Sox in the middle of tough Spring Training stretch

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Sox in the middle of tough Spring Training stretch

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Red Sox play split-squad games Saturday, hosting the Phillies in Fort Myers and traveling to Jupiter to face the Marlins. Manager Bobby Valentine traveled to Jupiter, while bench coach Tim Bogar stayed to manage the home squad.

After a round of roster moves Friday morning reduced the number of players on big league camp to 46, it can be challenging playing split-squad games at this point in the spring. The Sox are in a difficult stretch of their Grapefruit League schedule, with a night game at home on Thursday, followed by a game in Sarasota Friday, todays split-squad games, and two days of travel coming up.

Late in spring is tough because your rosters been pared down, Bogar said. You have some nicks and bruises. You want to give some guys a couple days off just to make sure that were prepared at the very end of spring training going into the season. And every single guy on the rosters playing today. So its one of those things where its not a day of rest. Its a long travel day and then we have two travel days after it. So these four days including yesterday is probably a pretty tough stretch, physically on these guys.

So when you dont have as many guys in camp and youre sending them all over the place it has a tendency to physically wear them down. But it is what it is and they know how to prepare for it. So I think well be ok.

Jets lose, Patriots guaranteed 1st place in AFC East when Brady returns

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Jets lose, Patriots guaranteed 1st place in AFC East when Brady returns

When Tom Brady returns to the Patriots following his four-game suspension, his team will be in sole possession of first place in the AFC East.

That became the reality as soon as the Jets fell to the Chiefs in Kansas City on Sunday, 24-3. The Jets committed eight turnovers in the loss to fall to 1-2. 

The Bills and Dolphins each won their first games of the season on Sunday, taking down the Cardinals and Browns, respectively. 

With the Patriots record at 3-0 following their win over the Texans on Thursday night, and with all three of their AFC East rivals sitting on just one win thus far, even if Bill Belichick's club was to fall to Rex Ryan and the Bills in Week 4, it would still be alone atop the division.

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Surely the Patriots would like to have a zero in the loss column when Brady returns. Regardless, to be in first place when Brady's Deflategate punishment is finished -- and having achieved that mark with two different starting quarterbacks -- has to be a point of pride for the organization . . . and a source of agita for those who doled out the punishment.