Will Danica Patrick race in the Indy 500?

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Will Danica Patrick race in the Indy 500?

From Comcast SportsNetDAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- Danica Patrick's talking about challenges that lay ahead, Clint Bowyer and Jeff Gordon aren't saying whether they have patched their differences, and Brad Keselowski is eager to defend his Sprint Cup title.That's right, the start of another NASCAR season is just around the corner.Patrick said Thursday that she does not plan to race in this year's Indianapolis 500 because she wants to concentrate on her first full-time season on NASCAR's highest level of competition.Bowyer brushed aside questions about whether he and Gordon have made up in the months that have passed since a fight between the two drivers' crews broke out after Gordon intentionally wrecked Bowyer the week before last season's finale."Who cares? Really, who cares?" Bowyer said, addressing the media on the first day of testing of NASCAR's new "Gen 6" cars at Daytona International Speedway. "Apparently, you guys do way more than we do. I can promise you that."Keselowski is still riding high after capturing his first Sprint Cup championship in 2012. He was the first driver on the track for the start of three days of testing in preparation for next month's Daytona 500, even if he wound up running fairly low on the speed charts."I am not happy not being fast. I can tell you that, but you try to put it in perspective of how much work is yet to be done over the next month or month-and-a-half," Keselowski said. "Being first on the track ... is our little way of needling the competition to say that even if we aren't fastest we are going to be the first ones on it."Patrick, who announced on her Facebook page in November that she and her husband, Paul Hospenthal, are divorcing after seven years of marriage, also skipped the Indy 500 last year.Instead, she ran in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on the same day, which is what she intends to do again.Patrick is coming off her first full season in NASCAR, a year in which she ran full Nationwide schedule and 10 Sprint Cup Series races after leaving IndyCar."The team and I decided to focus on (Sprint) Cup. It's going to be plenty of work as it is, and it's going to be important for me running for the championship full-time for the first time to really keep myself focused with the Cup car," Patrick said. "But If I do do the Indy 500 moving forward, it will be with Go Daddy."She said her 2013 schedule also could include some Nationwide series events, although she has not yet signed a deal with a racing team or sponsor."I'm not sure if that's completely set. There have been some reports that have come out about running for Turner, and we're definitely talking to them trying to figure it out," Patrick said. "We're definitely working on that, but there's been nothing signed yet, and the exact dates and the sponsor has yet to be confirmed for all that."Essentially, the Daytona testing marks the end of the offseason for drivers.There's more testing next week in Charlotte of the cars NASCAR is counting to improve racing and re-kindle fan interest, with Speedweeks at Daytona to follow. The Daytona 500 kicks off the Sprint Cup schedule on Feb. 24."Everybody is super excited about this race car and what it brings to our sport and the identity that it brings back to passenger cars you see on the roads. ... They're certainly cool looking," Bowyer said.Bowyer declined to say whether reports that he and Gordon spent time together on a yacht on New Year's Eve."I think he was on that same boat. There were a lot of other people on that boat. It was a big time being had," Bowyer said at one point.When asked if the drivers had spent any time bonding, Bowyer responded: "Yeah, we held hands and walked off the boat, discussed the past year and enjoyed ourselves throughout the whole vacation. That was the one person that I definitely wanted to take vacation with. Yes, I could not wait to get there for that very reason. Is that what you wanted me to say?"For his part, Gordon confirmed he and Bowyer saw each other on the boat while attending what he described as the "party of the year" thrown by entertainer P Diddy in St. Barts. NASCAR driver Kevin Harvick also was there."We were just hanging out and having a good time, and on walks Bowyer and Harvick and a couple of other folks," Gordon said. "I don't know. It was a great New Year's. I enjoyed myself very much."But did they leave as friends?"I don't remember seeing him leave the boat," Gordon quipped.Well, did they at least speak to each other?"We talked," Gordon replied. "I had a great New Year's."Meanwhile, Patrick said she is looking forward to the challenge of running a full Sprint Cup challenge and reiterated it will be important to maintain realistic expectations of what she might be able to accomplish as a rookie."I think it's very difficult at this point in time to put sort of numbers to exactly where I should be finishing," she said. "I think you can look at a little bit of what happened last year as a bit of a baseline as to expectation levels and definitely areas that need work."But it's a new year; it's a new car and a lot of stuff changes. ... I think we just need to get started on the season, get these first few races out of the way and then start to create some baseline for what we are expecting and what we are shooting for."Everyone is shooting for what Keselowski has -- the championship.For him, he said it's "slowly soaking in" what it's like to be a Cup champion and the "some of the doors that open up, whether it is people showing you more respect or opportunities to do different events you may never have had before.""To me that is the most fun and more honoring moments of being a champion. I really look forward to seeing how those open up," Keselowski added. "The great thing that separates winning a championship from winning a race is that you are a champion for a whole year. I feel like I won a race, but you get to celebrate it for a whole year. That is a really good feeling."

Quotes, notes and stars: Pomeranz has been a "mixed bag" so far

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Quotes, notes and stars: Pomeranz has been a "mixed bag" so far

Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox’ 5-2 loss to the Angels:

 

QUOTES

 

* “Missed opportunities -- that’s the story of this one. We did a fantastic job of, once again, putting guys on. But to cash in and complete the inning -- that base hit has been elusive . . . It’s been all or nothing it seems like this stretch that we’re through offensively.” Farrell said on Boston’s offensive play of late.

 

* “The first one wasn’t me. I had a lot of time off -- had a lot of things going on. The last one was more myself -- I fell like. Tonight, I made a bad pitch too (Albert) Pujols, walked a couple guys. But overall, I feel like I did a decent job.” Pomeranz on his first three starts in Boston

 

* “I’m just trying to put a good swing on a good pitch and fortunately I got one and it went over.” Mookie Betts said on his leadoff homerun.

 

* “It’s been a mixed bag.” Farrell on Pomeranz to trough his first threw starts for the Red Sox.

 

* “Overall he probably wasn’t as sharp as his last time out. And when they created damage against him it was early in counts . . . So it wasn’t like he got into too many deep innings.” John Farrell said Drew Pomeranz’s start.

 

* “It happens – it’s baseball. They capitalized on some chances and we didn’t.” Betts on the offense not taking advantage of early opportunities.

 

NOTES

 

* Mookie Betts’ leadoff homerun was his 21st long ball of the year, sixth to start off the game. He passed Dwight Evans (5 in 1985) and now only trails Nomar Garciaparra’s seven in 1997.

 

* Albert Pujols launched his 20th home run of the season, reaching that total for the 15th time in his career. He joins Frank Robinson, Willie Mays and Hank Aaron as the only players to do so through at least 16 seasons.

 

* Dustin Pedroia has reached base safely in 33 straight games for the Red Sox after walking twice and finishing 1-for-2 in the loss.

 

* Xander Bogaerts extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a single in his second at-bat, finishing 1-for-3 with a walk.

 

* The Red Sox are now two games out of first place with Toronto finally moving into first place after defeating the Orioles 9-1 on Saturday.

 

 

STARS

 

1) Hector Santiago

Somehow, the lefty managed to scatter six walks and four hits -- including a leadoff homerun -- only giving up two runs in five innings of work against Boston.

 

2) Albert Pujols

Pujols’ two-run homerun gave the Angels the advantage after falling behind early, and proved to be enough for their pitching staff.

 

3) Dustin Pedroia

As much as Mookie Betts had the big fly, Pedroia reached base three times in four chances, finishing 1-for-2 with two walks.

First impressions: Red Sox miss out on free opportunities

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First impressions: Red Sox miss out on free opportunities

First impressions of the Red Sox 5-2 loss to Los Angeles:

 

Far too many missed opportunities for the Red Sox.

Hector Santiago somehow worked his way through five innings and only gave up two runs -- despite walking six batters and giving up six hits.

Somehow he’s flipped a switch in July after a rough start to the season. But Saturday night was not one of those nights.

Although the pitching wasn’t at it’s best, Santiago gave the Red Sox offense several easy chances at runs that they didn’t capitalize on -- including two instances where Bryce Brentz was punched-out.

 

Joe Kelly not the best guy to bring in with runners on.

The righty gave up a crucial double to start his appearance -- which would’ve been an amazing catch by Brock Holt.

Next leadoff batter he got out, but his last one reach on a line drive single up the middle.

So 67 percent of the leadoff batters got a hit off of Kelly.

A small sample size? Yes.

But when you’ve got a track record like Kelly’s, assessments like that are going to be made.

 

The return out west didn’t go as planned for Drew Pomeranz.

While Saturday was a Pacific Coast homecoming for the lefty starter, he wasn’t able to find his form.

It seemed like things would go well at first, but Pomeranz made some crucial mistakes in his second trip through the order.

Walking Yunel Escobar isn’t an option when Mike Trout and Albert Pujols follow him.

Furthermore, the cutter Pujols launched to left field was down the heart of the plate -- simply unacceptable.

 

Mookie Betts is making might be more valuable than Xander Bogaerts.

It became clear pretty early that Betts had the superior power.

While Bogaerts’ hands give bail him out constantly, they never move as quickly as those of the Boston leadoff hitter.

And while Bogaerts seemed to be the superior hitter for average, Betts is narrowing that gap, too.

The only case for Bogaerts being more valuable is that he’s a shortstop.

Other than that, Betts has shown he could easily be the face of the franchise when David Ortiz retires -- which is great for Boston, since he’s the one of the two who isn’t a Scott Boras client.

 

Red Sox fail to secure another series win against a bad team.

The Angels have no pitching. In fact, the Red Sox haven’t even faced their best pitcher.

And with the exception of Friday’s game, they’ve scored three runs in two LA games.

And the pitching was good until Saturday night -- so the offense has to get things going for Sunday.

Thuney stands out in first day of one-on-one work

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Thuney stands out in first day of one-on-one work

FOXBORO -- With the introduction of fully-padded practices typically comes the opportunity for linemen on both sides of the football to shine. Unfortunately for the Patriots offensive line, Saturday was sort of a rough day.

Guard Jonathan Cooper, who has been playing as the right guard on the first offensive line unit through the early portion of camp, had to be carted off the field with a foot injury. Center Bryan Stork left practice in the middle of the workout for an undisclosed reason. Guard Shaq Mason took off for some conditioning on a lower field soon after practice began. And, while healthy enough to be on the field, Marcus Cannon had difficulty trying to keep defensive ends Rob Ninkovich and Jabaal Sheard in check. 

One of the bright spots for offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia's group was rookie third-round pick Joe Thuney. The North Carolina State product has served as the left guard for the first-team offensive line thus far, and he more than held his own when the hitting commenced. 

He never appeared out of sorts next to left tackle Nate Solder, he blocked up to and through the echo of the whistle on a play-to-play basis, and he was one of the most impressive Patriots -- rookie or otherwise -- during the first one-on-one period for linemen during this year's camp. 

On his first snap, he was matched up across from last year's first-round pick Malcom Brown and held his ground against the team's top defensive tackle. Later, Thuney handled veteran free-agent pickup Frank Kearse. And on his final rep, he walled off second-year player Trey Flowers. 

For Thuney's part, those few minutes, encouraging as they might have been, had to be flushed from his memory quickly. 

"You can't think too much into one specific drill," he said. "You just gotta try and take it one play at a time and not put too much stock in one drill or one rep. If you have a bad one, just move past it. If you have a good one, move past that too and just go to the next play."

Thuney's aggressiveness and his understanding of the playbook to this point have to be as encouraging to the Patriots coaching staff as -- what appears to be, at least -- his sound technique.  

Mild-mannered in his interactions with reporters, Thuney was touted as a versatile and intelligent player coming out of college. He gushed about his college teammate Jacoby Brissett's leadership qualities soon after Brissett was drafted by the Patriots in May, and he's gone viral for his ability to slay the Rubik's Cube in a blink. 

He has some nasty to him, though. 

"I think inside every offensive lineman there's an inherent desire to play through the whistle," he said. "Obviously we don't want to play dirty or anything, but we try and play as hard as we can from whistle-to-whistle. And yeah...I do take pride in that." 

Thuney wasn't the only rookie lineman to play well on Saturday. When Cooper went down, it was sixth-rounder Ted Karras who began to see more work. 

Together, they caught the eye of at least one veteran defensive lineman. 

"They're physical," said defensive tackle Terrance Knighton. "That's a good start. Obviously they'll have to work on different techniques. Coming from college you have different terminology, a different playbook, a different style of game probably. 

"I try to help them out as much as I can even though we go at it. After the play if I feel something, I'll definitely share with them, whether [to] help them going up against myself or help them in the long run because we're all on the same team at the end of the day."

Whatever lessons Thuney's received thus far -- whether they're from coaches or from teammates on the other side of the line of scrimmage -- it looks like he's taken them to heart.