Valentine likes what he sees in Lars Anderson


Valentine likes what he sees in Lars Anderson

FORT MYERS, Fla. Lars Anderson appears to be stuck. With first baseman Adrian Gonzalez entering the second year of a seven-year, 154 million contract, Anderson, 24, has little hope of being the Red Sox starting first baseman in the foreseeable future.

It seemed he had found a quicker route to the big leagues in July. But the trade that would have brought right-hander Rich Harden to Boston and sent Anderson to Oakland, near his northern California home, was scuttled when the Red Sox were not satisfied with Hardens medical reports.

Instead, Anderson, who was the teams most highly rated prospect two years ago, remains with the Sox, likely headed back to a third season with Triple-A Pawtucket.

Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said, while Anderson is close to being ready for the big leagues, hes not quite there yet. Anderson, who made his big league debut in 2010 and has appeared in 24 major league games, hit .265 with 14 home runs, 78 RBI, a .369 on-base percentage, and .422 slugging percentage in 136 games for Pawtucket last season.

I agree totally with him, when he says that hes in a developing stage of his career, Valentine said. But hes up toward the height of development, that he feels that hes ready to take some really imp steps. That wouldnt be, in my mind, at the big league level. Those steps would be getting to the big league level. Hes close. Hes not there. I like what Ive seen and I like what I hear. I like him.

Anderson has appeared in six of the teams 10 games (Grapefruit League and B games) this spring, all at first base. But manager Bobby Valentine said Anderson, who has only played first base in his five-year career, could add some time in the outfield this spring to his resume.

Hes going to play some outfield, Valentine said. Hes going to run around a little. Im not sure that nows the time. It could be, but dont think it will be. Therell be other situations that will make it his time. I dont think its his time, independent of other things happening.

Valentine would also like Anderson to understand himself more as a hitter, his approach and his plan at the plate.

I think he could play first base at the big league level, Valentine said. I think he could play definitely at first base. I think he has to learn a little more about himself as a hitter, as to how hes going to hit that ball high and far in this direction. How hes going to be able to do it, and hes learning that.

Steelers know they'll have their hands full with Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett


Steelers know they'll have their hands full with Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett

PITTSBURGH – So far this season, Martellus Bennett and Rob Gronkowski have combined for 39 catches, 644 yards and five touchdowns. Making the numbers that much more impressive is the fact the numbers were rolled up with Gronk inactive for two games and fairly useless in another thanks to his hamstring injury.

Will the Steelers slow the roll of Robellus Grennetski?

Hard to imagine. As Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette points out, Gronk alone has tuned up the Steelers with 26 receptions for 403 yards and seven touchdowns in six meetings.

Fittipaldo explored the strategies the Steelers defense may unveil Sunday afternoon when the Patriots and Steelers get going. He also pointed out that the return of linebacker Ryan Shazier after a three week layoff and injuries for safeties Mike Mitchell and Robert Golden may put Pittsburgh at a disadvantage.

Said Shazier: “They have the tandem they want at tight end. Now they can use tight ends the way they want. You have to respect everyone on the field. Both of them are good blockers, good pass threats and great at running after the catch.”

Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler said Pittsburgh will alter its approaches.

“We have to be able to play more than one defense,” Butler said. “They’re very good and they’ll pick you apart if they can figure out what you’re doing. We just have to execute the defense more than anything else. If we can do that … that’s been our problem for the most part. Some of the things that went on last week, we missed some things we should have made mentally.”

What “went on last week” was a 30-15 loss to the Dolphins.

Pittsburgh hasn’t been a big-play group so far -- eight sacks and three picks -- nor have they seen a gauntlet of great quarterbacks in the first six games. 

Interestingly, their losses have been to Ryan Tannehill and rookie Carson Wentz, probably the two quarterbacks one would figure Pittsburgh would do best against.
Between a smoking hot Brady and a can’t-be-stopped tight end tandem, there’s probably not a lot Pittsburgh can do aside from hoping for an off day.

Said linebacker Arthur Moats hopefully: “You have to continue to mix it up against (Gronkowski). You can’t give him the same look over and over. He has success on guys like that. If we disrupt him, and rush Brady and speed up his clock, I definitely think that will help out.”

In theory, perhaps. In practice? We’ll see.

Game notes: Patriots vs. Steelers


Game notes: Patriots vs. Steelers

A quick look at the information you need to know about today's Patriots-Steelers game:

TEAM RECORDS: Patriots 5-1, Steelers 4- 2

GAME TIME: 4:25 p.m. EST


TV ANNOUNCERS: Jim Nantz, Phil Simms and Tracy Wolfson


NATIONAL RADIO ANNOUNCERS: Larry Kahn, Mark Carrier and Troy West

LOCAL RADIO NETWORK: Anchored by WBZ-FM (98.5 The Sports Hub)

LOCAL RADIO ANNOUNCERS: Bob Socci and Scott Zolak


LAST MEETING: Patriots 28, Steelers 21 on Sept. 10, 2015 at Gillette Stadium

* * * *
-- The Patriots are 8-11 against the Steelers in Pittsburgh in their history, but are 4-2 at Heinz Field. Included in those four Heinz Field victories are two in AFC Championship Games (in the 2001 and 2004 seasons).

-- Tom Brady is 8-2 against the Steelers in his career.

-- The last time Brady played the Steelers, in 2015, he set a Patriots franchise record with 19 consecutive pass completions.

-- The Patriots are 108-70 (.607) in road games since 1994, the best record in the NFL over that span. The Steelers (97- 82, .542) are second.

-- The Patriots have yet to throw an interception in 2016, setting a team record for consecutive games without an interception at the start of a season (6). The NFL record for consecutive games at the start of a season without a pick is 9, set by the 1960 Browns. The Patriots' franchise record for overall consecutive games with no interceptions is 8, set in 2010.

* * * *
-- Rob Gronkowski has 67 overall touchdowns and needs one to tie Stanley Morgan (68) for the franchise record.

-- Gronkowski has 66 receiving touchdowns and needs one to tie Morgan (67) for the franchise record.

-- Gronkowski has 22 100-yard receiving games, including two in 2016, and is tied with Jackie Smith for the third-most among all NFL tight ends. The only TEs who have more are Kellen Winslow (24) and Tony Gonzalez (31).