Green, Wilcox to take on new season with scars to show

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Green, Wilcox to take on new season with scars to show

MIAMI -- The beaming lights and sea of orange and red seats engulfed the 6-9 forward as he stood on the court of the American Airlines Arena. Jeff Green's eyes glimmered while he slowly looked around the building. He paused, losing sight of the present for just a moment and thinking ahead to Opening Night.

The first game of the 2012-13 NBA season. The first game of the Boston Celtics quest for Banner 18. The first game for Green since heart surgery in January.

"It's like fireworks," he told CSNNE.com as a smile crossed his face. "It's like the Fourth of July."

Green and teammate Chris Wilcox underwent season-ending heart surgery in 2012. Green never suited up for the Celtics last season -- he last played on May 11, 2011. Wilcox appeared in 28 games through March 7. Both have been cleared to play this season, starting with Opening Night in Miami on Tuesday against the Heat.

"It probably hasn't really hit me yet," said Wilcox. "Probably when I get in the locker room and see everything and get ready, it'll probably hit me. The first time I saw my jersey when we were overseas, I got emotional. It's here now. It's a blessing."

While Green and Wilcox are proud to wear the Celtics uniform (each re-signed with the C's this summer), they are even more proud of what is underneath their jerseys. Both players have scars that run down their chest as a result of their surgeries.

Battle wounds.

The two were overcome by emotions the first time they saw the permanent reminders. Green had never undergone surgery before and considers waking up from the operation to find IVs, tubes, and bandages as the most difficult point of the process.

"It wasn't me," said Green. "I cried because I'd never seen myself like that. I'm a fit guy, I love taking care of my body. The first time I looked in the mirror with the slash down the middle, my body wasn't the same. It wasn't a good thing to look at at first."

Wilcox was so anxious about the procedure he lost weight due to loss of appetite two weeks before his surgery. Facing his own image following the operation was challenging.  

"When I first looked in the mirror, it was tough because I was like, 'I've got to live with this (scar),'" he said. "I was like ashamed of it, like I have to walk around with this. But now it's like, it's me. I'm more ok, it is what it is. I'm more confident with it. Now it's like a blessing. When I look at it now, it's just like motivation for me."

Green emerged as the Celtics standout player of the preseason, averaging 13.9 points and 4.9 rebounds using his length and athleticism with an inside and outside game. Wilcox was hampered by a back injury but looks to return as a big man who can play two positions (forward-center) and run in transition with Rajon Rondo.

They hope 2013 will be a season of new beginnings for Green and Wilcox. They always have reminders of past to make them appreciate their future in the NBA.

"It means a lot," Green said of his scar. "It's the new me. My whole character now and it shows what I've been through. I'll never forget it."

MLB may make rule changes for '18 season

MLB may make rule changes for '18 season

PHOENIX - Major League Baseball intends to push forward with the process that could lead to possible rule changes involving the strike zone, installation of pitch clocks and limits on trips to the pitcher's mound. While baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed hope the ongoing process would lead to an agreement, he said clubs would reserve the right to act unilaterally, consistent with the rule-change provision of the sport's labor contract.

Union head Tony Clark said last weekend he did not foresee players agreeing to proposed changes for 2017. Under baseball's collective bargaining agreement, management can alter playing rules only with agreement from the union - unless it gives one year notice. With the one year of notice, management can make changes on its own.

"Unfortunately it now appears that there really won't be any meaningful change for the 2017 season due to a lack of cooperation from the MLBPA," Manfred said Tuesday during a news conference. "I've tried to be clear that our game is fundamentally sound, that it does not need to be fixed as some people have suggested, and I think last season was the kind of demonstration of the potential of our league to captivate the nation and of the game's unique place in American culture."

Yet, he also added: "I believe it's a mistake to stick our head in the sand and ignore the fact that our game has changed and continues to change."

Manfred said while he prefers an agreement, "I'm also not willing to walk away." He said he will send a letter to the union in the coming days and plans to continue dialogue with Clark and others in hopes of reaching agreement.

Clark met with Cactus League teams last week, five at a time over Thursday, Friday and Saturday, before departing Monday for Florida to visit each Grapefruit League club - and proposed rules changes were a topic.

"I have great respect for the labor relations process, and I have a pretty good track record for getting things done with the MLBPA," Manfred said. "I have to admit, however, that I am disappointed that we could not even get the MLBPA to agree to modest rule changes like limits on trips to the mound that have little effect on the competitive character of the game."

Clark saw talks differently.

"Unless your definition of `cooperation' is blanket approval, I don't agree that we've failed to cooperate with the commissioner's office on these issues," he wrote in an email to The Associated Press. "Two years ago we negotiated pace of play protocols that had an immediate and positive impact. Last year we took a step backward in some ways, and this offseason we've been in regular contact with MLB and with our members to get a better handle on why that happened. I would be surprised if those discussions with MLB don't continue, notwithstanding today's comments about implementation. As I've said, fundamental changes to the game are going to be an uphill battle, but the lines of communication should remain open."

Clark added "my understanding is that MLB wants to continue with the replay changes (2-minute limit) and the no-pitch intentional walks and the pace of game warning/fine adjustments."

Manfred said he didn't want to share specifics of his priorities for alterations.

"There's a variety of changes that can be undertaken," Manfred said. "I'm committed to the idea that we have a set of proposals out there and we continue to discuss those proposals in private."

MLB has studied whether to restore the lower edge of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level - at the top of the kneecap. Management would like to install 20-second pitch clocks in an attempt to speed the pace of play - they have been used at Triple-A and Double-A for the past two seasons.

Players also have been against limiting mound meetings. The least controversial change appears to be allowing a team to call for an intentional walk without the pitcher having to throw pitches. In addition, MLB likely can alter some video review rules without the union's agreement- such as shortening the time a manager has to call for a review.

"Most of this stuff that they were talking about I don't think it would have been a major adjustment for us," Royals manager Ned Yost said.

Manfred said starting runners on second base in extra innings sounds unlikely to be implemented in the majors. The change will be experimented with during the World Baseball Classic and perhaps at some short-season Class A leagues. Manfred said it was a special-purpose rule "beneficial in developmental leagues."

Manfred also said Tuesday that a renovated Wrigley Field would be a great choice to host an All-Star Game and Las Vegas could be a "viable market for us."

"I don't think that the presence of legalized gambling in Las Vegas should necessarily disqualify that market as a potential major league city," Manfred said.

Bulpett: Ainge 'really protective' of ability to go to free agency this summer

Bulpett: Ainge 'really protective' of ability to go to free agency this summer

Steve Bulpett joins Mike Felger to weigh in on the NBA trade deadline and the lack of moves made by Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics thus far.