Bowden receives high praise from Valentine


Bowden receives high praise from Valentine

FORT MYERS, Fla. In two Grapefruit League outings, spanning 2 23 innings and eight batters, right-hander Michael Bowden has yet to give up a hit, a walk, or a run. He earned a save in his first outing, against the Orioles Tuesday. His performance led Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine to say this after Bowdens perfect inning of work against the Pirates in the eighth inning Friday night:

I really liked Michael Bowden. His fastball was down in the zone, Im not sure of the speed because we dont have guns here but it looked like it was 91, 92. He had a good split working off of it. His split I saw it, from the side, but I had a pretty good perspective of things I think. Looked like it was a pitch that was very hard to recognize. I liked what I saw. Hes going to get more quality innings, move up in the game a little.

That kind of praise from a manger is what every player wants to hear. Especially a player, who made his big league debut in 2008 but is still trying to establish himself at the big league level.

It makes me feel great, Bowden said. Im glad that the person that matters, my manager, likes what he sees and wants me to get out there and continue throwing and show him what I can do.

Bowden has appeared in 37 big league games over the last four seasons, posting a record of 2-2 with a 5.75 ERA. After converting to the bullpen full-time in the second half of 2010, Bowden earned 16 saves for Triple-A Pawtucket last season, with a record of 3-3 (2.73) in 41 appearances.

Bowden was a first-round (47th overall) pick of the Sox in 2005. This is the first year he is out of options. Bowden is trying to keep his focus on the field.

I prepared for this spring training the exact same way as the last four spring training, he said. Coming in here, and for myself I believe Ive been competing for a job, even though that wasnt the case. But I think this year I really do have a chance and all I have to do is continue to prove that I can get outs and make quality pitches and do it consistently. Just do everything I can.

Im just worrying about what I can do. Just stay healthy, get better, work on what I need to work on so I can do my job every time out. If I worry about the stuff I cant control, thats just going to take me off my mindset. So I try not to worry about stuff like that. But theres a lot of spring left, a lot of stuff can happen. I know theres spots in the rotation for guys and if theyre not in the rotation, theyll be in the bullpen. So all I can worry about right now is just when I go out there every time I get the ball just do the best I can.

Blakely: Thomas isn't a starter, but new All-Star voting is an improvement

Blakely: Thomas isn't a starter, but new All-Star voting is an improvement

BOSTON – There’s certainly some disappointment among Celtics Nation that Isaiah Thomas just missed out on being an All-Star starter in the East.

But one thing we can certainly see with the new voting system … it works way better than the old way of choosing starters.

This was the first year that the NBA decided to allow current NBA players as well as a select panel of media choose who the starting five in the Eastern and Western Conferences would be.

The fan vote would count for 50 percent while media and players would each represent 25 percent of the final tally.

From there, the players would receive a fan ranking, a media ranking and a player ranking.

Because of the aforementioned breakdown – fans count for 50 percent while media and players represent 25 percent of the vote – the fan ranking would be counted twice while the media and player rankings would be counted once.

Let’s look at Isaiah Thomas’ situation which ultimately came down to him and Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan for the final starting spot in the backcourt.

Thomas was fourth in the fan voting, second in the player voting and first among guards in the media voting. So when you add the fan voting (4 *2) + player voting (2 *1) + media voting (1*1), you get a total of 11 which is then divided by 4 to arrive at a score of 2.75.

Now let’s look at DeRozan.

He was third in the fan voting, third in the player ranking and second in the media voting among guards. So his score when you add the fan voting (3*2) + player voting (3*1) + media voting (2*1), you get a total of 11 which when divided by 4 brings you to a score of 2.75 – same as Thomas.

The tiebreaker was the fan vote which meant DeRozan and not Thomas, would get the starting nod in next month’s All-Star game.

As much as it may suck that Thomas lost out because of this system, he would not have had a shot at being a starter under the old system in which the fans were the ones to pick starters.

In fact, it would have been Chicago’s Dwyane Wade in the starting lineup under the old system.

No disrespect to D-Wade, but he has not had an All-Star worthy season. And had the old system been in place, he would be an all-star and thus take up a roster spot of another player who frankly, is more deserving.

And if you take a glance out West, they too would have had a starter who has not had an All-Star caliber season.

Golden State’s Zaza Pachulia finished second in the voting among Western Conference forwards, fueled in large part to his home country, Georgia, voting early and often for him. Because of the media and player voting, Pachulia wound up sixth among Western Conference big men which is still too high when you consider some of the players behind him – Memphis’ Marc Gasol, Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns, San Antonio’s LaMarcus Aldridge and Los Angeles Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan – who are all having better seasons.

While no one would say this new system is perfect, considering how this year’s voting would have panned out under the old rules, this change by the league is a good one that should stick around.

NOTE: I was among the media panelists selected by the NBA to vote for this year’s All-Star starters. My selections in the East were Cleveland’s LeBron James, Kevin Love and Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo in the frontcourt with Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving and Boston’s Isaiah Thomas in the backcourt. My Western Conference selections were Kevin Durant of Golden State, Anthony Davis of New Orleans and Kawhi Leonard of San Antonio in the frontcourt, with Houston’s James Harden and Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook in the backcourt.