Wakeup Call: Apparently, Napoli's the Sox' No. 1 priority

738342.jpg

Wakeup Call: Apparently, Napoli's the Sox' No. 1 priority

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy andor interesting tidbits -- for Wednesday, November 28.

BASEBALL
According to Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald, Mike Napoli is the Red Sox' No. 1 free-agent priority and, flush with money after shedding those mega-contracts in the Dodgers deal, they're prepared to outbid anybody for his services. (NBC's Hardball Talk)

Memories of the Steroids Era will return today, when the 2013 Hall of Fame ballot is released with many of the tainted stars from that time -- Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa -- front and center. (AP)

And as a reminder that drugs in sports are an ongoing problem, one of baseball's best 2012 stories gets tainted a little -- okay, a lot -- as Carlos Ruiz is hit with a 25-game suspension for the use of a banned amphetamine. (CSN Philly)

Looks like the Yankees will have Andy Pettitte back in 2013. (AP)

Scott Feldman calls moving from the perennial contender Rangers to the downtrodden Cubs "a dream scenario for me". (CSN Chicago) So, ah, what are your nightmares like, Scott?

Jonathan Broxton's going back to Cincinnati in a move that apparently means the Reds are going to switch Aroldis Chapman to the starting rotation. Holy Daniel Bard; you might want to think twice about that one, Reds. (Hardball Talk)

Leaving Cincinnati is Ryan Madson, who's about to join the Angels after never throwing a pitch for the Reds. (Hardball Talk)

Soon to be available: An off-center, heavily bearded relief ace coming off Tommy John surgery. (CSN Bay Area)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Indiana left no doubts in this one, eh? (AP)

Be concerned, Tar Heels fans. Be very concerned. (NBC's College Basketball Talk)

The reeling Big East regrouped a bit, tabbing Tulane and East Carolina as its newest members. (AP)

But the carnivorous ACC is back pounding on the the door, apparently poised to gobble up Louisville as its replacement for Maryland. (College Basketball Talk)

If that's true, Cincinnati sure will be disappointed. (NBC's College Football Talk)

For a conference that has no problem robbing members from other leagues, the ACC sure gets touchy when someone wants to leave them. (AP)

Memphis' response to its slow start: Blame the messenger. (College Basketball Talk)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
Let me get this straight: Jon Gruden gets an ownership stake in the Cleveland Browns if he agrees to take over as coach at the University of Tennessee? Hah? (NBC's College Football Talk)

Les Miles from LSU to Arkansas? Well . . . (College Football Talk)

Jimbo Fisher gives the standard non-denial denial -- albeit a bit more emphatically -- in discussing rumors that Auburn may attempt to lure him away from Florida State. (College Football Talk)

Fisher lost one of his staff members yesterday, as defensive coordinator Mark Stoops was hired as head coach at Kentucky. (AP)

C'mon, NCAA. How can you fine a school for this? They won the Egg Bowl, for crying out loud! (AP)

GOLF
Tiger Woods decides not to join the European Tour. (AP)

The Old Course at St. Andrew's will have a new look when the British Open returns in 2015. (AP)

HOCKEY
Things are looking so bleak on the labor front that Sidney Crosby's about ready to pack up and head overseas. (NBC's Pro Hockey Talk)

Take it from someone who knows, NHLers; decertification of the union is a serious step. (Pro Hockey Talk)

They're thinking positive thoughts in Phoenix, where city officials have approved a 320 million deal to keep the Coyotes in town. (AP)

I'm sure those thoughts aren't so positive in Minnesota, since the Wild's staff is about to be hit with 20 percent pay cuts because of the lockout. (AP)

Hockey returned for a night in Atlantic City, with Henrik Lundqvist making 57 saves to lead Team New York to a 10-6 victory over Team New Jersey in a benefit game to raise money for Superstorm Sandy victims. Best part of the whole thing: The 10,792 fans chanting for Gary Bettman to be fired. (AP)

PRO BASKETBALL
The Rockets beat Toronto last night, then boarded a plane to attend the funeral of coach Kevin McHale's daughter today. (AP)

McHale thanked the team via text after the victory. (CSN Houston)

Kobe Bryant's 40 points -- with the flu, no less -- wasn't enough to save the Lakers. (AP)

Now that's a double-double! (AP)

Byron Scott had a terse, to-the-point scouting report of the Cavs' 10th loss in 11 games. (AP)

Aggrey Sam advises everyone in Bulls Nation to take a deep breath and remember that the season isn't even a month old. (CSN Chicago)

DeMarcus Cousins says his latest ejection came after the referee cursed him. Sure it wasn't your coach and teammates, DeMarcus? (NBC's Pro Basketball Talk)

PRO FOOTBALL
The housecleaning has begun in Philadelphia, where the Eagles cut loose the underperforming Jason Babin and his five-year, 28 million contract. (AP)

Babin found his release almost as funny as the Eagles found his play this year. (the700level.com)

Great question from John Gonzalez: Is there anyone in sports whom you'd rather be less than Andy Reid? (CSN Philly)

Maybe DeSean Jackson, but only because multiple rib fractures -- which have ended his season -- are so painful. (AP)

Apparently, there's a method to Colin Kaepernick's tattoo madness. (NBC's Off The Bench)

The Steelers hope they'll have Ben Roethlisberger and Troy Polamalu back when they play the Ravens on Sunday. (AP) Considering that they're chasing Baltimore in the AFC playoff standings, so do the Patriots.

The NFL didn't suspend Ndamukong Suh for his latest bit of choochery because, says commissioner Roger Goodell, intent "is something that is very difficult for us to ever try to make a judgment on." (AP)

Speaking of chooches, Titus Young still hasn't returned to the Lions. (AP)

Sad news: Former All-Pro linebacker and NFL coach Jack Pardee has been given six to nine months to live after being diagnosed with gall bladder cancer. (AP)

Chara ‘feels better’ as he closes in on return, but won’t play in Buffalo

Chara ‘feels better’ as he closes in on return, but won’t play in Buffalo

BRIGHTON, Mass. – Zdeno Chara said he is “feeling better” after going through a full practice with the Bruins, but the captain won’t be making the one game road trip to Buffalo for Saturday afternoon’s matinee game vs. the Sabres. 

Chara was going through line rushes and battle drills with the rest of his teammates while practicing for the second day in a row, but made it clear that his lower body injury hasn’t been cleared for game action yet. 

“It’s day-to-day. It feels better…yeah. But it’s still day-to-day,” said a rather laconic Chara when it came to questions about his injury. “It would feel much better [to play] than it feels [not playing].”

Claude Julien said his 39-year-old defenseman has moved into true “day-to-day” status as he nears a return after missing what will be his sixth game in a row on Saturday afternoon, but that he isn’t quite ready to go just yet.

“[Chara] and [Noel] Acciari won’t be on the trip,” said Julien. “I think [Chara] is getting pretty close. When you see him at practice things are going pretty well for him. I think that the term day-to-day is fitting for him right now. A lot of times when we say day-to-day we don’t know whether it’s going to be two days, three days or even a week. But in his case I would say that day-to-day is really day-to-day now with him.” 

One thing the Bruins can be heartened by is that they’ve managed to survive without Chara: the B’s have gone 2-2-1 and allowed just nine goals in the five games since their No. 1 defenseman went down. They have been able to continue collecting points in sometimes ugly, workmanlike fashion. 

That gives the Bruins the luxury of not rushing their D-man along before he’s ready and gives some of their other defensemen added confidence that they can effectively do the job with or without their 6-foot-9 stopper. 

Slater missing from start of Patriots practice

Slater missing from start of Patriots practice

FOXBORO -- The Patriots were without two key members of their special teams units at Friday's practice. 

Both Matthew Slater (foot) and Jordan Richards (knee) were not spotted at the start of the team's most recent workout. Defensive lineman Woodrow Hamilton (illness) was also missing. 

Hamilton and Richards did not participate in Thursday's practice. Slater was present on Wednesday and Thursday after missing Sunday's game against the Jets. 

The Patriots did have a Gronkowski back on the field Friday, but it wasn't Rob, who was expected to undergo back surgery in Los Angeles. It was fullback Glenn Gronkowski, who has apparently been re-signed to the Patriots practice squad for his fourth go-round on New England's 10-man unit. Practice-squad tight end Kennard Backman, who has not been at Patriots practice since Wednesday, has likely been released in order to make room for Gronkowski.