Pap endorses Bard in rotation

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Pap endorses Bard in rotation

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Jonathan Papelbon has been both a reliever and a starter in pro ball and has no doubt that former teammate Daniel Bard, who is attempting to move from the bullpen to the starting rotation, can make the transition.

"I had a long talk with Daniel this offseason about that,'' Papelbon revealed after reporting to camp with the Philadelpha Phillies. "I'm excited to see what he can do. I think Daniel has a phenomenal career ahead of him and in my opinion, there's no reason why he can't start.

"Daniel can do whatever he wants to do. He's that good. He's matured into a phenomenal pitcher and he's only going to get better. The sky's the limit for him. It truly, really is. He can really go out there and do whatever he sets his mind to.''

Papelbon very nearly went to the rotation in 2007 because of some long-term concerns about his shoulder holding up under all the pressure of being a closer.

Ultimately, with a few weeks left in spring training, Papelbon went to then-manager Terry Francona and asked to go back to the bullpen.

"When that happened to me,'' he recounted, "I had to go with my heart. I had to go with what I felt like I was going to be successful with for 162 games. For me, when I asked myself that question, that was closing.

"I learned how to pitch being a closer in college. That's what drives me, what gets me up every morning and makes me want to go to work. I couldn't ignore that.''

Brady, Harbaugh found common ground on plane ride back from Michigan

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Brady, Harbaugh found common ground on plane ride back from Michigan

FOXBORO -- What could have been an awkward plane ride for Tom Brady and John Harbaugh was made less so thanks to a high school lacrosse player. 

Brady and Harbaugh shared a private plane back from Michigan where Jim Harbaugh and his University of Michigan program put on an event for National Signing Day. About a year earlier, Brady told a room full of reporters that Harbaugh and his coaching staff should study the rule book and "figure it out" after hearing that they were pretty upset about the unusual formations the Patriots ran during their AFC Divisional Round win over Baltimore. 

They may not have been on the best of terms.

"I was pissed off," he told ESPN's Ian O'Connor before the start of this season. "It was uncalled for. And the rules are deeper than that, and I know the rules, and I stand by why that play shouldn't have been allowed. ... So yeah, that should never have been said."

But on the flight was Harbaugh's daughter Alison, a high school lacrosse player. When Brady took some time to share a few thoughts on competitiveness with her, he and Harbaugh found common ground.

"We had a lot of fun," Harbaugh said of the flight. "I don't know if he's talked about that at all, but we ended up sharing a plane ride along with my daughter and a couple of his people, friends of his. We just had a chance to just talk for a couple hours. And really more than anything, Alison got a chance to listen to Tom Brady talk about competing and what it takes to be great at what you do.

"And one of the funny things about it was, he was so nice to her. He gets off and they go, and we get back on the plane and we're talking, and she says something like, 'Boy, Tom really is a nice guy.' And I look at here and go, 'Tom?' I'm thinking 'Mr. Brady' would have been more appropriate. She said, 'He said to call me Tom.' I got a kick out of that.

"It was good. Lot of respect for him and a lot of respect for what he's accomplished. He's very tough to compete against. The best quarterback that's played, certainly in this era, without question in my mind. That's how I would rank him. And it's just another tough challenge to have to play against him."

Lowry, Sullinger and Blount interrupt interview with DeRozan

Lowry, Sullinger and Blount interrupt interview with DeRozan

DeMar DeRozan didn't get a chance to answer one question in his postgame interview before being interrupted by Kyle Lowry, Jared Sullinger, and LeGarrette Blount.