McAdam: Salty's roster spot could be in danger

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McAdam: Salty's roster spot could be in danger

BOSTON -- There are limited options to shake up the Red Sox lineups, but one might be reducing playing time for slumping catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

As was the case last year, Saltalamacchia is off to an extremely poor start. After a 1-for-4 game Friday, through the first 13 games, Saltalamacchia is batting just .103 (3-for-29).

A year ago, Saltalamacchia was under .200 for much of the first month and didn't get over the .200 level to stay until May 6.

Saltalamacchia has had some bad luck, too. In a pinch-hitting capacity Wednesday night, he lined a bullet to first which got turned into a game-ending double play. On Tuesday, he struck two balls to the warning track, but both resulted in flyouts.

But as Saltalamacchia himself acknowledged with a rueful smile: "It's way more than bad luck.''

After going hitless in his first three plate appearances, Saltalamacchia hit a ground ball single past Robinson Cano in the ninth for a single.

"I'll take that any day of the week,'' he said of his bleeder. "It's going to start to fall in. That's why it's an average. But for that ball to get through the hole, it felt like a big release. It relieved some pressure.''

Kelly Shoppach, the team's No. 2 catcher, has been spotted mostly against opposing lefties and is hitting .375 with a homer and three RBI.

But the real threat to Saltalamacchia's playing time -- and perhaps even his roster spot -- is Ryan Lavarnway.

Manager Bobby Valentine is a big Lavarnway booster and believes there's not much difference between Lavarnway and Saltalamacchia defensively.

Lavarnway is off to a decent start at Pawtucket, batting .267 with two homers and five RBI. He has a .400 OBP and a .422 slugging percentage. Over the last three games, he has six hits.

Though he's played parts of six seasons in the big leagues, Saltalamacchia has an option remaining, meaning the Red Sox could potentially send him to Triple A Pawtucket -- as they did earlier in the week with reliever Mark Melancon -- to work on things.

Thursday's lineups: Red Sox vs. Braves

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Thursday's lineups: Red Sox vs. Braves

BOSTON -- The Red Sox and Braves play the finale of their home-and-home, four-game series tonight . . . to the Sox' dismay, no doubt.

Boston has won the first three games by a combined score of 21-8, extending its overall winning streak to four. The Sox have also won five of their last six, and six of their last eight, as they've closed to within a half-game of the first-place Orioles in the A.L. East. In addition, they now hold one of the two A.L. wild-card positions.

The lineups:

BRAVES:
Nick Markakis RF
Daniel Castro 3B
Adonis Garcia DH
Freddie Freeman 1B
A.J. Pierzynski C
Jeff Francoeur LF
Jace Peterson 2B
Erick Aybar SS
Mallex Smith CF
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Jhoulys Chacin P

RED SOX:
Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Travis Shaw 3B
Chris Young LF
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Christian Vazquez C
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Clay Buchholz P

Wyc Grousbeck: Celtics season ticket renewals at 98% for next season

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Wyc Grousbeck: Celtics season ticket renewals at 98% for next season

Celtics Managing Partner and CEO Wyc Grousbeck talks with Toucher & Rich about the 98% renewals on season tickets for next year, and how that is unheard of.

Thursday, April 28: Who are the lottery picks?

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Thursday, April 28: Who are the lottery picks?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while giving a thumbs up to “The Good Dinosaur” as quality family viewing.

*TSN Hockey Buddha Bob McKenzie breaks down the players available in the NHL draft lottery and what kind of names teams like the Boston Bruins should expect to be available with the first 14 picks.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Greg Wyshynski talks about the World of Cup ads with the ESPN creative people that made them happen. They used the word jarring in something of a positive fashion to describe them. I would use the word “not funny” for Reg Carling, the fictional character created for the ads. If they were trying to feature the personality of NHL players in those ads, I think they missed the mark. It’s not really a big deal in the final scheme of things, but it doesn’t make for a good first step in drawing hockey fans back to the four letter network.  

*Good luck to Cam Tucker, a hockey writer based out of Vancouver that appears to have been one of the latest to be downsized in our industry.

*Dennis Bernstein has some thoughts, facts, analysis and theories surrounding the Los Angeles Kings, who have a long time to think about their first-round exit from the playoffs.

*Bruce Garrioch has some info on Ottawa’s long range plan to move to a needed downtown arena and that being the blueprint for most other Canadian cities.

*Tracey Myers has a dilemma for the Blackhawks: Andrew Shaw wants to stay, but the question is whether the Blackhawks can afford him?

*PHT writer James O’Brien has Bruce Boudreau lamenting the tough Game 7 loss for the Anaheim Ducks to the Nashville Predators. The loss may cost Boudreau his job, and will see a lot of new blood in the West with Chicago, Los Angeles and Anaheim now all out of the postseason.

*For something completely different: how can you say “no” to a tour of the world’s most magnificent treehouses.