Three things we learned from the Boston Red Sox' 5-3 win over the Toronto Blue Jays
Malcolm Butler was one of many not spotted during OTAs on Thursday when the media got a looksee at one of the practices.
Butler wasn’t the only one. But he did stand out as a missing player who hadn’t (to my knowledge) had a surgery but did have a contract that needs addressing. Another one? Rob Gronkowski. If we really want to extend it out, throw in Duron Harmon and Logan Ryan.
This is the point where it’s important to point out that these workouts are voluntary – VAW-LUN-TERR-EEEE! Players don’t have to be there. Additionally, I’m not even sure Butler or Gronkowski (or Ryan and Harmon) weren’t at the facility. All I know is they weren’t on the field. And, per usual, nobody’s tipping his hand as to why.
But we do have this, relative to Butler. ESPN’s Mike Reiss wrote Sunday that he “wouldn’t be surprised if it was related to his contract status.” Reiss said that Butler “told teammates and friends he plans to push for an adjustment to his contract before the 2016 season, and staying off the field in voluntary workouts would be a decision that limits injury risk and also could be viewed as a statement to the organization that he's unhappy with the status quo and/or the movement/specifics of contract talks.”
In the same vein, I wouldn’t be surprised if Gronkowski opted out as well for the same reason, especially since he threw out a tweet that signaled dissatisfaction with his pact in March.
But in terms of a statement, not going to OTAs is more of a throat-clearing than a noisy proclamation.
Not to minimize the move if Butler, Gronkowski or anybody else is actually staying away because of business. The Patriots usually enjoy almost perfect OTA attendance. Also, there hasn’t been much contract strife around here for the past five seasons.
Money matters were an annual issue for the Patriots from about 2003 through 2010. Lawyer Milloy, Ty Law, Richard Seymour, Rodney Harrison, Ty Warren, Logan Mankins, Vince Wilfork, Randy Moss, Adam Vinatieri, Mike Vrabel and – quietly – Tom Brady all had their contract dances back then. But the only one that got hairy in the recent past was Wes Welker.
It’s still too soon to know if any of these will get contentious. When will we know? When either a player or his agent spouts off. Or, when someone’s a no-show at mandatory minicamp beginning June 7.
That would amount to a shot across the bow. Of all the players likely to take that shot, Butler seems a reasonable bet. His base pay this season is $600K after a Pro Bowl campaign in 2015 that saw him check the opposition’s best wideout on a weekly basis. He’s a restricted free agent at the end of the year. He deserves longer-term security than he currently has. Gronkowski has a lot less to kick about. He may make less than lesser players, but he also was the league’s highest paid tight end when he was missing scads of games due to injury.
After Butler, Jamie Collins and Dont'a Hightower would figure to have the strongest cases to want new deals and want them snappy. Ryan and Harmon would be right behind those two. Then Jabaal Sheard.
Sheard, Hightower and Collins were all on the field Thursday.
Can the Patriots get all these guys reupped? Will they even try? How do they have them prioritized? If the guy who howls loudest gets to the front of the line, the time to make some noise is close.
But we have yet to hear any of these players loud and clear.
Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox’ 5-3 win over the Blue Jays:
* “I benefited from good defensive plays and hard hit balls at people and guys just making plays. Whether you feel good or not you have to have good things happen out there on that field.” David Price said on his successful start against Toronto.
* “He woke up this morning more sore than when he left here last night . . . Didn’t want to push it. We’re hopeful he’ll back in the lineup tomorrow.” Farrell on David Ortiz being a late scratch prior to Sunday’s game.
* “It’s always great to avoid a sweep . . . We battled hard the whole game and had great at-bats the whole game.” Mookie Betts said on winning the final game of the series against Toronto in a postgame interview with NESN.
* “On a day when we were thin with the amount of usage we’ve had, Clay stepped in.” John Farrell said on Clay Buchholz’s relief appearance for Boston in the 10th inning.
* "It definitely felt a little different . . . Got to help the team any way I can . . . Glad I could contribute today . . . All in all it's sort of a learining experience for me and I'm sure I'll get better at it as we go." Clay Buchholz said on his first relief appearance of the season for the Red Sox out of the bullpen.
* Xander Bogaerts extended his hitting streak to 22 games in his 1-6 performance.
* Dustin Pedroia extended his hitting streak to six games with an RBI single in the sixth. Pedroia has also hit safely in 23-straight games against Toronto
* Clay Buchholz made only his third career appearance as a reliever for the Red Sox, striking out one and allowing no runs in the tenth. His last relief appearance came on 8/17/08.
1) Dustin Pedroia
The second baseman continues to dominate the Blue Jays, finishing 2-6 with the game-winning double.
2) David Price
Boston’s ace answered the call in his most important start as a member of the Red Sox, even though he didn’t get the win he only gave up two earned runs off five hits and three walks
3) Mookie Betts
Entering the game with one hit in his last 20 at-bats, Betts went 2-4 with two walks, scoring two runs.