Wakeup Call: King Felix is staying put

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Wakeup Call: King Felix is staying put

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy andor interesting tidbits -- for Friday, February 8.

AUTO RACING
They don't induct bats into the Baseball Hall of Fame, or helmets into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But in NASCAR, cars get in. (AP)

BASEBALL
Is anyone really surprised that King Felix is staying in Seattle? (AP)

Please don't rush to judgment? In our society? Michael, you must be kidding. (AP)

Old friends Mike Aviles and Kelly Shoppach have new contracts. (AP)

What's that old saying, that if you can hit a curveball you can get away with murder in baseball? Well, with the Giants, you can get away with being accused of murder. (NBC's Hardball Talk)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Indiana's reign as the nation's No. 1 team probably won't last long, not after the Hoosiers' last-second loss at Illinois. (AP)

Duke gets its revenge on slumping North Carolina State. (AP)

Yeah, I never heard of Nate Wolters, either. But the South Dakota State guard scored 53 points, most for a Division I player this season, in an 80-74 victory over IPFW. (AP)

Missouri's not going to stay in the Top 25 much longer if it can't figure out how to win on the road. (AP)

Florida's sixth man, Will Yaguete, is lost for at least the rest of the regular season after undergoing knee surgery. (AP)

Notre Dame spills the beans: It looks the Big East is going to stay together for at least one more year. (AP)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
According to her lawyers, poor Andrea McDonald is "exploring her options" during this "difficult time." And what's the "difficult time"? Her son wants to go to Arkansas instead of Miami. So, what, she's going to sue him? (NBC's College Football Talk)

That anonymous letter sent out by "UNM Senior Football Players" claiming New Mexico coach Bob Davie discriminates against players based on race is "unfounded and untrue" according to the university, which says it investigated the charges. (AP)

He broke some of RGIII's records at Baylor and was second only to Johnny Football in total yards per game, but Nick Florence is saying no to the NFL and will focus on getting his master's degree instead. (AP)

Nebraska and Colorado will resume their rivalry, beginning in 2018. (AP)

Well, it helps when your stadium seats 109,901. (AP)

GOLF
As long as they keep scheduling it during the week of school vacation, Phil Mickelson's going to keep skipping the Match Play Championship. (AP)

HOCKEY
Whaddya know? Phil Kessel finally scored! (AP)

These are your new fans, Tim Thomas. (NBC's Pro Hockey Talk)

I mean, you didn't see Ranger fans cheering when this guy took one in the face, did you? (Pro Hockey Talk)

Can anyone stop the Blackhawks? (CSN Chicago)

Adam Oates' Wednesday contention that the Capitals were heading in the right direction looks kind of silly now, doesn't it? (CSN Washington)

Their hard-fought loss to the Bruins apparently took something out of them, because the Canadiens couldn't hold a two-goal, third-period lead and lost in a shootout to the stumbling Sabres. (AP)

Methinks though dost protest too much, Barry. (Pro Hockey Talk)

Ken Hitchcock reminds the Blues that there's no 'i' in team. (Pro Hockey Talk)

OLYMPICS
Mike Krzyewski may return as U.S. coach in 2016, after all. (AP)

PRO BASKETBALL
Ooh. Trouble in paradise! (NBC's Pro Basketball Talk)

Real trouble! (Pro Basketball Talk)

Since Tom Thibodeau took over as coach, the Bulls have rarely gotten blown out. Last night, though, was different. (CSN Chicago)

Kevin Love apparently has decided on the glass-is-half-full outlook. (AP)

Let's hope Lou Williams can do the same. (AP)

PRO FOOTBALL
Deer antlers?? Why, in Tony Casillas' day, they used DSMO! (NBC's Pro Football Talk)

2,097 yards rushing with a sports hernia. If the phrases "deer antlers" and "DSMO" -- and other things -- leap to mind, I get it. (AP)

Gregg Williams is full of apologies and mea culpas as he gratefully accepts his reinstatement and takes a job with the Titans. (AP)

The Ravens are enjoying the present but -- unlike the last time they won the Super Bowl -- still looking to the future. (AP)

Too bad. Would have been fun to see an assistant coach dance his way onto the field before a game. (CSN Baltimore)

So the good folks of Baltimore will have to get their weekly Ray Lewis fix from a statue of him that's being planned. (Pro Football Talk)

We got a sneak preview of that statue on the field during the Super Bowl. (CSN Bay Area)

Jim Harbaugh's still crying about the non-call on the 49ers' last offensive play. (Pro Football Talk)

The Bills are going to let Donald Jones become a free agent. (AP)

The Colts may do the same with Dwight Freeney . . . but he hopes they don't. (Pro Football Talk)

And the Steelers? They may be saying goodbye to lots of their veterans. (Pro Football Talk)

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."

Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

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Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

BOSTON -- “I didn’t feel that love after I made a pitching change in the sixth inning,” Terry Francona said after a 45-second standing ovation from Boston fans upon receiving the MLB Manager of the Year award from the BBWAA Thursday.

It’s without question the love for Francona runs deep in the city. Why wouldn’t it? He was the leader in breaking the 86-year old curse, and wound up winning another World Series title for Boston three years later.

Actually, he was more of a co-leader, working alongside the same person who won the MLB Executive of the Year honors from the BBWAA for 2016.

Theo Epstein -- who received an ovation 17 seconds shorter than Francona, but who’s counting -- reminisced about the Red Sox ownership group that took a chance on a young kid who wasn’t necessarily the ideal candidate to take over as GM of a team, but now that’s helped him build the Chicago Cubs into a winning franchise and establish a great working environment.

This October marks 13 years since the ’04 championship, 10 years since ’07 and six years since the pair left Boston. Without question they’ve left their mark on the city and forever changed Red Sox baseball.

And while the fans showed their undying gratitude for Francona with an ovation almost as long as his acceptance speech, the Indians manager recognized the favor the current Red Sox brass has done for him.

“I’d like to thank Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox for getting Chris Sale the hell out of the Central Division,” Francona said.