Wakeup Call: Clemens calls Hall of Fame snub 'hurtful'

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Wakeup Call: Clemens calls Hall of Fame snub 'hurtful'

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy andor interesting tidbits -- for Tuesday, January 15:

BASEBALL
Roger Clemens calls his Hall of Fame snub "hurtful", but adds: "It's not gonna change my life, either way." (CSN Houston)

If the Red Sox actually want to sign Javier Vazquez, looks like they're going to have some competition from the Nationals. (CSN Washington)

The market for Rafael Soriano is heating up at last, if you consider the Dodgers saying, "Yeah, well, there's a one-in-five shot we'll sign him" to be heat. (NBC's Hardball Talk)

Like baseball? Fluent in foreign languages? Look good in uniform? There could be a job for you as interpreter for managers and pitching coaches during visits to the mound. (AP)

The A's give Bob Melvin a two-year extension. (AP)

Sad news: Ex-MLB shortstop Enzo Hernandez dies of an apparent suicide in Venezuela at age 63. (AP)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Looks like Louisville deserves that No. 1 ranking, doesn't it? (AP)

Kansas is putting a happy face on Ben McLemore's ankle injury. (NBC's College Basketball Talk)

Syracuse will be playing for a while without sixth man James Southerland, though Jim Boeheim's pretty vague about why. (AP)

Why would USC fire its coach two weeks into January? Funny you should ask . . . (College Basketball Talk)

Those bar fights will get you suspended just about every time. (AP)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
In today's installment of Declaring For the NFL Draft, we have Notre Dame's Cierre Wood. (CSN Chicago)

Nebraska linebacker Sean Fisher is giving up football for med school. (AP)

Quarterback Casey Pachall has completed substance-abuse rehabilitation and returned to TCU. (AP)

Texas reinstates quarterback Case McCoy and linebacker Jordan Hicks after police announce they will not pursue sexual-assault allegations against the two. (AP)

CYCLING
Lance Armstrong's going all in on this confession thing: According to reports, he may testify against cycling officials who knew about, and perhaps facilitated, his doping. (nbcsports.com)

GOLF
Mama, grow up your babies to be golfers: Rory McIlroy just signed a deal with Nike that may pay him 20 million a year. (AP)

On tap this week: A McIlroy-Tiger Woods showdown in Abu Dhabi. (AP)

HOCKEY
Tomas Vokoun is getting ready for life as a backup with the Penguins . . . though, because of the compressed schedule, he may play a lot more than he first thought. (AP)

So much for the dream line of Marian Gaborik, Rick Nash and Brad Richards. (NBC's Pro Hockey Talk)

The Red Wings are about to stitch the 'C' on Henrik Zetterberg's jersey. (AP)

No fan backlash against the work stoppage in Buffalo, that's for sure. (AP)

The Kings' Anze Kopitar is recovering nicely, thank you, from the knee injury he suffered while playing in Sweden. (AP)

PRO BASKETBALL
Attention, 'Melo: Big brother is watching. (NBC's Pro Basketball Talk)

What's this? Andrew Bynum? On the court? (CSN Philly)

Tom Thibodeau's reputation as a defensive genius probably got him his job with the Bulls. Last night, we got a glimpse of why he earned that rep. (CSN Chicago)

Say goodbye to Manu Ginobili for about 10 to 14 days. (AP)

Looks like Pau Gasol will miss his fifth straight game tonight because of that concussion. (AP)

PRO FOOTBALL
John Fox stands by his decision to have Peyton Manning take a knee at the end of regulation Saturday -- a call that's drawn plenty of fire in Denver after a) the Broncos wound up losing and b) the Falcons pulled out a victory in almost the same set of circumstances the next day -- and team president John Elway agrees. (AP)

Looking for a quarterback? Have the Seahawks got a deal for you! (NBC's Pro Football Talk)

The Texans might -- might -- be one of those teams, but not if the players have anything to say about it: They've got Matt Schaub's back. (CSN Houston)

Be worried, NFL, be very worried: J.J. Watt says he can get better. (CSN Houston)

Newest name in the Eagles' coaching hunt: Ken Whisenhunt. (AP)

And then there were eight . . . teams without a corporate sponsor tacked onto their stadium name, that is. (Pro Football Talk)

Titans wide receiver Kenny Britt says he's been cooperating with Jersey City police over their investigation into a shooting and a stabbing that occurred at a party Britt attended, but the police respond no, he hasn't . . . and that they're discussing their next steps with the prosecutor. (AP)

An autopsy reveals that Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher had a blood-alcohol level more than twice the legal limit when he shot his girlfriend nine times and killed her, and then committed suicide. (AP)

TENNIS
Brad Dewitt, executive chairman and president of the ATP World Tour, has been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease at age 54 and will step down once a successor is found. (AP)

Porcello following Belichick’s lead, moving 'on to 2017'

Porcello following Belichick’s lead, moving 'on to 2017'

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. -- Flashback to January 2016, it’s the first night of Red Sox Winter Weekend, where fans welcome Rick Porcello with a vanilla reception -- no different than that of any one of the coaches. The right-hander is coming off a disappointing 2015, where he’d been given a four-year extension before throwing a regular season pitch and didn’t exactly perform to the level he’d hoped.

Now flash foward to Friday night, same event, just a year later. Porcello is introduced at the Town Hall event at Foxwoods to kick off the weekend and receives a welcome truly rivaled only by the AL MVP runner-up, Mookie Betts.

“You know, they were both pretty similar,” Porcello joked with reporters when comparing his 2016 reception to Friday’s.

Makes sense. Winning a Cy Young Award can change public perception.

But after his dominant 22-4 regular season, Porcello -- along with the rest of the starting rotation -- couldn’t deliver in the postseason. While he was visibly upset during and after his lone 2016 postseason start, Porcello is taking the Bill Belichick approach and says he's moving on from the outing -- and his memorable regular season, too.

“Just like any other start, you’ve gotta find ways to get over that stuff,” Porcello said. “It doesn’t feel good to go out there and not win Game 1, but I’m on to 2017 now -- and really everything that’s happened in 2016 is behind me. The season that I had, the postseason I had and we’re on to this year and what we can accomplish this year.”

“Moving on” from struggling times and great successes tends to bode well for athletes and players in this town. Maybe that’s what made all the difference for Porcello in making the jump from 2015 to 2016.

Are Red Sox entering spring training with fewer questions than ever?

Are Red Sox entering spring training with fewer questions than ever?

BOSTON -- Every year it seems like there are major issues or question marks to start spring training where the answers are up in the air.

In 2015, the Red Sox lacked an ace, had Hanley Ramirez moving to left field and Pablo Sandoval coming to town.

In 2016, Ramirez was moving back to the infield, but at a new position, and his bat was in question. Sandoval was coming off a year where he couldn’t hit his weight (he hit .245 and he last weighed in at 255 pounds). How would the starting rotation look after David Price?

This year, there seem to be three questions, but in a way, they’ve already been answered.

How will the Red Sox make up for David Ortiz’s absence?

Well, for one, the Red Sox have three Cy Young-caliber starting pitchers (Price, Chris Sale and Rick Porcello) in their rotation.

And two, Hanley Ramirez is coming off a career year with his highest career output in RBI (111) and second-highest home run total (30). And while Mitch Moreland isn’t the greatest hitter, he’s good for 20 or more home runs. Plus, it seems he’s holding a spot for a certain Red Sox prospect who’s bouncing back well from an injury.

 

Will Sandoval earn the starting third base job back?

The weight loss is a good sign, not only for the physical reasons, but it shows he’s mentally committed to being better.

However, that doesn’t guarantee he gets his job back.

“I’m not going to say [third base] resolved itself,” John Farrell told CSNNE.com, “but you know Panda’s done a very good job of committing to get himself in better shape and we’re looking forward to seeing that play to in spring training.”

Even if Panda can’t put it all together, Farrell told reporters before Thursday’s BBWAA dinner, both Brock Holt and Josh Rutledge would be competing for the job as well.

Holt as plan B -- in the infield? Who wouldn’t take that?

Who’s going to start at catcher?

Sandy Leon, Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart each have their pros an cons.

Leon did it all last year, but went from hitting .383 in his first 39 games to .242 in his last 39.

Vazquez has Ivan Rodriguez-esque abilities behind the plate, but couldn’t keep the staff under control last year and cannot hit.

Swihart, who turns 25 April 3, is the youngest of the three, has the most potential at the plate, but is far and away the worst of the three defensively at the most important defensive position -- excluding pitcher -- on the field.

They all have their drawbacks, but they’ve all shown at some point why they can be the Red Sox starting catcher in the present and future.

Everywhere else, the Red Sox seem to be in a comfortable position as pitchers and catchers reporting to camp draws ever nearer.

“I think the fact that we’ve got veteran players that have done a great job in staying healthy [and] young players that are getting more establishing in their return, we’re in a pretty good place in terms of the overall status of our position player group,” Farrell told CSNNE.com.

And it seems some players are confident in the team’s options as they ready for camp.

“We’re looking good in a lot of areas,” shortstop Xander Bogaerts told CSNNE.com. “Especially the pitching staff, [since] we just got Chris Sale one of the best in the game.”

“Pablo’s definitely going to bounce back, especially with the weight he’s lost."