Kevin Walsh has the headlines and highlights for Saturday, June 2, including the Celtics' much-needed win in Game 3, and Clay Buchholz's dominant outing in Toronto.
Rookie seasons are no small task for players -- regardless if it’s a pitcher or hitter. It’s the major adjustment of facing guys who have better control with multiple pitches, or hitters who’ve seen just about everything.
However, if you ask some players, the real adjustment comes in the second full season, when organizations have developed extensive scouting reports on players.
The “sophomore slump” is something hitters deal with during that stretch. Numbers tend to drop because scouting reports expose flaws, something that minor league pitchers don’t often have access to.
Mookie Betts, however, doesn’t entirely agree with the notion that it calls for a major slump.
“I mean I don’t know if it’s necessarily a thing,” the sophomore right fielder said. “You hear about it and whatnot, but I think it’s just an adjustment period guys go through. Everybody’s done it. Some people just get out of it faster.”
Early on it appeared Betts was falling into the stages of a “sophomore slump,” going through a 1-for-19 rut after opening day, then 2-for-21 stretch through mid-April.
Since that last slump ended on April 20th, Betts has boasted a .321 clip with two home runs, two triples and three doubles. He’s knocked in eight runs in the process, scoring 14 times himself.
So -- needless to say -- he doesn’t think it was the aforementioned slump
“No, I think it was just adjustments,” Betts explained. “I pretty much think it was just more adjustments that I had to make. Fortunately I was able to make a couple of them. That’s all it is. They make a move and we’ve got to make a move back.”
The adjustments weren’t a mechanical issue either -- it was more related to his approach at the plate.
“It’s important for me to go be aggressive,” Betts said. “They’re not trying to walk me, they aren’t trying to walk anybody -- except David Ortiz.”
One thing Betts has done a better job of since his last slump was shoot pitches to right field. He has to do that if he hopes to hit well because most, if not all, pitchers know he’ll clear out any inside pitch to the Monster seats faster than they can blink.
“They still make mistakes, too,” he said on pitchers working away from him. “I think the part is being aggressive and being ready for those mistakes.”
Like most hitters, Betts doesn’t expect to go though a major slump in 2016, but he knows there are more factors in play than the contact he makes.
“It just depends,” Betts said. “A lot goes into balls falling. I think I’ve hit the ball well this year and haven’t gotten a lot to fall. But then again, I have gotten some to fall. I think I’ve done pretty well, even through the time I was struggling I thought I did all right. [It’s] just [about] trying to get out of those little slumps quickly.”
Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels lumped all Patriots quarterbacks together when asked to discuss Jimmy Garoppolo’s readiness to be the New England starter during Tom Brady’s suspension.
“There’s no curve for any one of them,” said McDaniels Monday during an open-access period with the team’s assistant coaches. “They’re learning the same material, they’re going over the same stuff. Our expectation is, if you’re in the quarterback room, you’re learning what the quarterbacks need to know to play well in this offense. The expectations are high in that room and every other room.”
Asked if, entering his third season, Garoppolo was at a decent level of competency, McDaniels replied, “Year one is such a hard year for any rookie because it seems like you’re never caught up. You’re always learning something. Year two, you feel like you’ve got a foundation, a starting point but you’re still trying to gain on everybody else. Year three, if the players continue to work and do their job in the offseason when they’re not here, you hope that they close that gap and they can go out there and play fast and not think much. It’s too early to say that about any third-year guy at the moment because we haven’t done anything that would give us a gauge on that but I’m excited for all those guys that are in their third year.”
FOXBORO -- There were times when Steve Belichick looked and sounded like his father, Bill, when he sat down in front of a crowd of reporters for the first time since being named Patriots safeties coach.
He wore a Rutgers lacrosse pullover as his dad might. (A former Rutgers lacrosse player himself, he actually borrowed it from Bill for the occasion. "Got a Big 10 lacrosse tournament this weekend," he said. "Rutgers is going to make some noise.") And there were moments when he kept certain things close to the vest, as is family tradition. ("Leave that to us," he said when asked about how he was promoted from coaching assistant this offseason.)
But at the same time, he came off as very much his own person during the back-and-forth with reporters. He was open about his motivations, his experiences, and his influences now as a 29-year-old NFL assistant with a famous last name. He admitted his coaching style had to be unique to him, and he even cracked a few jokes -- all with a dozen or so microphones and cameras pointed in his direction.
"Anywhere I went, I would have my own style," Belichick explained. "It doesn’t matter where I would go. That’s true for any coach. Every coach has their own style. Whatever team, anything I do, even if I was going to do something I’ve never done before, I would have to have my own style because that’s me. That’s who I am."
Belichick spent four years as a coaching assistant and will continue to work under his father, as well as defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, in his new role. He understands what the Belichick name means in New England, and he knows what his father has accomplished.
The experience of working under his first-ever role model was something he described as invaluable.
"It’s been cool," he said. "Obviously, I love my dad. He’s my role model. He’s my idol. I want to be just like him. I have since I knew what an idol was. It’s rewarding for me to, I guess, see him more and learn from him more, because I’ve been away from him in high school and college on a day-to-day basis."
Here are a few of the highlights from the media's first chat with Steve Belichick, which took place at Gillette Stadium on Monday . . .
On working with veteran safeties Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung: "Yeah, it’s awesome. I went to school with Devin. They’re two great players that have been in this league for a long time that have obviously been there and have played consecutive seasons. I’m going to learn a lot from them. We’re all in the room together. We’re safeties. We’re a group. We do everything together."
On how he approached his first few years working for the team: "I just had my head down. I was just trying to work and get better. You never know when stuff like this is coming. There’s tons of changes in the NFL, but you just got to be ready for whatever they ask you to do and work your hardest and do the best you can. That’s what I’m trying to do."
On if his father coached him on how to deal with the media: "No. He didn’t. We don’t talk about the media too much."
On his long-term goals, and if he wants to be a head coach: "I just hope to be here at the end of the day."
His thoughts on one of his dad's favorite choices for game-day attire, the hoodie: "If my neck’s cold, I’ll put the hood up and warm my head up. It’s a good piece of clothing. I think everyone should have a hooded sweatshirt in their closet."