McAdam: Salty's roster spot could be in danger

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McAdam: Salty's roster spot could be in danger

BOSTON -- There are limited options to shake up the Red Sox lineups, but one might be reducing playing time for slumping catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

As was the case last year, Saltalamacchia is off to an extremely poor start. After a 1-for-4 game Friday, through the first 13 games, Saltalamacchia is batting just .103 (3-for-29).

A year ago, Saltalamacchia was under .200 for much of the first month and didn't get over the .200 level to stay until May 6.

Saltalamacchia has had some bad luck, too. In a pinch-hitting capacity Wednesday night, he lined a bullet to first which got turned into a game-ending double play. On Tuesday, he struck two balls to the warning track, but both resulted in flyouts.

But as Saltalamacchia himself acknowledged with a rueful smile: "It's way more than bad luck.''

After going hitless in his first three plate appearances, Saltalamacchia hit a ground ball single past Robinson Cano in the ninth for a single.

"I'll take that any day of the week,'' he said of his bleeder. "It's going to start to fall in. That's why it's an average. But for that ball to get through the hole, it felt like a big release. It relieved some pressure.''

Kelly Shoppach, the team's No. 2 catcher, has been spotted mostly against opposing lefties and is hitting .375 with a homer and three RBI.

But the real threat to Saltalamacchia's playing time -- and perhaps even his roster spot -- is Ryan Lavarnway.

Manager Bobby Valentine is a big Lavarnway booster and believes there's not much difference between Lavarnway and Saltalamacchia defensively.

Lavarnway is off to a decent start at Pawtucket, batting .267 with two homers and five RBI. He has a .400 OBP and a .422 slugging percentage. Over the last three games, he has six hits.

Though he's played parts of six seasons in the big leagues, Saltalamacchia has an option remaining, meaning the Red Sox could potentially send him to Triple A Pawtucket -- as they did earlier in the week with reliever Mark Melancon -- to work on things.

Bruins' skid continues in 6-3 loss to Lightning

Bruins' skid continues in 6-3 loss to Lightning

BOSTON – The Bruins are doing it again. 

With a team that was badly in need of a win, the Bruins couldn’t get any separation from the Tampa Bay Lightning before ultimately sagging in the third period on the way to a deflating 6-3 loss at TD Garden on Thursday night. 

It marks four losses in a row for the Black and Gold with Thursday night as the worst among them, and doesn’t extinguish any of the concerns that Boston is in another late-season tailspin. 

Jonathan Drouin beat Tuukka Rask with a shot from the face-off circle that dipped underneath his glove hand for the game-winner, and Nikita Kucherov added the final two goals to give him a hat trick for a Bolts team that snapped their own three-game losing streak. 

This game had all the warning signs after a nondescript first period with the Bruins giving up goals immediately after they scored three times in the second period. The first was a David Pastrnak power play strike for his 32ndof the season, and the Lightning struck 44 seconds later with a Brayden Point rebound score after a big breakdown by Boston’s best players on the ice. 

Zdeno Chara again gave the Bruins a short-lived lead on a shorthanded goal in the second period, but Tampa Bay responded with a blistering Nikita Kucherov one-timer just 24 seconds later with the Bolts still on the power play. Boston scored again on a Riley Nash wraparound bid that he threw off the diving Victor Hedman in the crease, and Boston had a brief one-goal lead once again. 

It was 1:35 later that Anton Stralman beat Rask high to the glove side on an odd-man rush and that set up a third period where Tampa Bay scored three unanswered goals and sent the Bruins to their fourth straight loss. 

Report: Steelers' offer for Dont'a Hightower was bigger than Patriots'

Report: Steelers' offer for Dont'a Hightower was bigger than Patriots'

Dont'a Hightower left money on the table in New York and in Pittsburgh, and instead took a smaller deal to return the New England Patriots, according to CBSSports' Jason La Canfora.

The Jets' offer was previously reported to be $12 million per year, including incentives. La Canfora reiterated that report. But he also detailed Pittsburgh's offer, as the Steelers also outbid the Patriots with over $9 million per year.

Instead, Hightower settled for $8.7 million per season with New England, and will play under Bill Belichick in a Patriots jersey for the sixth season in 2017.

Hightower traveled a great deal during free agency, and ended up garnering interest from the Steelers, Jets, Tennessee Titans and Miami Dolphins.

The 27-year-old linebacker finished the 2016 season with 65 tackles tackles, 2.5 sacks, two pass deflections and one forced fumble. He also had a game-changing strip sack on Matt Ryan in Super Bowl LI that shifted the momentum of game.