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)

Drellich: Don't let Sam Travis' lack of batting gloves fool you

Drellich: Don't let Sam Travis' lack of batting gloves fool you

Three players are tied for the Red Sox' lead in home runs in Florida. Only two of them will be with the team come Opening Day.

The other may be the starting first baseman a year from now.

Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval and Sam Travis have all gone deep three times this Grapefruit League season.

Coming back from surgery on his left ACL, Travis has yet to play in the majors. But he easily could later this year.

In a perfect world, though, the 23-year-old spends 2017 at Triple-A Pawtucket. He needs to prove he can consistently hit off-speed pitches.

A right-handed hitting first baseman who played college ball with Kyle Schwarber of the Cubs, Travis already crushes fastballs.

He carries himself like a stereotypical masher, too.

Travis rocks an unbuttoned jersey with no undershirt. No batting gloves. A grip-it-and-rip-it approach and Mike Napoli vibe.

But, don't get too caught up in the image.

"I mean, are you essentially asking like, do I still like have a plan?" Travis said when approached about his reputation.

No, because everyone has a plan. It's a question of how his is formulated, what matters to him. Because it can't always be as simple as see ball, hit ball. And it isn't.

"I definitely watch video. Everyone watches video," Travis said. "You kind of need to watch video when you get to this stage . . . You're in the box, you don't really want to think at all. That's what practice is for. But yeah, I'm definitely working on stuff.

"Just because I don't wear batting gloves doesn't mean I'm just going out there -- I definitely still got an idea what I'm trying to do."

Travis said he tried batting gloves once in high school and they just didn't feel right. So he takes hacks with a 34-inch bat with no frills..

But even when hitters say they don't think at the plate, they do.

If you're up 2-and-0, the thought has to cross your mind: fastball?

"I mean, yeah, you definitely are talking to yourself," Travis said. "But you don't want to get too far into your own thoughts because then that's when you get in trouble."

Slugging involves calculating.

Travis will look at scouting reports, but they're not his end-all be-all. The written ones, anyway. He keeps others in his head.

"I like to know what pitches [an opponent] has, which way pitches are going to move," Travis said. "But you know, you find that out from other players, and of course scouting reports and video. But the best experience is when you're actually in there, when you actually see it first hand.

"I remember everybody."

Video can be used to break down one's own swing, too. But that's not Travis. Tinkering's not his bag.

In part, that's because he's always had a simple approach mechanically.

"I don't really take much of a stride or anything. I kind of just pick it up and put it down," Travis said. "I've always been the guy that can make an adjustment pitch to pitch and at-bat to at-bat depending on what the pitcher is, it just goes with like timing and stuff."

Usually, somewhere along the way -- in the professional or amateur chain -- a coach will try to change a player's swing. Travis said that wasn't the case for him, though.

"No. Not really," Travis said. "Everyone's still gonna have minor adjustments, it's just how the game works. You know, you're going to put a bad swing on the ball. But as long as you recognize it and get right back to where you are . . .

"I've always been a guy who believes less movement, the better it is. That's my own personal opinion. Whatever works for people, that's what they're going to do."

Sometimes, that means loosening a few buttons and just letting it rip.

After watching a little video before the game.

Drellich: Sale may be Red Sox' most electrifying pitcher since Pedro

Drellich: Sale may be Red Sox' most electrifying pitcher since Pedro

The newest lefty ace can succeed where David Price did not.

Chris Sale might be the most electrifying pitcher the Red Sox have had since Pedro Martinez.

Josh Beckett had his moments. Jon Lester was steadily excellent.

But the stuff Sale brings is a step above.

A spaghetti-limbed motion and a fast pace. The ability to throw any pitch in any count, something said of many pitchers, but noted here without exaggeration. A delivery that disguises each pitch as another until there’s no time to react.

MORE ON CHRIS SALE

There's been a lot of talk about how competitive Sale is. That's great.

Let's acknowledge how filthy he is before going crazy about the intangibles. He carves hitters better than he does jerseys.

Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has made some questionable moves, but he deserves some optimism here. Some early praise, even -- no matter how well Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech, the best prospects he gave the White Sox for Sale, are faring this spring.

Where Dombrowski failed with Price thus far, he may succeed immediately with Sale.

Yes, Sale's 10-strikeout performance against the Yankees on Tuesday night was just a spring training game. But he was dominant to the point that a Grapefruit League game was actually made interesting.

Must-watch, even.

“You guys saw,” Sale told reporters in Florida. “Just felt good.”

All three pitches were working for Sale, the fastball, slider and changeup, and the variants thereof.

“I've been working on my changeup a little bit more the last couple of outings,” Sale said. “My last time out it wasn't great, but just working on it in between starts, just throwing it on the flat ground, it's a pitch that doesn't take a whole lot of stress on your arm. So even when you're just playing catch, you can flip it around, work on grips, things like that.

"As far as my slider, I feel good about it. . . . Obviously when I'm throwing harder, I think it's a little bit flatter. When I take some off of it, not only do I have a little bit more control, but I think it has a little bit more depth. Plus, it kind of creates another pitch in there. It's like an in-between fastball-changeup type of thing. Anything to give them a different look or try to throw them off. That’s kind of the name of pitching."

American League Rookie of the Year runner-up Gary Sanchez was miles in front of the 2-and-2 changeup he swung over in the first inning. Matt Holliday was frozen by a slider at the belt on the inner half.

Chris Carter, he of 40-home run power, was beat by a 2-and-2 fastball an inning later, clearly thinking off speed and unable to decipher just what was coming in time.

Aaron Hicks tried to golf an 0-and-2 slider by flinging his bat into the stands, somewhere behind the third-base dugout.

That’s just the first two innings.

"He added his third pitch more this evening than five days ago, when it was more fastball-changeup," manager John Farrell said. "He had his breaking ball to both sides of the plate, and got underneath to some right-handed swings. And any time he needs to, he's got such good feel for the changeup to get him back in counts to give him a different look. He was impressive."

Opening Day at Fenway Park will be exciting. But Game No. 2, when Sale is to make his Sox debut, should bring the most intrigue.