New drill's a hit for Red Sox infielders

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New drill's a hit for Red Sox infielders

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Visitors to spring training this month have noticed that, under new manager Bobby Valentine, Red Sox players -- not just staff members and coaches -- are hitting grounders to teammates during infield practice.

It's not a case of Valentine attempting to humble players by doing the chore. Rather, it's all about being more efficient and getting more out of the drill.

"Because we have infielders there and there's 11 of them,'' said Valentine, ''and we have two coaches to work with them and that would mean nine guys stand and doing nothing while two guys stand and catch the ball, I devised a system to have four guys not fielding and have just those seven guys fielding so they have more repetition and, at times, get a ball that actually hit from a bat that will have proper top spin, rather than backspin.

"It's a way of keeping those guys active. And it's also some simulation of real-life spin on a grounder.''

Valentine corrected a reporter who asked about players hitting fungoes, noting that they were using standard bats and not fungo bats (thinner and tapered from handle to barrel). He then added this caveat:

"Just for the record,'' began Valentine, "if we get off to a slow start and someone says it's because they were hitting fungos -- which they weren't hitting; they were hitting grounder -- and got into bad habits . . . I'm calling (baloney) on that right now, OK? Just for the record."

Rakell gets two goals, Ducks snap Bruins' streak with 5-3 win

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Rakell gets two goals, Ducks snap Bruins' streak with 5-3 win

ANAHEIM, Calif. - Rickard Rakell broke a tie with his second goal with 2:34 to play, and the Anaheim Ducks snapped Boston's four-game winning streak under new coach Bruce Cassidy with a 5-3 victory over the Bruins on Wednesday night.

Rakell also scored in the second period for the Ducks and has 24 goals in his outstanding season. Ondrej Kase, Josh Manson and Andrew Cogliano also scored for Anaheim, and Jonathan Bernier made 26 saves in his first victory since Jan. 23.

Frank Vatrano scored the tying goal in the third period for the Bruins, who hadn't lost since Cassidy replaced Claude Julien on Feb. 7. Defensemen Brandon Carlo and Zdeno Chara scored early goals, and Tuukka Rask stopped 20 shots.

Anaheim beat Boston for the seventh straight time.