Ortiz the big question as arbitration deadline nears


Ortiz the big question as arbitration deadline nears

Midnight Wednesday is the deadline for teams to offer salary arbitration to their own free agents. For the Red Sox, who have eight players eligible for free agency, that should be a pretty routine call.

Of the eight free agents -- David Ortiz, Jonathan Papelbon, Jason Varitek, Dan Wheeler, J.D. Drew, Conor Jackson, Trever Miller and Tim Wakefield -- four are ranked free agents under the current system.

Papelbon and Ortiz are Type A free agents; Varitek and Wheeler are Type B free agents.

Papelbon, of course, has already signed a four-year, 50 million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies, so, after-the-fact, the Sox will offer Papelbon arbitration and get a first-round pick and sandwich pick as compensation.

Ortiz represents a more interesting call. If the Sox offer Ortiz arbitration and he accepts -- players must do so by Dec. 7 -- then the Sox run the risk of going to arbitration and having Ortiz awarded a salary somewhere between 13.5-15 million next season.

Still, though that would represent a modest raise from Ortiz's 12.5 million salary for 2011 and force the Sox to a pay huge number for a DH, it would limit the team's commitment to the 36-year-old to one season.

And, as former Red Sox GM Theo Epstein was fond of saying: "There's no such thing as a bad, one-year contract."

The cases of Wheeler and Varitek are more problematic.

The Red Sox have already opted not to pick up a 3 million team option on Wheeler. Wheeler made 3 million in 2011, meaning offering him arbitration would virtually guarantee that he would get a raise for 2012.

If the Sox weren't willing to lock him in at 3 million -- though they indicated they were open to re-signing him at a lesser figure -- why would they tie themselves to the arbitration process where Wheeler would almost certainly get more?

With Varitek, who earned 2 million as the backup catcher last year, would seem to represent too great a risk for the Sox to offer aribtration. Even a modest raise to, say, 2.5 million, would be way more than the Sox would want to pay a reserve catcher, especially with the much younger (and infinitely less expensive) Ryan Lavarnway in line for the same role.

In the unlikely event both Wheeler and Varitek were offered salary arbitration by the Sox and then signed elsewhere, the Sox would receive sandwich picks for both.

South Carolina holds off UMass, 34-28


South Carolina holds off UMass, 34-28

COLUMBIA, S.C. - Freshman Jake Bentley threw for two touchdowns and 201 yards in his first college game and South Carolina matched its victory total from last year with a 34-28 victory over Massachusetts on Saturday.

South Carolina coach Will Muschamp was expecting to redshirt Bentley this season before the team's mounting offensive problems - they entered dead last in points per game in the Football Bowl Subdivision - left the first-year coach open to any solution.

Bentley proved the right answer against the Minutemen (1-7). He led the Gamecocks (3-4) to touchdowns on their first two series, and then threw a pair of pretty fade passes for TD, the first from 16 yards out to K.C. Crosby and later a 24-yarder to Bryan Edwards to lead 27-7.

When UMass cut things to 34-28 with less than 5 minutes left, Bentley accounted for 30 yards to help the Gamecocks run out the clock.

It was the first time South Carolina had scored more than 20 points in a game this season.

UMass did its share to help with three turnovers in the opening half, two which led to two South Carolina scores.

Tight end Adam Breneman had two TD catches for UMass, which fell to 0-3 against Southeastern Conference teams this fall.


UMASS: The Minutemen have been outscored 131-77 in its four games this season against teams from the Power 5 conferences.

SOUTH CAROLINA: Its future - and offensive recovery - may have started with Bentley behind center. The freshman, who'll turn 19 next month, is sure to have some bumps ahead, maybe as soon as next week's home game against No. 18 Tennessee. But there was little benefit keeping the strong-armed Bentley on the bench if he could spark up the offense this season.


UMASS: The Minutemen return home to play Football Championship Subdivision opponent Wagner. The game ends the UMass home season as it finishes with games at Troy, BYU and Hawaii.

SOUTH CAROLINA: The Gamecocks go back to the Southeastern Conference grinder against No. 18 Tennessee. The Gamecocks have only won two SEC games the past two seasons and will face a difficult challenge against the Vols, who are in the thick of the Eastern Division chase.

© 2016 by STATS & The Associated Press


UConn falls to Central Florida, 24-16


UConn falls to Central Florida, 24-16

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. -McKenzie Milton threw for a season-high 317 yards and three touchdowns to lead Central Florida to a 24-16 win over UConn.

The freshman completed 29 of 45 passes and the Knights (4-3, 2-1 American) moved over the .500 mark by scoring 17 unanswered points and holding the Huskies (3-5, 1-4) scoreless in the second half.

Arkeel Newsome ran 21 times for 101 yards and Noel Thomas had his fifth straight 100-yard receiving game for UConn, catching nine passes for 165 yards.

But Thomas dropped a pass in the end zone on a third down with just over 3 minutes remaining, and quarterback Bryant Shirreffs came up short on a fourth-down scramble.

The Huskies got the ball back near midfield with just over 2 minutes left and drove to the 21, but failed to convert a fourth-down pass.

The Knights took the lead on the first drive of the second half, when Milton hit running back Adrian Killins over the middle for a 39-yard touchdown. It was the third consecutive drive of more than 70 yards for UCF.

A career-long 50-yard field goal by Matthew Wright early in the fourth quarter pushed the lead to eight points.

UConn scored the game's first 13 points, capped by a 3-yard touchdown run from Newsome.

The Huskies final points came on a 35-yard Puyol field goal, one of three he kicked in the first half.

The lead was the first at halftime this season for the Huskies.


UCF: The Knights have apparently found their quarterback in the freshman Milton, who started again over senior Justin Holman. It was Milton's fourth start this season. His 317 yards passing were the most since Holman threw for 336 yards against Temple in 2014.

UConn: The Huskies have two offensive weapons in Newsome and Thomas and need to find a third. Shirreffs was again the team's second leading rusher with 49 yards. Alec Bloom was the team's second-leading receiver. He had two catches for 20 yards.


UCF: The Knights visit No. 11 Houston next Saturday

UConn: The Huskies travel south to face East Carolina.

© 2016 by STATS & The Associated Press