Red Sox have found their new shortstop

691696.jpg

Red Sox have found their new shortstop

From Comcast SportsNetBOSTON (AP) -- The Boston Red Sox moved forward with their strategy of giving free agents short-term contracts by reaching a 9.5 million, one-year agreement with shortstop Stephen Drew.A person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press on Tuesday that Drew will take a physical before the deal can be finalized. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the agreement was not complete.Boston also finalized a 4.25 million, one-year contract with 37-year-old reliever Koji Uehara, a deal agreed to two weeks ago atr the winter meetings.Drew hit .250 with five homers and 16 RBIs in 39 games for the Oakland Athletics last season after being traded by Arizona on Aug. 20. In 40 games with the Diamondbacks, he hit .193 with two homers and 12 RBIs. Drew, 29, is the brother of former Boston outfielder J.D. Drew and had been with Arizona for his entire big career until the trade.In seven seasons, Drew is hitting .265 with 77 homers and 349 RBIs. In addition to his salary, he would earn a 500,000 bonus if he has 500 plate appearances.With several top prospects needing more seasoning, the Red Sox are adding players who can help until, and perhaps after, those youngsters are ready.So far this offseason, they've agreed to 39 million, three-year contracts with outfielder Shane Victorino and first baseman-catcher Mike Napoli; a 26.5 million, two-year deal with right-hander Ryan Dempster; a 10 million, two-year contract with outfielder Johnny Gomes and a 6.2 million, two-year deal with catcher David Ross.Napoli's deal hasn't been finalized yet while the Red Sox address their concerns about his health.Their lineup will have a much different look after a 69-93 record that led to the firing of Bobby Valentine after one year as manager.Drew would become Boston's 11th starting shortstop in nine seasons. Mike Aviles started 123 games there last season then was sent to Toronto as compensation for the Red Sox prying their new manager, John Farrell, away from the Blue Jays. Aviles later was traded to the Cleveland Indians.Slick-fielding Jose Iglesias, 22, has been considered Boston's shortstop of the future but is a weak hitter, batting .118 in 24 games last year. He may have been overtaken in the Red Sox long-term plans by Xander Bogaerts, 20, who has played just 23 games at Double-A.Other top prospects are outfielders Jackie Bradley and Bryce Brentz, right-handers Matt Barnes and Allen Webster and left-hander Henry Owens.Uehara, had a 1.75 ERA last season for Texas, allowing seven earned runs in 36 innings with no record, 43 strikeouts and three walks. The right-hander pitched for 10 years in Japan before signing with the Baltimore Orioles in 2009.He would earn a 125,000 bonus if he has 15 games finished and that same amount for each additional five games finished through 50.

Report: Steelers' offer for Dont'a Hightower was bigger than Patriots'

Report: Steelers' offer for Dont'a Hightower was bigger than Patriots'

Dont'a Hightower left money on the table in New York and in Pittsburgh, and instead took a smaller deal to return the New England Patriots, according to CBSSports' Jason La Canfora.

The Jets' offer was previously reported to be $12 million per year, including incentives. La Canfora reiterated that report. But he also detailed Pittsburgh's offer, as the Steelers also outbid the Patriots with over $9 million per year.

Instead, Hightower settled for $8.7 million per season with New England, and will play under Bill Belichick in a Patriots jersey for the sixth season in 2017.

Hightower traveled a great deal during free agency, and ended up garnering interest from the Steelers, Jets, Tennessee Titans and Miami Dolphins.

The 27-year-old linebacker finished the 2016 season with 65 tackles tackles, 2.5 sacks, two pass deflections and one forced fumble. He also had a game-changing strip sack on Matt Ryan in Super Bowl LI that shifted the momentum of game.

Kelly Olynyk's 3-point game is helping him produce all over floor

Kelly Olynyk's 3-point game is helping him produce all over floor

Waltham, mass. – Kelly Olynyk is in a good place right now. 

He’s playing a key role on one of the top teams in the NBA, doing more than just stretch the floor with long-range jumpers and 3-pointers. He has been a solid positional defender most of his time in the NBA, but lately he has become one of the team’s best rebounders … really!

But more than anything, Olynyk is in the best shape of his career both mentally and physically, delivering strong play in several categories.

“When he plays aggressive and with confidence, that’s when he’s at his best,” said Boston’s Isaiah Thomas. 

And lately, the best of Olynyk has been in steady rotation for the Celtics who will host the Phoenix Suns tonight. 

Olynyk attributes his recent strong play to seizing his opportunity to help the Celtics in what has been a season-long area of weakness. The fourth-year big man is a threat to score from 3-point range whenever he’s on the floor. Because of that, teams are overly concerned about his long-range shooting which has allowed him to be an effective driver into the paint and finisher around the rim. 

He has also benefited by being healthy, something he could not say was the case on the eve of the Celtics’ postseason run last season which ended in the second round to the Atlanta Hawks. Olynyk was hampered by a sore right shoulder injury that limited him in the playoffs against Atlanta, and later required surgery which sidelined him for the start of this season. 

But those pain-filled days where he gave more thought to his shoulder rather than shouldering a greater load for the Celtics, are behind him now. 

“It’s something that I had to deal with and I had to get surgery,” Olynyk said. “Now it feels better than it has. I feel strong, confident, ready to roll.”

Boston has won five of its last six games, and the play of Olynyk off the bench has been among the reasons for the team’s latest run of success. In those six games, Olynyk has averaged 10.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists while shooting a team-high 64.9 percent from the field and 37.5 percent from 3-point range in 20.5 minutes per game – all better than his season average in those respective categories. 

And among Celtics players who have averaged double-digit minutes in that span, Olynyk has a team-best rebounding percentage of .170 in addition to an effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%) of .689 which is also tops among Boston players during their last six games.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens isn’t surprised to see Olynyk playing as well as he has now that he’s injury-free.

“I don’t think there’s anything more important than playing with clear minds and fresh legs,” Stevens said. “I just think that, and not being injured is a big part of that.”

For Olynyk, part of the challenge he has had since coming to the NBA was finding that balance between being aggressive and assertive, while making sure he got teammates involved when the opportunity presents itself.

“There’s definitely a fine line between being aggressive, forcing things, over-aggressive and create and open things up for others,” Olynyk said. “It’s kind of a balance, kind of like a yin and yang; just go out and play basketball the way you know how to play it. That’s what’s going to make you the best version of yourself and your team the best version they can be.”

Olynyk’s teammates encourage him often (Avery Bradley and Thomas are probably the two most consistent in his ear) to be more assertive, but they recognize he tends to be hesitant far too often for a player with his skillset.

“When he’s second-guessing and … shot-faking when he should have shot, just not being the aggressive player that we need him to be … we don’t need him to be like that,” said Thomas. “We believe in him. He just has to remain confident at all times. When he’s confident and aggressive, he’s a hell of a player.”