Celtics officially sign Williams, waive O'Neal

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Celtics officially sign Williams, waive O'Neal

ATLANTA As expected, the Boston Celtics have bolstered their frontcourt depth with the addition of former Boston College star Sean Williams.

To make room for Williams, the Celtics waived Jermaine O'Neal who underwent season-ending wrist surgery.

Williams will be in uniform for tonight's game against the Atlanta Hawks.

His off-the-court issues both at Boston College and in the NBA are well-documented. But he has stayed relatively drama-free of late, which was among the reasons why the C's feel comfortable adding him to the mix.

"He's done well. It looks like he's matured a little bit," said C's coach Doc Rivers. "We'll find that out. But as a player, he can block shots, he can rebound, he can run the floor. So we're going to give him an honest look."

The timing of adding a high-reward, low-risk talent like Williams bodes well for the Celtics.

This time of year, Boston is looking for ways to give its Big Four some much-needed rest heading into the playoffs.

That will in itself afford Williams some playing time. That, coupled with a schedule that allows for at least a practice or two in the coming days, will also help speed up the process of him becoming more comfortable with his new team.

Williams, who spent eight games with the Dallas Mavericks this year as well as 27 games with the Texas Legends of the D-League, is excited about the opportunity he has with the Celtics.

"I'm thankful to be here, with these guys," Williams said prior to taking the court for the C's morning walk-thru. "Come out here and work hard, try to work towards getting a championship."

In addition to Dallas, Williams also spent some time with the New Jersey Nets. Among his teammates in New Jersey was current Celtic Keyon Dooling.

"Sean's an extremely athletic player who gives 100 percent effort every time he's on the court," Dooling said. "Obviously when we were in New Jersey he was a lot younger so maturity was a factor. But I think the journey that he's taken over the past couple of years, his basketball career, has definitely grown him up. Hopefully he can reach his full potential, because he definitely has a lot of upside."

Three things we learned from the Red Sox’ 11-9 loss to the Twins

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Three things we learned from the Red Sox’ 11-9 loss to the Twins

Three things we learned from the Boston Red Sox’ 11-9 loss to the Minnesota Twins . . .

1) David Price isn’t having fun

Boston’s $217 million-dollar arm had another rough outing -- this time against a team that already has 60 losses.

Those are the team’s he’s supposed to dominate.

“It’s been terrible,” Price said on how his season has gone following the loss. “Just awful.”

Price’s mistakes have often been credited to mechanical mishaps this year. Farrell mentioned that following his start in New York, Price spent time working on getting more of a downhill trajectory on his pitches.

But Price doesn’t think his issue is physical.

So it must be mental -- but he doesn’t feel that’s the case either.

“Honestly I don’t think it’s either one of those,” Price said when asked which he thought was a factor. “It’s me going out there and making pitches. “

But when it comes down to the barebones, pitching -- much like anything else -- is a physical and mental act.

So when he says it’s neither, that’s almost impossible. It could be both, but it has to be one.

His mind could be racing out on the mound from a manifestation of the issues he’s had throughout the season.

Or it could just be that his fastball isn’t changing planes consistently, like Farrell mentioned.

Both could be possible too, but it takes a certain type of physical approach and mental approach to pitch -- and Price needs to figure out which one is the issue, or how to address both. 

2) Sandy Leon might be coming back to Earth

Over his last five games, Boston’s new leading catcher is hitting .176 (3-for-17), dropping his average to .395.

A couple things have to be understood. His average is still impressive. In the five games prior to this dry spell, Leon went 7-for-19 (.368) But -- much like Jackie Bradley Jr. -- Leon hasn’t been known for his offensive output throughout his career. So dry spells are always tests of how he can respond to adversity and make necessary adjustments quickly.

Furthermore, if he’s not so much falling into a funk as opposed to becoming the real Sandy Leon -- what is Boston getting?

Is his run going to be remembered as an exciting run that lasted much longer than anyone expected? Or if he going to show he’s a legitimate hitter that can hit at least -.260 to .280 with a little pop from the bottom of the line-up?

What’s more, if he turns back into the Sandy Leon he’s been throughout his career, the Red Sox will have an interesting dilemma on how to handle the catching situation once again.

3) Heath Hembree has lost the momentum he gained after being called up.

Following Saturday’s contest, the right-hander was demoted to Triple-A Pawtucket after an outing where he went 1/3 of an inning, giving up a run on three hits -- and allowing some inherited runners to score.

Hembree at one point was the savior of the bullpen, stretching his arm out over three innings at a time to bail out the scuffling Red Sox starting rotation that abused it’s bullpen.

His ERA is still only 2.41 -- and this has been the most he’s ever pitched that big league level -- but the Red Sox have seen a change in him since the All-Star break.

Which makes sense, given that hitters have seven hits and two walks against him in his 1.1 innings of work -- spanning four games since the break.

“He’s not confident pitcher right now,” John Farrell said about Hembree before announcing his demotion. “As good as Heath has been for the vast majority of this year -- and really in the whole first half -- the four times out since the break have been the other side of that.”

Joe Kelly will be the pitcher to replace Hembree and Farrell hopes to be able to stretch him out over multiple innings at a time, as well.