Red Sox feeling out bullpen options

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Red Sox feeling out bullpen options

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The acquisition of reliever Chris Carpenter from the Chicago Cubs Tuesday provides one more candidate to an already long list of pitchers competing for spots in the Red Sox bullpen.

Beyond new closer Andrew Bailey, set-up man Mark Melancon and holdover Matt Albers, few spots are assured to start the season.

Alfredo Aceves almost certainly will make the Opening Day roster, but in what capacity is unclear. Aceves is also in the running for the fifth starter's spot and could either be in the rotation or work in relief.

Further complicating matters is the fact that five Red Sox pitchers are out of options: Franklin Morales, Michael Bowden, Andrew Miller, Felix Doubront and Albers.

If any of that group fails to make the Opening Day roster, the Red Sox will have to expose each to waivers and risk losing him.

It would seem that, regardless of options, Morales and Albers will make the club. Given the investment that the organization has made in Miller, he, too, would seem to on the staff.

It's difficult to imagine the Sox risking the loss of Doubront, since, even allowing for the disappointment of last year, the Sox wouldn't want to lose a young lefty who can throw in the mid-90s.

Bowden, who has been unable to establish himself at the major league level, is likely not a factor. It's unclear what value he would have if he were to be exposed to waivers.

Figure then that the bullpen will consist of Bailey, Melancon, Albers, Morales, Miller and Aceves and one more pitcher -- assuming the Sox elect to begin the season with a dozen pitchers.

That means all the other relievers -- veterans and younger pitchers -- are competing for the final roster spot.

Last year was a reminder that, where the bullpen is concerned, everything is temporary, anyway. Dennys Reyes, who was signed to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training, had his contract purchased in the waning days of spring training.

He appeared in a handful of games on the team's season-opening road trip to Texas and Cleveland, but by the time the club arrived for the home opener a week later, Reyes was on the DL with what some believe was a phantom injury, never to be heard from for the remainder of the season.

Carpenter, meanwhile, would seem to be an arm who could help out in the middle innings, and with 10 games of major league experience, is probably ready to remain in the big leagues.

But because he has options remaining -- and four others whom the Sox would like to continue to control do not -- the likely scenario will find Carpenter beginning the season at Triple A Pawtucket.

Probably not for long, however. That's the way it goes this time of year with bullpen, interchangeable pieces and options.

Tatum easing into new challenge with Celtics

Tatum easing into new challenge with Celtics

BOSTON -- While the newest Boston Celtics were scattered about while at a community service event, 19-year-old Jayson Tatum was sitting in a really comfortable-looking chair, resting. 

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind unlike any he had ever experienced, beginning with the pre-draft process, to workouts, to the draft itself and all the appearances and media engagements that have followed. 

“It’s a lot,” Tatum, grinning, told CSNNE.com. “But I’m taking it one day at a time.”

That steady-as-she-goes approach served him well during his lone season at Duke. 

Keeping an even-keeled approach will bode well for him as he gears up for his first taste of NBA basketball beginning with summer league practice this week in preparation for next week’s summer league action which begins in Salt Lake City. 

Boston’s summer league opener will be July 3 against Philadelphia and the top overall pick Markelle Fultz, at the University of Utah’s Jon M. Huntsman Center.

Tatum, who has not played in a five-on-five game since Duke’s loss to South Carolina in the NCAA tournament, is admittedly excited to get back on the floor this week. 

“I can’t wait,” he said. 

Celtics Nation feels the same way about Tatum, selected with the third overall pick in last week’s NBA draft. 

Although it’s only a preseason game, there will be expectations and with that, possibly some added pressure for Tatum to show he was such a coveted player by the Celtics. 

“That’s why Duke helped me a lot,” he told CSNNE.com. “Duke, the best program in college basketball, we were always on the national spotlight good or bad, whether we were winning or losing. That will help me a lot preparing for the Boston Celtics.”

And like Duke, Tatum will have to fight his way on to the court although he readily admits the challenge is much greater in the NBA. 

“Isaiah Thomas, Jaylen Brown, Jae Crowder . . . we didn’t have those guys at Duke,” Tatum said. “It’s gonna be tough; just try my best and get in where I fit in.”

Tatum said he will at times lean on his more experienced teammates, one of which was a former teammate of his – sort of – in Jaylen Brown. 

“I’ve known Jaylen for a while,” Tatum said. “We played with and against each other in high school at AAU camps. 

Tatum added, “at the AAU camps, sometimes we were on the same team and sometimes we were not.”

While much has been made about how the two are similar, Tatum sees both having strengths that complement, rather than compete, with each other. 

“He’s further along than Jaylen was skill-wise and he’s not as far along as Jaylen physically,” said Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations. “Again, he’s 19 years old. I don’t want to put any expectations … I want to give him time to grow. We’ll see. He’ll definitely have a role, get a chance to play. And how well he performs is up to him.”

Tatum’s assessment of his game and Brown’s goes as follows:

“He’s a lot stronger, bigger than me,” Tatum, who is 6-foot-8, 204 pounds, acknowledged. “He’s much more athletic. Offensively, I think that’s what I excel in, being smooth and my ability to score. I can just learn from him, the things that he went through last year.”

One of the things he has already picked up on, is that Brown is a pretty smart – and at times clever – dude. 

Not long after Tatum picked jersey number 11, Brown, who wears number 7, took to social media and came up with a 7-11 theme that has already lead to some pretty snazzy t-shirt designs. 

“I thought it was funny,” Tatum said. “It’s catchy; I like it.”

And the Celtics really like Tatum’s game which has been compared at times to former Celtic great Paul Pierce. 

“I hate to make those comparisons when kids are 19 and let his game evolve into whatever it is,” Ainge said. “The similarity is they have good footwork. They both have really good ways to create space for shots. But the similarity … they’re both very good defensive rebounders. Those are two things that stand out to me with Jayson that are Paul characteristics.”

Tatum knows he’s a long way from being in the same company as Celtic royalty such as Pierce. 

Before then he must first earn minutes on the floor which will not be an easy task. 

But Tatum’s demeanor, much like his game, has seemingly always been a bit more mature than most of his fellow basketball brethren. 

Tatum credits his parents, Justin Tatum and Brandy Cole.

“They raised me to be different, be more mature and stand out above the crowd and be my own person and be comfortable in my skin,” Tatum said. “That’s how I’ve always been.”

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: How does the Chris Paul trade affect the Celtics?

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: How does the Chris Paul trade affect the Celtics?

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0:41 - Tom Curran, Tom Giles, and Kayce Smith discuss the Rockets acquiring Chris Paul and how that trade can actually have an affect on the Celtics plans.

5:06 - Ian Thomsen joins BST to talk about if the Celtics are the front runners for Paul George, what would be too much to give up to the Pacers, and why it’s important to sign Hayward before trading for George.

11:21 - Evan Drellich joins from Fenway Park to discuss Rick Porcello getting his 10th loss of the season and if the struggling offense might be a season-long problem. 

14:58 - Tom Curran and Kayce Smith give their thoughts on Nate Burleson saying that Julian Edelman is the most under-appreciated receiver in the last 10 years.