Return of the two-sport athlete

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Return of the two-sport athlete

Theres nothing cooler than a two-sport professional athlete.

I dont present this as opinion, but as an irrefutable scientific fact.

Bo Jackson. Deion Sanders. Brian Jordan. Danny Ainge . . .

They all accomplished something that most of us could only dream of except they did it twice. And there's an undeniable aura of awesomeness that comes with that.

Sadly, its been a while since America was blessed with the greatness of a two-sport star, but it looks like one member of the New England Patriots might be ready to throw his name into the ring.

Christopher Price has the full story over at WEEI, but apparently Julian Edelman put on a show in Toronto last weekend during an impromptu workout with the Blue Jays. This, according to Toronto coach (and Maine-native) Brian Butterfield, who tells Price that . . .

Edelman was great at shortstop: "Kelly Johnson took balls alongside him, and said he was amazing."

And in the outfield: Dwayne Murphy, who won seven Gold Gloves, was watching him take fly balls and said he was impressive.

And that he was also dynamic at the dish: In his first round or two, he struggled a little, but you could see the bat speed and the athleticism. And then, he got hot he hit two balls into the middle deck and five home runs total. The two in the middle deck were absolute bombs. When he hit them, the guys were just screaming and yelling and telling each other, Look at that! He just wowed all of our guys. Im a huge fan of his to begin with, and he was just even better than I thought. A great athlete.

It's a fun idea, but for some reason, I doubt that Edelman will join the ranks of the two-sport star anytime soon. But it got me thinking: Which other Boston athletes should take a crack at expanding their athletic identity?

Here are a few suggestions:

Rajon Rondo: Wide receiver or secondary? Thats the only question.

As a receiver, Rondos the same height as Anquan Boldin, with the speed and shiftiness of DeSean Jackson and hands the size of Danny Woodhead. Hed be a serious deep threat, a nightmare after the catch and no matter where the balls thrown you know hell get it. Theres a question of durability, but theres no doubting his toughness. (Not to mention, its hard to get complacent under the NFL spotlight.)

As a free safety, Rondo might struggle with the physicality, but can you imagine the mental stranglehold hed have on these quarterbacks? Hed know where the balls going before the QB made his first read and can probably go from sideline to sideline in four strides.
Avery Bradley: Unless Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand leave hockey for competitive MILF Hunting, Im not sure theres a duo in Boston that naturally fits into another sport better than BradleyRondo do with football. Isnt Bradley the perfect strong safety to complement Rondo? Or what if you played Avery at corner? Receivers would lose their minds trying to shake him in the open field.

Honestly, if the Pats stick Bradley on Randy Moss when the Niners come to town in Week 15, Moss will quit before halftime. (Just kidding, he'll be released by Week 6.;)

Vince Wilfork: No Timmy? No problem. Throw some pads on Big 75, push him in front of the net, and the net no longer exists. Have at it, Ovechkin.

Rob Gronkowski: Get Gronk a speedo and a swim cap, and hes a dead ringer for just about any European water polo player. In an unrelated story: Ill be shocked and disappointed if at some point this summer a picture doesnt surface of Gronk out partying in nothing but a speedo and a swim cap.

Ray Allen: First of all, theres no question that Allen has the focus and discipline to become a reliable NFL kicker. He could have an entire second career if he wants. But I could also see him as maybe more in his younger years a solid middle reliever, or a crafty starter. Nothing too overpowering but a more cerebral guy like Greg Maddux or Bronson Arroyo and Im sorry for using those two guys in the same sentence.

Also, it goes without saying that Allen has potential as a professional golfer. Only 13 years until he's eligible for the Senior PGA.

Alfredo Aceves: They call special teams the Kamikaze Corps and theres no athlete in Boston who embodies the Kamikaze state of mind better than Aceves. He'd be perfect out there alongside Matthew Slater and Co. Good luck getting him to wear a helmet, though.

Jacoby Ellsbury: Maybe its because he reminds me of Apolo Ohno, but Ellsbury may have missed his calling as a speed skater. Come on, would you be shocked to learn that he has a full-body spandex suit hanging somewhere in his closet?

Zdeno Chara: This might be a little obvious, but I'd love to see Big Z take a shot on the jockey circuit.

Tom Brady: Hed start his career as a catcher, then make a seamless transition to first base before becoming a manager, commissioner and then the President of the United States.
Sasha Pavlovic: Pavlovic has a very "Olympic gymnast" look and feel to him. Cant you see him wearing a leotard, double wristbands and delivering a killer routine on the uneven bars? Oh, just me? K.

JaJuan Johnson: Hed make the ideal "left upright" at Gillette.

Nate Solder: How many time this postseason did you wish the Celtics had an enforcer? A Charles OakleyKendrick Perkins kind of guy who could strike fear into opponents? Well, nothing says fear like a 6-foot-8, 319-pound monster. And it doesn't hurt Solder averaged 15 points and and eight rebounds a game in high school for the Colorado state champs. (What's really scary though? 6-8, 319 pounds probably isn't far off from LeBron's actual measurements.)

Tim Thomas: Olympic archery. He's doesn't have to worry about teammates, and gets to shoot things.

Dustin Pedroia: The PedroiaMarchand comparison has been beaten to death these past few years, but not without reason. These guys are the same. Throw Pedroia on some skates and he's every bitter the grinder and instigator that Marchand is. Plus, I'd love to see the reaction if Pedey called out Claude Julien the way he did Bobby V.

Danny Woodhead: Just for fun, the Sox should trot Woodhead out to second base in a No. 15 jersey and see how long it takes someone to notice. Im guessing the first ground ball.
Shawn Thornton: Seeing how he turns 35 next month, Thornton probably missed the window to join the ranks of the MMA elite, but he definitely has the make-up. Even now, I bet he could go out there and just take hit after hit until the other guy tires out like the second coming of Homer Simpson's boxing career.

Wes Welker: Welker gives off that dirt dog vibe. I can see him making it as a gritty, scrappy outfielder like Darin Erstad or Darren Bragg, or some other guy not named Darren. Trot Nixon?

Brandon Spikes: I'm not sure if Spikes knows how to skate, but he should learn. Can you imagine what this guy would do for hockey? He'd revolutionize the game! And in the process, shatter more glass than Darryl Dawkins.

And that's all for now. But seriously, Julian. We need this as sports fans. Just give it a try. I'm sure Bill will understand. He always understands.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

OFFSEASON

Report: Celtics to bring back Gerald Green with one-year deal

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Report: Celtics to bring back Gerald Green with one-year deal

The Celtics will sign free agent Gerald Green, the guard they drafted with the 18th overall pick back in 2005, Sean Deveney of the Sporting News reported.

Green, 30, played for the Miami Heat last season and averaged 8.9 points a game. Deveney reports Green will sign a one-year guaranteed contract. 

Green has been well-traveled since being traded by the Celtics in the Kevin Garnett deal in 2007, the year he won the NBA All-Star Slam Dunk contest. He has played for seven other NBA teams and played two seasons in Russia. His best season was 2013-14 in Phoenix when he averaged 15.8 points a game for the Suns. 

Deveney also reports that sources around the league continue to indicate the Celtics are looking to make a trade for a "star-caliber type" player. Last week, he reported on their interest in the Clippers' Blake Griffin. 

 

Three things we learned from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Twins

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Three things we learned from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Twins

Three Things we learned from the Boston Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins:

1) It only seems like David Ortiz can come through every time.

When Ortiz comes to the plate as he did Friday night -- bases loaded, no out, bottom of the ninth, Red Sox trailing by a run -- it seems like a win is a fait accompli.

"I think everybody in the ballpark just assumed this one might have a chance to be ended right there,'' said John Farrell. "He's been so big for us that everybody in the dugout felt the same way -- confident that the stage was set for him to come through with another dramatic moment.''

Instead, Ortiz rolled over a ground ball to second, and with the Twins infield drawn in, it was enough to turn a 4-2-3 double play that took the starch out of the inning for the Sox.

If anything, though, the inning revealed how remarkable Ortiz has been so often. It's not easy to come through even most times, and it's certainly far from automatic.

"The pitcher (closer Brandon Kintzler) made good pitches,'' said Ortiz. "That's the name of the game. I'm always looking forward to something happening. It just doesn't work out all the time.''

2) Eduardo Rodriguez has his slider back.

When Rodriguez endured a rough stretch in late May and June, he seemed to all but abandon his slider, relying almost exclusively on his two-seam fastball and changeup.

But since returning from a stint in Pawtucket, Rodriguez has flashed the slider that made him so effective as a rookie last season.

"Since he's come back,'' said Farrell, "he's added much more depth. He's able to get to the back foot of some righthanders for some swing-and-miss. He was on the plate with three quality pitches for strikes tonight.''

"I feel like I can locate it better, where I want it,'' confirmed Rodriguez. "Outside, inside corner...I'm getting more confident in it. I think I got out of my mind the tipping (pitches) stuff and all that stuff and I'm just working to throw the ball right where I want it.''

It's almost impossible for a starter in the big leagues to survive with just two pitches, as Rodriguez was attempting to do earlier this season. And it seems foolish to even try, given that Rodriguez's slider can be a plus-pitch for him at times.

3) If Mookie Betts has to miss some time, the Red Sox have options in right field.

Farrell said Betts has been dealing with soreness and stiffness in his right knee since after the All-Star break and has been undergoing treatment.

There's no evidence that this is serious, and he's considered day-to-day. But even if Betts needs some time off, or in a worse-case scenario, has to go on the DL, the Sox can do some things with their outfield.

Michael Martinez's best outfield position is right, as he demonstrated Friday night after taking over for Betts in the top of the fifth. Martinez ran a long way to grab a ball in foul territory for the final out in the sixth, then turned in a fine, tumbling catch in the eighth to take extra bases away from Adam Grossman.

Bryce Brentz, who's been in a platoon of sorts in left with Brock Holt, has played a lot of right field in the minors and has the arm strength to play there.

Finally, there's the matter of Andrew Benintendi. The Sox raised some eyebrows with the news that they were having Benintendi move over to left field at Double A Portland, perhaps in anticipation of playing the position for Boston at some point later this year.

Benintendi is a natural center fielder and even though he doesn't much experience in right, if you're athletic enough to play center, you can usually move to either corner spot.