Lavarnway 'excited' about 2013 Red Sox

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Lavarnway 'excited' about 2013 Red Sox

PAWTUCKET Like most who are interested to see how the Red Sox will rebound from their disastrous 2012 season, Ryan Lavarnway has been watching the moves the team has been making. And hes pleased.

Im excited, Lavarnway said Saturday at the PawSox Christmas party at McCoy Stadium. I think that they signed players that are definitely going to help us win. Theyre players with a lot of playoff experience and a lot of game experience and theyre guys thatll be good to have around.

I think that the players that weve acquired are all high-quality character guys. And new manager John Farrell I think is going to lead a much tighter ship than what weve had recently.

In the past week the Sox added outfielder Shane Victorino and catcherfirst baseman Mike Napoli, who both agreed to three-year, 39 million contracts, along with pitcher Koji Uehara, who signed a one-year, 4.25 million deal.

While Napoli was brought in primarily to play first base he could be available behind the plate as well. His addition gives the Sox six catchers on the 40-man roster, with four on the 25-man roster as currently projected. Lavarnway, while still establishing himself at the big league level, is happy with the addition of Napoli.

I think hes a great player, Lavarnway said. And I know that when we play Texas we didnt want to pitch to him. So I think thatll be a good addition to our lineup.

Lavarnway, the Sox sixth-round pick in 2008 out of Yale, did not get to know Farrell before he left as the Sox pitching coach to manage the Blue Jays before the 2011 season. Lavarnway introduced himself to the manager for the first time last season during a game against the Jays. Hes been getting to know his new manager this offseason.

He called me and he said how excited he was to be a part of the team and how excited he was about what we had going forward and the new additions we were going to add, Lavarnway said. I saw him on the caravan in Boston last week. He seemed very excited and very dedicated.

Lavarnway is looking forward to a having a manager with a pitching background.

I think that he recognizes the needs that pitchers and catchers have, Lavarnway said, and that hell help meet those needs.

Hes also looking forward to having former PawSox manager Arnie Beyeler on the big league staff, as the Sox first base coach.

Itll be great for the players coming up because hes seen us at our best and at our worst and hes seen the transition periods in between, Lavarnway said. And I think he will help facilitate those and help us go from bad to good a lot quicker.

One of Lavarnways goals this season is to catch 100 games. He reached that milestone last season for the first time in his career, with 108 games behind the plate between Pawtucket and Boston. It was a workload that took its toll. He hit just .157, going 24-for-153, with 41 strikeouts and just 10 extra-base hits in the big leagues. His big league offense was well off what he did for the PawSox last season, when he hit .295 with eight home runs, 43 RBI, a .376 on-base percentage, and .439 slugging percentage in 61 games.

I just want to hit like myself again, he said. Its easy for me to say .290, 25 home runs, and 100 RBI. But that gets changed based on the number of at-bats I get. So if I get 500 at-bats, Id like to hit 20-plus homers again like I know Im capable of.

Tatum 'can't wait' for new challenge with Celtics

Tatum 'can't wait' for new challenge with Celtics

BOSTON – While the newest Boston Celtics were scattered about while at a community service event, 19-year-old Jayson Tatum was sitting in a really comfortable-looking chair, resting. 

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind unlike any he had ever experienced, beginning with the pre-draft process, to workouts, to the draft itself and all the appearances and media engagements that have followed. 

“It’s a lot,” Tatum, grinning, told CSNNE.com. “But I’m taking it one day at a time.”

That steady-as-she-goes approach served him well during his lone season at Duke. 

Keeping an even-keeled approach will bode well for him as he gears up for his first taste of NBA basketball beginning with summer league practice this week in preparation for next week’s summer league action which begins in Salt Lake City. 

Boston’s summer league opener will be July 3 against Philadelphia and the top overall pick Markelle Fultz, at the University of Utah’s Jon M. Huntsman Center.

Tatum, who has not played in a five-on-five game since Duke’s loss to South Carolina in the NCAA tournament, is admittedly excited to get back on the floor this week. 

“I can’t wait,” he said. 

Celtics Nation feels the same way about Tatum, selected with the third overall pick in last week’s NBA draft. 

Although it’s only a preseason game, there will be expectations and with that, possibly some added pressure for Tatum to show he was such a coveted player by the Celtics. 

“That’s why Duke helped me a lot,” he told CSNNE.com. “Duke, the best program in college basketball, we were always on the national spotlight good or bad, whether we were winning or losing. That will help me a lot preparing for the Boston Celtics.”

And like Duke, Tatum will have to fight his way on to the court although he readily admits the challenge is much greater in the NBA. 

“Isaiah Thomas, Jaylen Brown, Jae Crowder … we didn’t have those guys at Duke,” Tatum said. “It’s gonna be tough; just try my best and get in where I fit in.”

Tatum said he will at times lean on his more experienced teammates, one of which was a former teammate of his – sort of – in Jaylen Brown. 

“I’ve known Jaylen for a while,” Tatum said. “We played with and against each other in high school at AAU camps. 

Tatum added, “at the AAU camps, sometimes we were on the same team and sometimes we were not.”

While much has been made about how the two are similar, Tatum sees both having strengths that complement, rather than compete, with each other. 

“He’s further along than Jaylen was skill-wise and he’s not as far along as Jaylen physically,” said Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations. “Again, he’s 19 years old. I don’t want to put any expectations … I want to give him time to grow. We’ll see. He’ll definitely have a role, get a chance to play. And how well he performs is up to him.”

Tatum’s assessment of his game and Brown’s goes as follows:

“He’s a lot stronger, bigger than me,” Tatum, who is 6-foot-8, 204 pounds, acknowledged. “He’s much more athletic. Offensively, I think that’s what I excel in, being smooth and my ability to score. I can just learn from him, the things that he went through last year.”

One of the things he has already picked up on, is that Brown is a pretty smart – and at times clever – dude. 

Not long after Tatum picked jersey number 11, Brown, who wears number 7, took to social media and came up with a 7-11 theme that has already lead to some pretty snazzy t-shirt designs. 

“I thought it was funny,” Tatum said. “It’s catchy; I like it.”

And the Celtics really like Tatum’s game which has been compared at times to former Celtic great Paul Pierce. 

“I hate to make those comparisons when kids are 19 and let his game evolve into whatever it is,” Ainge said. “The similarity is they have good footwork. They both have really good ways to create space for shots. But the similarity … they’re both very good defensive rebounders. Those are two things that stand out to me with Jayson that are Paul characteristics.”

Tatum knows he’s a long way from being in the same company as Celtic royalty such as Pierce. 

Before then he must first earn minutes on the floor which will not be an easy task. 

But Tatum’s demeanor, much like his game, has seemingly always been a bit more mature than most of his fellow basketball brethren. 

Tatum credits his parents, Justin Tatum and Brandy Cole.

“They raised me to be different, be more mature and stand out above the crowd and be my own person and be comfortable in my skin,” Tatum said. “That’s how I’ve always been.”

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: How does the Chris Paul trade affect the Celtics?

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: How does the Chris Paul trade affect the Celtics?

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0:41 - Tom Curran, Tom Giles, and Kayce Smith discuss the Rockets acquiring Chris Paul and how that trade can actually have an affect on the Celtics plans.

5:06 - Ian Thomsen joins BST to talk about if the Celtics are the front runners for Paul George, what would be too much to give up to the Pacers, and why it’s important to sign Hayward before trading for George.

11:21 - Evan Drellich joins from Fenway Park to discuss Rick Porcello getting his 10th loss of the season and if the struggling offense might be a season-long problem. 

14:58 - Tom Curran and Kayce Smith give their thoughts on Nate Burleson saying that Julian Edelman is the most under-appreciated receiver in the last 10 years.