Patriots ready to take on bye week

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Patriots ready to take on bye week

The Patriots know when they'll play their next game. They just don't know who it will be against.

But because they are the No. 1 seed in the AFC, they do know that game will be at Gillette Stadium on Saturday, Jan. 14 at 8 p.m., and against either the Denver Broncos, Pittsburgh Steelers or Cincinnati Bengals.

So with a bye week during the Wild Card round of the playoffs, coach Bill Belichick talked about what their goal will be during the extra time off.

"We put ourselves in a decent position here, and now it's really time to end that chapter, and move on to the next one," said Belichick in a conference call on Monday.

"Of course, we know what the possibilities are, and what it could be," he added. "So, we'll get a little bit of a jump start on those teams, as far as breaking down film and looking at them."

The Patriots lost to Pittsburgh and beat Denver in the regular season. They didn't play Cincinnati. While they'll do some scouting on those three teams this week, their primary focus will be on fixing their own issues.

"There isn't too much we can do about that for a few days," said Belichick. "I'll say that most important thing is to focus on our team, what we can do to improve on our end. Certainly we're aware of the three potential teams we can play next. We'll definitely do work on them, and make sure we're prepared for them, once we know who it is.

"We'll get a little bit of a head start there, but the bigger picture for us right now is to try to make sure that we can take advantage of our opportunities at practice and meetings -- in the time that we have between now and the next game -- to do the best things that we can do to help ourselves and additionally help our team."

Ramirez bothered by right shoulder more than last year

Ramirez bothered by right shoulder more than last year

BOSTON — Hanley Ramirez on Wednesday afternoon acknowledged his shoulders are bothering him more this year than last year.

In specific, it’s the right (throwing) shoulder that’s bothersome, he said to CSNNE, noting it just doesn’t move as he wants it to — rotating his arm as he spoke. Asked how that happened, how it worsened, he said it was in spring training that he thinks he pushed it too hard.

On the positive side, Ramirez said his shoulders are improving.

"Honestly, yeah, it's feeling better now," Ramirez told a group of reporters. "It's started feeling better now than early in the year. I can use the top hand and drop a little bit the head of the bat. I was losing that. I was talking to [hitting coaches Chili Davis and Victor Rodriguez] about that. I've got to be able to use that top hand. Like Jim Rice."

Ramirez, who seems to always want to be playful in his interactions with the media, appeared surprised to learn that he was not hitting lefties well so far this year. He’s 5-for-35 against them.

Ramirez was out the lineup for a third straight game Wednesday, but took batting practice on the field and also took grounders at first base. As batting practice ended, he spoke to a group of reporters coming off the field.

"What am I hitting against lefties right now?” Ramirez asked in a response to a question about how he was feeling vs. southpaws.

It was low, he was told. He waited while a reporter used his phone to look up the specifics for him.

“Is it really? So it’s not me. I've got to get going because I crush lefties. It can't happen,” Ramirez said in the group. "You're kidding me. It took you long enough to tell me that. I didn't know that for real. So OK, after this conversation, let's see what's going to happen now. I'll say it. Yeah. Bring it. OK? I didn't know, I swear. Interesting. Thank you.”

Red Sox manager John Farrell wasn’t sure if Ramirez’s struggles vs. lefties was related to his shoulders. 

“Because if there’s the need or the tendency for Hanley to start his swing early because he might not feel as loose or reactive, as he might otherwise, if a left-hander’s going to sink the ball away from him or keep the ball on the outside of the plate and that early commitment might cause you to pull off some pitches, that’s one possibility,” Farrell said. “But I can’t say that’s the absolute sole reason.”

The Sox still believe Ramirez is healthy enough to contribute well.

“Without being in his body, and knowing what he’s feeling, you know, if you watch the number of hours he puts in for the shoulder maintenance, that’s real,” Farrell said. “All we can evaluate is his feedback and how he swings the bat with either the plate coverage or the aggressiveness and the ability to impact the baseball. And there has been stretches of that. I think he would be the first to admit, would like for it to be more consistent.”

Farrell was asked a bunch of questions about Ramirez on Wednesday afternoon in the usual pre-game press conference, including whether he’s difficult to manage. If that’s the case — and it sure seems so —  Farrell did not let on.

"With individuals you take the added time needed to sit down and talk things through and get a sense of where each individual player is," Farrell said. "I wouldn’t say Hanley is different than other guys in that clubhouse."

Ramirez did very well in the second half last year and was optimistic.

“It's coming along,” he said. “I think second half's coming and I'm ready for that. ... Just one click and you go from there. Like I said, I'm not going to stop working. I'm going to get hot.”