Valentine impressed with Brentz


Valentine impressed with Brentz

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- If the job of a young minor leaguer is to capture the attention of the big-league manager in spring training, Bryce Brentz has already succeeded.

Brentz, playing Wednesday in just his second Grapefruit League game as an extra outfielder, grabbed Bobby Valentine's manager with his only at-bat of the afternoon -- a single in the seventh inning against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Speaking about some of the younger players who filled out the lineup in a 3-3, nine-inning tie, Valentine, unprompted said: "I can tell you this, one kid is a little different: the Bryce kid, when the ball comes off his bat, it's a little different.''

Valentine said it was the second time this spring that Brentz had managed to stand out. Earlier in camp, he had noted Brentz in a group of young hitters taking batting practice.

"That means a lot,'' said Brentz afterward. "It's my first game to come up here with the big boys and for him to make a generous statement like that, it makes you feel good as a young player.''

A sandwich pick in 2010, Brent was named co-offensive player of the year in the Red Sox minor league system. He split time between Low A Greenville and High A Salem last year and hopes he might be ready to try Double A this year.

"They told me I'm competing for a spot at a higher level,'' said Brentz. "It depends on how hard I work and what I do. I think I'm ready to get up to Double A. Last year was a good seaso (at Salem), but it wasn't really that big of a difference (compared to Low A), talent-wise. I'm ready for a higher challenge, personally.''

Brentz hit 30 homers between his two stops, a huge number for the lower minors where seasons are shorter and the quality of pitching can vary greatly.

"I always had power in BP,'' said Brentz, "but in my first (pro) season, I struggled. So last year was more (a matter of) toning it down a little and getting back to basics. I didn't miss the fastball and went from there. I stayed focused and stay through the middle and not trying to hit a ball 700 feet when 400 does a pretty good job.''

Stevens, Celtics expect to use similar rotation vs. Bulls


Stevens, Celtics expect to use similar rotation vs. Bulls

The Boston Celtics’ bench was unable to close out Wednesday’s 122-117 win over Brooklyn, but don’t look for head coach Brad Stevens to make any significant changes tonight.

“I felt pretty good about those rotations last night,” Stevens told reporters prior to tonight’sgame against Chicago. “For forty minutes, we rotated well.”

After a relatively close first quarter, it was Boston’s second unit that gave Boston its first double-digit lead of the night and led by as many as 13 points.

But it wasn’t their scoring that jumped out to Stevens.

“The second unit came in and provided probably our best defensive sequence of the game, start of the second quarter and played really well until the end,” Stevens said.

Stevens played a total of 10 players against the Nets – all playing in the first half - and will likely have a similar number of Celtics on the floor tonight against the Bulls.

It will be interesting to see what the Celtics do rotation-wise when Marcus Smart (left ankle sprain) and Kelly Olynk (right shoulder) are back on the active roster.

Smart recently confirmed an earlier report that the left ankle injury he suffered in the Celtics’ final preseason game against the New York Knicks, would keep him out for a couple of weeks.

In addition to missing the season opener against Brooklyn, Smart is likely to miss another three games.

Olynyk, who had offseason surgery in May, has been cleared for contact but is not expected to be back on the floor until the middle of next month.

“Until our other guys get back,” Stevens said. “There will be similar rotations.”

ESPN’s Mortensen: Deflategate coverage led to death threats


ESPN’s Mortensen: Deflategate coverage led to death threats

In an expansive profile on The, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen says he and his wife were subjected to death threats because of Mortensen’s Deflategate coverage.

After the Patriots’ AFC Championship Game victory in January 2015, Mortensen tweeted information he said he received from a source that has long since been proven incorrect. The info - that 11 of 12 Patriots footballs in the game were underinflated by 2 pounds - remained uncorrected on Twitter and in an story for more than six months.  

The controversy over Mortensen’s reporting drew the ire of Patriots fans, many of whom blamed the tweet and his story for fanning the flames of what eventually led to a four-game suspension for Tom Brady and a $1 million fine and loss of draft picks for the Patriots. 

Mortensen, who has subsequently undergone treatment for cancer, told The Ringer’s Bryan Curtis that the threats led him to tell his wife Micki that he didn’t want her traveling with him from their home in Arkansas to Bristol, Connecticut when he did studio work for ESPN. 

“What bothered me is we’re in an era where if your wife goes onto social media, she basically reads that they want you to die,” Mortensen said. “Even after I got cancer, I got some death wishes.”

More from the Ringer story:

“My job is to protect her,” he said. When Mort himself came to Bristol, he behaved like someone who was living under a public threat. He went straight from the ESPN studio to his home, avoiding restaurants and rarely appearing in public.

Mortensen said after his initial tweet, a second source, with whom he had a better relationship, told him to used a broader description of the footballs, i.e. call them “significantly underinflated.”  Mortensen now acknowledges that information should have given him pause.

“That should have raised the journalist in me to a higher level,” he told the Ringer. “I’ve got to ask some more questions here. What are we talking about, 2 pounds under? But, no, I got to get on TV.”