Ohlendorf hoping for the chance to start

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Ohlendorf hoping for the chance to start

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- As if there weren't already enough contenders for the back end of the starting rotation, the Red Sox added one more Thursday morning: righthander Ross Ohlendorf, who signed a minor league deal with an invitation to big league camp.

Ohlendorf, 29, spent the last four seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates. In 2009-2010 combined, he compiled a 3.98 ERA over 285 innings before struggling last season, going 1-3 with a 8.15 ERA as he battled shoulder concerns.

He had a "a lot" of offers over the winter, but chose the Red Sox for two primary reasons.

"I feel that, even though there's a lot of really good pitchers here, there's an opportunity for me here,'' said Ohlendorf. "And I feel like there's a real good opportunity to be on a really good team. That was something that really important to me.

"I felt like I wanted to go somewhere where I had a chance to win a World Series. It kind of came down to the fact that I thought this was the best opportunity. There have been a couple of injuries here (to starters such Daisuke Matsuzaka and John Lackey).''

Ohlendorf has pitched in both relief and in the rotation (64 career starts; 31 relief appearances), but here, his focus will be as a starter -- at least initially.

"They've told me I'll be a starter from the beginning,'' said Ohlendorf, "but the bullpen will always be a possibility. I prefer starting. If they think the bullpen is a better fit, I'm certainly happy to what they want. But I would prefer to start.''

He attributed his poor season to shoulder problems.

"It was mainly getting hurt,'' said Ohlendorf, who made two starts at the beginning of the season, then went to the DL and didn't pitch for Pittsburgh again until August. "Early in the season, I was maybe overthrowing and trying to do too much. Then, over the season, I missed too much time. When I came back, I feel like I had one really good start, but never really got in a groove.''

Ohlendorf said he has no physical restrictions this spring.

OFFSEASON

Celtics' ace in the hole in pursuit of Durant: Brad Stevens

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Celtics' ace in the hole in pursuit of Durant: Brad Stevens

Kevin Durant is hanging out in the Hamptons waiting to be wooed by six NBA teams, including your Boston Celtics.

(Wait, this just in: A seventh party has entered the sweepstakes. Kelly Ripa, a fellow Hamptonite has requested to pitch KD on becoming her co-host. “It’s LIVE with Kelly and KD!” It flows.)

Today Durant meets with his current team the Oklahoma City Thunder. What the hell is anyone going to say in this meeting? “Hey, KD. Anything new since we saw you a month ago, when you couldn’t make a shot in the clutch against the Warriors?”

Seriously, what can OKC tell the guy about their team that he doesn’t already know? He could have just stopped by the GM’s office on his way to the Hamptons. But, in this day and age of the power player, all must bow to him. Ah, what the hell. I would probably do the same thing.

I have a gut feeling about OKC and Durant. He wants out. If not this year -- because it looks like he's going back to the Thunder for one more season -- than the next. Is it the small town? Is it that Russell Westbrook could bolt next season to the Lakers? Is it coach Billy Donovan?

Ahhh ha! That’s what I’m going with.

I've always read that Durant loves the fans in OKC. He has never seen like a “big city” guy to me, or someone who has to live in South Beach or Manhattan. Kevin Durant has always seemed to be about basketball and that’s why I think he has man love for Brad Stevens.

I have this moment during the playoffs when OKC was playing the Warriors engrained in my brain. Durant commits a stupid mistake out of frustration that results in a turnover and a Warriors hoop. On the sideline, Billy Donovan chews his ear off for what seemed forever.

That was a mistake. Billy the Kid needed to realize he wasn't in Gainesville anymore. Remember, Billy is chip off the old Rick Pitino coaching block. Both love to talk and love to coach.

That can work against you in the NBA.

Brad Stevens, who is a better coach than Donovan, would never do that. Heck, Brad rarely shows up a rookie on the sideline. He's smart enough to know if a veteran like Durant errs because he's mad, nothing needs to be said. Players like Durant, LeBron or Steph know when they screw up.

I can see Durant talking basketball with Brad for hours, I mean, leave the room at lunch and come back after dinner and you'd find the two still jawing about everything from calling plays after time outs to Texas’s prospects next year.

I know Danny Ainge sat next to Durant’s mother during the tournament and was fined for it. Still, it was a very nice touch and it certainly made an impression on KD.

But the real reason, in my opinion, that he's thinking about Boston is Stevens.

Now if the Celtics can sell on him on playing with Jaylen Brown, they have a real shot.

Good luck with that.

OFFSEASON

Report: Durant decision ’90 percent made’ to return to Thunder

Report: Durant decision ’90 percent made’ to return to Thunder

Kevin Durant’s decision to return to the Oklahoma City Thunder is “90 percent made” and “it would take an amazing sales pitch to change it,” a friend of the NBA’s top free agent told ESPN.

Marc Spears of ESPN’s The Undefeated reports that “barring an incredible sales job, several friends and business colleagues close to the 2014 NBA MVP expect him to return to Oklahoma City for at least another year.”

“His decision is 90 percent made. It would take an amazing sales pitch to change it,” one of Durant’s longtime friends told Spears and another said, “It’s going to take some sweet-talking to get him to pass up all the money he can get by staying in OKC.”

So, that “incredible sales pitch” will come Saturday from the Danny Ainge and the Celtics, who are scheduled to meet with Durant in the Hamptons on Long Island then. 

The Celtics are one of six teams that Durant will meet with. He talked to the Thunder Thursday.  Also making pitches this weekend will be the Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, the Los Angeles Clippers and the Miami Heat.  

Staying in OKC would be more lucrative for Durant.

Spears reports that Durant could get $30.6 million a year in an immediate multiyear deal with the Thunder as opposed to $28.4 million from the other teams and, if he opts for a shorter deal now and a longer one later, he could make as much as $40.7 million a year in Oklahoma City versus $32.6 million a year elsewhere.