BOSTON -- Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis hasn't had a lot of time this season to get to know his new manager. But he and Bobby Valentine chatted for a few minutes before a fundraiser Thursday night for Youkilis charitable orgnazation.We talked once on the phone and then we texted a couple times about the event and stuff like that, Youkilis said. My main question to Bobby was, Whats the dress code? Because were all going to spring training, what do we bring? Because some teams wear suits. So we definitely had that conversation. It went well.It's exciting just to have him on board. He's really pumped. I think hes been everywhere, from what I hear. Hes been all over the country and doing all kinds of stuff. So its kind of fun to have him going. It's going to be a tougher spring training. We're going to be working our butts I think off with Bobby. Not that we didn't before, but I think we're going to be hitting a lot more of the fundamentals."Youkilis acknowledged the teams attitude last season was lacking. Asked if he though, Valentine was the manager who could change that, Youkilis responded:Its like my dad always said with Hall of Fame manager Sparky Anderson: 'You show me a great manager, you got a lot of great players'. Youkilis grew up in Cincinnati as a Reds fan. If Bobbys going to be the guy, we got to do it. But if we dont win games, the blames going to go on him, which is unfair. Thats just how it is. When players dont play well, managers, you know, things happen. Managers get fired. And I always feel personally, its on the players. Players got to play the game to keep managers looking like theyre doing the right thing. But I think hes going to be great. I think hes going to bring a winning attitude and I think hes going to get this team going from day one.Youkilis didnt know much of Valentine before he was named manager less than two months ago. The third baseman believes theyll get to know each other better during the grind of the season.I really cant go off a couple offseason conversations, either, Youkilis said. I always tell people, like when June and July rolls around and were grinding it out and were in it, then you can have a better impressions. You cant, even in spring training, you wont get a good impression because youre not in winning streaks and losing streaks. But I think the thing with Bobby that I got now is you play the game hard you play the game right and you do the little things and hes going to love you.
BOSTON -- Compared to most high draft picks, Jaylen Brown doesn’t log a ton of minutes for the Boston Celtics.
Playing on an experienced team with legit hopes of making a deep playoff run, rookies seeing limited minutes is a given.
Knowing playing time will come in a limited supply, Brown understands all too well the importance of taking advantage of every opportunity he gets on the floor.
He did just that on Saturday in Boston’s 107-106 win over Philadelphia, and he hopes to do more of the same on Monday when the Celtics take on the Houston Rockets.
When you look at Brown’s stat line, nothing about it looks impressive. He played 15 minutes, scored two points with one rebound and one blocked shot.
But beyond the stats was the fact that he was on the floor for seven minutes in the fourth quarter in a close back-and-forth game on the road. Rookies on the floor in crunch time is not the norm in the NBA.
“It means a lot,” Brown told reporters after Saturday’s win. “I try to be as best I can be for my team; try to put my best foot forward every night out.”
And he did just that on Saturday.
In the fourth quarter with the Celtics leading 87-83, Brown blocked a Gerald Henderson shot that wound up in the hands of Jae Crowder. Moments later, Jonas Jerebko hit a 3-pointer that gave the Celtics their largest lead of the game, 90-83.
And just two minutes prior to the blocked shot, he was out in transition following an Isaiah Thomas steal and threw down a dunk that pushed Boston’s lead to 86-83 with 7:11 to play.
Brown acknowledged making the most of those opportunities bodes well for him and the franchise.
“It’s great for our team in general; not just for me,” Brown said. “Those plays helped us to pull the game out in the end. So I’m glad we got the win. I think we should have played a little better than we did.”
The continued pursuit of self-improvement is a hallmark of what Brown’s focus and desire are at this stage of his pro career. He has talked often about not wanting to be just one of the best in this draft class but also one of the best in the NBA overall.
But he’s also learned that to get there takes time and experience developing both physically and mentally. Part of that mental growth entails having the right approach to games.
“Usually you try to tell yourself not to mess up,” Brown said. “Now that I’m getting more comfortable, it’s just play basketball, bring energy, things like that; come out and do what you’re supposed to do. A lot of times you try to tell yourself to not mess up and it’s counteractive; just come out and play basketball and have fun.”
And by doing so the minutes will come.
“You can’t control that. I just have to control what I can control,” Brown said. “I trust coach (Brad Stevens); I trust my coaching staff. I have to come out and in the minutes I get, play my hand as best I can and take advantage of what I do get and impact this team as much as possible.”
This season, Brown is averaging 4.8 points, 2.0 rebounds while shooting 41.9 percent from the field.
Scott Zolak said on Pregame Live Sunday that the Patriots are better-suited to survive a season-ending injury to Rob Gronkowski than they were a season ago.
Zolak said that given the health of Dion Lewis, Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola and the signing of Chris Hogan, the offense has more stability at other positions to make up for the loss of Gronkowski, whose season is over due to back surgery. As for the tight end position, Zolak said he feels the Patriots traded for Martellus Bennett to protect themselves against scenarios like the one they currently face.
“This offseason they [acquired] Martellus Bennett, I think for this very reason: to prepare for what really happens year after year, is some sort of issue comes up with Rob Gronkowski and you have to play without him,” Zolak said.
Bennett was questionable with an ankle injury for this week’s game, but is expected to play. Asked about the health of Bennett, Zolak said that he believes the tight end is good to play, but that his importance to the team with Gronkowski out means the Pats will need to be careful.
“I think he’s healthy enough to get through about 30-35 snaps,” Zolak said. “They’ve got to balance him now moving forward.”