Celtics could be in the market for big body

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Celtics could be in the market for big body

OKLAHOMA CITY The Boston Celtics will be down to just three big men against Oklahoma City tonight, with Jermaine O'Neal (left wrist) and Chris Wilcox (groin) both headed back to Boston to see doctors for additional tests.

Even if both receive good news that their injuries won't keep them out too long, the Celtics still might need to add another big man to the roster.

If the Celtics were to add a big man other than by trade, they would have to waive at least one player.

The most likely candidates to be waived would be Marquis Daniels and Sasha Pavlovic, who have each played their way in and out of the rotation all season.

"It's pointing that way," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said of needing to add a big man. "We'll find out more once Chris and JO get back. But the way they've been injured so much, we may need to get one, anyway."

And it may not necessarily come via free agent centers, either. Boston may look to the D-League for help as well.

Whatever they do, it's becoming increasingly clear that the C's don't have the kind of depth up front that they can rely on.

For Wilcox, he has missed three games with a left shoulder injury, and another six due to a sore left calf. O'Neal has missed two games with a sore knee and another two with a sore shoulder.

When you factor in Brandon Bass' left knee injury (he has missed six games and isn't expected back until after the all-star break), Boston's lack of depth upfront becomes a major, major issue.

Look at tonight's game.

Rivers said Garnett, who has missed the last two games dealing with a personal matter, will play more minutes than usual.

"We'll up his minutes by five minutes," Rivers said. "He's usually at 30. Today he'll play 35. But for 13 minutes, he'll be off the floor and somebody else will have to do something."

That means more Greg Stiemsma, who will get the starting nod at center. That also means more JaJuan Johnson, who has shown promise off the Celtics' bench this season.

"Trust me, everybody is going to play," said Rivers, whose roster is down to just 11 available bodies. "We got three bigs, and we're still debating on whether JuJuan is a big yet."

As far as the increased minutes for his younger players, Rivers isn't sold on the idea that it is a good thing for them or for the Celtics.

"You don't want to force anybody into minutes," Rivers said. "I've never believed that's good for a guy."

Gronkowski returns to practice; Mason, Branch still missing

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Gronkowski returns to practice; Mason, Branch still missing

FOXBORO -- The Patriots had a welcome face back on the practice field on Wednesday, as tight end Rob Gronkowski returned to action after missing the team's previous five practices as he dealt with an injury. 

Gronkowski participated in the warmup period of practice and then remained with the majority of his teammates for drills. 

The last time Gronkowski was spotted on the field was last Monday, which was the first of three joint practices between the Patriots and the Bears. He pulled up after pursuing a Tom Brady pass, walked along the sideline, met with head trainer Jim Whalen, and then left practice early. He did not suit up for Thursday's game against Chicago. 

Gronkowski has not participated in a preseason game since 2012. 

Patriots not spotted at Wednesday's practice were Shaq Mason, Jonathan Cooper, Sebastian Vollmer (on the physically unable to perform list) and Dion Lewis (also on PUP). Alan Branch, who has been suspended by the team before last week's preseason game, was also missing. 

Jabaal Sheard, Rob Ninkovich, Malcolm Mitchell, Shea McClellin, Tre' Jackson (PUP) and Danny Amendola (PUP) were present for warmups but went to a lower field for conditioning. Amendola and Jackson were not in pads for the short-and-shells session. 

Jon Bon Jovi was taking in the session alongside Patriots chairman and CEO Robert Kraft. 

Wednesday's Red Sox-Rays lineups: Ramirez gets night off

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Wednesday's Red Sox-Rays lineups: Ramirez gets night off

Hanley Ramirez is getting a night off as the Red Sox look for their third straight win against the Rays tonight at Tropicana Field.

Travis Shaw will play first base, with Brock Holt at third.

Tonight's lineups:

RED SOX:
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Mookie Betts RF
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Sandy Leon C
Brock Holt 3B
Travis Shaw 1B
Andrew Benintendi LF
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Rick Porcello P

RAYS:
Logan Forsythe 2B
Kevin Kiermaier CF
Evan Longoria 3B
Brad Miller SH
Matt Duffy SS
Logan Morrison 1B
Steven Souza Jr. RF
Corey Dickerson LF
Bobby Wilson C
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Matt Andriese P