Wakeup Call: Shades of BledsoeBrady in San Francisco

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Wakeup Call: Shades of BledsoeBrady in San Francisco

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy andor interesting tidbits -- for Thursday, November 29:

BASEBALL
The Braves snagged B.J. Upton for five years and 75.25 million. (NBC's Hardball Talk)

So what now, Phillies? (CSN Philly)

Michael Bourn, perhaps? (Hardball Talk)

You know times have changed when the players' union sounds amenable to even more drug testing. (AP)

If, as expected, the Giants let him go today, don't be surprised if Brian Wilson shows up in L.A. (CSN Bay Area)

Angels to the world: Make us an offer on Jordan Walden. (Hardball Talk)

If you had hopes of the Red Sox bringing back Nick Hagadone -- sent to the Indians way back when in the Victor Martinez deal -- well, forget it. (AP)

The Reds say they're going to put Aroldis Chapman on an innings limit as he switches to the starting rotation, but they don't sound fanatical about it. (Hardball Talk)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
UConn sure isn't hiding its lust to escape the sinking Big East, is it? (AP)

Take a page from Navy, will ya, Huskies? (AP)

A nice comeback win for Duke over The Ohio State University. (NBC's College Basketball Talk)

And a nicer upset of No. 11 Creighton by Boise State. (AP)

Whoa, Miami fans: Beating the 13th-ranked team is no reason to storm the court. (AP)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
Jon Gruden says there's "no truth" to the rumors that he's been offered a minority stake in the Cleveland Browns if he becomes coach at the University of Tennessee. (AP)

Charlie Strong wasn't too happy with reports that he interviewed for the job at Auburn. (NBC's College Football Talk)

Les Miles is staying put. (AP)

GOLF
That wail of anguish you heard yesterday was from the nation's duffers, bemoaning the new rule -- which, at least, won't go into affect until 2016 -- that will prohibit them from anchoring a club against their bodies while making a stroke. (AP)

HOCKEY
Some truly sad news in the midst of lockout idiocy: Wild goaltender Josh Harding has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. (nhl.com)

Now back to lockout idiocy: The two sides met separately with the federal mediators yesterday, and will do so again today. (AP)

Ted Lindsay -- one of the founders of the NHLPA, back in the 1950s -- wants today's players to stop their bad-mouthing of Gary Bettman. (NBC's Pro Hockey Talk) How about me, Ted? Can I keep on doing it?

Imagine how much they'd be worth if they'd actually won anything in the last 45 years. (AP)

That arena deal we discussed yesterday has cleared the way for Greg Jamison to buy the Coyotes. (AP)

Red Wings prospect Riley Sheahan was arrested Oct. 29 while dressed as Tinky Winky -- you know, one of the Teletubbies -- and charged with being "super drunk". (AP) Wouldn't you pretty much have to be, to go out in public as Tinky Winky?

PRO BASKETBALL
The 13th time was a charm for the Wizards. (CSN Washington)

And the best part was shutting up Charles Barkley. (CSN Washington)

The Rockets beat the Raptors in Houston Tuesday night, flew to Minnesota for Sasha McHale's funeral Wednesday morning, then went to Oklahoma City for a game Wednesday night. The result after all that traveling, and emotion, was predictable -- a Thunder romp. (CSN Houston)

And it spoiled James Harden's homecoming, to boot. (CSN Houston)

Sign of the times: The Rockets taking to Twitter to ask for prayers for Kevin McHale and his family. (CSN Houston)

From blowing a 27-point lead against Milwaukee to blowing out Dallas: What a difference two days makes for the Bulls. (CSN Chicago)

So now it's Derek Fisher to the rescue for the Mavericks. (AP)

Like many people, Mike D'Antoni regrets going to New York. (NBC's Pro Basketball Talk)

Ricky Rubio says "Life is good!" -- via Twitter, of course -- after being cleared to resume practicing with the Timberwolves. (AP)

The Kings are turning Horace Greeley's advice on its ear: They may be moving to Virginia Beach. (CSN Bay Area)

PRO FOOTBALL
Shades of BledsoeBrady: Colin Kaepernick's the man in San Francisco. (CSN Bay Area)

Though Jim Harbaugh says to "assume nothing" when specifically asked if Kaepernick "is the starting quarterback moving forward". (CSN Bay Area)

The Ndamukong Suh version of his kick at Matt Schaub's private parts: "I was being dragged to the ground and my foot inadvertently hit the man." (AP) And for that, the poor guy gets fined 30 grand. Life just ain't fair, is it?

Schaub's reaction: Suh who? (CSN Houston)

Jared Allen's 21,000 poorer after the hit on Lance Louis that knocked the Bears' guard out for the season. (AP)

Jason Babin wasn't unemployed for long. (AP)

If a cold-weather city like New York can host a Super Bowl, why not Denver? (AP)

Brandon Weeden's recovered from his concussion and will start for the Browns Sunday in Oakland. (AP)

And Greg Jennings is set to return to the Packers after his abdominal tear. (AP)

Rolando McClain's no longer a Raider . . . or is he? (NBC's Pro Football Talk)

SOCCER
Boy, Hope Solo sure snared herself a winner, didn't she? (NBC's Pro Soccer Talk)

Bell excused from Steelers practice for 'personal reasons'

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Bell excused from Steelers practice for 'personal reasons'

FOXBORO -- The Patriots have had perfect attendance at each of their last two practices. The Steelers, on the other hand, have been working with less than a full deck.

All-Pro running back Le'Veon Bell has been conspiculously absent from Pittsburgh's practices each of the last two days. On Wednesday, he was listed on the injury report as a non-participant due to non-injury related reasons. On Thursday, coach Mike Tomlin announced that Bell had been excused from practice due to "personal reasons."

Tomlin added that Bell will be ready to go against the Patriots on Sunday so it seems as though the team is painting this as a nothing-to-see-here situation. And it probably is. Whether or not Bell practices at all this week won't necessarily have any bearing on the AFC title game; if he's healthy, he'll be a factor. 

If for some reason he doesn't follow up his 170-yard performance against the Chiefs with another strong game, however, people will wonder how his preparation was impacted by missing out on the first two of his team's on-the-field sessions this week.

Sandoval’s offseason transformation doesn't guarantee he's Sox starting third baseman

Sandoval’s offseason transformation doesn't guarantee he's Sox starting third baseman

BOSTON - The weight room, as much as Instagram, has been Pablo Sandoval’s home in the offseason leading up to the 2017 season.

His change in diet and routine have clearly led to visible results, at least in terms of appearance. His play is yet to be determined. But his manager and teammates have taken notice.

“Compliments to Pablo,” John Farrell told reporters before Thursday’s BBWAA dinner. “He’s done a great job with the work that he’s put in, the commitment he’s made. He’s reshaped himself, that’s apparent. He knows there’s work to be done to regain an everyday job at third base. So, we’ll see how that unfolds. We’re not looking for him to be someone he’s not been in the past. Return to that level of performance.”

Farrell noted that Brock Holt and Josh Rutledge are the other two players in contention for time at third base and while others, such as prospect Rafael Devers, may get time there in the spring, those are the only three expected to compete for the job.

“The beauty of last spring is that there’s a note of competition in camp,” Farrell said. “And that was born out of third base last year [when Travis Shaw beat out Sandoval at the third base]. That won’t change.”

Sandoval's 2016 season ended after shoulder surgery in April. 

While the manager has to be cautiously optimistic, Sandoval’s teammates can afford to get their hopes up.

“Pablo is definitely going to bounce back,” Xander Bogaerts told CSNNE.com “Especially with the weight he’s lost and the motivation he has to prove a lot of people wrong, to prove the fans wrong.

“He’s been a great player for his whole career. He’s not a bad player based on one year. Playing in Boston the first year is tough, so, hopefully this year he’ll be better.”

Prior to Sandoval’s abysmal 2015, his first season in Boston, when he hit .245 with 47 RBI in 126 games, the 2012 World Series MVP was a career .294 hitter who averaged 15 home runs and 66 RBI a year.

If Bogaerts is right and Sandoval can be that player again, that will be a huge lift in filling in the gap David Ortiz left in Boston’s offense.