What happened to critical ball from World Series?

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What happened to critical ball from World Series?

From Comcast SportsNet
KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) -- The Corvette he won as World Series MVP is waiting at home for David Freese to drive. Provided he can pry the keys from his dad, that is. It might take a GPS to locate another prize from last October. Freese already owns the ball he hit for the home run in the 11th inning that won Game 6. He'd love to add the ball from his two-out, two-strike, two-run triple in the bottom of the ninth that saved the Series for the St. Louis Cardinals. "To me, that hit was more memorable," Freese said this week. "Because of the situation, what it meant." "It'd be great to have it," he said. "But I don't know where it is. I don't know if anybody knows." In the commotion that followed Freese's tying triple off Texas closer Neftali Feliz, that ball seems to have disappeared at Busch Stadium. So far, no one has come forward with it. It might be fated to join some of the game's most elusive souvenirs -- the famed home-run balls of Bobby Thomson and Kirk Gibson are missing, too. Freese hit .397 with five home runs and a record 21 RBIs in the postseason. Pretty nifty, considering he's played only 184 games in the majors over three years. Freese is off to nice start in spring training, batting .280 with three homers and 10 RBIs in 10 games. He said he's been able to build off his accomplishments that helped rally the Cardinals past Philadelphia, Milwaukee and Texas in the final month. "Confidence is such a big part of the game. You're happy that you succeeded in that situation," he said. "You learn that the game isn't going to run away from you. You've got to learn to embrace those moments." Freese's reward was a 2012 Corvette Grand Sport Coupe, presented by Chevrolet to the World Series MVP. A model car was on the infield during the Cardinals' celebration, and a couple of weeks ago he claimed the real thing. Or rather, his father did. The car came to a dealership in suburban St. Louis where the Cardinals have ties, customized to Freese's taste. Black on the outside, with red stitching inside. "Cardinal red," he said. "After all, it's because of the Cardinals that I got my chance." With his son at spring training, Guy Freese is enjoying the new wheels at home in suburban St. Louis. "Wearing the tires off that thing, if I know my dad," Freese said.

Haggerty: It's time for Pastrnak to take a step forward

Haggerty: It's time for Pastrnak to take a step forward

BRIGHTON -- The third season is usually a pivotal one when it comes to an NHL player's development and trying to forecast exactly how high their ceiling will be.

So it is for David Pastrnak, who is expected to take a major leap forward in his third year after showing flashes of great promise in each of his first two seasons.

“The [World Cup] is done, so now all of my focus is on being as ready as I can for this upcoming season,” said Pastrnak, 20, who threw probably the biggest hit of his career on unsuspecting teammate Patrice Bergeron when the Czechs played Team Canada in the preliminary rounds. “I feel way bigger, very comfortable on the ice, and I obviously feel really good right now.”

Pastrnak has had moments of dazzling brilliance in Boston so far while riding the usual learning curve that every young player travels in Claude Julien’s system. In addition, injuries last season sidetracked his development process.

Pastrnak put up 21 goals and 55 points between Boston and Providence as the youngest player in either league as an 18-year-old rookie two years ago. Last season he had 15 goals and 26 points in 51 games for the Bruins while also missing significant time because of a fractured foot. The injury not only sidelined him for a few months but also made it difficult for him to jump onto the moving train of the NHL regular season once he was ready to return.

Just as the former first-round pick was really catching fire at the end of the year, time ran out on a Bruins team that had a few too many older veterans with empty gas tanks after being ridden hard throughout the season. Pastrnak scored goals in each of the final couple of games, and showed off the game-breaking ability that should be on full display if he's healthy and placed in a position to succeed.

His World Cup stint ended on a high note, as he played his best game of the tourney against Team USA, though he didn’t make a major impact in the elite international competition. He put on five pounds of muscle during the offseason and clearly looking bigger and stronger at 189 pounds after ending last season closer to 180.

Part of that is the natural physical maturation process for somebody Pastrnak’s age as he gain’s “man strength”, and some of it was a dedicated effort. He worked out in Boston with the B’s training staff for much of the summer for the first time in his career.

The expectation is that Pastrnak is going to be running on the right wing with David Krejci on Boston’s second line, and the search in training camp is for a left wing who can bring added playmaking ability and maybe a little size and strength to the mix. In a perfect world Krejci and Pastrnak will develop into the same dynamic, two-way combination of Bergeron and Brad Marchand.

Pastrnak and Krejci could be a lethal offensive duo to be sure, but they’ll also have to pay attention to the little details if they want to stay together playing for Julien. Perhaps with that in mind, Julien was looking to temper expectations for Pastrnak

“I don't know if [the World Cup experience] accelerates expectations. But it's certainly encouraging to see that a guy that's got that experience to go and play at that level, and made himself better,” said Julien. “We know he's skilled and we know he's fast, and he's also gotten stronger. He's taking steps in the right direction here. We can look at those guys that are first overall picks and say, wow, some guys are exceptional.

“Some of the guys, you've got to give them time to grow and develop. That's what we need to do with David Pastrnak. I think we've got to stop putting expectations too high for him, and allow him to grow properly. He's going to have some growing pains and there are still some things he's going to want to get better at. There are still some things that he's going to want to learn that we're going to want to teach him. Let's give him that opportunity to grow properly without the extra pressure and extra expectations that maybe are not realistic.”

One would argue Pastrnak put those expectations on himself when he posted the 21 goals and 55 points as an 18-year-old, but that’s neither here nor there. Instead, the Pastrnak development project can, and should, be one of the things considered when we evaluate Julien’s current ability to get the most out of his young prospect-type players.

The bottom line with Pastrnak and the Bruins is this: It’s his contract year and motivation should be sky high. The Czech youngster is one of the few people who can step up and help fill the offensive void left by the free-agent departure of Loui Eriksson. Expectations are much higher for an experienced, talented 20-year-old than they are for a wide-eyed 18-year-old, and Pastrnak needs to make a big stride forward. Now is the time for Pastrnak to show all he’s learned, and completely unleash the array of offensive skills that caught everybody’s eye in the first place.

The Bruins need Pastrnak, and young players, to step up and start taking ownership of the hockey team.