Gregory hopes to return Sunday vs. Bills

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Gregory hopes to return Sunday vs. Bills

FOXBORO -- In his own words, Steve Gregory on if he fully expects to play Sunday against the Bills:

"Yeah. I mean I'm out there practicing right now, trying to definitely get back in the swing of things. We'll see how it goes."

It's as definitive an answer as we've heard. Gregory suffered a hip injury in New England's Week 4 win over the Bills. He's been inactive for the four games played since -- a reality that continues to rankle him.

"I'm real anxious," Gregory said of returning. "It's not fun to sit on the couch and watch the guys out there playing, so I'm real anxious to get out there and play."

But the extended rest has been necessary. He's said before that the biggest mistake he could make is to rush back before he's 100-percent and experience some sort of setback.

In Gregory's mind, New England's week off couldn't have come at a better time.

"Anytime you have any injury, time heals," he said. "The more time you have to heal . . . bye week coming in there and giving an extra week, really two weeks. The healing process helped out."

He's certainly not the only Patriot who's battered and bruised. Players up and down the roster -- cornerback Kyle Arrington, tight end Aaron Hernandez, linebacker Jerod Mayo -- likely embraced the bye's respite in a similar way.  

Especially since they're back to work already, and have four division games ahead.

"It's important," Gregory said. "The season can be a grind. You go through camp, then you go through the preseason, and you're kind of eight weeks into it now. It's good for the guys to get away, get their minds off things a little bit, see it from an outside perspective.

"But now, definitely, put that behind you. You had your time off. Get back to work and get this thing going."
 
From the sound of it, Gregory is more than eager to join them.

"Vacation's over," he said.

MLB players' union agrees to pitchless intentional walks

MLB players' union agrees to pitchless intentional walks

NEW YORK - There won't be any wild pitches on intentional walks this season.

The players' association has agreed to Major League Baseball's proposal to have intentional walks without pitches this year.

"It doesn't seem like that big of a deal. I know they're trying to cut out some of the fat. I'm OK with that," Cleveland manager Terry Francona said.

While the union has resisted many of MLB's proposed innovations, such as raising the bottom of the strike zone, installing pitch clocks and limiting trips to the mound, players are willing to accept the intentional walk change.

"As part of a broader discussion with other moving pieces, the answer is yes," union head Tony Clark wrote Wednesday in an email to The Associated Press. "There are details, as part of that discussion, that are still being worked through, however."

The union's decision was first reported by ESPN .

"I'm OK with it. You signal. I don't think that's a big deal," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "For the most part, it's not changing the strategy, it's just kind of speeding things up. I'm good with it."

There were 932 intentional walks last year, including 600 in the National League, where batters are walked to bring the pitcher's slot to the plate.

"You don't want to get your pitcher out of a rhythm, and when you do the intentional walk, I think you can take a pitcher out of his rhythm," Girardi said. "I've often wondered why you don't bring in your shortstop and the pitcher stand at short. Let the shortstop walk him. They're used to playing catch more like that than a pitcher is."

Agreement with the union is required for playing rules changes unless MLB gives one year advance notice, in which case it can unilaterally make alterations. Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed hope Tuesday that ongoing talks would lead to an agreement on other changes but also said clubs would reserve the right to act unilaterally, consistent with the rule-change provision of the sport's labor contract.

Some changes with video review can be made unilaterally, such as shortening the time to make a challenge.

"I know they were thinking about putting in a 30-second (limit) for managers to make a decision," Francona said. "I actually wish they would. I think it would hustle it up and if we can't tell in 30 seconds, maybe we shouldn't be doing it anyway."

Blakely: Jae Crowder is more than 'just another guy' on Celtics

Blakely: Jae Crowder is more than 'just another guy' on Celtics

As the NBA trade deadline gets closer and closer, A. Sherrod Blakely helps shed some light as to why the Boston Celtics may be unwilling to part ways with Jae Crowder