Lovullo interviews with Sox

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Lovullo interviews with Sox

BOSTON -- The Red Sox continued the search to fill their managerial vacancy, meeting with Torey Lovullo Friday. Lovullo managed Triple-A Pawtucket in 2010, leading the PawSox to 66-78 record, before leaving to join John Farrells major league staff in Toronto last season. He is the fourth candidate to interview.

Lovullos time in Pawtucket gave him some insight into what the Sox top job would be like.

Farm director Mike Hazen said to me when I was hired in that position, he said, Youre now the 31st manager of a major-league team, Lovullo said. And it made a lot of sense because I was exposed to many of the media, exposed to the Red Sox Nation, and its real. You dont know exactly what its like until youre a part of it. Its a pretty spectacular place.

"Does that give me a leg up on the competition? Im not certain. I feel very comfortable with the surroundings, the people and their concepts, and Im fortunate for that.

Lovullo, 46, was a fifth-round pick of the Tigers in 1987. He played parts of eight seasons with the Tigers, Yankees, Angels, Mariners, As, Indians, and Phillies. His playing career done, he began managing in the low minors of the Indians organization, saying he wanted to earn my stripes, working his way up through the organization, as he did as a player. In 2011, he had his first season on a big league staff.

My qualifications are such that Ive been groomed by a couple of organizations, he said. Ive seen a lot. I feel like Im very diverse in many areas. As a player I played in Latin America, I played in Japan. I worked for the Cleveland Indians for nine years and then shifted quickly over here to Boston and managed in Pawtucket.

Last year I was the first-base coach in Toronto, had a chance to see what that level of baseball was like. I was very excited to get to that level as a staff member. I was able to work once again with Blue Jays manager John Farrell, who Ive learned a great deal from over the years in the Cleveland and Boston organizations.

Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington was pleased with the meeting.

He did a great job, Cherington said. We knew him pretty well before but first time we had a chance to talk to him about this particular role. Good opportunity to kind of get his insight on being a manager in Boston and sort of how you transfer the skills that we know he has to this particular job and hes a compassionate guy. He cares about players . . . creative, smart, hard-working. And hes a guy that certainly we already know that we can work with effectively and so today was mostly about transferring that, trying to put that in a major league context and enjoyed the chance to do that with him.

Cherington said, despite their familiarity with Lovullo, that does not necessarily translate into an advantage.

I would say thats one of the factors that led us to want to talk to him more about this job, Cherington said. But each of the candidates has their own particular strengths and he has his particular strengths and right now were not giving anyone a leg up. Were going to get through Saturday and use next week to try to figure out who has a leg up.

The Sox will interview Tigers bench coach Gene Lamont Saturday. Lamont, who turns 65 on Christmas Day, also spent a season with the Sox, serving as third-base coach in 2001.

Cherington said he has no plans to expand the pool of candidates beyond the current five, but wouldnt completely rule it out. But, asked if he had requested permission to talk with other candidates, he replied: We havent had any formal permission requests right now.

Haggerty: Bruins putting a lot of their hopes in one roster fix

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Haggerty: Bruins putting a lot of their hopes in one roster fix

The improvement plan has become as clear as it’s going to be for the Bruins this offseason.

With Bruins general manager Don Sweeney locking up Kevan Miller to a four-year, $10 million deal this week and vowing to sign Torey Krug as well, the Bruins defensemen corps is going to look awfully similar to last season’s misbegotten group.

Almost identical, it would seem.

Sure, Sweeney said on Wednesday that the Bruins are actively seeking out “a transitional defenseman” that’s presumably a little better than 35-year-old journeyman John-Michael Liles, and can be paired with Zdeno Chara as a top duo for next season. It’s the No. 1 priority on the Bruins offseason shopping list just as it was last season once they shipped Dougie Hamilton to Calgary for draft picks and were instead saddled with a fearsome, crippling black hole at the top of their organizational D-man charts.

The trade market has been set to a degree by the Erik Gudbranson trade from the Florida Panthers to the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday night with Jim Benning giving up a Grade-A center prospect in Jared McCann, a second-round pick and a fourth-round pick in exchange for the 24-year-old top-four defenseman. Per a hockey source with knowledge of the situation, the Bruins were not involved in any talks for the towering Gudbranso. It sounded like the Panthers and Canucks were pretty locked in with each other on making a deal.

That’s an unfortunate product of Boston not being able to match up with the available center prospect that might have interested Florida and having dealt some of those 2016 draft picks on fruitless deadline rental deals for Lee Stempniak and Liles.

So, how difficult will it be to land Kevin Shattenkirk, or Jacob Trouba, or Sami Vatanen, or Tyson Barrie, or any other mobile blueliner able to play big minutes, move pucks and survive against the other team’s best offensive players while being sheltered defensively by Zdeno Chara?

“Time will tell on that one, you know? Either through free agency or through acquisition, it’s a matter of finding a trading partner or finding a match in the marketplace. We’re going to be aggressive,” said Sweeney. “We certainly have identified, we had our pro meetings … I’m not going to give my whole plan out to you today. But we have areas that we want to address in the depth of our organization more likely in the forward position, either on the right wing or the center, or again on the backend. We’re exploring a bunch of different things trade-wise. It’s difficult in this league, but I think that we’re in the position with two first-round picks to be either selecting really good players or to be in the marketplace.”

The Bruins had better hope it’s a miracle-working puck-mover that they bring to Boston because otherwise they are on course for bringing back the same old sorry usual suspects from last season. Miller and Adam McQuaid will be taking up a combined $5.25 million on the salary cap, Krug will have a salary in the range of $5 million per season after watching the B’s largesse in the Miller deal and both Chara and Seidenberg will trudge on as proud, aging warriors well on the back end of their careers after outstanding service in Boston.

That means many defenders, including Joe Morrow and Colin Miller, return. Defense was the clear weakness on the team, which finished 19th in the NHL after being in the bottom third of the league pretty much all season. It was inarguably the worst defensive group of Claude Julien’s 10-year tenure with the Bruins and had major difficulties in all areas ranging from tape-to-tape passes, to coverage breakdowns and good, old-fashioned lost battles in all of the danger areas.

So, with the plan to add one high-caliber “transitional defenseman” already laid out, it’s clear the B’s belief is that will be enough to substantially improve things on the ice.

At least that’s the theory before the bullets start flying next season and Sweeney gave a few perfunctory lines about the team improving in every area.  

“This is a results-oriented business, so we have to get better in areas. We have to improve our roster. I’ve said all along that we need to continue to improve our roster. We’ll be in the marketplace in every different way, shape, or form to try and acquire players that will continue to help us do so,” said Sweeney. “Talking with Claude and going over the time he spent with Butch [Cassidy], through my dealings with Butch, and realizing the development of a lot of the players that have been a part of our roster and success is the transition game and stuff that Butch has brought to the table.

“[It’s] how he saw the game, how he expects players to play and move pucks and work on it every day, is an area that I think he’s going to be an addition to our [coaching] staff and how he sees the game. I think I identified that if Butch was playing in this day and age now, he’d be a very welcome addition to our roster.”

So that’s the plan, folks. The big move of the summer is getting a defenseman they badly need, filling in a few roster spots, signing a good deal of their own players and then hoping for a better result next time around.

Isn’t there some kind of line about insanity and expecting different results with the same cast of characters year in and year out? 

 

Celtics’ Isaiah Thomas earns All-NBA team votes

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Celtics’ Isaiah Thomas earns All-NBA team votes

BOSTON – Isaiah Thomas was among the breakout performers in the NBA this past season, earning the Celtics guard his first All-Star appearance in the process. 

And when the league announced its three All-NBA teams on Thursday, Thomas was among the contingent of players receiving votes.
 
Thomas, who averaged a career-high 22.2 points per game this past season, received a total of 20 points which was more than perennial standouts Pau Gasol (16 points) of Chicago, Dirk Nowitzki (8 points) of Dallas and New York’s Carmelo Anthony (2 points).
 
Golden State’s Stephen Curry was a unanimous first-team selection as he was named to the first team on all 129 ballots submitted for a total of 645 points. Points for first, second and third team nominations were awarded on a 5-3-1 basis.
 
Joining Curry on the first team was LeBron James who was named to the first Team for the 10th time in his 13 NBA seasons; San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard, DeAndre Jordan of the Los Angeles Clippers and Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook.
 
The second team includes Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant, Golden State’s Draymond Green, Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins, Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers and Portland’s Damian Lillard.

On the third team, there’s Paul George of Indiana, LaMarcus Aldridge of San Antonio, Andre Drummond of Detroit, Klay Thompson of Golden State and Toronto’s Kyle Lowry.
 

Report: 3 owners unhappy with Kraft's amicus brief on behalf of Brady

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Report: 3 owners unhappy with Kraft's amicus brief on behalf of Brady

Three NFL owners have expressed “extreme disappointment” in Robert Kraft and the Patriots filing an amicus brief on behalf of Tom Brady in the quarterback’s appeal of the Second Circuit Court’s reinstatement of his Deflategate suspension, according to Jason Cole of Bleacher Report. 

The Patriots filed the brief on Wednesday. 

The owners see the move as a publicity stunt done to appease Brady and the Patriots fans, Cole said, and they don’t believe Kraft did it any seriousness because the issue speaks to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s ability to punish players and undermines the league’s collective bargaining agreement with the players.

If Kraft thought it mattered, he wouldn't have done it, Cole said one owner told him.