Beckett (thumb) expected to make first start

560312.jpg

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: Ainge wouldn't trade Nets pick for Butler, but would for George

Report: Ainge wouldn't trade Nets pick for Butler, but would for George

Will the Celtics part with the right to Brooklyn’s 2017 first-round pick in order to get a star before Thursday’s trade deadline? 

MORE TRADE TALK

Citing a pair of NBA executives, Frank Isola of the New York Daily News wrote this week that Danny Ainge’s willingness to trade the pick should be in doubt.

Sola named Chicago’s Jimmy Butler and Paul George as potential targets, adding that the C’s might include the latter.   

Wrote Isola: 

Two executives doubt that Ainge, who historically plays it close to the vest, would give up the Nets pick in a deal for Butler. However, Ainge might consider it in a trade for George, the Pacers-free agent-to-be who has expressed doubts over re-signing with the Pacers.

‘With Danny, no one ever knows what he might do,' said the executive. ‘He's one of the best. If he thinks he can make a run at the Cavs this season, considering all the injuries Cleveland has had, I can see him making a move.

‘Everyone is talking about Butler to Boston but Danny and Larry Bird go way back. Paul George could be the sleeper.’

This season, the 26-year-old George is averaging 22.3 points 6.2 rebounds and 3.2 assists a game. 

Blount on free agency: 'I definitely want to go back to New England'

Blount on free agency: 'I definitely want to go back to New England'

LeGarrette Blount knows where he wants to be for 2017. Ever since he re-joined the Patriots in 2014 following a short stay in Pittsburgh, the 250-pound back has been very open about how he wants to play out the rest of his career in New England. 

Those feelings haven't changed, even as he faces free-agency after having recorded the best season of his seven-year career.

"I just want to make sure that I go to this free agency with an open mind, knowing that I definitely want to go back to New England," he told NFL Total Access on Monday. "I love it there. I love the culture. I love the players. I've become close with a lot of the guys. Obviously you know how my running back group is.

"We'll cross that bridge whenever we cross it. On that point, I feel great. I'm in amazing shape. I feel like I could play 100 more years if I have to."

Blount finished 2016 with career-highs in attempts (299) yards (1,161) and touchowns (18). His ability to help the Patriots close games in the fourth quarter was notable throughout the course of the season, and he was among the most effective goal-line backs in the league. His 18 rushing scores are a franchise record.

Toward the end of the season, as Dion Lewis worked his way back into the Patriots offense, Blount had his workload cut into, and his fumble in the Super Bowl was a near-catastrophic moment -- his devastated reaction to which was caught expertly by NFL Films. But a big-picture view of Blount's year would reveal that he  posted the most prodictive "big back" season the Patriots have had in more than a decade.

Blount signed a one-year deal with the Patriots last offseason after seeing his 2015 prematurely ended by way of a hip injury. He turned 30 in December.