Patriots ready to deal with the heat in Miami

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Patriots ready to deal with the heat in Miami

FOXBORO -- Baggy sweatpants were in style at Patriots practice on Thursday. So were hooded sweatshirts stuffed underneath light shoulder pads. Some players wore shorts but had leg-warming tights on underneath.

It was hovering around 40 degrees outside of Gillette Stadium and Patriots players -- save for the one or two who were impervious to the cold and wore shorts and no sleeves -- did what they could to stay warm.

They won't have any such problem on Sunday in Miami. The forecast in South Florida calls for temperatures to reach as high as the upper 70s with a chance of showers.

It will be quite the climate change for the Patriots, but they seem prepared.

Vince Wilfork played his college ball at the University of Miami so he knows how to play in the heat.  

"Hydrate a lot," he said. "A lot of conditioning. Just making sure that you're ready to go. The biggest thing is you can't go down there thinking about the weather. Everybody knows in South Florida you can have thunder storms, you can have sunny, you can have whatever it may be except for snow . . . Just some things on that day you'll have to deal with.

"Hydration plays a big, big factor. Going down there and playing, especially if you get a nice hot day, one o'clock ballgame, you just have to be able to hydrate well and do everything you can during the week to get your body prepared to play in a place like that."

From what they've shared with the media this week, the Patriots haven't done much to simulate the temperatures they'll feel in Miami. They practiced outside on both Wednesday and Thursday, not opting for the warmer confines of their practice bubble. Coach Bill Belichick explained that it was more important to practice on grass -- the same surface they'll see against the Dolphins -- than it was to practice in a warmer environment.

Wes Welker -- who is from Oklahoma, played in college at Texas Tech, and spent time with the Dolphins earlier in his career -- knows what it's like to play in the heat as well. 

"Make sure you're in shape," he suggested. "Drink plenty of water. Eat right. Make sure you're ready for a little bit of heat that we haven't had up here lately."

Welker didn't think the weather would be too big of an issue, though from his experience, it will be more difficult for the Dolphins to come up to Foxboro in Week 17.

"Personally," Welker said. "Warm to cold is definitely the toughest."

For Aqib Talib, acquired in a trade-deadline deal from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the heat will be a welcome change from the weather conditions at his new home.

"It'll be nice," he said. "It definitely will be nice, playing in about 70 degree weather."

Unlike his teammates, Talib didn't feel the need to preach the importance of drinking fluids in order to guard against cramping or dehydration.

"We're all grown me out here," he said. "We all know how to do that."

Danny Ainge tweets photo from scouting trip in Croatia

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Danny Ainge tweets photo from scouting trip in Croatia

Where in the world is Danny Ainge? The Celtics president of basketball operations let everyone know on Wednesday by sharing a photo from Croatia.

The tweet shows Kresimir Cosic and Drazen Petrovic pictured on a wall and the caption: “Two of my all-time favorite players and people.”

Here’s the photo:

Ainge spent two seasons playing with Petrovic, and Cosic went to BYU, Ainge’s alma mater.

But Ainge isn’t in Croatia sightseeing. He’s scouting. With the 2016 NBA Draft less than one month away, we're entering crunch time of draft preparations.

Cibona Zagreb has two draft prospects on their roster: Ante Zizic and Nik Slavica.

Zizic is likely the player Ainge had his eyes on. He’s a 6-foot-11 center who has endless energy on the floor and bullies opponents with his bulk in the paint. With three first-round picks, the Celtics might have to draft-and-stash one of their prospects. Zizic could be on their radar with the No. 23 pick in the first-round.

Cibona won Game 2 of the Croatian League's semi-final playoff game 8-81 over Zadar. Zizic had a solid stat line with 12 points and 13 rebounds playing in front of Ainge.

But you're probably wondering about Dragan Bender. He plays on Thursday in Tel Aviv, Israel. If Ainge makes the nine-hour flight over the Mediterranean Sea he'll get a first-hand look at their potential choice with the third pick.

Sweeney: Bruins head to market seeking 'transitional defenseman'

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Sweeney: Bruins head to market seeking 'transitional defenseman'

BOSTON -- This isn't exactly a state secret: The Bruins are on the lookout for a puck-moving, top-pairing defenseman who can help their transition game, and aid them in more easily breaking the puck out of their own zone.

The B's basically had two top-4 defensemen on their roster last season -- Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara were the only two on the Boston roster who topped 20 minutes of ice time per game -- and tried to fill in the blanks with Kevan Miller, Adam McQuaid, Dennis Seidenberg and several other young blueliners. Their success, or lack thereof, is reflected in the fact they finished 19th in the league in goals allowed.

So general manager Don Sweeney said during a Wednesday conference call with reporters that the team is in search of a “transitional” defenseman, and will do whatever is necessary to acquire one.

In Sweeney's words, the Bruins will be “aggressive” and pursue improving the hockey club “in any way, shape or form".

There are plenty of signs that Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk could figure prominently in Boston’s trade pursuits this summer, and free agents Keith Yandle and Alex Goligoski would be immediate upgrades in the “transitional defenseman” department. But the Bruins were also on a mission to get a “transitional defenseman” last season as well, and came up empty (aside from early season flameout Matt Irwin and 35-year-old journeyman John-Michael Liles acquired at the trade deadline).

They had grand plans to trade up in the first round of last year's draft and nab Boston College's Noah Hanifin. But -- after dealing Dougie Hamilton to the Calgary Flames for three 2016 draft picks -- they were unable to move into position to draft Hanifan.

So it’s clear that making efforts to land that elusive defenseman, and actually closing the deal, are two extremely different things.

Toward that end, Sweeney also talked about looking for defensive help from within the organization. 

“We’ve had talks with (Krug, a restricted free agent) and we’ll find, whatever term that ends up being . . . we’ll find a contract for him," said Sweeney. "But we’re looking for balance. We’re also looking for players like Colin Miller to take the next step. We’ve got younger players that will hopefully push, and that’s what you want.

“You want the depth of the organization to be there for the younger players to push somebody out because they’re ready to play . . . (young players such as) [Matt] Grzelcyk and [Rob] O’Gara. And [I] just came back from seeing [Jeremy] Lauzon play. You know [we're] very excited about the trajectory of that player and the possibility (of his making the NHL roster) down the road, depending on what his development curve looks like and when he gets in here and [starts] playing against the men.

“We’ve got pieces in place that will hopefully push the group that we currently have and that’s what you want. You want that internal competition that players feel like they better perform."

But, he added, "we’re also looking outside the marketplace because we need to continue to transition the puck better.”

Wednesday's Red Sox-Rockies lineup: Ramirez back at first base

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Wednesday's Red Sox-Rockies lineup: Ramirez back at first base

BOSTON -- Hanley Ramirez had to come out of Tuesday night's game after getting hit in the foot with a pitch, but fears that he'd be sidelined for a while were unfounded.

Ramirez is back in the lineup tonight, at first base and batting fifth as always, as the Red Sox host the Rockies in the second game of a three-game series. In addition, Travis Shaw -- who was held out of Tuesday's starting lineup because of a minor hand injury but who came in as Ramirez's replacement after the HBP -- is back at third base, hitting seventh.

Jackie Bradley Jr. has been moved up to sixth as John Farrell continues to search for ways to make sure Bradley isn't pitched around. Bradley will be attempting to extend his hitting streak to 29 tonight.

The lineups:

ROCKIES:
Charlie Blackmon CF
DJ LeMahieu 2B
Nolan Arenado 3B
Carlos Gonzalez RF
Mark Reynolds 1B
Gerardo Parra LF
Ryan Raburn DH
Tony Wolters C
Cristhian Adames SS
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Chat Bettis P

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