Wakeup Call: Rivera says Yankee players have A-Rod's back

913319.jpg

Wakeup Call: Rivera says Yankee players have A-Rod's back

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy andor interesting tidbits -- for Tuesday, February 5.

BASEBALL
Yankee fans may have turned on Alex Rodriguez, but Mariano Rivera says Yankee players haven't. (AP)

While you're enjoying today's parade, Baltimoreans, Adam Jones wants you to start preparing for another one in November. (CSN Baltimore)

Oakland made the Astros an offer they couldn't refuse . . . (CSN Houston)

. . . and, as a result, Jed Lowrie is now an A. (CSN Bay Area)

Pressure's on, Donnie Baseball. (NBC's Hardball Talk)

You may know Hawk Harrelson as the cheerleader in the White Sox broadcast booth. History will know him as the only man who ever fired Tony La Russa as manager . . . and he regrets that. (CSN Chicago)

Sergio Romo's in the clear. (AP)

Next stop on the Jonathan Sanchez Reclamation Tour: Pittsburgh. (Hardball Talk)

If you haven't pitched in going on four years, can you actually retire? (AP)

The Mets are talking to Scott Boras about Michael Bourn. Or not. (Hardball Talk)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
One day after one of his brothers-in-law won the Super Bowl -- same day another one lost it -- Tom Crean's Indiana Hoosiers regained the No. 1 ranking in the AP poll. (AP)

In the women's poll, that honor still belongs to Baylor . . . (AP)

. . . though the UPS Team Performance Index continues to think UConn's the best. (AP)

The Ivy League season has barely begun, but the Princeton women are already looking ahead to the NCAAs. (AP)

Back on the men's side, No. 9 Syracuse put the clamps on No. 25 Notre Dame. (AP)

Remember that horrific fall North Carolina's P.J. Hairston took last week at Boston College? It's going to keep him out of tonight's game against Wake Forest. (AP)

Tragic news: An assistant coach on the Cal State Fullerton women's team and her fiancee were found murdered in their car outside their upscale condominium complex in Irvine, Calif., and police say they have no suspects or motive. (AP)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
Guess that Auburn tattoo wasn't such a good idea after all. (AP)

Bret Bielema trots out his Brother Love Traveling Salvation Show routine for the good folks at Arkansas. (AP)

Cal agrees to pay Jeff Tedford 5.55 million to not coach the Bears. (AP)

Boise State suspends safety Lee Hightower and tight end Hayden Plinke for violating university rules. (AP)

HOCKEY
Looking forward to the Shawn ThorntonMike Rupp rematch? You'll have to wait awhile; the Rangers traded Rupp to the Wild, whom the Bruins don't play this year. (AP)

Caps' GM George McPhee shoots down the Roberto Luongo-to-Washington talk. (NBC's Pro Hockey Talk)

So why, then, was Canucks GM Mike Gillis at the Capitals' game on Sunday? (CSN Washington)

The Sharks suffer their first regulation loss of the season. (AP)

It took a day, but Chris Kunitz finally got his fourth goal from Sunday's game. (AP)

The Red Wings will be without rookie Brendan Smith for the next 2-4 weeks, further depleting their defense corps. (AP)

PRO BASKETBALL
This is why they say "Buyer beware" when it comes to DeMarcus Cousins. (NBC's Pro Basketball Talk)

Memo to Michael Beasley: If you plan on driving a) with a suspended license and b) without plates or registration, don't go 71 in a 45-mph zone. (AP)

The Clippers, without Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, lose to the Wizards, but Washington coach Randy Wittman is shedding no tears for L.A. (AP)

The Pacers beat the Bulls for their 14th consecutive home victory. (AP)

California native, and 49ers fan, Tyson Chandler lost his bet with teammate, and Ravens fan, Carmelo Anthony. So when he spoke to the media after his third straight 20-rebound game in the Knicks' win over the Pistons, he was wearing a Baltimore Super Bowl championship hat. (AP)

Talk about a lose-lose night: The Magic drop their 10th straight -- and become the only NBA team with multiple double-digit losing streaks this year -- in Philly's 78-61 victory, but the Sixers may be without leading rebounder Thaddeus Young, who strained his left hamstring, for the next two weeks. (AP)

Happy birthday, Linsanity. (CSN Houston)

PRO FOOTBALL
Turns out the power outage came as no surprise to Superdome officials. (AP)

But Roger Goodell says he's not going to hold it against New Orleans when it comes to scheduling future Super Bowls. (NBC's Pro Football Talk)

My apologies, Beyonce, for suggesting otherwise. (Pro Football Talk)

Here are the five plays that turned the Super Bowl in the Ravens' favor. (CSN Baltimore)

Say what you will about Bernard Pollard, but playing most of the season with six cracked ribs? Wow. (Pro Football Talk)

MVP Joe Flacco starts hitting the late-night talk-show circuit. (AP)

The Ravens and 'Niners didn't have quite the ratings power of Patriots-Giants or Packers-Steelers. (AP)

As soon as the 49ers finish the 2013 season -- and then move into their new Santa Clara home -- the city of San Francisco is going to blow up the 'Stick. (Yahoo! Sports)

Our only question to the Lions: What took you so long? (AP)

But not to worry, Thaddeus Young. If this guy can find work in the NFL after getting out of jail, there's hope for you yet. (AP)

R.I.P., Walt Sweeney. (AP)

SOCCER
A match-fixing scandal is exploding in Europe, where 680 contests -- including some World Cup games -- are under investigation. (NBC's Pro Soccer Talk)

FIFA says greater cooperation between law-enforcement agencies and sports' governinhg bodies will be required in order to fix the problem. (Pro Soccer Talk)

First impressions: Ortiz moves past pregame ceremonies, hits game winner for Sox

red-sox-david-ortiz.jpg

First impressions: Ortiz moves past pregame ceremonies, hits game winner for Sox

BOSTON -- First impressions from the Red Sox' 5-3 win over Toronto:

* What's left to say about David Ortiz?

Ortiz acknowledged before Friday's game that the pre-game ceremonies and the attendant fuss over his pending retirement have created a challenge for him. Sometimes, it's hard to go from being feted to trying to win a game.

Not that you would know it by Friday night.

In his first at-bat, he singled home the first run of the game. Two at-bats later, he lined a bullet that was right at Jose Bautista.

But he saved his best for the seventh when, after the Red Sox tied the game at 3-3, Ortiz promptly untied it with a laser down the line, landing in the right field seats.

One more clutch hit from Ortiz in a career full of them.

* Brock Holt's defense at third has stood out.

John Farrell is looking for someone to step up with the third base job, given that Travis Shaw is hitting under .200 since the All-Star break and Aaron Hill has had difficulty hitting righties.

Holt, meanwhile, has seized the job somewhat by default, with a .319 average in the last 24 games.

But since starting the last four games at third, Holt has also contributed with his glove.

On Friday night, Holt made a fine stop with his backhand, on the third base line, and fired to nail Devon Travis on a close play at first.

Later, he came on a slow roller to gun down Josh Donaldson out at first.

* The Red Sox have done a better job of late capitalizing on opponents' mistakes.

Last week in Baltimore, the Red Sox were handed a gift by the Orioles when a throwing error by Chris Davis resulted in five runs being scored -- all of them unearned. It took exactly two pitches for the Red Sox to pounce on the opportunity.

On Friday night, it happened again.

Trailing 3-1, the Red Sox used a throwing error by Russell Martin to score one run and put another runner in scoring position. A groundout and single by Mookie Betts tied things, and Ortiz's homer broke the tie and gave the Red Sox a lead they wouldn't relinquish.

Good teams take advantage of mistakes. Two of the last six Red Sox wins are prime examples of that maxim.

Sox may have finally found their everyday third baseman for the postseason

boston-red-sox-brock-holt-infield.jpg

Sox may have finally found their everyday third baseman for the postseason

BOSTON — As has been well-documented, the Red Sox have tried any number of solutions at third base this season, with eight different players getting starts at the position.

Travis Shaw has the most starts of anyone, with 99. But with three games left in the season, it's become apparent that Brock Holt is being viewed as the likely starter in the post-season.

Holt started all three games in the recent series in New York and was the starter Friday night against Toronto, too.

"You look at the consistent quality to the at-bats," said John Farrell, "and they've been there for him. That's not to say the other guys aren't important to us. But this is the time of year where you're looking to put the best, current lineup on the field and his versatility has shown up a number of ways. He's a confident defender at third base and his skill set is a little bit different from the other guys.

"So against righthanded pitching, that could be the guy we're going with."

Holt came into Friday hitting .319 (22-for-69) in the last 24 games.

Shaw, meanwhile, has been streaky to a fault. In the second half of the season, Shaw has posted a slash line of .195/.260/.362.

"We've seen (the streakiness both ways) in short spurts," Farrell said. "He does have the ability to carry us. But we're trying to get there and we're at a point in the year where every game is meaningful. That's not to say you turn your back on what he did earlier in the season. But we're looking for sparks somewhere."

What's more, Farrell had Holt hitting second in the lineup, in an effort to produce more offense. The Sox were limited to just eight runs in the three-game series at Yankee Stadium, and over the last 11 games, scored more than five runs just once.

Holt hit second, with Xander Bogaerts dropped to sixth.

"This is to create a little bit of a spark for us offensively," explained Farrell. "We've been grinding a little bit. And also, (we want) to create a little more (left-right) balance up and down the lineup."

TIME TO PLAY

As the final few regular season games of his career wind down, David Ortiz acknowledged that it's becoming increasing difficult to focus on the games with all the tributes and ceremonies going on.

In the final 11 days of the season, Ortiz will have had five pre-game ceremonies held in his honor -- and it would have been six had not Ortiz asked the Tampa Bay Rays to cancel the ceremony they had planned in the aftermath of the death that morning of pitcher Jose Fernandez.

On Thursday night, Ortiz has his family on the field for a pre-game celebration hosted by the New York Yankees.

Minutes later, he had to step in to the batter's box against CC Sabathia. Sometimes, it's hard to flip that switch and be emotionally ready to compete.

"I'm not going to lie to you -- it has (gotten harder)," said Ortiz. "We're already in the playoffs, so for the next three days, I don't really have to worry about it. But the best thing about it is that once we get into the playoffs, there's not going to be all these distractions.

"I like to mentally focus when we play, especially when I'm playing for a reason. We work extremely hard during the regular season to get into the playoffs and once we get there, I don't want to blow that off. It's not easy to (do all the ceremonies) and play baseball at the same time. It can be a distraction."