Horton all smiles at Bruins' practice

609452.jpg

Horton all smiles at Bruins' practice

WILMINGTON, Mass. It can be nothing but a good sign that Bruins power forward Nathan Horton was spotted wearing his trademark gleaming grin while walking out of the Bs dressing room following Thursdays morning skate.

He looked happy, relatively healthy and upbeat while saying hello as he walked out of the TD Garden after checking in with the teams medical staff.

But it hasnt changed Hortons prognosis while attempting to recover from a mild concussion suffered during a Jan. 22 win over the Flyers in Philly. Horton has now missed 16 games and close to six weeks of the regular season after bearing the brunt of a Tom Sestito blindside hit, and is still far away from a return to the ice.

Sestito was given no penalty or supplemental discipline on a play thats knocked one of the Bs best forwards out of the lineup with his second concussion within an eight-month span.
A source close to Horton indicated on Thursday that there is still a ways to go before the Bs right wing will be cleared for skating, practicing or playing and hes out indefinitely.

The Bruins acquired Brian Rolston at the deadline as needed forward depth with both Horton and Rich Peverley out of the lineup for the majority of the regular season, but theyve struggled mightily with five shutout losses among the 16 games without Horton.

It may be that Horton and the Bruins have determined to sit Horton out until closer to the end of the season to give him the best possible chance for a healthy run during the playoffs, and multiple sources have indicated that the right wing will definitely be returning at some point this year.

So currently Marc Savard, Horton and Johnny Boychuk are all missing action with the after-effects of head injuries, and only Boychuk appears on the verge of returning to the Boston lineup.

First impressions of Red Sox’ 2-1 loss to Rays

boston-red-sox-tampa-bay-rays-082516.jpg

First impressions of Red Sox’ 2-1 loss to Rays

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- First Impressions from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field:

 

* When the guy who was 0-for-34 produces the go-ahead RBI, it's probably not your day.

The Red Sox and Rays were tied 1-1 in the seventh when Steven Souza Jr. singled to lead off the inning. That brought Mikie Mahtook, hitless in his last 34 at-bats to the plate.

Naturally, Mahtook roped a line-drive double to left field, scoring Souza all the way from first base. It was that kind of day for the Red Sox, who were 0-for-2 with runners in scoring position and stranded five baserunners.

For a team that still leads the majors in runs scored, the Red Sox have shown an uncanny ability to go cold at the plate.

On Thursday afternoon, that happened again, while the most unlikely hero for Tampa Bay came through in an improbable spot.

 

* The Red Sox' struggles with the bases loaded is almost comical.

It happened again.

In the sixth inning, the Red Sox loaded the bases with no out. Mookie Betts then hit a sacrifice fly to left, scoring one run. Hanley Ramirez then walked, re-loading the bases, this time with one out.

But Jackie Bradley Jr. then swung at the first pitch and hit into an inning-ending, rally-killing 4-6-3 double play.

In two plate appearances with the bases loaded, the Sox failed to get a hit.

The Sox are hitting .216 with the bases loaded (24-for-111), ranking them 14th in the American League. Only Seattle and Detroit have had more bases-loaded opportunities, and yet the Red Sox rank in the second half in runs scored in such situations.

 

* Drew Pomeranz is showing no signs of innings fatigue

True, Pomeranz failed to provide a shutdown inning in the sixth after the Red Sox had gotten him a run in the top of the inning.

Still, Pomeranz pitched into the seventh and allowed just two runs while striking out a season-high 11 batters.

In his past five starts, he's compiled a 2.37 ERA, and both the power to his fastball and the sharpness to his curve offer no evidence that he's hit any sort of wall despite already establishing a career high at the major league level with five weeks remaining in the season.