Pietrus feels 'extremely good' in return to action

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Pietrus feels 'extremely good' in return to action

BOSTON -- Mickael Pietrus didnt want to talk about the details of his injury. He hadnt watched a replay, either. Seeing himself crash into the paint in Philadelphia was too much to handle.

I dont really watch it because it makes me sad, he said. I fell so hard and my brain was moving. I didnt feel good and I was throwing up.

He quickly switched topics, Yeah, OK, next question. Youre trying to make me sad.

Pietrus suffered a grade 3 concussion Mar. 23 during the second half against the Sixers. While the Celtics were hopeful he would return for the playoffs, there was no timetable set for an injury of this severity.

The 30-year-old swingman first visited the TD Garden over a week ago, wearing sunglasses and a towel over his head due to light sensitivity. Then came visits with clear sight, followed by dancing on the court.

Then, on Wednesday night, came his sudden return. He missed just 10 games.

I feel good, extremely good, he said after the Celtics 88-86 overtime win against the Hawks. No more concussion. Its behind me now so I can look forward right now to just get to a level where I can help my team in the playoffs. Im just very happy to be back.

Pietrus found out Wednesday morning he would be able to play. He did not tell the media before the game, though, explaining after, It was an April Fools, with a big smile.

Before tipoff Doc Rivers said Pietrus would be limited to five-to-ten minutes. Instead, he played 29 off the bench, scoring eight points (3-5 FG, 1-2 3PG, 1-2 FT), along with six rebounds. More notably, he was on the court the final seven minutes of the game, including the entire duration of overtime.

Thats what of course hes going to say and there is nothing wrong with that, but Im going to make him play me 30 minutes, Pietrus joked, adding, I enjoy when the game is on the line and you know you have to guard the best player.

Rivers didnt plan for Pietrus to play major minutes after he was told Pietrus was tired after two minutes of workouts. He intended to take him out earlier in the game, but athletic trainer Ed Lacerte gave Pietrus the thumbs up to stay on the court.

I was going to take him out after about three minutes and Eddie said, He looks great. Let him go, let him go. Hell tell you when hes tired, said Rivers. Whats amazing is he actually never looked over and said he was ever tired. Maybe hes been working out on the sly and we never knew it.

The Celtics, who frequently reached out to Pietrus during his recovery, were happy to have their jovial teammate on the court once again. With Ray Allen (ankle) out, Pietrus gave them an extra boost.

It felt good to have Mickael back, said Kevin Garnett. Seemed energetic, seemed like the old Mickael, like nothing had happened to him. He brought good energy, not only to the locker room today but to the floor. It was good to see him.

Said Brandon Bass, He brought defensive intensity, passion. We missed him and it was great to have him back. . . . Ray went down so I was just happy we had someone step up and be ready. I knew it, even from when he walked in, he was so excited about playing tonight. I knew he was going to bring something, help us tonight in a major way.

Pietrus considers himself fortunate to be back on the court after a difficult two weeks. He knows the injury could have been worse, and he is thankful for those who offered their support during the challenging time.

I came out here tonight, 18,624 fans, I was so happy and I just forget the concussion and they were supporting me, he said. Thanks to the fans for supporting me, they tweeted me. And I want to say thanks to the Celtics organization. They looked out for me when I was down. They came to my house and made sure they talked to me and stayed positive. They took care of me from day one.

Now that hes back, Pietrus wants to return the favor by helping the Celtics reach the ultimate goal.

Playoffs are right around the corner so Im trying to help my team the best way I can, he said. Im looking right now, on my mind, even though Im trying to get my brain right, its still banner 18. I think guys are playing great right now so we have a chance to win the championship this year. And we will.

Bergeron and Marchand convinced Backes to join Bruins

Bergeron and Marchand convinced Backes to join Bruins

JAMAICA PLAIN -- For those excited about the idea of an intense, hard-hitting David Backes in a Bruins uniform for the next five years, you have Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand to partially thank.

Backes, 32, didn’t know either of them all that well prior to this summer, aside from his experiences on ice against them. But Bergeron and Marchand called Backes multiple times while recruiting him to Boston, and it was a major factor in the former Blues captain signing a five-year, $30 million deal with the B's.

“Being an outsider, we need to have a little bit of confession here that Marchand is the kind of guy that gets under everybody’s skin. I was no different,” said the 6-foot-3, 221-pound Backes, who has 206 goals and 460 points in 727 career NHL games, all with St. Louis. “But then talking to him a little bit in the interview process prior to July 1, I hung up the phone and had to take a deep breath and say to myself, ‘That little disturber, he’s actually a pretty good guy.’ Those guys end up being the best teammates.

“A guy like Bergeron, when you play against him [he's] always in the right spot, and is never making mistakes. Those types of guys, again, are guys you want on your team, and guys you want to go to war with. They’re All-World players, Bergeron is an All-World player. But he’s also a down-to-earth guy that puts his work boots on, takes his lunch pail and plays his butt off. He’s nice to the young kids, and he’s nurturing in helping them come along. I think you’ve seen in the NHL that you need a few guys on entry-level deals, or a few guys to outperform their contracts, in order to have success in the salary-cap era. That nurturing and mentorship can really foster those kinds of performances.”

While Backes went on to mention Zdeno Chara as another highly respected, formidable opponent with whom he’ll now share a dressing room, it was interesting to note that players who currently have letters on their sweaters, like Chara and David Krejci, didn’t play a part in the recruiting process. Instead it was the next captain of the team (Bergeron) and a player (Marchand) currently in the middle of negotiations entering the last year of his contract.

“I talked to both Bergeron and Marchand twice before July 1," said Backes. "Just the way that they spoke about their team mentality, and teaming up together and sharing the load of hard minutes that need to be played, and also sharing the load of the offensive necessities that a team has . . . those things just rang true to my beliefs of a team.

“You’re all equals whether you’re the top-paid guy, or the top-minute guy, or the low-minute guy, or the guy that’s playing every other game because you’re the healthy scratch in the other games.

“We all needed to be treated equal, and do whatever we can to support the next guy. When the next guy has success, we have to be just as happy as if we scored the goal. That’s the type of thing where, when you get that from the full 20 guys on the ice, it’s so tough to be beat. Those are the teams that win championships.”

It will be interesting to see just how much involvement Backes has with the Bergeron and Marchand combination. He could very easily be a right-wing fit with those two dynamic forwards next season, or he could be a third-line center behind Bergeron and Krejci and give the Bruins elite depth down the middle of the ice.

True to his team-oriented nature, Backes said he’ll be happy to play at either position and do whatever Claude Julien feels is best.

First impressions: Detroit Tigers 4, Boston Red Sox 3

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First impressions: Detroit Tigers 4, Boston Red Sox 3

BOSTON -- First impressions from the Red Sox' 4-3 loss to Detroit on Wednesday afternoon:

1) Eduardo Rodriguez pitched pretty well, but not well -- or deep -- enough.

Rodriguez has now made three starts since coming back from Pawtucket and any one of them was better than his starts from earlier this year.

He's no longer tipping his pitches, he's commanding better in general and his fastball has been more powerful.

But he's also giving up a lot of hits (19 in 18 innings) and he's gotten through the sixth inning just once in his three outings. For a team short in its bullpen, that's leaving a big workload for the relievers.

2) The late-inning comebacks have been in short supply.

Yes,  the Red Sox have scored runs by the boatload at times. And yes, they've mostly played hard this season.

But before Wednesday, the Sox had been just 3-35 when trailing after seven innings and they had enjoyed only two walkoff wins all season.

Those numbers can be misleading, of course. Teams can dig out from early holes -- as the Red Sox did Tuesday night.

But the ninth-inning rallies haven't happened much. In fact, on the current home stand, the Sox have had the top-to-middle part of the order up in the bottom of the ninth -- with David Ortiz getting an at-bat each time -- on four separate occasions, trailing by a run or two, and couldn't produce a winning rally.

3) Clay Buchholz may be pitching himself out of the doghouse

After going weeks -- literally --between appearances, Buchholz has been called upon four times in the last seven games.

Granted, in most of those games, the Red Sox have been trailing. But the games were such that they were still within reach, contradicting John Farrell's remarks late last week when he broadly hinted that he didn't trust Buchholz in games that were close.

Slowly, however, Buchholz could be earning some trust coming out of the bullpen. He had a perfect inning Wednesday with the Sox trailing by a run at the time.