Valentine on catching options

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Valentine on catching options

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- When the Red Sox signed veteran catcher Kelly Shoppach in the off-season, it seemed to preclude Ryan Lavarnway from starting the season with the big league club.

With two and a half weeks to go before the opener, that's still the case. But if nothing else, Lavarnway has made being optioned to Pawtucket a somewhat tougher call for Red Sox management.

Manager Bobby Valentine noted that Lavarnway has made great strides behind the plate though "not necessarily in game situations. He's definitely graded better in (catching instructor Gary) Tuck's evaluations and in my eye. He's going about it the right way. He's
there until the ninth inning every day, and he's not (just) sitting on the bench. He's actually watching what's going on. He's evaluating and processing it. It's the right thing to do.''

Jarrod Saltalamacchia is the No. 1 catcher, with Shoppach the veteran backup with the ability to catch and throw well.

Valentine said the Sox would almost certainly not carry three catchers ("high possibility that I will not go with three"), meaning that Lavarnway would have to beat out Shoppach to win a spot.

That's unlikely to happen, given Shoppach's experience and relatively affordable salary (1.35 million), plus the fact, as a newly-signed free agent, Shoppach would have to give his permission to be dealt before June 15.
Lavarnway would give the Sox an interesting righthanded bat off the bench, but the feeling in the organization is that he could benefit more from catching regularly at Pawtucket -- at least to start the season.

"I don't think I'm there,'' cautioned Valentine. "Don't go writing articles tomorrow (saying) Valentine announces it's Lavarnway time.' Eventually, (Lavarnway getting to the big leagues) is going to happen. I don't know if it's on my watch, but sometime. But if the season's starting tomorrow, it would not happen.''

PFT: Belichick can still diagram his dad’s Navy plays from 1959

PFT: Belichick can still diagram his dad’s Navy plays from 1959

CBS interviewed Patriots coach Bill Belichick and 1960 Heisman winner Joe Bellino from Navy as part of its Army-Navy Game coverage Saturday.

Belichick's father, Steve, was an assistant coach at Navy when Bellino played there, and little Bill, then 7, took it all in. So much so, that 57 years later, Belichick can still diagram the 27 F Trap play that his dad used to drew up in the 1959 season for Bellino.

More from NBC Sports' Pro Football Talk here.

 

Saturday, Dec. 10: Vegas, scoring on NHL governors' minds

Saturday, Dec. 10: Vegas, scoring on NHL governors' minds

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while doing some early Christmas shopping ahead of the late rush. 

*Mike Zeisberger sits down with a quartet of NHL governors and discusses a number of hot topics including the Vegas franchise and scoring around the league. 

*Carolina Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos has been removed from the NHL Board of Governor’s Executive Committee amid rumors that the Canes might be a prime candidate for relocation. 

*Pierre McGuire weighs in on Connor McDavid’s war of words on the ice and Carey Price losing his mind in the crease against the New Jersey Devils. To that end, Wayne Gretzky liked seeing McDavid get a little combative at such a young age. 

*The New York Islanders signed Cal Clutterbuck to a five year contract extension, and some are skeptical it will turn out well for the Isles.

*David Pastrnak is a premier scoring threat in the league, and Scott Cullen has some details behind that. I will say this: his stock falling in the draft had less to do with his size or heaviness, and more to do with him being concussed for a long stretch of time during the year leading up to the draft. 

*The Florida Panthers are really struggling to stay positive with a 1-5-0 record since the ownership group and management decided to fire Gerard Gallant. 

*For something completely different: Baywatch stars then and now.