Beckett (thumb) expected to make first start

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Beckett (thumb) expected to make first start

FORT MYERS, Fla. Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine confirmed on Monday morning that Josh Beckett has a thumb injury and is being examined in San Antonio.

But Valentine added that he totally expects Beckett to make his start in the second game of the season, Saturday against the Tigers in Detroit.

Beckett threw 100 pitches yesterday in a bullpen session and felt great, hit location, Valentine said. Hes had a little situation that he was taking care of today -- so I guess you all know that -- just for peace of mind.

Becketts regularly scheduled day to start was Sunday. But rather than face the Twins for the second time this spring, he was slated for five innings in a minor league game on Sunday. That was eventually changed to a bullpen session in order to provide a more controlled environment, Valentine said Sunday morning.

Asked his level of confidence that Beckett would make his start Saturday, Valentine replied:

Real good today, after yesterday and he said he felt really good. I talked to the trainers and pitching coach Bob McClure . . . but it seemed like everything was fine.

Beckett has had a history of blisters on his pitching hand, but Valentine said that was not the issue.

No, just been a little situation, Valentine said. Think I might have mentioned it 10 days ago. It was a situation we were dealing with.

I feel really good right now. But as in all cases you have to be prepared. I think we are. I think were covered whatever happens. But the good news is, in his 100 pitches yesterday he felt good.

Alfredo Aceves said earlier Monday morning he has been told to be ready to start the second game of the season -- as well as the home opener -- if Beckett is unable to pitch.

Well, Id rather not talk about conversations I have with players, Valentine said. But suffice it to say you have to always be prepared.

Asked if Becketts thumb problem bothers the righthander more on one particular pitch than his others, Valentine replied:

Youd have to ask him. Its been a little hard to quite put our thumb on it.

Beckett is expected to rejoin the team in Detroit for Opening Day on Thursday, rather than for the exhibition game against the Nationals in Washington, D.C. tomorrow.

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.