Sebastian Vollmer's only played in six games this season and hasn't been on the field since the Thanksgiving weekend game in Philly. Back and foot injuries have dogged him. But with the Super Bowl approaching, the big right tackle may soon be ready. "We'll see how it goes," Bill Belichick said Thursday morning. "He practiced some last week and wasn't able to play. He'll practice this week. We'll see if he's ready this week. My crystal ball is kind of clouding up."The play of rookie Nate Solder has mitigated the loss of Vollmer, who's been mainly battling a foot injury as he tries to get back. With the Giants having one of the NFL's best front-four pass rush groups, Belichick was asked if that would impact any plans to get Vollmer back in there. "It doesn't affect it at all," said Belichick. "When he's ready, he's ready. If he's not, he's not."In other words, if Vollmer can play without the threat of worsening an injury, he'll play. But there will be no pushing to get back if participating could lead to causing long-term effects. "If Sebastian is ready, he can help our football team," said Belichick. "He's a good football player. There's no question, he would absolutely be on the game-day roster if he's ready."
First impressions from the Red Sox' 9-4 win over the Tampa Bay Rays:
* Rick Porcello followed form.
Porcello has, throughout the season, struggled some in the early innings before making some adjustments and stabilizing as the game wears on.
So it was Monday night against the Rays.
Coming into the start, Porcello had compiled a 4.15 ERA in the first three innings with a 2.13 ERA in innings four through six.
Sure enough, Porcello allowed four straight hits and two runs in the third inning. After that, he looked like a different pitcher. He did yield a solo run in the fifth when he gave up a leadoff double and two groundouts.
But from the fourth through the seventh, he faced 13 hitters and retired 12 of them, including five by strikeout.
* Travis Shaw showed signs of digging out his funk at the plate.
Shaw was 0-for-6 to start the homestand, and since the beginning of August, had compiled an anemic .141/.236/.264 slash line with only four extra-base hits (two doubles, two doubles).
That resulted in Shaw losing playing time to Aaron Hill at third, and being dropped lower in the batting order.
But Monday, Shaw smacked a double to right -- the kind of extra-base power that he almost routinely flashed in the first half -- and later added two singles for a three-hit night.
It marked the first multi-hit game for him since July 26, better than a month ago.
* Lo and behold, the Red Sox can collect hits with the bases loaded.
The team's struggles in that department have been well-chronicled. Coming into the night, the Sox were hitting just .211 in such situations, ranking them 14th out of the 15 A.L. teams.
Time after time, the Sox have failed to come through with the bases full, sometimes even with no outs.
But that wasn't the case Monday. Twice, in fact, the Sox had innings with the bases loaded and both times, they scored.
In the second, Brock Holt's single to left scored Chris Young, though Sandy Leon was cut down at the plate when the Sox tried to get two runs out of it.
In the seventh, a sharp single to center by Sandy Leon scored two more.
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