Sweeney busy in Red Sox debut

724416.jpg

Sweeney busy in Red Sox debut

DETROIT -- It seemed no matter what he did, Ryan Sweeney was in the middle of most of the action Thursday as he made his regular season debut in a Red Sox uniform.

In his second at-bat in the fifth inning, Sweeney singled to left off Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander.

As it turned out, that would be the last hit the Red Sox mustered off last year's Cy Young Award-winner and American League MVP.

"He's a tough pitcher," said Sweeney of Verlander. "He nibbles and he gets good pitches and he gets you to chase stuff and he's a tough pitcher to face."

In the top of the eighth, with Tigers clinging to a 1-0 lead, Austin Jackson drove a ball to deep right and Sweeney, who has a reputation as a plus defender, seemed to turn the wrong way as he went back on the ball.

"It was a hard-hit ball," said Sweeney, "and I took a drop step back. It kind of tailed on me, so I had to turn back around. It was out of my reach and I just couldn't get it."

At the time, right field was bathed in some shadows, but Sweeney said the contrast of light and shadows wasn't an issue.

"It's hard to explain, but some of the balls were doing weird stuff out there today," said Sweeney. "I don't know if it was because of the wind or what."

Jackson later came around to score a run for Detroit, giving the Tigers a 2-0 lead heading into the ninth.

The Tigers then turned to closer Jose Valverde, who was a perfect 49-for-49 in save opportunities last season.

But the Sox chipped away against Valverde, getting an opposite-field leadoff double, a single from Adrian Gonzalez which sent Pedroia to third and a sacrifice fly from David Ortiz, which netted the Sox a run.

A stolen base by pinch-runner Darnell McDonald gave the Sox a baserunner in scoring position and Sweeney delivered him when he laced a triple into the right field corner.

"He fell behind 2-and-0 and then he threw me an elevated fastball and missed that," said Sweeney of Valverde. "Then he threw me a split-finger down-and-in and I put a good swing on it.

"I thought I got (enough of it to hit it out) at first when I hit it, but it hit off the wall and got away from (defensive replacement Don Kelly)."

That tied the game and handed Valverde his first blown save since September 2, 2010.

"That was huge and it just goes to show that we're not going to give up," said Sweeney. "To (come back) against Valverde, that's a huge accomplishment right there. But we just didn't score enough runs today."

Scott's taste of big-league life with Red Sox has him hungering for more

Scott's taste of big-league life with Red Sox has him hungering for more

CHESNUT HILL -- The Red Sox Rookie Development Program is designed to help young players prepare for what playing at the major-league level is like,. That can be valuable for a prospect like Rafael Devers, who hasn’t even made it to Double-A.

But of the eight-man cast at the workout this year, there’s one guy who actually has major-league experience.

Robby Scott joined the Red Sox as a September call-up last season and turned some heads, holding opponents scoreless over six innings of work.

Now the lefty is back working with younger guys to prepare himself for spring training -- something he’s itching to get started.

“It’s one thing that we always talk about,” the left-handed reliever told CSNNE.com “It’s a tough road to get there, but it’s an even tougher and harder road to stay there. And having that taste in September last year was incredible to be a part of it.”

That taste Scott had last fall has only made the desire to rejoin Boston greater.

“Yeah, because now you know what it’s like,” Scott said CSNNE.com. “You see it and you’re there and you’re a part of it. And it’s like, ‘Man, I wanna be there.’ You’re a little bit more hungry.”

And his hunger to pitch with the Red Sox only becomes greater at an event like this where he’s the only one with MLB time.

“They ask on a consistent basis,” Scott started, “ ‘What’s it like?’ ‘What was it like getting there the first day?’ ‘How did the guys react?’ ‘What was it like dealing with the media?’

“That’s what this program is here for, just to kind of gives these guys a little taste of what it is like and get familiar with the circumstances.

While the experience and constant discussion invites players to try to do more in the offseason or change their routine, the 27-year-old has stayed the course, trusting what’s gotten him there.

“The offseason training stays the same, nothing really changes on that side of things,” Scott said. “Nothing changes. Go about my business the way I have the last six, seven years.”

Thursday, Jan. 19: Torts doesn't think LeBron could play hockey

Thursday, Jan. 19: Torts doesn't think LeBron could play hockey

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while wondering if the Bruins are ever going to poop, or get off the pot.
 
*John Tortorella wants everybody to know that he thinks there isn’t a chance that Lebron James could play hockey.
 
*In the interest of self-promotion, here’s my radio hit with Toucher and Rich this morning about whether or not Claude Julien should be fired after back-to-back bad losses against the Islanders and Red Wings.
 
*How did Shane Doan arrive at an unhappy place with the Arizona Coyotes where he now is open to moving elsewhere ahead of the trade deadline?
 
*Henrik Lundqvist’s season is entering a crisis level based on what he’s done, and the diminished performance level he’s showing as a more mature goaltender.
 
*A nice piece with a Canadian hockey hero, Hayley Wickenheiser, who recounts some of the legendary moments of her career through a series of pictures.
 
*I totally respect the work that Travis Yost does, but stating the Bruins should stick with Claude Julien because their shooting percentage is bound to turn around isn’t good enough grounds to keep a floundering situation intact, in my opinion. You need to check where the shots are coming from and how many of those shot attempts are completely missing the net to get a better grasp on some of the reasons behind Boston’s dreadful 10-year low shooting percentage. That would also explain some of the reason why Julien needs to be replaced coaching a team that’s largely content on perimeter shots to do it for them while also only sporadically showing the effort required from a middle class talent type of team.

*The Lightning are struggling at Joe Namath levels right now without Steve Stamkos in their lineup, and they need that to change.
 
*For something completely different: congrats to the Boston boys in New Edition for a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.