Red Sox 'expect' Beckett to pitch Saturday


Red Sox 'expect' Beckett to pitch Saturday

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Not all of the thumb injury news is catastrophic for the Red Sox.
While Andrew Bailey seems headed for surgery that could sideline, according to a source, three to four months, starter Josh Beckett is still on target to make his scheduled start in the second game of the season Saturday in Detroit.
Beckett, like Bailey, was due to be examined by specialist Dr. Thomas Graham in Cleveland Tuesday. But the visit seems designed to provide Beckett more with peace of mind after getting another consultation with a specialist in San Antonio Monday.
"Josh has had some soreness off-and-on this spring that he's pitched through,'' said general manager Ben Cherington. "We took the opportunity in the time between his last outing, an extended side he threw in Fort Myers and (the second game of the season in Detroit) to try let him gather as much information as possible so we can help him manage it as best as possible.''
Beckett threw a side session Sunday in Fort Myers, then flew to Texas and on to Ohio to make sure the thumb wasn't going to be a hinderance.
"He's not that concerned about it. We expect him to pitch (the second game), '' said Cherington. "So, it's mostly information-gathering at this point.''
Cherington added that a nagging innjury of this sort "isn't atypical for any player . . . you have something and it crops up from time-to-time and you have to manage it and he's managing it . . . It's something he's been able to pitch through and he's been pitching with, so we're not that concerned.''
The GM added that Beckett has not been restricted from throwing any particular pitch, including his curveball, which is a big part of his repertoire.
"He threw his curveball plenty this spring,'' said Cherington, "and threw it effectively, so I don't think there's any one pitch he's not going to use. He's evolved as a pitcher, but he's not eliminating anything.''

Belichick on Kaepernick: 'Not here to talk political commentary'

Belichick on Kaepernick: 'Not here to talk political commentary'

FOXBORO -- Bill Belichick was asked on Monday if he had any comment on 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and his decision not to stand for the national anthem in order to make a political statement. The Patriots coach declined.

"We're really focused on what we do, getting ready for the Giants, improving out football team," Belichick said. "Not here to talk about political commentary, ideology and all that."

Belichick grew up in Annapolis, Maryland and around the Naval Academy, where his father spent more than 30 years as a coach and scout. He has been very open about discussing his ties to that program in the past, and Tom Brady has said that Belichick has taken time out in meetings to educate them on the meaning of Veterans Day and Memorial Day. 

Getting into a discussion about Kaepernick's decision, however, was clearly not something that Belichick felt was in his best interest Monday.

Felger: What’s holding Jimmy G back? Not Brady, but Belichick

Felger: What’s holding Jimmy G back? Not Brady, but Belichick

Other than allowing Tom Brady to pee on his territory, I wonder what the Patriots accomplished on Friday night when it came to their quarterback situation. It didn't feel like much.

Really. What was established? That Brady is maniacal about his job? That he's also really, really good? That Jimmy Garappolo isn't? That he's still well behind the starter? Didn't everyone, most notably Bill Belichick, know all those things? 

In other words, by playing Brady as much as they did, the Pats ‎proved almost nothing in Carolina. They certainly didn't do anything to get Garappolo closer to being ready for Arizona on Sept. 11. The only thing they accomplished was to scratch Brady's insatiable itch, and they have to hope they didn't set Garappolo back in the process after his worrisome, deer-in-the-headlights  performance. 

Please note: I don't blame Brady for asserting himself. We all want him pushing his way on the field and staking his claim. It's obviously part of his makeup and what has made him the greatest ever. He's just doing his thing. Competitors compete. Got it.

I do blame Belichick, though. It's his job to keep Brady at bay and put Garappolo in the best position to succeed come the regular season. He didn't do that. Instead, Friday felt like a waste of time. I thought the priority was Garappolo and the Cardinals. I thought the point was for him to face a good defense, work through his growing pains, gain some confidence and assume some leadership of the team. 

But Brady's presence stood in the way of that. The 16-year veteran led the team out of the locker room and to the pregame coin flip. Brady carried himself like a pouty teenager in the high school cafeteria while Garappolo was on the field and then refused to even look at the kid off it. Those sideline meetings with the quarterbacks and Josh MdDaniels were almost comical. Whatever was on those tablets just couldn't have been that mesmerizing. I mean, did Brady even acknowledge Garappolo all night?

On the field, Brady played at least two series too many many. After he threw his ridiculous touchdown to Chris Hogan on his second possession, Brady should have been in the showers. He actually should have been back home in Brookline. But he played two more series, and by the time he trotted out on the field for the fourth possession I started muttering to the television. What are we doing here? When even the Kraft Productions broadcast team, hardly a bastion of second-guessing, expressed surprise that Brady was still in there, I knew I was on to something. I was almost rooting for that interception down the seam and could barely stifle a ``serves you right'' when Brady took a sack on his final snap.

Then, Garappolo came back and was even more rattled than he was before Brady's stint, a tough trick given how unsure of himself he looked all night. Attention should now turn to Garappolo's mental toughness, because it was sorely lacking in Charlotte. We'll see if he has any going forward.

But let's also be fair. Garappolo is in an impossible position. Everyone, including probably Brady himself, is going to hold him up to No. 12. I've even heard a rumble that Brady doesn't believe Garappolo knows the offense as well as he should. Watching Friday it's easy to understand why. Every time Garappolo faces a blitz, it feels like the first time. Get rid of the ball already. But next to Brady, no one is going to know the offense as well. No one is going to care as much. No one is going to try as hard. That's why Brady is Brady. Whoever the next guy is, he's not going to match it. No one is going to be as good. It's an unattainable standard.

Belichick did Garappolo a disservice by allowing that difference to be thrown in his face on Friday. Worse, he took away valuable snaps that should have been used to get him ready for the Cardinals.

On the bright side, it turns out drafting Garappolo and putting him in this position is one of the best things Belichick has ever done for the Pats. Because it's turned Brady into a even bigger lunatic than he was already. Garappolo was drafted to push a legend -- `We're better off being early at that position than being late at that position,'' said Belichick on draft night -- and so the legend is pushing back. Sucks for Jimmy.

Watching Friday, I couldn't help but wonder if Garappolo is cooked here. Brady has too much good football left and isn't going to allow Garappolo to gain any footholds. So be it. Because I root for underdogs, I am now a Jimmy Garappolo fan. 

Here's hoping he plays well next month and ultimately lands somewhere else down the road with a nice payday and a decent chance of success. Because it's obvious Brady is a million miles away from allowing it to happen here.

In the meantime, I would advise Garappolo to stop sniffing around Brady on the bench like a puppy dog. Brady was clearly ignoring him, and Garappolo wasn't going to learn anything there. Brady ain't playing the teacher. If I were Garappolo, I'd try and get outside Brady's orbit.

Screw him, Jimmy. You're on your own. It's between you and the coaches and your teammates. Do whatever you can do to play better. It's the only thing that matters. Stop watching Brady and start watching more film.


Stork reportedly fails physical with Redskins, voiding trade from Patriots

Stork reportedly fails physical with Redskins, voiding trade from Patriots

FOXBORO - Three weeks ago, after returning to training camp practice from a reported concussion, Bryan Stork questioned the validity of the report and concluded our brief chat by telling me, “[Football is] a tough game for tough people and I still have a lot left in me.”

Stork, it seems, is going to have to convince teams of that. The 25-year-old, who started at center for the Patriots in their Super Bowl win over Seattle, reportedly failed a physical administered by the Washington Redskins. Stork was dealt to Washington by the Patriots last week. The Patriots were set to release Stork before Washington swooped in with a trade offer to keep Stork off of waivers.

Washington was desperate for center help. But they were somehow scared off by Stork’s medical condition or the murmured ambivalence he had about reporting to Washington.

That Stork has sustained four concussions in the last four seasons would reasonably give any team pause. And it may be giving Stork pause as well, in spite of what he said to me.

For football purposes, the trade of Stork will be rescinded and the draft pick the Pats were to have received will be wiped clean and returned to Washington. Stork will not go through waivers.

It’s got to be a tough crossroads for Stork to face.