Wakeup call: It's a Dwightmare for Shaq

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Wakeup call: It's a Dwightmare for Shaq

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy andor interesting tidbits -- for Friday, October 5:

AUTO RACING
Kyle Busch to Toyota: Sorry about that. (AP)

BASEBALL
All of a sudden, D.C.'s a baseball town. Funny how having the best record in the major leagues will do that for you. (CSN Washington)

Bet the Rangers never thought they'd be playing today. (AP)

Theo says the job of rebuilding the Cubs might take a little longer than he thought. (CSN Chicago)

One person who pleasantly surprised Epstein during his first season in Wrigleyville: Alfonso Soriano. (CSN Chicago)

It may have been a mere formality, what with Tito coming to town today and all, but Sandy Alomar Jr. interviewed for the Indians' managerial job. (AP)

Minnesota state legislators are pushing the Mayo Clinic to unseal Lou Gehrig's medical records in an attempt to see if there's any link between concussions and ALS. (NBC's Hardball Talk)

Not only did the erring reporter apologize publicly for incorrectly linking Robinson Cano to PED use, but he's made a contribution to the Robinson Cano Foundation, as well. Not that any of that stopped Scott Boras from taking a shot. (Hardball Talk)

Looks like the Dodgers are going to let 283 at-bats from Luis Cruz alter their long-term plans at shortstop and third base. (Hardball Talk)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Good news for Roy Williams: His second kidney tumor was also benign. (AP)

Texas Tech finally has its replacement for Billy Gillispie, at least on an interim basis. (AP)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
USC sidestepped an upset in Utah Thursday night. (AP)

Charlie Weis wouldn't be a true member of the Bill Belichick Coaching Tree -- or at least a close relative, since he's probably an actual branch of the Bill Parcells Tree -- without disdain for the media. Even student media. (NBC's College Football Talk)

No. 15 TCU has suspended quarterback Casey Pachall after his second brush with the law in eight months, saying he "obviously needs help". (AP)

GOLF
Geez, Paul Lawrie. You think someone yelling, "Top it! Shank it! You're going to lose!" is bad crowd behavior?? Try playing in the Black Hole or the Dawg Pound sometime. (AP)

HOCKEY
Everybody's wailing about the NHL's cancellation of the first two weeks of the season. But nobody's doing anything -- like, you know, negotiating -- to end the lockout. (CSN Chicago)

Donald Fehr says the owners could fix things tomorrow, since a lockout "should be the last resort in bargaining, not the strategy of first resort". Well, welcome to Bettman World, Don. (CSN Washington)

So are we, Dan. So are we. (CSN Bay Area)

Coming soon to an AHL arena near you: Taylor Hall. (NBC's Pro Hockey Talk)

PRO BASKETBALL
Shaq isn't too impressed with the Lakers' new center. (NBC's Pro Basketball Talk)

The NBA is sending the Knicks and Pistons to London in January. (AP)

David Stern guesses the NBA Players Association likes acting. Yeah, nothing breeds goodwill between management and labor like arrogance and condescension. (Pro Basketball Talk)

It was only four months ago that -- with the Heat on the verge of playoff elimination in two separate series -- LeBron James was the pariah of basketball. Now Charles Barkely is saying that he can be better than Michael Jordan. (AP)

That Ashley Manning who may join the Grizzles' group of minority owners? She's Peyton's wife. (AP)

PRO FOOTBALL
There's one less undefeated team in the NFL, thanks to the Rams. (AP)

The victory didn't come without a price for St. Louis: Danny Amendola broke his collarbone. (NBC's Pro Football Talk)

So that's who Carol is! (Pro Football Talk)

There hasn't been much for Tim Tebow to do so far in New York, but he and Rex Ryan both say he's not frustrated. (AP)

The Texans, though, think his role is going to get a lot less limited Monday night, and they're planning accordingly. (CSN Houston)

Porcello 'feels as good as I've felt all spring' in Red Sox' 5-3 loss

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Porcello 'feels as good as I've felt all spring' in Red Sox' 5-3 loss

Rick Porcello and Drew Pomeranz combined to allow all five of the Red Sox' runs in Boston's 5-3 loss to the Minnesota Twins.

Porcello finished his start by fanning four, allowing four hits and earning two runs over four innings. Pomeranz followed in the next four innings with four strikeouts, five hits allowed and three earned runs. Pomeranz allowed ByungHo Park's eighth-inning, two-run homer, which ended up being the game-winner.

Porcello, however, was optimistic after the loss.

"The buildup was good," Porcello told reporters, via RedSox.com. "Today I felt as good as I've felt all spring. At this point, I'm ready to go. I'm looking forward to the start of the season."

While the Sox offense was able to get three runs off Ervin Santana in his 4 2/3 innings, they struggled against the Twins' next five pitchers. Xander Bogaerts (2 of 3) and Pablo Sandoval (1 of 3) managed homers. Hanley (3 of 3) Ramirez had a double, and Dustin Pedroia (2 of 3) had two singles.

Kyle Kendrick will start Thursday in the Sox' final Spring Training series against the Washington Nationals. First pitch is at 1:05 p.m. ET.

Who's on first for Red Sox? It may be not someone you'd expect

Who's on first for Red Sox? It may be not someone you'd expect

Who’s on first? A middle infielder, maybe.

Hanley Ramirez, Josh Rutledge and Mitch Moreland aren't fully healthy. So the 25th man on the Red Sox has become a matter of corner-infield triage.

Rutledge was gearing up to play some first base with Ramirez restricted to DH because of his throwing shoulder. But Rutledge is hurt now too, likely headed to the disabled list with a left hamstring strain, Sox manager John Farrell said Wednesday morning in Florida.

Here’s the easiest way to think about who takes Rutledge's place: Who would the Red Sox like to see less against left handed pitching, third baseman Pablo Sandoval or first baseman Mitch Moreland? 

If it’s Sandoval, then you carry Marco Hernandez, who can play third base.

“He’s a very strong candidate,” manager John Farrell told reporters in Florida on Wednesday. “He’s one of a few that are being considered strongly right now.” 

If it’s Moreland, than you carry Steve Selsky, who has a history playing first base.

“He’s a guy we’re having discussions on,” Farrell said. “Any guy in our camp that we feel is going to make us a more complete or balanced roster, Deven Marrero, they’re all in consideration.”

The additional wrench here is that Moreland has the flu. If he's not available at all for a few days to begin the season, then the Sox probably have to carry Hernandez.

Why? Because Brock Holt can play some first base if Moreland is out. But then, you’d need another back-up middle infielder, and Hernandez gives you that. 

Hernandez is also hitting .379 in 58 at-bats this spring entering Wednesday.

Moreland isn’t the only one who has the flu.

"It’s running through our clubhouse," Sox manager John Farrell told reporters in Florida on Wednesday, including the Providence Journal’s Tim Britton. "Probably be held out for three days for a quarantine.” (LINK:http://www.providencejournal.com/sports/20170329/with-josh-rutledge-and-mitch-moreland-ailing-first-base-depth-compromised-for-red-sox)

That means the Red Sox won't have Moreland for their exhibitions against the Nationals on Friday and Saturday in Washington D.C. and Annapolis, Md. Moreland could still be ready for the regular season, but would likely be at less than full strength.

Having Ramirez available would sure make things a lot simpler for the Sox.

Both Sandoval at third base and Moreland could use right-handed bats to complement them. Or more specifically, they could use people who can hit left-handed pitching to complement them.

Hernandez is a left-handed hitter who might actually be able to hit lefties. But the Sox haven't used him at first base, and there's no indication they will.

“As we look at the upcoming games, there is the potential for two left-handed starters in Detroit,” Farrell said. “So there’s a number of things being factored right now.”

Early in spring training, Farrell was asked what player had started to catch his eye.

The guy he mentioned was Selsky, an outfielder and first baseman the Red Sox feel fortunate to have picked up off waivers because he still has minor league options remaining.

Now Selsky, who has already technically been cut from major league spring training, has a chance at making the opening day roster. He's 27 and hit .356 in 45 Grapefruit League at-bats.

Chris Young isn't going to have an easy time finding at-bats as it stands now, but the Sox aren't considering moving him to first base.