By Tom E. CurranFOXBORO - Brandon Spikes, Stevan Ridley and Patrick Chung were among not taking part in early practice Monday as the Patriots worked out in shells prior to Wednesday's preseason finale against the Giants. Ridley and Chung watched from the sidelines while Spikes and running back Shane Vereen were not seen on the field during the small window afforded to media observation. Others not seen include tight end Visanthe Shiancoe, linebacker Tracy White, safety Will Allen, linebacker Tracy White, offensive lineman Matt Kopa and offensive lineman Nick McDonald. Jabar Gaffney, Markus Zusevics and Myron Pryor were also on the sidelines. Bill Belichick said there were "a lot ofballs in the air" on Monday with the looming cut to 75, the Patriots Kickoff Gala on Monday night, preparations for the preseason finale and the first regular season game. Asked for an update on erstwhile offensive lineman Brian Waters, Belichick said, "I don't have one. I'm happy to discuss the players that are here." Speaking for a few minutes with Tom Brady in the locker room, the quarterback assured that, "We'll be fine" when asked about the offensive line. "We'll be good." Meanwhile, at the other end of the locker room, I caught up with Rob Ninkovich who sighed when asked about the defense and said there's a "ways to go" in terms of mastering fits and timing. On Aaron Hernandez, Belichick said, "Aaron has improved a lot. Hes worked hard, hes improved a lot in all phases of the game: passing game, running game, protection and his overall versatility. Hes done a good job for us."As for his feelings on getting an extension done with Hernandez, "Any contract that we agree to is one that were in support of. If we agree to a contract on a player, then were in support of that player, the length of the contract, the amount that were paying him, all the other things that go with the contract. We wouldnt do it if we werent in support of it, as an organization, me personally, all of the above." Belichick seems to be enjoying the competition at running back, saying, "Each guy kind of brings a little bit of a different dimension to the position, although they all have the basic same requirements of the position, but they all do it a little differently because of their style or makeup or physical abilities or what have you. Its been interesting to watch that group work and theyve all been productive. Well continue to evaluate that and Im sure that in some way theyll all be able to contribute for us depending on what were doing."
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- First impressions from the Red Sox' 8-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays:
Rick Porcello gave the Red Sox everything they needed - except for that fourth inning.
On the current road trip, the Red Sox starters had been knocked around regularly, getting knocked out of the box early. The bullpen was overworked and the offense demoralized from being down early, night after night.
Beyond allowing a two-out double to Evan Longoria, Porcello pitched a virtually incident-free first inning and really wasn't pressured through the first three innings.
In the fourth, his command essentially disappeared, as he issued three walks, the last of which came with the bases loaded, forcing in a run. But with the bases loaded and just one out, Porcello toughened, retiring Logan Forsythe on a flyout to shallow right, then slipping a called third strike past Brad Miller.
The inning took its toll as far as elevating Porcello's pitch count, with 39 pitches needed. That eventually cost him an inning, but he got through six frames and allowed just one run.
All things considered, it was one of the most important starts of the season for a Red Sox pitcher.
Even on nights when he's not contributing at the plate, Bryce Brentz helps out with his glove.
Brentz has been a nice surprise at the plate since being called up last week when the Red Sox ran out of left fielders, with seven hits in his first four games.
On Tuesday, he was hitless with three stirkeouts, but he made a terrific sliding catch in the sixth, coming on to make a sliding grab on a sinking liner from Nick Franklin.
Brentz has always been well thought of as a defender in the outfield with a strong arm, and for past week, he's shown that with a number of fine plays in left.
There was an obvious sense of urgency to the Red Sox
You could sense it as Hanley Ramirez scored from first on a double by Jackie Bradley Jr. in the fifth. Or the hustle shown by Bradley in the seventh, going first-to-home with a slide to score on a double by Travis Shaw.
You could see it -- and hear it -- when Porcello pitched out of his bases-loaded, one-out jam in the fourth. Porcello let loose with a primal scream as he got Brad Miller on a called third strike, stranding three baserunners.
It's hard to label a game in late June as a "must win'' but given how the first four games of this road trip have played out, this was close. And the Red Sox responded.
BOSTON -- When you’re the Boston Celtics and you have your sights set on a star like Kevin Durant, the potential impact on your roster is undeniable.
That’s a good thing, right?
Well . . . not exactly.
One of the options that the Celtics are considering during the free agency period is whether to waive Amir Johnson and Jonas Jerebko before July 3 which would create additional salary cap space to potentially sign Durant and another near max-salaried player.
But here’s the problem.
Boston could potentially waive Johnson and Jerebko, fail to get Durant or another elite free agent and see the duo gone for nothing in return while they play their way into a big contract toiling in the NBA’s basement with one of the league’s worst teams.
How you ask?
Multiple league sources contacted by CSNNE.com Tuesday night indicated that if the Celtics waive both players, it’s “very likely” that both will be claimed off waivers.
According to a league office official, waiver priority goes to the team with the worst record attempting to claim a player.
And what team had the worst record in the NBA last season?
Yup. The 10-win Philadelphia 76ers.
And what team was right behind them, or ahead depending on how you look at things?
The lowly, 17-win Los Angeles Lakers.
Johnson is due $12 million next season while Jerebko is due to earn $5 million, chump change in this new age of the NBA with the 2016-2017 salary cap expected to be around $94 million.
In addition, both players would join clubs in contract years. Couple that with each being relatively productive and there’s the potential for each player to have a really big season.
Johnson was the Celtics’ top rim-protector last season, in addition to being a solid pick-and-roll defender. He also averaged 7.3 points, 6.4 rebounds with 1.7 assists and 1.1 blocked shots per game.
And Jerebko shot 39.8 percent from 3-point range last season, and finished up the playoffs in the starting lineup.
The Celtics are well aware of how valuable both players were to Boston’s success last season, and how their production relative to their contracts makes them extremely important to whatever team they play for.
To lose them for what would essentially be a lottery ticket in the Durant sweepstakes, is certainly a gamble that it remains to be seen if the Celtics are willing to take.
Best-case scenario for Boston is to know where they stand with Durant within the first 24 hours of free agency which would then allow them time to make a more informed decision about Johnson and Jerebko’s futures.
As you can imagine, the Celtics are as eager as any team to know what Durant plans to do this summer.
Because the way things are starting to take shape with Boston’s pursuit of the former league MVP, he’s going to have an impact on the Celtics’ roster one way or another.
According to a hockey source, Don Sweeney and the Boston Bruins “are preparing an offer sheet” this week for Winnipeg Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba as an aggressive option to land a No. 1 defenseman after trades didn’t pan out at last weekend’s NHL Draft.
The Bruins have watched Trouba closely for some time, and clearly have an interest in the 22-year-old D-man with size, offensive abilities and a workhorse nature that’s seen him average more than 22 minutes of ice time per game since entering the league as a 19-year-old.
Trouba is coming off a six-goal, 21-point season while playing in 81 games for the Jets, and was a career-best plus-10 for Winnipeg. With Trouba, a restricted free agent, and the Jets locked into big money deals to fellow right shot D-men in Dustin Byfuglien and Tyler Myers, the writing has been on the wall for some time that the Jets would need to give one of them up.
Now it appears the Bruins may be willing to put their money, and their assets, where their interest is, and come up with an offer sheet that totals a minimum of $47 million for Trouba’s services.
Part of that high total is crafting an offer that the Winnipeg Jets aren’t going to match, and part of that is the Bruins’ own doing while casually tossing away their own draft picks. Because they sent their 2017 third round pick to the Flyers for Zac Rinaldo and their 2017 second round pick to New Jersey for Lee Stempniak, the Bruins must put together an offer sheet with an average annual value (AAV) of at least $9.3 million that will require Boston to give up four consecutive first round picks as compensation.
The good news for the Bruins: for offer sheet purposes, AAV is determined by dividing the total compensation offered by the lesser of the length of the contract, or by five. For contracts longer than five years in term, this will result in a higher AAV than simply dividing the contract total by the number of years.
Example: a 7 year offer sheet worth $49 million total, would be considered an AAV of $9.8 million ($49 million divided by 5) for offer sheet compensation purposes. That means the Bruins could make an offer sheet to Trouba in the $7-8 million per season neighborhood on a seven year deal, a reasonable contract if Trouba turns into the No. 1 defenseman that the B’s are envisioning.
The real price for the Black and Gold would be surrendering four first round picks, but the Bruins have made five first round picks in the last two years while stockpiling their prospect cupboard. The B’s have also been hit-or-miss with their first round picks, so sacrificing a few of them for a surefire, young defenseman would theoretically be worth the price.
Clearly the offer sheet route is the product of Bruins’ frustration at being unable to broker a deal for Kevin Shattenkirk or Cam Fowler last weekend in Buffalo, and at the realization that they need a stud No. 1 defenseman in order to again be competitive in the Eastern Conference. Perhaps even the threat of an offer sheet could spur the Jets into dealing Trouba, just as the threat of an offer sheet pushed forward the trades of Dougie Hamilton and Brandon Saad last season.
Dirty Water Media Bruins reporter James Murphy was also reporting the buzz that the B's are exploring their offer sheet option.