Red Sox 'excited' to have Drew

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Red Sox 'excited' to have Drew

The Red Sox announced the signing of shortstop Stephen Drew on Wednesday afternoon, after the two sides had agreed to a one-year, 9.5 million deal last week. Drew, who turns 30 in March, is the younger brother of former Sox right fielder J.D. Drew. He was a first-round (15th overall) pick of the Diamondbacks  in 2004 out of Florida State. In seven big league seasons, he is a career .265 hitter, with a .328 on-base percentage and .433 slugging percentage. He has a career .978 fielding percentage. Drew was limited to a total of 159 games in 2011-2012 after breaking his ankle on July 20, 2011, when he was thrown out sliding into the plate against the Brewers. He did not get back onto the field until June 27. In 2012, Drew appeared in a combined 79 games between Arizona and Oakland, which acquired him in a trade Aug. 20. He hit .223, with a .309 on-base percentage, and .348 slugging percentage, all career lows.  In 75 games at shortstop, he posted a .972 fielding percentage, also a career low, off his .978 career average and .984 career best in 2010. Drew had a career-worst 0-for-22 streak at the plate between the Diamondbacks and As. The 79 games were the fewest in his career for a full season, behind only 59 in 2006 when he made his big league debut July 15. The Sox are confident Drew, with a fully recovered ankle, will help the team. He was one of the better every day shortstops in baseball for quite a stretch there and then he had the ankle fracture that he suffered in 2011 and it took the full year to get back out playing, which is understandable. Its a really, really difficult injury, said Sox assistant general manager Brian OHalloran, filling in for general manager Ben Cherington on a Wednesday afternoon conference call. But he played well down the stretch and you saw him helping Oakland in their stretch drive and in the playoffs after the trade. We brought him in for a physical exam and our folks are very pleased with his progress. Its obvious to them how hard he had worked, given the nature of that injury, how hard he had worked to strengthen it and we feel that hes going to be fully healthy for us. Its going to make us a better team. Were excited to have him.
He didnt have spectacular numbers in 2012, but hes going to do the job at shortstop, said one scout when the deal was first reported.  Hes going to be an everyday, make-the-play type of guy. Nothing sensational. I think the big question with him is his bat going to come back. Drew is a left-handed hitter, giving the Sox some more balance to a lineup that was becoming predominantly right-handed. I think with the wall there, he can go the other way, he can take the ball the other way, said the scout.  To a left-handed hitter that wall, that can make guys, if they know how to go the other way with a pitch, that can add 20-30 points to their normal average.  And you dont have to be a power guy to play wall ball. I think hell do fine. He can catch the ball. He can throw it across the infield. Hes a left-handed hitter whos had an average offensive production-type career, and he can take the ball the other way.  So, I think thats a good bet that hes going to have a good year. Stephen Drew will wear No. 7, just as J.D. Drew did in his tenure with the Sox.

Knicks' Noah suspended 20 games by NBA for drug policy violation

Knicks' Noah suspended 20 games by NBA for drug policy violation

NEW YORK - Joakim Noah of the New York Knicks has been suspended 20 games without pay for violating the league’s anti-drug policy.

The NBA announced the suspension Saturday, saying Noah tested positive for Selective Androgen Receptor Modulator LGD-4033 – something that can be found in over-the-counter supplements.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports first reported the suspension.

Noah has not played since Feb. 4 and was likely to miss the Knicks’ final 10 games this season because of a knee injury. The NBA said Noah’s suspension will begin with the ”first NBA regular season or playoff game for which he is eligible and physically able to play.”

Noah is in the first year of a four-year, $72 million contract. He and the Knicks (27-45) have been a disappointment this season. He averaged 5.0 points and 8.7 rebounds in 46 games this season, and has been limited to 75 games over the past two seasons.

Haggerty: Legacies on the line at edge of another Bruins collapse

Haggerty: Legacies on the line at edge of another Bruins collapse

BRIGHTON, Mass – Let’s start with the straight fact that it’s asinine, apologist drivel to let the Bruins off the hook, and perpetuate an off-the-mark myth there isn’t enough talent on the B's roster to be a playoff hockey team.

They are middle-of-the-road in the talent department to be sure, and the roster depth clearly isn’t what it was in their elite years, as the Bruins balance an aging core group with an influx of youthful talent from the next generation. But this is also a proud, talented group with one of the best all-around centers in the NHL in Patrice Bergeron, a former Norris Trophy winner and future Hall of Fame defenseman in Zdeno Chara, a legitimate Hart Trophy candidate and in-his-prime All-Star left winger in Brad Marchand, an emerging 20-year-old offensive superstar in David Pastrnak and a former Vezina Trophy winning goaltender still in his prime in Tuukka Rask.

That doesn’t even mention high-end players David Krejci, David Backes and Torey Krug that are game-changing talents in their own right.

Combine that with the other players on the Bruins roster and this is a team interspersed with proud Stanley Cup winning players and enough talent to still take care of business in the final eight games and punch their playoff ticket. Winning a Cup in 2011 can never be taken away from Chara, Krejci, Bergeron, Marchand, Rask and Adam McQuaid, and neither can the seven straight seasons in the playoffs under Claude Julien.

But there’s a danger now of some late-in-the-game tarnish on Black and Gold legacies for some of those distinguished, proud players if they once again collapse down the stretch this season and miss the playoffs for the third year in a row with a late-season nosedive. Four consecutive regulation losses have cast doubt into everything for the Bruins and roused all the same old uncomfortable questions from the past three years.

Bergeron and Marchand need to find their best games and dominate the way elite players do in big-game situations like Saturday night vs. the Isles. Pastrnak, Brandon Carlo and Frank Vatrano need to show they're ready for the playoffs.Rask needs to finally show he's ready to shine as a No. 1 goalie and lead his team to victory in a big game rather than buckle under weighty pressure. 

“This is their legacy, those guys. They are Stanley Cup champions and they missed last year. Each year we talk about writing our own story, and I believe that because guys come and go,” said coach Bruce Cassidy. “But generally there is a core group of guys and it’s their legacy. I’m sure they want to reach the playoffs and get back to being a Stanley Cup contender every year.

“That’s what they want and to a man I’m sure they would tell you that. I do believe that they believe it’s different [this season]. Until you change the course of your results, those questions are going to come. We have to change the results to make then go away. One week of not getting results that we want doesn’t mean we’re panicking, but we do understand what’s at stake. We want to be playing in April and May.”

If the Bruins can’t pull out a win on Saturday night against the Islanders, who just pushed even with them at 82 points on the season, then their playoff lives will no longer be under their own control anymore. It will become another late-season choke job by a team that will have its character and courage questioned. The highs of six years ago will be matched by the bitter lows of the past three seasons.

People won’t talk about a scrappy, little underdog Bruins team that just couldn’t get over the hump once again. Instead, they’ll lament a formerly proud, tough-minded group of hockey players that somehow turned into NHL tomato cans all too willing to play the victim once the going got tough late in the regular season.

That’s no way to go out if you’ve ever had your name etched on Lord Stanley’s Cup, and the Bruins that know better should be taking that to heart right now.