Bailey healthy; will do anything to win championship

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Bailey healthy; will do anything to win championship

FORT MYERS, Fla. Andrew Bailey knows the comparisons and the questions are inevitable. Replacing the most prolific closer in Red Sox history is not an easy task.

Bailey, the 2009 American League Rookie of the Year, was acquired in a December trade from Oakland. He has 75 career saves in three seasons with the As, while Papelbon has 219. Bailey, the two-time All Star, just wants to be himself.

Yeah, thats it, Bailey said. Paps obviously himself. Ive met him a couple times, and hes a good dude. So, hes moved on. Were two totally different pitchers. My goal is to kind of have the media ask the guy who follows me those questions. How are you going to replace Bailey? Thats kind of my goal. So, if I stick with that, Im sure Ill be all right.

Papelbon said Saturday from Bright House Field, spring training home of the Phillies, whom he joined as a free agent in October, he believed Bailey would be successful with the Sox.

Hes one of the best in the game, so its an honor coming from him, something like that, Bailey said. Hes done it here for a while. He knows what it takes, and If he believes in it. I know I can do it, Im looking to have the Fenway Park crowd on my side running out of those gates instead of rooting against me. So, coming out of the bullpen is always an adrenaline rush and Im looking forward to doing it in that uniform.

Bailey, who turns 28 in May, enters spring training fully healthy for the first time in his big league career. He did not make his first appearance until May 29 last season, sidelined by a strained right forearm.

Health is good, he said. Finished strong last year. Obviously, had a little battle, had to miss two months in the beginning of last year. But thats behind me and this is honestly the first healthy offseason Ive had in the big leagues. So looking forward to that and was able to start throwing a little earlier and not having to rehab anything until the middle of December.

Bailey grew up in New Jersey, went to Wagner College on Staten Island, and now lives in Connecticut. He knows as well as anyone the expectations put on a Red Sox pitcher.

Im a closer at heart, but Ill do anything to help the team win, he said. I said that in Oakland, whatever it takes. You look at my games, one, two innings, one plus, whatever the team needs.

I have that mentality of being aggressive. I live and die by strike one. Its the best pitch in baseball. I just kind of go out there, throw the ball as hard as I can. Theres nothing fancy about what I do. So thats kind my mentality. I think that fits the closers role pretty good.

Many of his college buddies are now former Yankees fans, Bailey said, jumping on the Sox bandwagon with him. One of the most common questions hes heard since joining the team: What will his entrance music be?

No idea, he said. I dont know how that works here. Supposedly they chose it for Pap. So I dont know whats going to go on. But, for me, I like to feed off the crowd, the adrenaline. So, if I get to choose, itll probably be something rock. Maybe Ill throw a little Boston twist in there with Aerosmith or something. But, well see. Maybe Godsmack.

Bailey admits theres one comparison to Papelbon he doesnt mind. Asked if he would dance in his boxer shorts on the Fenway lawn if the Sox won another World Series, Bailey replied:

Ill do anything to win the World Series. So you guys can keep me to that, too. Whatever you guys need me to do to win a World Series, Ill do it.

McAdam: Poor homestand puts Red Sox on tough road

McAdam: Poor homestand puts Red Sox on tough road

The Red Sox had their chance.

They could have beefed up during the just-completed homestand and taken advantage of the worst team in the American League (Minnesota) and another that was only three games over .500 when it came to town (Detroit).

Instead, the Red Sox were just 2-5 in the last seven games at Fenway, losing ground in the standings to the Orioles and Blue Jays rather than making the race tighter.

That's not to suggest the Red Sox played their way out of contention in the last week. There are better than two months remaining in the season and the schedule isn't yet two-thirds complete.

Moreover, there is no dominant team in the East, and, thus, no one capable of pulling away and leaving the rest of the teams in their wake.

Baltimore and Toronto are flawed, too, as the first 100 or so games of the season have demonstrated.

But what the disappointing homestand means is this: Because they didn't win as much as they should at Fenway in the last week, the Sox will have to make up for that on the road.

As has been talked about ad nauseum in the last week, the schedule is about to become more demanding for the Red Sox. It's bad enough that they're in the middle of a stretch that will see them enjoy one (1) day off in the span of 44 days. Making matters worse is that 41 of the final 63 games are away from home -- including the next 11.

Put another way: The Red Sox have not yet had a three-city road trip this season, but all four of their remaining trips are of the three-city variety, including two that include travel to the West Coast.

The Red Sox have played fairly well on the road (21-19) -- they're one of just four teams in the American League with a winning road record -- but the simple fact remains: It's harder to win on the road than it is at home. And that's before you take into consideration the toll that lengthy road trips can take.

Of the next three road opponents, one has a losing record, and another is just two games over .500. Only the Los Angeles Dodgers, next weekend's interleauge road opponent, are playoff contenders from among that group.

Then again, the Red Sox thought they could roll over the Twins last weekend and came away with a four-game split, so it's difficult to handicap these things.

It should help, too, that the Red Sox are getting healthier.

Junichi Tazawa returned this week, and Craig Kimbrel could be back as early as Monday in Seattle. Chris Young and Josh Rutledge could rejoin them before they head out on their next road swing in mid-August.

With all the talk of the daunting schedule and demanding travel ahead, Dustin Pedroia was having none of it.

"We can play just as well on the road as we have at home,'' said Pedroia. "That stuff (the schedule) is irrelevant.''

Maybe. But one way or another, we're about to find out.

Garoppolo: Make the best of this opportunity as starting quarterback

Garoppolo: Make the best of this opportunity as starting quarterback

Jimmy Garoppolo, who will start the first four weeks, talks to the media today about trying to take advantage of the opportunity of being the Patriots' quarterback.

OFFSEASON

Boston Celtics announce 2016 preseason schedule

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Boston Celtics announce 2016 preseason schedule

New England fans will get their first glimpse at the 2016-2017 Boston Celtics when they kick off their preseason schedule on October 4 against the Philadelphia 76ers at UMass-Amherst’s Mullins Center.

That game will feature two of the top three picks in last month’s draft as Ben Simmons, the top overall pick, will face Jaylen Brown, who was drafted by the Celtics with the third overall pick.

Boston’s 7-game schedule features no back-to-back games, but they do face the Charlotte Hornets in their second and third preseason games on Oct. 6 (in Greensboro, N.C.) and Oct. 8 at Mohegan Sun Arena.

Here’s a look at Boston’s full preseason schedule:

DATE               OPPONENT                  LOCATION                                                        TIME
Oct. 4               Philadelphia 76ers         UMass-Amherst Mullins Center (Amherst, MA)     7:00 p.m. ET
Oct. 6               Charlotte Hornets          Greensboro Coliseum (Greensboro, NC)             7:30 p.m. ET
Oct. 8               Charlotte Hornets          Mohegan Sun Arena (Uncasville, CT)                  3:30 p.m. ET
Oct. 13             Brooklyn Nets               Barclays Center (Brooklyn, NY)                          7:30 p.m. ET
Oct. 15             New York Knicks           Madison Square Garden (New York, NY)             7:30 p.m. ET
Oct. 17             Brooklyn Nets               TD Garden (Boston, MA)                                   7:30 p.m. ET
Oct. 19             New York Knicks           TD Garden (Boston, MA)                                   7:30 p.m. ET