Valentine likes what he sees from Sox pitchers


Valentine likes what he sees from Sox pitchers

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Bobby Valentine got his first look at Red Sox pitchers throwing batting practice Thursday and came away impressed with what he saw.

"BP to hitters is always fun,'' said Valentine. "You know there's a little extra adrenaline for all the guys who get up on the bump. You get to see pitchers outside of a bullpen and that's a step in the right direction.''

Valentine offered his thoughts on the following pitchers:

Jon Lester - "I thought that Lester had really nice downward plane. I thought he was keeping the ball down well. He had pretty good control of his throwing-side of the plate.''

Daniel Bard - "Daniel Bard showed that changeup a few times, showed the breaking ball a few times. He had his two-seamer going well. He looked very healthy, throwing the ball nicely.''

Alfredo Aceves - "Aceves was in complete control of most of his pitches, I was enjoying his stuff as he went out.''

Andrew Bailey - "Seeing Andrew Bailey, first time in the middle of the diamond in a Red Sox uniform was great to see. I thought his curveball and his cutter were just where he wants to be this time of the spring.''

Additionally, Valentine watched as Daisuke Matsuzaka, recovering from Tommy John surgery and not yet ready to throw BP, had a bullpen session.

"That's the best bullpen session he's had,'' said Valentine. "He and pitching instructor Randy Niemann have done video work, they've done a little talking. Dice is trying to be himself.

"He had good finish to his pitches and his delivery. It was pretty good, actually, for a guy who's supposedly as far behind from returning as he is, he had a pretty good pen. I'd say I was surprised at his velocity.''

Stevens: Bradley, Zeller, Jerebko out vs. Trail Blazers


Stevens: Bradley, Zeller, Jerebko out vs. Trail Blazers

BOSTON – Before Brad Stevens addressed the media before the Celtics faced the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday afternoon, he had to take a moment to make sure he wouldn’t forget anyone who wasn’t able to play.
Yeah, the list was a pretty long one.
Tyler Zeller, Demetrius Jackson and Jonas Jerebko will not play tonight due to sickness. And Avery Bradley (right Achilles strain) will also be out with a timetable that’s starting to feel like it’ll be longer than anyone would want.
“I don’t anticipate Avery this week at all,” Stevens said. “He still has some soreness. Obviously we’re concerned about the long-term impact of a sore Achilles; what it means on that foot but also what it means when you compensate off it. But he’ll be back when he’s ready but I think he’s still a little bit away.”
Bradley, the team’s top on-the-ball defender and No. 2 scorer this season at 17.7 points per game, will be out for the sixth time in the Celtics’ last seven games because of the Achilles injury.
Replacing him in the starting lineup will be Marcus Smart whose status for tonight’s game wasn’t a sure thing.
On the Celtics’ pregame notes package, Smart was listed as probable with a sore right ankle injury. I asked Stevens about Smart’s status a few minutes ago, and he said the 6-foot-4 Smart will play tonight.
In his 15 starts this season, Smart has averaged 10.9 points, 3.9 rebounds and 4.5 assists while shooting 38.4 percent from the field and 31.7 percent on 3's - all of which are better than what he produces when coming off the bench. 

Sale: “Time for both sides to do something different, I guess”


Sale: “Time for both sides to do something different, I guess”

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. -- While there’s a deal of anticipation going into Spring training with the four Killer B’s, David Price and Pablo Sandoval’s shot at redemption and Rick Porcello looking to be something similar to his 2016 self, there’s one name that trumps them all.

Chris Sale.

The lankly lefty received an ovation from fans at the Friday night Town Hall, kicking off Red Sox Winter Weekend. With his consistent success, there’s reason to be excited.

But there’s also reason for apprehension given the way Sale’s departure from Chicago was depicted. But he’s made sure to clear the air.

“I wouldn’t say . . . ya know . . . I loved my time in Chicago,” Sale said when asked if it was time to leave the Windy City. “My best baseball memories are there [and] will be there forever. I love the city; I love the people in the organization.

“It was time for both sides to do something different, I guess. I talked to (White Sox Senior V.P.) Rick on the phone, I talked to (White Sox pitching coach Don) Coop (Cooper). We’re all cool, it’s fine. We understand where both of us are, it happens in baseball, but I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Chicago.”

He didn’t seem irritated discussing the issue, and certainly wasn’t timid -- we all know that’s not in his DNA.

He genuinely seems excited to deal with the large sum of Sox fans and to call a new place home -- in a city his wife’s fond of no less.

But ultimately, he’s focused on winning, nothing else.

“Every time I’m out there it’s gonna be all I got,” Sale said. "Every time, no matter what. Can promise you that.”