Ciriaco vying for roster spot

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Ciriaco vying for roster spot

FORT MYERS, Fla. After five moves were made on Tuesday morning, the Red Sox' 25-man roster is becoming clearer. But there are still questions. One of the most interesting: Who will get the final spot?

Among those vying to make the team are catcher Ryan Lavarnway, outfielder Jason Repko, and infielders Nate Spears and Pedro Ciriaco. Of those, Ciriaco entered the spring as one of the least familiar to observers.

Originally signed with the Diamondbacks in 2003 before being traded to the Pirates at the 2010 deadline, Ciriaco joined the Sox as a minor league free agent this offseason.

He has appeared in just 31 major league games in his career, over the last two seasons with the Pirates, going 13-for-39 (.333) at the plate while playing 47 23 innings at shortstop, third base, and left field.

In seven minor league seasons, he has hit .270 with 24 home runs, 298 RBI, and 401 runs scored, playing shortstop, second base, left field, and third base.

This spring, though, he has opened some eyes with his fielding and his bat, including two consecutive games earlier this month when he delivered the winning hits. On March 12 he delivered a two-run, 10th-inning walk-off home run to beat the Marlins. The next day against the Yankees in Tampa, he bolted around the bases to score as his ninth-inning single, compounded with two errors, accounted for the only run of the game.

After going 0-for-1 Tuesday, entering as a pinch runner in the sixth inning for third baseman Kevin Youkilis, Ciriacos Grapefruit League average dropped to .429. Ciriaco, though, is satisfied with his spring. He has appeared in 20 of the team's 25 games.

Everything is pretty good so far right now, said Ciriaco, who turned 26 in September. I just feel good the way Ive been working and playing this spring. Just keep doing the work.

Every day when you get a chance to play and do the right thing and stay on the field and help your team so they can see what you can do is a good thing for me.

The Red Sox offered Ciriaco no hints when he signed as to their expectations for him, other than to show what he could do this spring.

Nothing really, just come here and compete like everybody else, he said. They didnt tell me youre going to do this or youre going to make the team or anything like that. Just have fun and play the game, like Ive been doing my whole life.

Ciriaco has played 80 innings this spring, appearing at shortstop (40 innings), second base (32), third base (6), and center field (2). Playing different positions can only help him, he believes.

Yeah, I think its good if you can help the team in different positions, he said. Because thats more opportunity for me.

But hes taking nothing for granted. With a little more than a week before the start of the regular season, Ciriaco just wants to keep doing what hes been doing this spring.

Just keep having fun, do the right thing and play the game the right way, he said. And just keep moving forward.

Kraft on Brady: He's willing to play 'six, seven more years'

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Kraft on Brady: He's willing to play 'six, seven more years'

PHOENIX -- Robert Kraft drew some scoffs from the media horde surrounding him on Monday when he relayed Tom Brady's intentions for the remainder of his playing career. 

"As recently as two, three days ago, he assured me he'd be willing to play six, seven more years," Kraft said. "At the level he performed, there's no one that would be happier than I . . . and our fan base."

Brady put together an MVP-caliber season in 2016 at the age of 39, and he figures to be one of the best at his position during his age 40 season. And judging by his comments during Day 2 of the league meetings here, Kraft wouldn't be surprised if Brady could keep things going well into his mid-40s -- unprecedented as that would be.

"In some ways, you think about, I think there's one player at the age of 40 who had one good year. Favre for the Vikings. But he didn't do so well before," Kraft said. "I think Tommy's sustained excellence is just unbelievable. It's a lifestyle. He's in training now. It's not like he's stopped. He works out.

"I remember after our first Super Bowl in [2001], going down to the training room in the old Foxboro Stadium, three days after we won, and he's in there with the music blaring, working out.

"He's really dedicated and the thing that's amazing about him, to this day, he hasn't changed as a human being in terms of how he relates to people, but also in terms of how he works out. The only thing that's probably changed is how he eats, his diet. I'm not sure avocado ice cream is right for me, but if I could look like him and perform half as well, I guess I'd do it."

Monday, March 27: Hall call for Habs' Markov?

Monday, March 27: Hall call for Habs' Markov?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, with crunch time coming in the NHL.

*Jack Todd says that the Hall of Fame needs to reserve a spot for Montreal defenseman Andrei Markov. Is he Hall of Fame material, or Hall of Very Good material?

*The playoff streak is coming to an end for Joe Louis Arena as the Detroit Red Wings finish out a lost season.

*Thanks to PHT writer James O’Brien for providing the kind of relaxing hockey moment that any dog lover could appreciate.

*Boston College standout Colin White has signed an amateur tryout deal with the Senators, but it remains to be seen if the entry level contract is coming.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Mitch Melnick offers his hot takes about the Canadiens after a 3-1 win over the Ottawa Senators.

*The US men’s hockey team may join the women’s team in boycotting the world championships if there isn’t a resolution soon.

*A group of longtime Leafs writers share some of their best stories from the press box

*In the shameless interest of self-promotion, here’s my hit with Toucher and Rich this morning talking about riding the hot hand with Anton Khudobin.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Tracey Myers wonders if a lopsided loss will snap the Blackhawks out of their malaise.

*Sidney Crosby fires back at Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk after he called the NHL star a whiner recently.

*For something completely different: getting to know new CSNPhilly.com baseball analyst John Kruk, who we all should know pretty well at this point.