Red Sox agree on two-year deal with Gomes

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Red Sox agree on two-year deal with Gomes

For dramatic impact, it pales in comparison to the last Thanksgiving surprise the Red Sox pulled, when they made a deal for Curt Schilling nine years ago.
It lacks the star power of, say, landing Torii Hunter or a bigger name on the free agent market.
But agreeing to terms with Jonny Gomes on a two-year, 10 million deal, as the Red Sox did on Wednesday, while hardly a blockbuster, can be as one of those small, first steps every bad team must make as it crawls from the wreckage of a 93-loss season.
Think of Gomes as this year's version of Cody Ross -- affordable, somewhat limited, but potentially valuable.
Like Ross, Gomes mashes lefthanded pitching. He had a career-best .974 OPS against lefties last year and sports a career OPS of 894 against them.
Like Ross, he has power, with 18 homers in just 279 at-bats.
And like Ross, Gomes is considered a positive clubhouse presence, with a strong, fun personality.
Unlike Ross, he can be a patient hitter. He had a .377 on-base percentage a year ago, and for a lineup that saw too few pitches and, for a change, showed little discipline, that quality represents an upgrade.
He also comes to the Red Sox as a relative bargain. His 5 million salary in 2013 will be 40 percent more than the Sox paid Ross last year, but it's still a modest figure.
What's more, the two-year commitment won't block any of the outfielders whom the Sox expect to be ready to contribute in 2014, including Bryce Brentz and Jackie Bradley Jr.
If those two are ready, Gomes can be a moderately-priced fourth outfielder, or perhaps, part of some DH platoon with David Ortiz, who will be 38 by then.
It's clear that the Sox are determined not to tie themselves to any extended deals, with an eye toward the minor league development system that they hope will provide the nucleus for what general manager Ben Cherington constantly refers to as the "next great Red Sox team.''
For now, it's difficult to presume what Gomes's exact role will be. The Red Sox understand his defensive limitations and he almost certainly will not be entrusted with playing spacious right field in Fenway.
But he can handle left field, and could be used in a platoon with either Daniel Nava or Ryan Kalish.
It's best to wait, however, before truly evaluating the signing of Gomes. If the Sox sign another signficant free agent -- or make a deal for another outfielder -- Gomes will be viewed for what he is: a solid, complementary player.
As for Ross himself, a baseball source said Wednesday night that the Sox do not rule out re-signing Ross. But an aggressive market for Ross has developed, with interest from the New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves -- among others -- meaning Ross will likely get a three-year commitment from some team.
The Sox are reluctant to go that long, both because they don't want to block the likes of Brentz and Bradley, but also because, they're understandably wary of getting tied into long commitments for players in their mid-30s. They need only look back to Mike Lowell, who found his career essentially finished at 36.

Celtics force overtime, come up short in 127-123 loss to Blazers

Celtics force overtime, come up short in 127-123 loss to Blazers

BOSTON – For the second time in as many games, the Boston Celtics ran into a team that played with a greater sense of desperation.

And the result was yet another defeat as the Portland Trail Blazers, playing their second game in less than 24 hours, were able to get off their losing skid with a 127-123 overtime win over the Celtics.

Boston (26-17) has now lost back-to-back games at home, while the Blazers (19-27) snapped a four-game losing streak.

In the extra session, Portland jumped out to a 117-113 lead only for Boston’s Al Horford scoring on a bank-shot in the paint and Thomas draining a go-ahead 3-pointer for Boston.

Portland regained the lead when Al-Farouq Aminu made a pair of free throws with 59.3 seconds to play to make it a 119-118 game.

Boston soon fell behind 122-118, but a pair of Thomas free throws with 44.8 seconds to play made it a two-point game.

Mason Plumlee scored with 24 seconds to play in overtime, and an Al Horford miss – rebounded by Plumlee who was then fouled by Horford – essentially put the game away with 13.5 seconds to play.

Boston found themselves down late in the fourth quarter and seemingly headed towards defeat, only to get an unexpected lift in the final seconds from Terry Rozier.

Trailing by three points late in the fourth, Boston had one last chance to force overtime so who did they turn to?

If you were thinking Thomas which is what the Blazers and most fans were thinking, you would have been dead wrong.

The fourth quarter may be Thomas’ time to shine, but at that point in the game it was Rozier’s moment as he drained a 3-pointer with 8.4 seconds left that ultimately forced overtime. He finished with 15 points, three rebounds and three assists off the bench.

The Blazers came into the game with the kind of potent scoring punch in the backcourt that strikes the fear into the heart of any defense, let alone one that has been as up and down as the Boston Celtics this season.

For most of the game, Portland’s 1-2 punch of Damian Lillard (28 points) and C.J. McCollum (35 points) lived up to the lofty billing as they combined for 63 points.

McCollum and Lillard both did their share of damage down the stretch, but it was their bench – specifically Meyers Leonard – whose play kept Portland in the game early on.

He finished with 17 points off the bench.

Boston led 65-56 at the half, but soon found itself in a 67-all game after McCollum made the second of two free throws.

But Boston countered with a put-back basket by Kelly Olynyk and a 3-pointer from Isaiah Thomas to push Boston’s lead to 72-67.

Once again the Blazers fought back and eventually took the lead 74-72 on a powerful put-back dunk by Haverill (Mass.) native Noah Vonleh.

Brad Stevens had seen enough of his team getting pushed around, as he called a time-out with 5:31 to play in the quarter.

It didn’t help as Portland continued to bully their way around the rim for second and third-shot opportunities with their lead peaking at 78-72 following a put-back basket by  Plumlee.

But the Celtics responded with a 7-2 spurt capped off by an end-to-end, driving lay-up by Rozier that cut Portland’s lead to 80-79 with 2:44 to play in the quarter. Boston continued to be within striking distance as the third quarter ended with the Celtics trailing 88-86.