Bailey healthy; will do anything to win championship

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Bailey healthy; will do anything to win championship

FORT MYERS, Fla. Andrew Bailey knows the comparisons and the questions are inevitable. Replacing the most prolific closer in Red Sox history is not an easy task.

Bailey, the 2009 American League Rookie of the Year, was acquired in a December trade from Oakland. He has 75 career saves in three seasons with the As, while Papelbon has 219. Bailey, the two-time All Star, just wants to be himself.

Yeah, thats it, Bailey said. Paps obviously himself. Ive met him a couple times, and hes a good dude. So, hes moved on. Were two totally different pitchers. My goal is to kind of have the media ask the guy who follows me those questions. How are you going to replace Bailey? Thats kind of my goal. So, if I stick with that, Im sure Ill be all right.

Papelbon said Saturday from Bright House Field, spring training home of the Phillies, whom he joined as a free agent in October, he believed Bailey would be successful with the Sox.

Hes one of the best in the game, so its an honor coming from him, something like that, Bailey said. Hes done it here for a while. He knows what it takes, and If he believes in it. I know I can do it, Im looking to have the Fenway Park crowd on my side running out of those gates instead of rooting against me. So, coming out of the bullpen is always an adrenaline rush and Im looking forward to doing it in that uniform.

Bailey, who turns 28 in May, enters spring training fully healthy for the first time in his big league career. He did not make his first appearance until May 29 last season, sidelined by a strained right forearm.

Health is good, he said. Finished strong last year. Obviously, had a little battle, had to miss two months in the beginning of last year. But thats behind me and this is honestly the first healthy offseason Ive had in the big leagues. So looking forward to that and was able to start throwing a little earlier and not having to rehab anything until the middle of December.

Bailey grew up in New Jersey, went to Wagner College on Staten Island, and now lives in Connecticut. He knows as well as anyone the expectations put on a Red Sox pitcher.

Im a closer at heart, but Ill do anything to help the team win, he said. I said that in Oakland, whatever it takes. You look at my games, one, two innings, one plus, whatever the team needs.

I have that mentality of being aggressive. I live and die by strike one. Its the best pitch in baseball. I just kind of go out there, throw the ball as hard as I can. Theres nothing fancy about what I do. So thats kind my mentality. I think that fits the closers role pretty good.

Many of his college buddies are now former Yankees fans, Bailey said, jumping on the Sox bandwagon with him. One of the most common questions hes heard since joining the team: What will his entrance music be?

No idea, he said. I dont know how that works here. Supposedly they chose it for Pap. So I dont know whats going to go on. But, for me, I like to feed off the crowd, the adrenaline. So, if I get to choose, itll probably be something rock. Maybe Ill throw a little Boston twist in there with Aerosmith or something. But, well see. Maybe Godsmack.

Bailey admits theres one comparison to Papelbon he doesnt mind. Asked if he would dance in his boxer shorts on the Fenway lawn if the Sox won another World Series, Bailey replied:

Ill do anything to win the World Series. So you guys can keep me to that, too. Whatever you guys need me to do to win a World Series, Ill do it.

Report: Patriots, Gronkowski restructure contract for 2017 season

Report: Patriots, Gronkowski restructure contract for 2017 season

The Patriots and Rob Gronkowski have restructured the tight end’s contract for the coming season, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. 

The reworked deal can bump Gronkowski’s salary for the 2017 season from $5.25 million to $10.75 million, according to Schefter. 

Gronkowski was limited by injury to just eight games last season. He had 25 receptions for 540 yards and three touchdowns, all of which were career lows. 

The 28-year-old is entering his eighth NFL season since being selected by the Pats in the second round of the 2010 draft. He has played played in at least 15 regular-season games in four of his first seven season, though he’s twice played fewer than 10. 

Brandin Cooks ready to bring back arrow celebration after NFL rule change

Brandin Cooks ready to bring back arrow celebration after NFL rule change

Tuesday’s announcement from Roger Goodell that the NFL is “relaxing” its rules on celebrations is good news for at least one Patriot. 

That would be Brandin Cooks, who began celebrating the rule change on Twitter not long after the league made its announcement. 

Cooks, whom the Patriots acquired from the Saints this offseason in a trade that sent first and third-round picks to New Orleans, lost his favorite celebration last season when it was made clear that miming archery was off-limits. Josh Norman was fined $10,000 last season for such a celebration. 

Following Norman’s fine, Cooks lamented the league’s decision to punish what Cooks had previously done in reference to a Bible verse (Psalms 144:6). 

"Send forth lightning and scatter your enemy, and shoot your arrows and rout them," Cooks told the New Orleans Advocate. "I just remember it sticking with me for such a long time, I remember thinking, maybe I can do something with this."

Added Cooks: ”I’ve been doing it for three years now, and there was never a complaint about it. Now, all of a sudden, there is. It just reminds me that, it's almost as if they try to take so much away from us, but for something like this, that means so much to someone that has nothing to do with violence, it's frustrating. I'll definitely continue to speak my opinion about it, and if they have a problem with it, so be it."

When Tuesday’s news emerged, Cooks and former Saints teammate Mark Ingram were quick to react.