manny Machado SS
Chris Davis 1B
Mark Trumbo DH
Jonathan Schoop 2B
Nolan Reimold RF
Ryan Flaherty 3B
Caleb Joseph C
--
Tyler Wilson P

RED SOX:
Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Travis Shaw 1B
Blake Swihart LF
Ryan Hanigan C
Marco Hernandez 3B
---
Steven Wright P

Red Sox haven't allowed opponents to break out the brooms

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Red Sox haven't allowed opponents to break out the brooms

Through the first sixteen series of the season, the Red Sox are 9-5-3 (two ties coming from two-game sets) en route to their AL East leading 30-20 record.

Boston’s only mustered up two series sweeps -- taking two in Atlanta and three from the Yankees at Fenway -- but they’ve avoided the dreaded broom in each of their five series losses.

In fact, in four of their five series losses the Red Sox earned their lone victory in the final game, with Sunday being the most recent instance.

None of the series finale, sweep-defying wins were cakewalks either. Three of the four were decided by three runs or less -- the other being decided by four.

Boston’s MLB-leading 5.9 runs per game offense scored below its average each time -- so Red Sox pitching didn’t have the same gigantic cushion it’s used to.

Prior to his injury, Joe Kelly was the first savior, chucking five innings allowing two earned runs against a Baltimore Orioles team that was undefeated at that point in the season’s youth. Fast forward to the series at Yankee Stadium and Steven Wright nearly through a shutout, holding the Yankees to one run through nine innings.

In the two most recent cases, David Price’s turn came in the lineup -- and he’s answered the call. Boston’s ace held down both the Kansas City Royals and Toronto Blue Jays -- on the road -- limiting both offenses to two runs each. Both starts have come the day after one-run losses, too.

So while Price’s “stuff” hasn’t been at its best, admitting Sunday it usually isn’t against the Blue Jays, he’s displayed the intangible aces are supposed to have – guts.

Now on any other team, they might be in trouble given Boston’s offense is the best in baseball. Because a bad scoring day for the Red Sox is better than almost half the league’s average day. But they aren’t on any other team, so that’s not the issue.

For all the struggles the Red Sox’ starting pitchers have dealt with, they’ve managed to get the job done when they’ve needed it.

Those wins add up, too.

If the Red Sox are swept in these four series, they sit at 26-24 right in the middle of the AL East -- and this season has an entirely different feel to it.

In an age where numbers have become the central focus of the game, Boston’s starting pitchers have managed to lock-in when the club needs it most -- and must continue to do so.

Nick Friar can be followed on Twitter @ngfriar.

Monday, May 30: Sullivan reminisces about coaching Thornton

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Monday, May 30: Sullivan reminisces about coaching Thornton

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while honoring and remembering those that paid the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freed on this Memorial Day.

*Here’s a hockey column from Mark Madden, which kind of proves his dopiness when it comes to pucks. He writes about Pittsburgh’s excellent shutdown pair of Ian Cole and Justin Schultz, who have averaged a whopping 15 and 13 minutes of ice time respectively in these playoffs. Yeah, that’s not a shutdown pair. That’s called a bottom pairing.

*PHT writer Joey Alfieri with another chapter in hockey’s version of the Never-ending Story: John Scott wants to make his own World Cup team with Phil Kessel.

*Mike Sullivan reminisces about coaching Joe Thornton, and playing for the San Jose Sharks, as his Penguins ready to take on San Jose in the Stanley Cup Final.

*In the interest of self-promotion, here’s me wondering what the heck the Bruins are doing on Sports Sunday last night on CSN.

*Apparently Alex Semin is going to stay in the KHL for this coming season. I don’t think anybody is too heartbroken around the NHL about this given the way things ended for him.

*Buffalo’s Mike Harrington says that Sidney Crosby returns to the Stanley Cup Final with a new kind of hunger

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Mike Zeisberger goes 1-on-1 with Joe Thornton, who says that the cat likes his Hillbilly Jim playoff beard.

*For something completely different: I haven’t yet read this Joe Posnanski piece on the play Hamilton and his daughter, but I’ll include it because everybody says that it’s great.