Blakely: Signs point to Bass starting vs. Heat

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Blakely: Signs point to Bass starting vs. Heat

Brandon Bass has been a fairly quiet, keep-to-himself kind of player since joining the Celtics last season.

That low-key demeanor has been steady as ever during training camp, one in which Bass finds himself trying to fend off rookie Jared Sullinger for the starting power forward job.

"Man, I'm not going to get into all that stuff about starting, not starting," Bass told CSNNE.com. "That's Doc's call. What he says, that's how it goes."

Celtics coach Doc Rivers has not revealed who will be in his starting lineup, but it appears as though it will be Bass on opening night next week at Miami.

Rivers has said his starting lineup will likely fluctuate depending on the foe and the type of player opponents choose to start.

Miami has been doing some lineup tinkering of its own in the preseason, with reigning league MVP LeBron James playing a hybrid point guardpower forward position.

As good as Sullinger has been in the preseason, seeing him matched up with James to start his NBA career might be classified as cruel and unusual punishment.

In addition, Bass did arguably as good a job as any of his Boston teammates in defending James during their matchup in the Eastern Conference finals last season.

Boston lost 101-88 in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals with James scoring a game-high 31 points on 9-for 21 shooting with an efficiency rating of 27 according to hoopstats.com.

Meanwhile, Bass had 16 points on 6-for-8 shooting with an efficiency rating of 22 which for that game was second among Celtics to Rajon Rondo (31).

But there are other intangibles that come about in having Bass with the first group.

With so many new faces, having some semblance of continuity within the first group should help immensely.

Turnovers are usually higher than normal in the first game of the season. Having a starting lineup with just one new face (Courtney Lee) instead of two should help keep that number down some.

And then there is the experience factor, an edge that seems most beneficial against elite teams like the NBA champion Heat.

But for all the considerations that are weighed in who will start, maybe the most compelling argument comes down to trust.

Sullinger has gained the trust of his veteran teammates based in large part on his basketball smarts and his potential.

That's a good thing no matter how you look at it.

Still, no matter how confident these veterans are in Sullinger, they have no idea how he will perform in games that count - games like the season opener at Miami on Oct. 30.

They do with Bass.

With Bass, that trust is based on his production and the bonds that were cemented last season.

And while there is no way to predict if he will put up big numbers or make a huge impact in big games this season, his teammates know he'll come ready to compete.

"Around here, you have to always stay ready," Bass said. "That's how it is when you're playing for a team like this, a team that's all about one thing . . . winning a championship."

Bass' commitment to that is obvious not only in the way he plays, but also in his preparation.

Although it was barely talked about last season, Bass would often show up to games as early - sometimes even earlier - as Ray Allen who is often praised for his tireless work ethic and diligent pre-game routine.

"All I'm trying to do is keep getting better and help this team win, man," Bass said. "That's it. That's where my focus is right now; trying to get better."

Ramirez bothered by right shoulder more than last year

Ramirez bothered by right shoulder more than last year

BOSTON — Hanley Ramirez on Wednesday afternoon acknowledged his shoulders are bothering him more this year than last year.

In specific, it’s the right (throwing) shoulder that’s bothersome, he said to CSNNE, noting it just doesn’t move as he wants it to — rotating his arm as he spoke. Asked how that happened, how it worsened, he said it was in spring training that he thinks he pushed it too hard.

On the positive side, Ramirez said his shoulders are improving.

"Honestly, yeah, it's feeling better now," Ramirez told a group of reporters. "It's started feeling better now than early in the year. I can use the top hand and drop a little bit the head of the bat. I was losing that. I was talking to [hitting coaches Chili Davis and Victor Rodriguez] about that. I've got to be able to use that top hand. Like Jim Rice."

Ramirez, who seems to always want to be playful in his interactions with the media, appeared surprised to learn that he was not hitting lefties well so far this year. He’s 5-for-35 against them.

Ramirez was out the lineup for a third straight game Wednesday, but took batting practice on the field and also took grounders at first base. As batting practice ended, he spoke to a group of reporters coming off the field.

"What am I hitting against lefties right now?” Ramirez asked in a response to a question about how he was feeling vs. southpaws.

It was low, he was told. He waited while a reporter used his phone to look up the specifics for him.

“Is it really? So it’s not me. I've got to get going because I crush lefties. It can't happen,” Ramirez said in the group. "You're kidding me. It took you long enough to tell me that. I didn't know that for real. So OK, after this conversation, let's see what's going to happen now. I'll say it. Yeah. Bring it. OK? I didn't know, I swear. Interesting. Thank you.”

Red Sox manager John Farrell wasn’t sure if Ramirez’s struggles vs. lefties was related to his shoulders. 

“Because if there’s the need or the tendency for Hanley to start his swing early because he might not feel as loose or reactive, as he might otherwise, if a left-hander’s going to sink the ball away from him or keep the ball on the outside of the plate and that early commitment might cause you to pull off some pitches, that’s one possibility,” Farrell said. “But I can’t say that’s the absolute sole reason.”

The Sox still believe Ramirez is healthy enough to contribute well.

“Without being in his body, and knowing what he’s feeling, you know, if you watch the number of hours he puts in for the shoulder maintenance, that’s real,” Farrell said. “All we can evaluate is his feedback and how he swings the bat with either the plate coverage or the aggressiveness and the ability to impact the baseball. And there has been stretches of that. I think he would be the first to admit, would like for it to be more consistent.”

Farrell was asked a bunch of questions about Ramirez on Wednesday afternoon in the usual pre-game press conference, including whether he’s difficult to manage. If that’s the case — and it sure seems so —  Farrell did not let on.

"With individuals you take the added time needed to sit down and talk things through and get a sense of where each individual player is," Farrell said. "I wouldn’t say Hanley is different than other guys in that clubhouse."

Ramirez did very well in the second half last year and was optimistic.

“It's coming along,” he said. “I think second half's coming and I'm ready for that,” Ramirez said. “Just one click and you go from there. Like I said, i'm not going to stop working. I'm going to get hot.”

Hayward scheduled to meet with C's, Jazz, Heat when free agency begins

Hayward scheduled to meet with C's, Jazz, Heat when free agency begins

Coveted free agent Gordon Hayward reportedly has three teams he is interested in signing with this summer. The Celtics, as you might expect, are one of them.

The other two are the Heat and his team for the last seven years, the Jazz.

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Hayward is scheduled to meet with all three teams when free agency begins, starting with the Heat on Saturday and then the Jazz on Monday. His day to meet with the Celtics has yet to be announced.

All three teams are likely to offer Hayward max contracts, but expect the C's to push extra hard to land him as they attempt to "sequence acquisitions" for both Hayward and Pacers star Paul George.