Bard, Aceves spring debuts don't tell much

586520.jpg

Bard, Aceves spring debuts don't tell much

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Daniel Bard and Alfredo Aceves are attempting to make the transition from the Red Sox bullpen to the starting rotation, but their spring debuts Thursday didn't offer much in the way of a revelation.

For one thing, with both pitchers scheduled, only one (Aceves) could actually start the game. For another, since it was the first outing for both, they were each limited to a single inning -- just as they would be in their former roles.

Aceves allowed a run on three hits in the first, and Bard was touched for a run on two hits in the second.

"It's good to get the first one of the way," said Bard after the Minnesota Twins met the Sox in a spring 'B' game at Hammond Stadium, "get rid of those nerves with hitters in the box. I felt like I made some good pitches, tried some things that I probably wouldn't try in a normal game setting."

"Bard had good pitches, but he was upset with his selection," said manager Bobby Valentine. "He threw a changeup behind in the count 1-and-0, and then he threw the two-seamer after he hung the slider. He wasnt too happy with that.

"But his stuff was all right. He was working on the two-seamer. He didnt get much work on his changeup or his slider, but he pitched out of the windup and got that over with. He pitched out of the stretch and looked okay."

Said catcher Ryan Lavarnway of Bard: "He didn't have good control of his two-seamer today, but his four-seamer was staying true. He had good control of that. He threw a couple of sliders in there.

It's too early for the Sox to evaluate how Bard's stuff is translating as a starter and determine arm strength and stamina. But according to Bard, it won't be too long.

"I haven't gone three innings in a long time," he said, "so that first time going out for the third time is going to be a little different. But I'm not really thinking that far ahead, just taking it one outing at a time."

As an aspiring starter, Bard now finds himself pitching out of the full windup at times, rather than only out of the stretch delivery, as he did in relief. Even that, he said, isn't much of an adjustment.

"I've been doing it so much on my sides since I started working out for the season," Bard said, "so I'm not even thinking about it out there. It just feels like second nature."

Assuming Bard doesn't experience any physical issues, he's virtually assured of making the rotation.

Aceves, though, is likely in more of a spirited battle, with a handful of others vying for the fifth spot: Andrew Miller, Aaron Cook, Ross Ohlendorf, Felix Doubront and Vicenta Padilla are just some of the others.

Still, he said he's not focused on the competition this spring.

"Nothing about that," insisted Aceves. "I'm just do whatever I have to do to do my job. The result is going to come. I'm working more on my health and get back to the level I was. I'm not competing against nobody. I think every single (potential starter) has a chance to be in the rotation. But we're here to contribute as a team, for a purpose."

Aceves gave up a run on three hits, though one was an infield dribbler.

"I thought he threw the ball pretty well," said Lavarnway. "His curveball had good angle on it. His fastball had good life."

"Acves was okay," said Valentine. "He threw a lot of pitches that he wanted to work on. He was okay with his work, so I was okay with his work."

Unlike Bard, who has been strictly a reliever in the big leagues, Aceves has been more of a swing man in his career. Last year, he made 51 appearances out of the bullpen, and four more as a fill-in starter.

"Personal opinion, I like to start more," said Aceves. "I'm someone who can eat innings. But right now, we're working on getting back on track like I was last year."

John Harbaugh: Ravens’ trickery different than Patriots ‘deceptive’ formation

John Harbaugh: Ravens’ trickery different than Patriots ‘deceptive’ formation

FOXBORO – John Harbaugh explained on Thursday the difference between the rules loophole his Ravens exploited recently and the one the Patriots exploited in the 2014 AFC Divisional Playoff Game that caused him to cry, “Foul.”

What it boiled down to? Everyone knew about the loophole the Ravens took advantage of when they committed an en masse holding penalty at the end of the game against the Bengals. 

Nobody had seen what the Patriots successfully pulled off when they made eligible receivers ineligible and vice versa and went on a touchdown drive that changed the tenor of the game.

“You’re right. I don’t want to get into all that,” Harbaugh said when I asked what the difference was. “That’s all been hashed out. I believe what I believe and I think it’s all been proven to be right.

“The point about [the punt hold] is, it’s been talked about, it’s been looked at, it’s been something that’s been used for 20 years so it’s nothing new,” he explained. “It’s nothing that hadn’t been addressed before by officials or the competition committee.”

Harbaugh said that, in Super Bowl 47, his Ravens used the tactic and his brother Jim, coach of the Niners, took it up with the Competition Committee. John Harbaugh supported the change, he said. The league declined.  

“Everybody knew about that so it didn’t create an unfair advantage for anybody,” said Harbaugh.

After the Patriots beat Baltimore in a tremendous game, Harbaugh was in a snit in his postgame press conference alleging the “nobody’s ever seen that [eligible-ineligible trickery] before.” He said the play was “illegal” and “deceptive.”

I mentioned that Alabama had run the play in a nationally televised game against LSU and that the Titans had done the same thing on a game-ending play against the Jets a few weeks earlier.

Aside from whether or not the information was accurately communicated by the officials, the tone of Harbaugh’s comments left little room for interpretation. He indicated the Patriots were underhanded and that his comments seemed to discredit New England.

“That was not the intent and if you go back and read my comments at the time and the tone of it anybody that takes it that way is taking it the wrong way,” said Harbaugh. “That was not the point of it at all. You had an eligible receiver that wasn’t identified and an ineligible receiver that wasn’t identified as such. The official had no way to identify that for the defense so there was no signal or any other way that they could do that. That was something that was addressed the very next week. If somebody wants to look at it some certain way, that’s not my concern.”

When I offered that referee Bill Vinovich not only identified Shane Vereen as being ineligible but added, “Don’t cover 34…” over the stadium mic, Harbaugh wasn’t having it.  

“That’s not something that had ever been gone over,” he insisted. “Players were never taught don’t cover that player. When you’re on the field, you can’t hear that microphone. That’s not something you can even hear or are listening for. The next week there was a tweak.”

Indeed there was. And not just with the officials then being on the hook to make more detailed announcements. The further tweak, perhaps spurred by the formation chicanery and Tom Brady’s recommendation that Baltimore “study the rules” came when the Ravens passed on intel to the Colts for the AFC Championship Game. One of the recommendations from Ravens special teams coach Jerry Rosburg was to watch that the Patriots’ sideline staff didn’t monkey with the kicking balls. That was included in a letter to NFL Operations man Mike Kensil along with an allegation that it was “well known around the league” that the Patriots deflate footballs before the game and that the league needed to keep an eye on that.

Harbaugh hasn’t hidden from the fact he found Brady’s comment offensive.

"I was pissed off," he said this past summer. "It was uncalled for. And the rules are deeper than that, and I know the rules, and I stand by why that play shouldn't have been allowed...So yeah, that should never have been said."

He has, however, disavowed any talk by his staff about the Patriots allegedly deflating footballs. "Any conversation that was had with the Colts had nothing to do with deflated footballs, which is what we've been saying since the very start," Harbaugh said in 2015. "I know that we've answered the questions from the beginning to the end very simply. Our yes is yes. Our no is no. We've answered questions directly and honestly and straightforward from the start."

Whether the Patriots’ formation plays and the Ravens response to it led to a $30M investigation that hijacked the NFL’s attention for 20 months and resulted in a four-game suspension for Brady is still not definitively known. Could Rosburg and the Colts equipment man have possibly discussed kicking ball chicanery without sharing notes on the belief the Patriots deflated footballs? Rosburg and former Patriots defensive coordinator and current Ravens coach Dean Pees were both spoken to by investigator Ted Wells. What did they offer

Just like everything else between Ravens and Patriots, it’s complicated.  
 
 

Will the Celtics have a difficult decision to make about Isaiah Thomas contract?

dl-celtics_talk.png

Will the Celtics have a difficult decision to make about Isaiah Thomas contract?

Listen to a jam packed episode of the "Celtics Talk" podcast with Kyle Draper, A. Sherrod Blakely, and special guest Steve Kyler from Basketball Insiders.com

SUBSCRIBE Audioboom | iTunes | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher

Kyle Draper and A. Sherrod Blakely are back with another episode of the "Celtics Talk" podcast. This week, we start things off by discussing Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier - what their minutes should be...what their TRADE VALUE might be, etc.

Basketball Insiders.com writer Steve Kyler calls in to discuss where the Celtics fit in the East, how the incident DeMarcus Cousins got involved in at a bar in New York City might effect his trade value,  and would the Magic trade Nikola Vucevic.

Finally, a heated debate on will and IF the Celtics will pay Isaiah Thomas max money when his very affordable contract is up in a couple years. Should Brad Stevens limit his minutes to guard against injury?