Ross not concerned about 2011 collapse

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Ross not concerned about 2011 collapse

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- After the way last season ended for the Red Sox, it might have scared off a number of prospective free agents.

After all, a history-making slide coupled with a toxic clubhouse environment isn't exactly the best incentive to attract players.

But Cody Ross, who signed a one-year, 3 million deal with the Red Sox in January, was never dissuaded.

"I just thought it was a great fit,'' said Ross after arriving in camp Tuesday. "There were quite a few options that I had, but at the end of the day, I felt like this was the best situation for me. I felt like this team was on the right track, trying to get to that next level and win championship.

"I talked to a few guys before about it and everyone was obviously down about last year, but looking forward to this year and coming in and trying to repeat what they've done in the past. I'm looking forward to being a part of it.''

Ross is joining his sixth organization, having spent almost all of his career in the National League.

He learned about the Red Sox struggles and dysfunction only after it was done. In September, he had other things with which to concern himself.

"To be quite honest with you,'' he said, "I really didn't realize it all that much because we were going through our own struggles (in San Francisco) ourselves -- to have a team win a World Series and not even come back and make the playoffs? That's terrible.

"I was trying to focus on that. I really didn't know what was going on until the off-season -- (the Sox) and the (Atlanta) Braves had similar slides going down the stretch. It didn't affect my decision (to sign here). I knew everyone in here wanted to go to that next level.

"They want to play in the playoffs. If anything it helped (to make my decision).''

This season represents a fresh start for the Sox, who have a new manager, a new general manager, a new spring training complex, and several new players.

Ross is part of that makeover. He not only has a reputation for someone who crushes lefthanded pitching, but he's also regarded as a high character player.

"I knew the changes that they made,'' said Ross. "They're trying to get a different feel, a different look. I felt like I'd be a perfect fit coming in, maybe bringing some different energy.''

Ross is in the mix for right field, battling, among others, Ryan Sweeney, Darnell McDonald, and when he's healthy, Ryan Kalish.

Given the Red Sox' pursuit of him and his salary, it would seem that he'll be a regular, but he's taking nothing for granted.

"I feel like I have to earn a job every single year,'' he said. "I like that feeling. It puts that good pressure on you -- to go out and perform and not feel (too) comfortable.''

Having played in the N.L. since 2004, Ross's exposure to Fenway has been limited to a few interleague visits. As a natural pull hitter, it's an inviting ballpark, seemingly tailored for him.

"It's suited for any righthander's swing,'' he said. "I do hit a lot of fly balls to left field. It can help. But it can also hurt you. If you sit there and you're conscious of trying to hit the ball over The Wall every time you get up there, chances are it's not going to happen.

"So I'm just going to stay with my approach -- my approach that I've had for years and years will play well.''

Friday, Aug. 26: Coyotes keep taking on dead money in latest deal

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Friday, Aug. 26: Coyotes keep taking on dead money in latest deal

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while finally catching up on “The Man in the High Tower” on Amazon.

*The Coyotes and Panthers executed a trade sending Dave Bolland to Arizona, and it’s not exactly great news for Gary Bettman with Arizona continuing to take on a lot of dead money.

*Alex Pietrangelo was appropriately humbled to be named the 21st captain in the history of the St. Louis Blues.

*The Colorado Avalanche have a new head coach, and his name is Jared Bednar, who it is said will get the players to play hard for him.

*The footage of somebody in full goalie equipment running away from a burglary scene is something out of a movie.

*The New York Rangers can never have enough depth, and that’s why they added Brandon Pirri to the mix on Thursday.

*PHT writer Cam Tucker says Lawson Crouse brings the total package in the trade from Florida to Arizona, and he also brings a player that can take a hell of a hit as he was the guy that got rocked by Charlie McAvoy at the World Junior Showcase earlier this month.  

*It’s only 15 days until the US National Team Development Program gets going with their 2016-17 schedule: here it is in full.

*For something completely different: can you see David Ortiz’s face in this corn maze? This could be like an ink blot test.

 

Foster playing catch-up, could help his cause vs. Panthers

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Foster playing catch-up, could help his cause vs. Panthers

FOXBORO -- When DJ Foster took the field for Patriots OTAs, he looked as advertised: quick, a crisp route-runner, and the owner of a pair of dependable hands. But that was back when players wore shorts to every practice. Since then, the undrafted rookie running back out of Arizona State hasn't had the opportunity to do much other than work on his conditioning while the majority of his teammates practiced. 

That could soon change. Though Foster has dealt with what he calls a "nagging" injury throughout much of training camp, he felt well enough this week to return to practice, and on Friday night he is likely to see preseason game action for the first time this summer.

The reason Foster's preseason debut could carry some importance is that he happens to play a position that may qualify as the thinnest on the Patriots roster right now. Because sub back extraordinaire Dion Lewis will not be healthy enough to start the season, and because coach Bill Belichick opted to part ways with veteran Donald Brown recently, the team is low on numbers in their running back room.

If Foster can capitalize on the opportunities he's given, he may make a case for a roster spot. James White, who is expected to be Lewis' primary replacement, is the other lone true sub back on the roster. Brandon Bolden can fill in at that role on an emergency basis, and Tyler Gaffney has shown he can catch the football when asked, but neither has the kind of pass-catching upside of Foster, who played receiver for the Sun Devils as a senior and racked up 222 receptions during his four-year college career. 

Foster has only so much time to prove he's worthy of a job. The Patriots have to reduce their numbers to 75 by Aug. 30. They need to be down to 53 by Sep. 3. Foster could be a tantalizing prospect to stash on the practice squad, but surely he'd like to make a push for a greater role. 

He explained this week that, despite his recent physical limitations, he won't be holding back whenever he does get a chance to prove himelf. 

"The coaches do a great job at just kind of making sure I'm OK and stuff," he said. "For me, when I'm in there, do what I can, give everything I got -- every rep, every chance I get with the reps. Stay in the playbook, stay involved in the meetings, and just try to learn as much as I can. Whenever I do get an opportunity, go out there and make the most of it."

Against the Panthers, the Patriots coaching staff will have to balance the need to evaluate players like Foster against good competition versus getting the entire team ready for Week 1. For example, they'd like to get a good look at Foster, whose practice reps were next to nil before this week. They'd also probably like to get White as many reps as possible so that he's prepared for the Cardinals. 

Who should play when? And how many snaps do they need? 

"You can’t see D.J. Foster play in this league. You have Arizona State film but that’s all you have, and some of the spring work that he did which is obviously encouraging," Belichick said earlier this week. "We still have him, but there’s just no body of work. Donald Brown, you can see Donald Brown . . . Players like D.J., it’s hard. You don’t have much to go on. But maybe he’ll be able to do more. We’ll get an evaluation of him soon, hopefully."

Friday night could be the night.