Boston Celtics

Rask trying to stay positive through injury

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Rask trying to stay positive through injury

Tuukka Rask is trying to keep a positive outlook, but the Finnish goaltender was also being realistic on his 25th birthday.

Rask said he heard the snap, crackle and pop when he tore his groin and abdomen last weekend against the New York Islanders, and knows that hes going to need close to the entire six weeks to recover from his injury. That puts Rask and the Bruins into the playoffs when the backup goaltender will be ready for full-time duty, and that means the young goalie will be thrust into a playoff situation.

There will be no rehab games or ability to get Rask back up to game-speed at that point in the season, but the good news is that the Finnish youngster is expected to simply open and close the bench door for Tim Thomas once the postseason begins.

You try to stay positive and feed back the energy for the guys and hopefully get them on a roll, said Rask, who is most likely done for the regular season with an 11-8-3 record, a 2.05 goals against average and a .929 save percentage. I just try to stay positive and hang around the guys and treat myself to get better.

That doesnt faze Rask much at this point in the year, but he did express a healthy amount of sorrow at his inability to help give Thomas a rest at the most important time of the year. Rask was expected to share playing time with Thomas over the last 20 games of the year, but now
Thomas has played in eight straight games with a potential Sunday afternoon appearance against a red-hot Penguins team already in the holster.

There is nothing you can do about it. The groin injury is tough. It is what it is but you just have to stay positive and let it heal. You cant be thinking about that too much, said Rask. Its obviously tough and you feel for Timmy, because we were going to share a lot of games in this month I bet. We were going to get a lot of workload off each others shoulders too.

But things happen in hockey and it happened to me this time. Hopefully we can get it ready for the playoffs.

Rask said he hopes that the groin injury doesnt need surgery, and quickly shot it down after mentioning it. But one has to wonder how a significant groin injury will affect a goaltender thats never had that kind of injury in his North American hockey career.

It would be more urgent if the Bruins didnt have the reigning Vezina Trophy winner and Conn Smythe winner getting ready for another playoff run, but theres no mistaking that the Bruins now know just how valuable Rask is backing up the franchise.

How should Red Sox handle Chris Sale's pursuit of Pedro Martinez's strikeout record?

How should Red Sox handle Chris Sale's pursuit of Pedro Martinez's strikeout record?

BALTIMORE — Baseball records are so precise. When to pursue them, when to value them even if minor risk is involved, is not nearly as clear cut.

The Red Sox, Chris Sale and John Farrell have stumbled upon that grey area, and it will continue to play out in the final two weeks of the regular season.

Sale reached a tremendous milestone on Wednesday night, becoming the 14th different pitcher in major league history to reach 300 strikeouts in a single season. No one else has done it in the American League this century. Clayton Kershaw was the last to get there in the National League two years ago.

“It was really fun,” Sale said of having his family on hand. “My wife, both my boys are here, my mother-in-law. Being able to run out and get a big hug from him and my wife and everybody — it was special having them here for something like this. … I’ll spend a little time with them before we head to Cincinnati.”

Now, there’s another mark ahead of Sale: Pedro Martinez’s single-season club record of 313. And the pursuit of that record is going to highlight the discussion of what matters even more.

The tug-of-war between absolute pragmatism and personal achievement was on display Wednesday, when Farrell gave ground to the latter. 

The manager was prepared for the questions after a celebratory 9-0 win over the Orioles. His pitchers threw 26 straight scoreless innings to finish off a three-game sweep of the Orioles, and the Sox had the game well in hand the whole night.

With seven innings and 99 pitches thrown and 299 strikeouts in the books, Sale went back out for the eighth inning.

If you watched it, if you saw Sale drop a 2-2 front-door slider to a hapless Ryan Flaherty for the final strikeout Sale needed and his last pitch of the night, you surely enjoyed it. Records may not be championships, but they have their own appeal in sports that’s undeniable. 

But Sale could have recorded strikeout No. 300 next time out. Surely, he would have. He needed all 111 pitches to do so Wednesday.

In this case, the difference between 299 and 300 wound up being just 12 pitches. 

It’s doubtful those 12 pitches will ruin Sale’s postseason chances, particularly considering he was throwing hard all game, touching 99 mph. 

Nonetheless, the Sox hope to play for another month, and they've been working to get Sale extra rest. So, why risk fatigue, or worse, injury?

“The two overriding factors for me,” Farrell explained, “were the pitch counts and the innings in which he was in control of throughout. Gets an extra day [for five days of rest] this next time through the rotation. All those things were brought into play in the thinking of bringing him back out.

“We know what the final out of tonight represented, him getting the 300 strikeouts. Was aware of that, and you know what, felt like he was in complete command of this game and the ability to go out and give that opportunity, he recorded it.”

If Sale makes his final two starts of the year, he’ll break Martinez's record of 313. At least, Sale should. But he might not make his projected final start, in Game No. 162, so that he’s set up for Game 1 in the Division Series.

(So, if he could do reach 314 Ks in his next start, he’d make this discussion disappear — but 14 Ks in one outing is not easy.)

When should exceptions be made to let someone get to a record? Where do you draw the line? 

Would it be reasonable to get Sale an inning or two against the Astros in Game 162 if he was a few strikeouts away, even though he may face the Astros in the Division Series?

Letting the Astros get extra looks against Sale is a different matter than Sale throwing 12 extra pitches. But neither is really a guarantee of doom. They're small risks, of varying size.

Consider that if Sale is on, he should rough up the Astros no matter what.

What's 12 pitches Wednesday for a guy who leads the majors in average pitches thrown per game? Not enough to keep Farrell from letting Sale have a go at one milestone.

Will the Sox work to put Sale in position for the next?

Records don’t usually fall into such a grey area. Outside of the steroid era, anyway.