Ciriaco comes through for Red Sox again

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Ciriaco comes through for Red Sox again

TAMPA, Fla. Ciriaco strikes again.

Its unlikely many Red Sox fans knew his name at the start of the spring or even at the start of the week. But, if this keeps up, it will be hard to forget. Pedro Ciriaco.

On Monday, he hit a two-run, 10th-inning home run to give the Sox a win at home over the Marlins. Tuesday night, on an 0-and-2 pitch, he led off the ninth inning with what was ruled a single with two errors, though it could have been called a triple and an error, and came all the way around to score the only run of the game as the Sox beat the Yankees, 1-0.

Asked after the game if the hit should have ruled a single, manager Bobby Valentine responded, tongue in cheek:

Where are we playing? They dont want him to make the team.

Ciriaco, 26, joined the Sox as a minor league free agent in January. He was originally signed by the Diamondbacks as an amateur free agent in 2003. He has appeared in 31 major league games for the Pirates over the last two seasons. In 751 games over seven minor league seasons, he has hit .270 with 24 home runs, 298 RBI. And he can run -- with 156 stolen bases and 51 times caught, he has an respectable 75 percent success rate.
Ciriacos hit was one of just four the Sox had in the game. The Yankees had the same number (though, with three errors, two on Ciriacos ball), leading Valentine to summarize the game:

Everybody did good tonight. Except for the hitters. But we brought one with us, though, our secret weapon.

Gronkowski returns to practice; Mason, Branch still missing

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Gronkowski returns to practice; Mason, Branch still missing

FOXBORO -- The Patriots had a welcome face back on the practice field on Wednesday, as tight end Rob Gronkowski returned to action after missing the team's previous five practices as he dealt with an injury. 

Gronkowski participated in the warmup period of practice and then remained with the majority of his teammates for drills. 

The last time Gronkowski was spotted on the field was last Monday, which was the first of three joint practices between the Patriots and the Bears. He pulled up after pursuing a Tom Brady pass, walked along the sideline, met with head trainer Jim Whalen, and then left practice early. He did not suit up for Thursday's game against Chicago. 

Gronkowski has not participated in a preseason game since 2012. 

Patriots not spotted at Wednesday's practice were Shaq Mason, Jonathan Cooper, Sebastian Vollmer (on the physically unable to perform list) and Dion Lewis (also on PUP). Alan Branch, who has been suspended by the team before last week's preseason game, was also missing. 

Jabaal Sheard, Rob Ninkovich, Malcolm Mitchell, Shea McClellin, Tre' Jackson (PUP) and Danny Amendola (PUP) were present for warmups but went to a lower field for conditioning. Amendola and Jackson were not in pads for the short-and-shells session. 

Jon Bon Jovi was taking in the session alongside Patriots chairman and CEO Robert Kraft. 

Wednesday's Red Sox-Rays lineups: Ramirez gets night off

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Wednesday's Red Sox-Rays lineups: Ramirez gets night off

Hanley Ramirez is getting a night off as the Red Sox look for their third straight win against the Rays tonight at Tropicana Field.

Travis Shaw will play first base, with Brock Holt at third.

Tonight's lineups:

RED SOX:
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Mookie Betts RF
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Sandy Leon C
Brock Holt 3B
Travis Shaw 1B
Andrew Benintendi LF
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Rick Porcello P

RAYS:
Logan Forsythe 2B
Kevin Kiermaier CF
Evan Longoria 3B
Brad Miller SH
Matt Duffy SS
Logan Morrison 1B
Steven Souza Jr. RF
Corey Dickerson LF
Bobby Wilson C
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Matt Andriese P