Red Sox 'comfortable and confident' Hanrahan will 'be a really good closer'

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Red Sox 'comfortable and confident' Hanrahan will 'be a really good closer'

Eliminating any possibility of on-going speculation, Red Sox manager John Farrell told newly acquired Joel Hanrahan the right-hander will be the teams closer going into the 2013 season.  Farrell delivered the same message to right-hander Andrew Bailey, who was acquired almost exactly a year ago, Dec. 28, 2011, to fill the closers role. But after suffering a thumb injury in spring training and undergoing surgery on April 4, Bailey did not make his season debut until Aug. 14. He posted a record of 1-1 with a  7.04 ERA, six saves, and three blown saves. John plans to go into the spring with Hanrahan as the closer, said Red Sox assistant general manager Brian OHalloran, filling in for GM Ben Cherington on a Wednesday afternoon conference call. He talked to Andrew. We see Andrew as playing a very important role at the back end of our bullpen, as well.  Therell  be plenty of opportunities for him to help us win games in key situations late in the game.  And we know he's very capable of both closing and pitching in other high-leverage situations at the end of games. The Sox acquired Hanrahan and infielder Brock Holt Wednesday from the Pirates in exchange for right-handers Mark Melancon and Stolmy Pimentel, infielder Ivan De Jesus, and first basemanoutfielder Jerry Sands. Hanrahan, who turned 31 in October, gives the Sox the possibility of sending an elite closer out to the mound. He was 5-2 with a 2.72 ERA and 36 saves in 40 opportunities, making 63 appearances spanning 59 23 innings in 2012, holding opponents to a .187 average.  Over the last two seasons,  he is 6-6 with a 2.24 ERA and 76 saves, fourth in the National League, making 133 appearances, with a  128 strikeouts over  128 13 innings. He was an All-Star the last two years. We think that  Joel  Hanrahan has the stuff to pitch anywhere, OHalloran said. Hes been a very successful closer in the National Leagues and his stuff, as Im sure youve seen, is right at the top of the scale.  Hes got a fastball in the upper 90s. When hes right his sliders as good as anybodys in baseball. I think it was 2011 that we saw what he could do to a pretty good American League East team in the Red Sox at the time. We really believe that this guys stuff plays anywhere and hes got the experience closing successfully for two years as an All-Star. Were excited to bring him over and have him help us win games. Hanrahan, who is arbitration eligible, avoided arbitration last year, agreeing to a one-year 4.1 million deal. He is likely due for a sizable raise. He can become a free agent after the 2013 season.  Hanrahan knew there was a good likelihood the Pirates would move him this offseason. I knew the possibility was pretty likely there was  a chance Id get traded, he said. I had heard the different teams with the Red Sox, Tigers, Dodgers. I had heard those rumors and knew they were talking about it. ..I saw that the Red Sox were going to be the team, I got excited. Obviously the red sox have a great history and tradition. Its a huge sports city there in Boston. My wifes family is from that area. It was nice to have some familiarity with it and get it out of the way and focus this next six weeks on getting ready from spring training with the Red Sox. In June 2011, the Pirates took two of three games from the Sox in Pittsburgh, with Hanrahan recording saves in both. He struck out Adrian Gonzalez to end the game for his second save in that series, which left its mark on the Sox. It definitely made an impression on me, OHalloran said. I hadnt seen very much of him, just a little bit here and there prior to that. And that was pretty impressive if you go back and look at the video of that.  It was not fun to be in the batters box against Joel Hanrahan Im sure for our hitters. We're excited to have him on our side. Obviously the track record is lengthy the last few years as a closer. But that did absolutely make a strong impression on us. Hanrahan was fifth in the NL with 36 saves in 2012 one more than the Sox recorded as a team. But he also had some struggles. His walks were up from 16 in 68 23 innings in 2011 to 36 over 59 2.3 innings, a walks-per-nine ratio 5.4, well above his  2.1 of 2011 and his highest since posting a 6.7 mark in 2007, his first big league season. Some of his other numbers were also off, including his strikeouts-to-walks ratio of 1.86, also his lowest since 2007, off his career mark of 2.27. His home runs-per-nine of 1.2, was his highest since 2007 and off his career average of 0.8. Over the last two months of the season, Hanrahan appeared in 20 games, spanning 18 13 innings, striking out 20, walking 15, with an opponents' average of .229 and .808 OPS, going 1-2 with five saves and a blown save. There was some concern that toward the last month or two that he had lost feel for his slider, and that was his bread and butter, wipeout pitch, said a scout.  In his last eight or nine innings he ended up walking like 10 guys, and his slider has always been a nice control pitch for him, where hed been able to throw that for a strike and then when  he gets ahead in the count lets the fastball really go and sometimes hell get chases with. His fastball can play up to 98 mph, but its usually 95-96 average. But if he can revert back to his previous two years, then by all means he would be a quality closer. The Sox are confident Hanrahan can do that. Obviously we looked at that increase in walks very closely, Hanrahan said. We do think there are some reasons that you saw the uptick in walks. Were going to talk to Joel and Johns already started that process. And pitching coach Juan Nieves, and bullpen coach Gary Tuck and John will  get together with Joel and sort out anything that they see and help him with that. But its not something that were concerned about long term. We believe that were going to get the guy that has been a great closer for two years. But we did pay close attention to that and look into that. We feel very comfortable and confident that hes going to be a really good closer for us going forward.
Hanrahan, who attributed his struggles to some lingering injuries, is confident they are behind him.
I had some issues with my legs last year, he said. I hurt my hamstring early on in the year and then I had a sore ankle there for a while that kind of went under the wraps. I was wearing  a tight ankle brace for a couple of weeks that kind of restricted my mechanics and that had something to do with it. It was nothing that I was concerned about. Theres times where you pick and choose who you want to walk ,if you want to walk somebody, as well. I dont  think that the walks are going to be a concern.  I feel good going into spring training and thats going to be the main thing.

Gronkowski after surgery: 'Dance floor tomorrow night... here I come'

Gronkowski after surgery: 'Dance floor tomorrow night... here I come'

After undergoing back surgery earlier in the day on Friday, Rob Gronkowski is back on his feet and cracking jokes.

The injured Patriots tight end posted a video of himself on his feet with the assistance of a walker captioned "Rehab day 1! "Can't nobody hold me down... Oo no I got to keep on movin"

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In the video, Gronk takes a few steps and says, “Dance floor tomorrow night. . . here I come.”

Watch the video below [NSFW language from Gronk's dad]

Rehab day 1! "Can't nobody hold me down... Oo no I got to keep on movin"

A video posted by Rob Gronkowski (@gronk) on

Al Horford's strong play propels Celtics to 97-92 win over Kings

Al Horford's strong play propels Celtics to 97-92 win over Kings

BOSTON – You knew Boston’s dominance over the Sacramento Kings at the TD Garden was going to come to an end someday. 

Well that day won’t come around for at least another season as the Celtics’ forgotten man just a couple nights ago, Al Horford, came up with big plays at both ends of the floor that helped propel Boston to a 97-92 win. 

With Boston ahead 95-92 with less than 10 seconds to play, the Kings had one chance to tie the game with a 3-pointer. 

They got the ball to their best player DeMarcus Cousins who tried to draw a foul against his defender, Al Horford. 

Cousins’ attempt to sell there being contact behind the 3-point line was not being bought by the officials. 

After his missed shot, Sacramento’s Garrett Temple fouled Horford with 4.8 seconds to play. 

Horford, who finished with a season-high 26 points, went to the line and made both of the free throws to seal the victory. 

The Celtics (11-8) have now won five of their last seven games overall as they hit the road where they’ve won four in a row away from the TD Garden.

Meanwhile the Kings (7-12) have now lost nine straight at the TD Garden.

Sacramento had swung the game’s momentum in their favor at the end of the third and early in the fourth, but the Celtics refused to go down without a fight. 

A shot by Horford tied the game at 76. And on the ensuing Kings possession, Horford came up with a blocked shot that ultimately led to lay-up for Jonas Jerebko to put Boston up 78-76.

Cousins suffered a cut above his right eye in the fourth quarter and finished with 28 points, nine rebounds and three assists. 

After a Sacramento time-out following Jerebko’s basket, the Celtics came up with another turnover – their 15thforced turnover of the night – that led to a lay-up by Kelly Olynyk.

On the ensuing Olynyk basket, Cousins took a blow to the head on the play that forced him to leave with 7:08to play. 

With no Cousins on the floor, the Celtics tightened up their perimeter defense and made a point of attacking the Sacramento interior immediately.

Isaiah Thomas, who finished with 20 points, converted a three-point play at the 6:33 mark - 35 seconds after Cousins left the game.

The close finish was in stark contrast to how the game begin. 

In Boston’s 121-114 loss to Detroit on Wednesday, Horford only took five shots from the field. 

After the game, head coach Brad Stevens said that should have never happened. 

Jae Crowder called it “unacceptable.”

Well it didn’t take Horford long to get five shot attempts – about five minutes actually. 

And the four-time all-star hit most of them as he helped the Celtics lead by as many as 13 points in the first quarter before the Kings closed out the quarter with a 10-0 run to tie the game at 29. 

Horford led four double figure scorers for Boston which included Thomas, Jae Crowder (16 points) and Avery Bradley (15 points).