Rask ready to slow down for '100-mph' hockey

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Rask ready to slow down for '100-mph' hockey

Things have certainly changed with the Boston Bruins.

In his final season with the Bs Tim Thomas decided he didnt want to speak to reporters on game days, and wouldnt have been standing with his arms folded at his dressing room stall waiting for the questions.

But its a new goaltending era in Boston, and Tuukka Rask was ready, willing and able to answer everything that came his way as the proving ground for his case as franchise goaltender begins tonight against the New York Rangers. Rask has sufficiently shaken off the six goals he allowed in Tuesdays scrimmage against the Providence Bruins, and had his game face on.

Its exciting, said Rask, who finished with a 2.05 goals against average and .929 save percentage in 22 games last season. I feel like our team had a good morning skate and were ready to go. I was trying to get my mind back and legs back this week, and I think I was able to do that.

Itll be a tricky challenge for Rask as hes the kind of big, rangy goaltender that is at his best when his body is quiet and trained on the path of the puck. The between-the-pipes gymnastics common during Tim Thomas time in goal is now a thing of the past for the Black and Gold, but it becomes a tough trick for a goal that will have gallons of adrenaline coursing through his veins.

Theres little doubt things will look like somebody hit the fast-forward button in the first few minutes of the game, but Rask is just looking to settle in and start making his case for being Bostons No. 1 goaltender.

I just hope its not going to be 100-mph with everybody getting in front of me so I cant see a thing, said Rask. Thats the toughest part for a goalie when you havent played in a long time: staying calm and letting the puck come to you rather than over-moving or over-thinking. Its going to be fast out there and thats something I have to be mentally prepared for.

Not to put too much pressure on the 26-year-old Rask, but its not unfair to say the Bruins ultimate fate for this season hinges on the Finnish goaltender. If he can utilize the strong defensive players around him and make the most of Claude Juliens system designed to keep shooters to the perimeter of the offensive zone, the Bruins will be among a short list of Stanley Cup favorites.

If Rask has issues with his glove hand or develops a habit of giving up a bad goal per game in the early going, then the Bruins could be saddled as a middle of the pack playoff team with last years first round fate likely to be repeated.

Its perhaps unfair to heap so much pressure and responsibility on one player, but Tim Thomas exit is the only major change to a team that won the Stanley Cup two years ago and was the best team in hockey last season until Tim Thomas decided to skip out on the White House visit.

They could be both of those things again if Rask can stop 93 percent of the shots that hell face, and avoid groin problems or simply tiring out while shouldering a sizeable workload.

Quite simply Rask needs to live up to being the young goalie that led the NHL in goals against average and save percentage as a rookie three years ago.

After strong bullpen session, Koji Uehara could be back by Labor Day

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After strong bullpen session, Koji Uehara could be back by Labor Day

BOSTON - For a bullpen that could use all the help it can get right now, there's the prospect that Koji Uehara could rejoin the Red Sox on Labor Day.

Uehara, who's been out since July 20 with a strained pectoral muscle, threw a bullpen Monday at Fenway that impressed John Farrell.

"He came out of today's work session in good fashion,'' said Farrell. "It was 25 pitches to hitters with good intensity to both his fastball and split. It's been impressive to see how he's handled the volume, and now, three times on the mound, the intensity to his bullpens and BP.''

Next up for Uehara will be a bullpen session Wednesday morning, followed by a live batting practice session Saturday in Oakland.

Since both Pawtucket's and Portland's seasons are over on Labor Day, Uehara won't have the option of going on a rehab assignment to face hitters before being activated.

But the Sox believe that he can build arm strength through these side sessions and BP sessions -- enough so that he could return to the active roster soon.

"We'll re-assess where is after Sunday,'' said Farrell, "and I wouldn't rule out activation [after that]. What we've done with Koji is just review how he feels after each session and we'll take it from there.''

Uehara, 41, is 2-3 with a 4.50 ERA, and while he's had a propensity for giving up homers (eight in just 36 innings), he had been throwing better before being injured.

And given the performance of the bullpen in general and the recent poor showings from Matt Barnes, the Sox would welcome Uehara back as soon as he's ready.

"The one thing that Koji has proven to us,'' noted Farrell, "is that, even with limited spring training work [in the past], he's been a very effective pitcher for us and obviously, he has a chance to make a very positive impact once he does return.''

Uehara's progress since late July has been a pleasant surprise for the Sox, who feared at the time of the injury that he might be done for the season.     

"To his credit,'' said Farrell, "he's worked his tail off and advanced fairly rapidly and he's withstanding the intensity that he's put into [the work]. A healthy Koji certainly adds to our bullpen.

 

Red Sox among ‘roughly half’ of MLB who’ll attend Tebow workout Tuesday

Red Sox among ‘roughly half’ of MLB who’ll attend Tebow workout Tuesday

Maybe Tim Tebow could be the eighth-inning guy? 

OK, OK. Maybe not. Still, the Red Sox will be among the “roughly half” of the MLB teams who will attend the former Heisman Trophy winner and Patriots’ 2013 training camp phenomenon’s baseball tryout on Tuesday in Los Angeles.

Tebow is 29 and hasn’t played organized baseball since he was a junior in high school. He was an All-State performer in Florida back then.

Based on his accuracy and mechanics throwing a football, maybe DH would suit Tebow better than the mound. 

 

 

Monday’s Red Sox-Rays lineups: No Pedroia to start, Porcello goes for 18th

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Monday’s Red Sox-Rays lineups: No Pedroia to start, Porcello goes for 18th

Dustin Pedroia is out of the Red Sox starting lineup for the second night in a row as they open a three-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays tonight at Fenway Park.

Pedroia, who left the team Sunday to attend a family funeral, told manager John Farrell that he might be able to return during the game Monday night. 

"Based on his texts he's envisioning a walk-off hit in the ninth," Farrell said before the game Sunday. "Much like Pedey's fashion, that was his parting text this morning before he left."

For the second game in a row, Brock Holt will play second base in place of Pedroia and bat leadoff. The Red Sox lost 10-4 to the Kansas City Royals on Sunday night. 

Right-hander Rick Porcello (17-3, 3.23 ERA) will go for his 18th win and try to match Dave “Boo” Ferris in 1946 as the only Red Sox pitchers to go 13-0 at Fenway Park. Right-hander Matt Andriese (6-5, 3.71) starts for the Rays.

The lineups:

RAYS

Logan Forsythe 2B

Kevin Kiermaier CF

Evan Longoria 2B

Brad Miller 1B

Matt Duffy SS

Logan Morrison DH

Nick Franklin RF

Corey Dickerson LF

Bobby Wilson C

Matt Andriese RHP 

RED SOX

Brock Holt 2B

Xander Bogaerts SS

David Ortiz DH

Mookie Betts RF

Hanley Ramirez 1B

Travis Shaw 3B

Chris Young LF

Sandy Leon C

Jackie Bradley Jr. CF

Rick Porcello RHP