Ochocinco maintains there's no problem

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Ochocinco maintains there's no problem

INDIANAPOLIS -- Chad Ochocinco arrived at Wednesday's media blitz 20 minutes late. A large crowd of reporters had already gathered around his table. They stepped over and on top of each other, jockeying for prime real estate around the fallen star's landing spot.
Ochocinco talked for every minute of the morning he'd missed.

Let me address this, the New England Patriots is an elite organization where everything is in house and always stays in house, its like Fort Knox," he explained. "There are no leaks, no sources, so claimed, going around the league. Theres no such thing. So, with the media, with the fans, with everyone else, is their public opinion on what they feel might be the problem. They dont know what goes on behind closed doors. Nobody does."

What people know is what they've seen this season: 15 catches for 276 yards and one touchdown. Considering his 2009 numbers -- 72 catches, 1,047 yards, 9 touchdowns -- the interpretation can only be negative. Something is off.

No, theres no problem understanding the Pats' system, he maintained. Im extremely intelligent, extremely intelligent. Football sense, life, the way I carry myself, the things I do, we can all see I have sense, Im smart. Its just that it didnt play out the way it was supposed to play out.

One can assume a disconnect between Ochocinco and Tom Brady. Not that Brady would ever hint at any disfunction. The quarterback has only been complimentary, tossing out bouquets like "work ethic" whenever Ochocinco's game-day impotence is raised. The pair's lack of on-field chemistry speaks louder than either of them, anyway.

No amount of adorable analogies can soften that reality.

Were dating," Ochocinco said of his quarterback. "First year of a marriage is always rough, always rough. Ive always had the chip on my shoulder, thats my style, its the way I am. If I dont have the chip, Im going to create it by saying something to someone who had to deal with me that week. Im just going to be quiet.

"I can still have fun. I sort of have to feel my way through it first. This seasons been, its more of a feel-my-way-through-it. Its a learning process. You just cant come into something new and just bust the door down and say, Hey, Im here.

Maybe not. But you could say he never even tip-toed over the Patriots threshold.
Yet Ochocinco is in Indy, and from the sounds of it, he's reconciled the question of entitlement by focusing on the bigger picture.

This playoff run, this Super Bowl is very meaningful. Many would say it didnt go the way I would like it, not up to my expectations. Everybody can see that, but I dont think this season negates a career of what I consider greatness, worth of fun. To get to this point quietly, most people call it bittersweet, but its a blessing. People will play this game for years, for years and many names, many greats without having a chance to sniff the Super Bowl.

"To be able to be here, regardless of how this season went is a blessing, period. Especially where Ive come from, what Ive been through. To get to this, not just this stage, but the NFL in general. Im happy, it could be my last one. Theres no reason to hang my head, theres no reason to be upset. It is what it is and Im still smiling. Ive been smiling all year.

You can't say Ochocinco's smile won't widen if New England wins a ring. No matter how many catches he doesn't have.

Mookie Betts' injury likely just a short-term issue

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Mookie Betts' injury likely just a short-term issue

BOSTON -- After leaving Friday night’s game with right knee soreness, structural damage has been ruled out regarding Mookie Betts, but he could still be out for a bit.

Testing was done on Betts’ knee, removing any doubt of a deeper issue, revealing it was just build-up of fluid, causing swelling in his knee.

“Day-to-day is the status. It may take a couple for him before he’s back to us.” John Farrell said. “Everything points to this being a short-term situation.”

Betts explained that his condition had improved from Friday night, but -- much like Farrell -- doesn’t know how quickly he can bounce back. He wouldn’t make a definitive statement on whether or not he’d be available Sunday.

“It feels pretty good now,” Betts said. “We’re going to do some treatment on it, make sure everything is good and hopefully get back out there.”

Betts joins the list of pivotal players unavailable in Saturday’s game, including Craig Kimbrel and Koji Uehara who are both on the DL.

Farrell couldn’t commit to a timetable for when he expects Uehara should be back, but hopes he’ll be available during the regular season.

“We’re hopeful of that,” Farrell said when asked if he thought Uehara would be back before the postseason. “There’s no number of day’s that says Koji’s going to put a ball back in his hand . . . To give you a time frame, it’s too early to tell.”

Kimbrel, on the other hand, has bounced back well, and is expected to throw his first bullpen Sunday or Monday. The hope is that he’ll throw twice off the mound before the trip to the West, which would set him up for a simulated game.

“We need to get some PFP involved -- just some change in direction, fielding the position,” Farrell said on Kimbrel. “But in terms of amount of time missed, and that fact that he’s able to as get aggressive right now in long toss. I would think it would be on the shorter end of appearances if it’s even more than one. He feels very good. If he wasn’t making the ultimate decision medically [he’d] probably say ‘Give me the ball tonight.’ That’s how good he feels -- that’s encouraging.”

 

Heinen looking to be dark-horse candidate for Bruins' roster

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Heinen looking to be dark-horse candidate for Bruins' roster

While much of the focus is going to be on the young D-men headed into Bruins training camp, it would be foolhardy to overlook a forward prospect Danton Heinen, who is in position for a real dark horse run at an NHL roster spot. 

The strong odds are that the former University of Denver star is going to be begin the season in the AHL for the Providence Bruins after putting up a couple of points in four games there at the end of last season.

Still, that certainly hasn’t stopped Heinen from setting his sights on an NHL spot out of this fall’s camp, most likely in a third- or fourth-line capacity to start things off, or perhaps at the top-six right wing spots that have given the Bruins some problems filling permanently over the past couple of seasons.

Either way, the 2014 fourth-round pick knows that his clock to fulfilling his dreams as an NHL player has started and that it’s up to him when he can start making that a reality.

“It’s something I’ve wanted to work toward my whole life, so I’m just going to try to keep getting better, have a good rest of the summer and then put my best foot forward to see what happens,” said Heinen, who had an assist and a sweet goal in the Friday scrimmage at development camp when he twisted D-man Cam Clarke around like a pretzel on a nifty rush to the net. “I just need to continue to get stronger this summer, and working on my skating to get a bit quicker.

“[The AHL] was a lot of fun to get in there and see what it was all about. It was a lot different than college hockey, and it was definitely good to get a taste of it. [Bruins officials] told me to have a really big summer getting faster and getting stronger, so that’s what I’ve been doing.”

The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Heinen, 21, continued to show in development camp last week, however, that he has the playmaking skills and hockey IQ to flourish while surrounded by more accomplished players and in tighter situations. It’s exactly what he showed while posting 36 goals and 93 points in his freshman and sophomore seasons for the Pioneers and it was what he showed while finishing last week as one of the best forwards in camp.

“He’s looked really good at [development] camp. He’s a smart player, he’s committed and I think you’ll notice him in training camp. It will be up to him, but I think he’ll definitely be pushing some guys [for an NHL job],” said Bruins assistant coach Jay Pandolfo, who was running the Bruins development camp. “He looked good [in Providence]. He fit in well. He’s the type of player that can play with good players because he’s got high hockey IQ, and he’s got really good skill.

“Anywhere you put him he’s smart enough to figure it out. You could tell in his first game there was a little bit of an adjustment for him, but the second time game it really looked like he’d been playing [at that level] for a long time. He’s a quick study, and he looked really good last year.”

The Black and Gold management hope he continues to look good at main NHL training camp in a couple of months, where he’ll undoubtedly be featured, and could be a lot closer than many people think as a polished skill forward coming out of a big-time college hockey program. 

Saturday's Red Sox-Twins lineups: Betts out with knee soreness

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Saturday's Red Sox-Twins lineups: Betts out with knee soreness

Mookie Betts is out of the lineup Saturday after leaving the game Friday night with knee soreness and Brock Holt moves into the leadoff spot for the Red Sox in Game 3 of their four-game series with the Minnesota Twins at Fenway Park.

Manager John Farrell said Betts is day-to-day after the right fielder left the Red Sox' 2-1 loss in the fifth inning with pain in his right knee. There is swelling, but an MRI showed no structural damage.Michael Martinez will start in right on Saturday night. Betts had started in 93 of Boston's 94 games this season. 

Aaron Hill gets the start at third base for the Red Sox in place of Travis Shaw.  

Left-hander David Price (9-7, 4.36 ERA) makes his second start of the second half for the Red Sox. Price took the loss in a 3-1 defeat against the Yankees on Sunday night, allowing 11 hits and three runs in 5 2/3 innnigs. 

Right-hander Ricky Nolasco (4-8, 5.02) is on the mound for the Twins.

The lineups:

TWINS
Eduardo Nunez SS
Robbie Grossman DH
Miguel Sano 3B
Brian Dozier 2B
Max Kepler RF
Kennys Vargas 1B
Eddie Rosario LF
Kurt Suzuki C
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Ricky Nolasco RHP

RED SOX
Brock Holt LF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Aaron Hill 3B
Sandy Leon C
Michael Martinez RF
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David Price LHP