Beckett (thumb) expected to make first start

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Beckett (thumb) expected to make first start

FORT MYERS, Fla. Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine confirmed on Monday morning that Josh Beckett has a thumb injury and is being examined in San Antonio.

But Valentine added that he totally expects Beckett to make his start in the second game of the season, Saturday against the Tigers in Detroit.

Beckett threw 100 pitches yesterday in a bullpen session and felt great, hit location, Valentine said. Hes had a little situation that he was taking care of today -- so I guess you all know that -- just for peace of mind.

Becketts regularly scheduled day to start was Sunday. But rather than face the Twins for the second time this spring, he was slated for five innings in a minor league game on Sunday. That was eventually changed to a bullpen session in order to provide a more controlled environment, Valentine said Sunday morning.

Asked his level of confidence that Beckett would make his start Saturday, Valentine replied:

Real good today, after yesterday and he said he felt really good. I talked to the trainers and pitching coach Bob McClure . . . but it seemed like everything was fine.

Beckett has had a history of blisters on his pitching hand, but Valentine said that was not the issue.

No, just been a little situation, Valentine said. Think I might have mentioned it 10 days ago. It was a situation we were dealing with.

I feel really good right now. But as in all cases you have to be prepared. I think we are. I think were covered whatever happens. But the good news is, in his 100 pitches yesterday he felt good.

Alfredo Aceves said earlier Monday morning he has been told to be ready to start the second game of the season -- as well as the home opener -- if Beckett is unable to pitch.

Well, Id rather not talk about conversations I have with players, Valentine said. But suffice it to say you have to always be prepared.

Asked if Becketts thumb problem bothers the righthander more on one particular pitch than his others, Valentine replied:

Youd have to ask him. Its been a little hard to quite put our thumb on it.

Beckett is expected to rejoin the team in Detroit for Opening Day on Thursday, rather than for the exhibition game against the Nationals in Washington, D.C. tomorrow.

Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist out of Belmont because of illness

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Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist out of Belmont because of illness

NEW YORK -- The trainer of Nyquist says the Kentucky Derby winner is sick and won’t run in the Belmont Stakes on June 11.

Doug O’Neill said Tuesday that Nyquist is “out because of sickness.”

Nyquist’s bid for a chance at the Triple Crown ended when he finished third behind Exaggerator in the Preakness at Pimlico Race Course on Saturday.

O’Neill’s assistant Jack Sisterson said from Baltimore that the colt’s blood work came back and showed an elevated white blood cell count. He said “we just want to do right by him and get him to 100 percent.”

When he’s healthy again, the plan is to ship him back to California, with a summer schedule that could include the Travers Stakes at Saratoga.

In 2012, O’Neill’s Derby and Preakness winner I’ll Have another was retired the day before the Belmont with a tendon injury and missed a Triple Crown chance.

Morning Skate: Following Bruins prospect DeBrusk and former All-Star Thornton

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Morning Skate: Following Bruins prospect DeBrusk and former All-Star Thornton

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while thoroughly enjoying “Chewbacca Mom.”

*Good piece on Bruins first round pick Jake DeBrusk, and his solid performance during Memorial Cup play.

*A couple of my friends over at NHL.com have attempted to put together a World Cup of Hockey roster for North America.

*Good piece by FOH (Friend of Haggs) Craig Custance on Jumbo Joe Thornton, and what those who know him best say about him.

*Speaking of the Sharks/Blues conference finals, Vladimir Tarasenko is scoreless through the first five games of the series. That doesn’t bode well for the Blues.

*Actor Will Arnett proves that nobody is better at predicting the outcome of Stanley Cup playoff games than him.

*Longtime Director of Player Personnel Scott Luce is out with the Florida Panthers as their restructuring continues in this spring and summer.

*Gustav Nyquist is disappointing with his scoring numbers from last season, and is looking for a bump up next year.

*For something completely different: Chewbacca Mom visited with James Corden on late night television, and the results were both funny and kind of heartwarming.

Ben Bentil ready for opportunity to showcase his talents in the NBA

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Ben Bentil ready for opportunity to showcase his talents in the NBA

BOSTON – Opportunity.

Ben Bentil learned at an early age to recognize it and in doing so, make the most of it when it presents itself.

That’s how a 15-year-old kid from Ghana, who grew up wanting to be a professional volleyball player at one point winds up playing basketball and soccer at one of the most prestigious boarding schools in the United States (St. Andrews School in Wilmington, Del., which is where the move Dead Poets Society was filmed in 1989).

That’s how that same kid goes from being a role-playing freshman at Providence College last season, to the Big East’s leading scorer a year later – and doing so in the shadows of Kris Dunn, a high-scoring guard who is a consensus top-10 pick in next month’s NBA draft.

“I’m glad I had the best point guard in the country on my team,” Bentil, who averaged a Big East-leading 21.1 points per game this past season for Providence, told CSNNE.com. “We took advantage of it.”

And with the June 23 NBA draft on the horizon, Bentil once again finds himself in position to make the most of an opportunity that so few saw coming this quickly in his career.

“It’s been an unbelievable journey,” said Bentil who averaged 6.4 points and five rebounds per game as a freshman.

A journey that by all accounts is far from over.

Prior to deciding to stay in this year’s draft, the sophomore big man wanted to see how he stacked up against other draft hopefuls at the NBA pre-draft combine in Chicago. He took advantage of a new rule that allows college players to participate in the combine and return to college if they don’t sign with an agent.

This would prove to be yet another opportunity that Bentil made the most of.

In his first game, he had 15 points and 11 rebounds in just 20 minutes.

The next day he had 17 points and six rebounds in just 19 minutes.

Those strong performances combined with really good feedback from NBA executives at the combine and afterwards, made Bentil’s decision to stay in the draft a no-brainer.

A league executive contacted by CSNNE.com in reference to Bentil said he’s “a solid second round pick now,” adding, “and could work his way into the late first-round depending on workouts.”

A second league executive contacted by CSNNE.com via text on Tuesday morning echoed similar sentiments.

“Good second round pick,” the text read. “Could impress teams, play his way into mid-to-late 20s of first round.”

That jibes with the factors Bentil said would likely need to be in place for him to stay in the draft.

“If I know I’ll go in those ranges, I’ll probably stay in,” Bentil said.

In addition to his scoring and rebounding, Bentil also eased the concerns a number of teams had about his size.

At the combine he measured out at 6-8 ¼ with a solid 7-1 ½ wingspan. In addition, Bentil’s hand length was 9.50 inches, which tied 7-footer Dedric Lawson for the longest hands at the combine. Bentil also showed his shooting touch from the perimeter as he knocked down 14-of-25 NBA 3s taken from five different spots on the floor.

And at Providence, the Friars did a lot of switching defensively which often meant Bentil had to guard smaller, seemingly quicker players – the kind of challenge he’ll face in the NBA where teams live on a healthy diet of pick-and-roll sets.

Knowing that Bentil has the quickness to hold his own defensively on switches and the length to where being undersized won’t be as big a detriment as feared on the boards or in getting his shots off offensively, Bentil finds himself in good shape to take advantage of what should be increased opportunities leading up to next month’s draft.

Bentil worked out for five teams initially, but a representative with Octagon basketball told CSNNE.com that Bentil’s list of teams to work out for will be expanded. In addition, Octagon has a pro workout day this week with several teams (the Celtics are expected to be among them) having representatives in attendance to watch the workouts of Octagon clients.

And that will present yet another opportunity – there’s that word again – for Bentil to showcase his talents.