Kuechly sounding like a pro already

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Kuechly sounding like a pro already

It would be interesting to see Luke Kuechly rattled. As of now, it's tough to imagine.

The former Boston College linebacker, a projected first-round NFL Draft pick, changes direction in interviews as smoothly as he does on the field. Kuechly held court for over 10 minutes during Wednesday's Pro Day. Reporters set questions up and Kuechly felled them, with an efficiency more resembling a machine gun than an axe.

In certain instances the 21-year old sounded like he was schooling veteran media members on the Combine and Pro Day processes.

"Each room's kind of different," Kuechly said of February's interviews in Indianapolis. "But they can only meet with you for 15 minutes so they can't get a whole bunch of stuff done. It's a lot of quick background stuff -- where you're from, who your family is -- some teams watch a little bit of film with you. But it's 15 minutes at the end of the day it's snapsnapsnapsnap and you're out the door."

Was New England one of the 18-20 teams he met with at the Combine?

"Yeah."

Who from the Patriots did he talk with?

"Everything kind of washes together."

So that interview just melted right into a chitchat with, let's say, Tampa Bay? Sure.

To think about it, Kuechly's cold calm in handling interrogation suits him. He doesn't waste a minute during workouts. Kuechly answered questions about his speed by posting a 4.58 40-yard dash at the Combine.

On Pro Day he worked head-and-shoulders above the rest: cleaner direction changes with a quicker burst, smooth through the hips coming out of breaks. A textbook tackler showing how it's done.

Philadelphia Eagles linebackers coach Mike Caldwell, who directed the group of four linebackers at Alumni Stadium, was likely pleased. Kuechly has been linked to the Eagles for weeks and said Caldwell called him last week to say he'd be in Boston.

But has the flirtation been tempered by the Eagles' recent signing of DeMeco Ryans? Kuechly appeared unbothered by the idea.

"One of my buddies told me about the Ryans deal," Kuechly smiled. "He's a good player."
Completely unfazed. No rambling declaration of why he's still worthy of Philly's Number 9 pick. Just a grin.

Kuechly similarly dismissed a question regarding Pro Day injury concern. Why risk tweaking a knee when you're a first-round lock, anyway?

"When you're playing it's the last thing you think about," he said. "You've got to go out there and do what you've been doing forever and let your body take care of itself. It's not something that goes across my mind really.

"You just got to get out there and do it. Just another opportunity for people to see you."
So it's back to what Kuechly calls "The Waiting Game." To Carolina, to Cincinnati, and back to IMG Training Academy in Florida. He doesn't have many visits planned yet but "that will pick up," he assured.

"That's the weird part right now is you don't really know what your schedule's going to be. I just found out today that I'm going to be going back to Cincinnati on Saturday.

"You live it day by day and kind of see what they throw at you and go from there."

One would expect nothing less.

Bogaerts' "maturity is clearly taking hold"

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Bogaerts' "maturity is clearly taking hold"

NEW YORK -- Xander Bogaerts enjoyed a terrific 2015, his second full season in the big leagues.

He finished second in the American League batting race, established himself as a solid defender at short and generally showed immense promise.

The only thing he didn't do was show much home run power, limited to just seven homers.

This past spring, both manager John Farrell and Chili Davis expressed confidence that the home runs would come, and that they would come organically.

And so they have. In Thursday night's loss to the New York Yankees, a solo homer in the fifth by Bogaerts represented the only Red Sox run of the night in a 5-1 loss. It also gave Bogaerts 21 homers for the year, exactly triple his output from a year ago.

"The maturity is clearly taking hold," said John Farrell of Bogaerts' growth. "You start to get a couple thousand at-bats at the major league level, you're starting to understand your swing, you're picking out certain counts in which to leverage a little bit more. He's been able to do that.

"Home runs are up across the board. But with Xander in particular, he's physically maturing and he's maturing as a major league player as well."

Bogaerts took the advise of Davis and others and didn't set out to try to hit more homers this year. He knew they would come in time.

"Maybe not this quick," he said of the big increase, "but probably in the future, yeah. That's what I did in the minor leagues, so it's kind of something that I thought might translate to the big leagues, too."

Bogaerts is hard-pressed to put his finger on any on factor to explain the big uptick. After all, he didn't change his swing or his stance.

Rather, the homers came as a result of him understanding himself better as a hitter and consistently taking the right approach at the plate.

"It's just (a matter of) taking good swings in good counts," he offered. "Sometimes, you're looking for one. But overall, it's just being a more mature hitter and looking for the right spots to pick and choose."

It hasn't hurt that he's surrounded by quality hitters in the Red Sox lineup, with Mookie Betts and Dustin Pedroia ahead of him earlier in the year, and now Pedrioa ahead of him and David Ortiz behind him.

In addition to seeing better pitches because of who's surrounding him, Bogaerts has also benefitted from listening to Ortiz, who watches his at-bats and offers advice when called for.

Still, most of the credit belongs to Bogaerts himself, who has grown into his power naturally -- just as his manager and hitting coach forecast.

Quotes, notes and stars: "It seems like everybody was happy that I'm leaving"

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Quotes, notes and stars: "It seems like everybody was happy that I'm leaving"

NEW YORK -- Quotes, Notes and Stars from the Red Sox' 5-1 loss to the Yankees:

QUOTES

* "It seems like everybody was happy that I'm leaving." David Ortiz, unaccustomed to ovations and cheering at Yankee Stadium.

* "I thought he threw a high number of strikes. There was good swing-and-miss to his changeup and he took the opportunity and showed well." John Farrell on Henry Owens.

* "It's just taking good swings in good counts. It's just being a more mature hitter and looking for the right spots to pick and choose." Xander Bogaerts, who has tripled his homer output since last year.

NOTES:

* With his fourth-inning homer, Xander Bogaerts tripled his home run total from last year, improving from seven to 21.

* The season series between the Red Sox and Yankees ended with the Sox winning 11 of the 18 games.

* The Boston bullpen has given up eight runs in the last two nights after allowing only seven this month before Wednesday night.

* The Sox suffered only their second sweep of the season. They were also swept by the Tigers in July.

* Jackie Bradley Jr. has reached base safely in his last 13 games.

* Junichi Tazawa has contributed seven straight scoreless outings.

* Robbie Ross Jr. allowed a season-high three walks -- all in the same inning.

* Henry Owens has a career ERA of 8.53 against the Yankees.

* David Ortiz went hitless (0-for-11) in his final series at Yankee Stadium.

STARS:

1) CC Sabathia

Sabathia turned back the clock and looked like a far younger version of himself, pitching into the eighth and allowed just a run on four hits while striking out eighth.

2) Jacoby Ellsbury

Ellsbury had a hand in the first Yankee run -- walk, stolen base, run scored -- and doubled home the second run in the fifth inning.

3) Xander Bogaerts

The Sox had little offense on the night, but Bogaerts smoked a solo homer in the fourth to account for their only run.