Slater receives special praise from Belichick Friday


Slater receives special praise from Belichick Friday

FOXBORO -- Bill Belichick takes pains to equalize his players in the media. Patriots have said their coach does it in practice and meeting rooms as well, but it's flat-out obvious in his press conferences. Ask him to comment on a Tom Brady 500-yard passing performance and Belichick will make sure to lasso the entire offensive line into his answer. 
An exception was made Friday. 
When asked about the work of special teams captain Matt Slater, Belichick unleashed effusive praise. He even invoked the ghost of special teams ace Larry Izzo (a Patriot from 2001 to 2008) as a reference point.   
"In my time here Ive been very fortunate to have two outstanding, I mean exemplary, players at leadership positions on special teams with Larry Izzo and Matt Slater. I thought that really when we had Larry that that was, thered never be another one like that, that that was so rare and Matts different than Larry but I think in his own way equally effective. Matts really, hes tremendous. His attitude, his work ethic, the example that he sets, the way he interacts with his teammates in a really good way. 
"I dont know that a player could do anymore than what hes done for us in that role for the last several years, probably since after his second year. Hes embraced his role on the team, hes been very good at it and he makes other players around him better. I think thats a great compliment to him and the job he does. Hes smart, hes well prepared, he works hard, he has good skill, good talent, hes tough, hes a good playmaker for us. I could go on about him all day. Were lucky to have him on this football team. He does a tremendous job for us." 
Slater was informed later in the locker room of Belichick's compliments. He bowed immediately, reverently, to his predecessor. 
"First things first, I'm no Larry Izzo. Larry was a tremendous player and I can only hope to accomplish the things that he was able to accomplish." 
His humility may stem in part from being selected in the fifth round of 2008's NFL draft. Though he was a First-team All-Pac-10 player and First-team All-American in 2007, Slater does not take New England's choice for granted. 
"It means a lot for me to be a part of this organization and represent this team as a captain of this team. I'm just so thankful -- I thank God every day for the opportunity that I've had to be here. I'm enjoying the ride the whole way and getting an opportunity to play in games like this means a lot, and obviously it means a lot that Coach took a chance on me coming out of school. Not a lot of people would have." 
The fact the Patriots did, Slater believes, has everything to do with the bench boss. 
"I feel like Coach Belichick understands and respects the game of football. And he understands that all three phases are going to help you win. That has been something that's been stressed to me since I got here Day One and understanding that, if you're going to be a championship caliber team, you have to be good in all three phases. I've really tried to just buy into that mentality and do what I can to carry that end of the bargain, pull my weight around here."

Holt (concussion) still not symptom-free, target weekend series vs. Angels


Holt (concussion) still not symptom-free, target weekend series vs. Angels

ST. PETERSBURG, FL. - Brock Holt's return to the Red Sox is going to have to wait a little longer.

The Sox had held out some hope that Holt might be ready to rejoin the club here for the start of a three-game series. But Holt, who is recovering from a concussion suffered in early May, is still not symptom-free while on a rehab assignment at Triple A Pawtucket.

The target now is for Holt to return Friday when the Red Sox begin a homestand that will take them up to the All-Star break.

"He'll come off and hopefully join us for the weekend series with the Angels,'' said John Farrell. "(He had a) good day (Sunday), but just didn't feel like he's ready to take that next step, so we have to respect that. He'll get full number of at-bats (Tuesday) and Wednesday, before we get back home.''

Farrell said Holt is still experiencing some post-concussion symptoms as he plays in games.

"This is a very unique (case),'' said Farrell. "We've talked a lot about his form of a concussion and we felt like the best way for him to be capable of being back with us is to push forward and stress the intensity, the level of play. Because the symptoms aren't going to go away just by sitting around. This is a matter of being active and being aggressive with it, so hopefully everything calibrates within his system. That's the recommendation of the medical staff.''

Farrell said Holt continues to feel some imbalance and light dizziness.

"There are those slight, disoriented feelings that's we working through,'' Farrell said. ''We're talking about the inner ear speaking to the brain and that's only going to continue to improve but stressing it -- not by sitting back. The fact that he was set out on a rehab assignment with some of those symptoms was part of overall recommendation.

"I wish we could say this is a straight-line end result from a timing standpoint, but we're seeing that it's not.''


Bruins choose not to tender qualifying offers to Connolly, Ferraro


Bruins choose not to tender qualifying offers to Connolly, Ferraro

The Bruins had to have qualifying offers in by 5 p.m. Monday on their restricted free agents in order to retain them as RFA’s, and they didn’t sent out qualifying offers to Landon Ferraro, Brett Connolly and Ben Sexton. The Bruins can still sign each of these players to reduced deals prior to July 1, but after that they become unrestricted free agents.The Bruins did send out qualifying offers to Brian Ferlin, Chris Casto, Alex Khokhlachev, Torey Krug, Joe Morrow and Colin Miller in order to retain their RFA rights, and protect themselves from other NHL teams attempting to poach them with offer sheets. While the Sexton move isn’t surprising, given that he was a bottom-six forward at the AHL level, it’s a bit of an eyebrow-raiser that neither Ferraro nor Connolly were tendered. Ferraro was a nice waiver pickup, posting 5 goals and 10 points in 68 games along with a minus-11 rating last season. He was a speedy presence on the fourth line with occasional splashes of offense, and had also worked his way into the penalty-kill group. Connolly, 24, finished with 9 goals and 25 points in 71 games along with a minus-1 rating. He struggled to produce offense even though he spent long stretches playing with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand last season. Still, he was the sixth overall pick in the 2010 draft and the Bruins gave up two second-round picks to Tampa Bay for him less than two years ago, so the move is somewhat unexpected.The door may not be closed on either Ferraro or Connolly returning to Boston, but it certainly doesn’t feel like they’re coming back after Monday afternoon’s appearance on the NHL transaction list.

Monday's Red Sox-Rays lineups: Sox hope to extend Tampa Bay's misery


Monday's Red Sox-Rays lineups: Sox hope to extend Tampa Bay's misery

The Red Sox may be stumbling through the month of June, but they're flying high compared to their opponent tonight.

The Sox are in St. Petersburg, Fla., to take on the free-falling Rays, losers of 11 straight. They'll be sending Eduardo Rodriguez to the mound in hopes of continuing Tampa Bay's misery, at least for the next three games.

The lineups:

Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Bryce Brentz LF
Sandy Leon C
Marco Hernandez 3B
Eduardo Rodriguez P

Logan Forsythe 2B
Tim Beckham SS
Evan Longoria 3B
Logan Morrison 1B
Desmond Jennings CF
Oswaldo Arcia RF
Taylor Motter LF
Nick Franklin DH
Curt Casali C
Blake Snell P