BOSTON In 2012, the Red Sox had just one starter reach the 200-inning mark, as Jon Lester threw 205 13 innings. That was just one flaw on a starting rotation that underperformed on a team that underperformed.The Sox may have addressed at least that shortcoming with the addition of right-hander Ryan Dempster, who was introduced Wednesday afternoon at Fenway Park as their newest free agent acquisition. Dempster and the Sox agreed to a two-year, 26.5 million deal."We went into this offseason wanting to add a proven starter to the rotation, someone that has a history of success, reliability and someone who we thought would embrace coming to Boston and everything that comes with pitching and playing in Boston, on and off the field," said general manager Ben Cherington said. "We think Ryan is the perfect fit for that."Dempster, who turns 36 in May, has reached the 200-innings mark in seven seasons. Last season was the first since 2007 that he did not reach that plateau. He spent two stints on the disabled list with the Cubs from April 18 - May 3 with a right quad strain and June 16 - July 8 with a sore right lat muscle. Jon Lester was the only member of the Sox staff in 2012 to reach that mark, with 205 13 innings.Its a point of pride to Dempster to reach that number.I think that's your responsibility as a starting pitcher in the big leagues, he said. The norm used to be 300 and somehow weve worked it down to like 200, even 180 seems to suffice. But Im a guy that wants to go out there and I work extremely hard during the offseason and during the season to try and keep myself as healthy as I possibly can so that I can take on that workload. Its something I pride myself on.Dempster was a third-round pick of the Rangers in 1995 out of Elphinstone High in Gibsons, British Columbia. He made his big league debut in in 1998 with the Marlins and has spent all of his 15 seasons in the majors in the National League with the Marlins, Reds, and Cubs except for the final two months of the 2012 season when he was acquired by the Rangers from the Cubs at the trading deadline. He has a career record of 124-124 with a 4.33 ERA in 547 games, 322 starts.He had a combined record of 12-8 in 28 starts, spanning 173 innings, with a 3.38 ERA and 1.197 WHIP in 2012. With the Cubs he posted a record of 5-5 with a 2.25 ERA and 1.038 WHIP. With the Rangers he was 7-3 while his ERA jumped to 5.09 and his WHIP to 1.435 in 12 starts. From June 4-July 14 with the Cubs, he had a career-best 33-inning scoreless streak, winning all five starts in that stretch. I think aside from a few starts I think I try to define myself as a pretty consistent person, a consistent pitcher, Dempster said of his 2012 season. Im prepared every fifth day to go out there and try and give the team a real good chance to win a ball game.Obviously the first half of the season went extremely well. And once I got over to Texas and after a few starts really seemed to get on a roll and pitch well. Im just going to try and continue to work as hard as I can through this offseason to go out there and be exactly that, be as consistent as I possibly can be to know every fifth day that we got a real good chance to win that ball game.The poor performance and dysfunction that defined the Sox in 2012 did not dissuade Dempster.Excited, he said of joining his new team. Obviously theres a lot of room to go up. Ben and the organization have done an incredible job of adding a lot of really good players and good baseball guys. So were just going to go into spring training and work as hard as we can and go out there every day and leave it all on the field and play as hard as we can to get the best out of each other What happened last year is last year. We dont know whats going to happen tomorrow.But he knows it will be an adjustment to the American League.Youre facing a DH instead of a pitcher, he said of the biggest difference. Whether people admit it or not, aside from probably about 10 pitchers, there is that little bit of a break at the bottom of the lineup where you get to face the pitcher. You still have to make your pitches and get outs but Id much rather sit there and face a pitcher than have to face a David Ortiz, thats for sure. Thats probably the bigger test, you have to maintain your focus. And once you do that, its just about making pitches.Dempster has made three starts in his career at Fenway Park, where he is 1-1 with a 6.06 ERA, allowing 11 earned runs, with five home runs in 16 13 innings. He made one start at Fenway in 2012, though, going seven scoreless innings for the win on June 15.I think if you concern yourself with the ballpark youre pitching in, rather than just trying to make the pitches and execute the pitches, then youre probably going about it the wrong way, he said.Obviously, Im well aware that the American League East is a very tough division. But at the same time every team in baseball is a tough team to pitch against. And if you go out there and make your pitches and you execute, it doesnt matter who youre pitching against, where youre pitching. Youre going to have success. Thats what Im going to try and do and simplify it as much as I can.Dempster joins a rotation that includes Lester, Clay Buchholz, John Lackey, and Felix Doubront. As with several of the other players the Sox have added this offseason, Dempster is known as a person with a high-quality character.Were excited to add a guy of this caliber to our rotation and to our clubhouse, Cherington said.Dempster will wear No. 46, which was worn by Franklin Morales last season. A Canadian, Dempster is unsure if he will play in the World Baseball Classic in the spring. But, hes confident the Sox can get back to the postseason, which they have missed since being swept in the Division Series in 2009 by the Angels.Thats why we play, he said. The money and things like that in baseball are great, but I came here because I believe this team has a chance of winning as much as anybody else. Ive always believed that should be your mentality going into any season. Because its proven day in, day out every teams going to win 50 games, every teams going to lose 50 games. Its what you do with the other 62 that matter.
BOSTON – Wednesday’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks wasn’t the first time during their impressive run at home that the Boston Celtics found themselves playing from behind most of the game.
But as hard as the Celtics fought, putting together one mini-run after another, it just wasn’t enough to knock off the red-hot Milwaukee Bucks who came away with a 103-100 win.
The Celtics (48-27) had their four-game winning streak snapped while the Bucks (39-36) have now won 13 of their last 16 games as they continue to climb the Eastern Conference standings and pose a legit threat to any team they face in the first round of the playoffs.
Boston, which trailed by as many as 14 points, rallied to tie the game at 93 in the fourth, but back-to-back baskets by Milwaukee’s Malcolm Brogdon put the Bucks ahead 97-93. The Celtics soon found themselves back to within one possession after Jae Crowder split a pair of free throws making it a 99-96 game.
But the Bucks did as they had done all game, responding to the moment with a big play of their own. This time it was Brogdon finding Greg Monroe under the rim after Al Horford slipped, for an easy dunk that made it a 101-96 game with 1:06 to play.
A Celtics' time-out led to an Isaiah Thomas lay-up, making it a 101-97 game. Boston’s defense stiffened up, forcing a 24-second violation which led to a 20-second time-out by Boston with 36.9 seconds to play. The Celtics got another quick basket from Thomas who led all scorers with 32 points.
Boston seemed on the verge of forcing a Milwaukee miss, only for Brogdon to step up with a clutch, tightly contested jumper that made it a 3-point game with 3.9 seconds to play. He finished with 16 points, nine assists and four rebounds.
Following a Celtics time-out, desperate for a 3-pointer to force overtime, Boston’s in-bounds pass was deflected. Marcus Smart was able to corral it before time expired, but his desperation was nowhere close to hitting the rim let alone going in.
This game had the feel of a down-to-the-wire battle from the outset.
The Celtics were tied at 24-all after the first quarter, and trailed by six points at the half. Boston had good stretches in the third quarter, but once again found themselves trying to cut into Milwaukee’s lead which stood at 80-77 going into the fourth. But like each of the three previous quarters, the Celtics saw the window to close the gap slammed shut in their face as the Bucks opened the fourth with an 8-3 run to lead 88-80.
Boston’s uphill battle was fueled in part by a Milwaukee Bucks defense that didn’t give the Celtics many good looks at the rim. And offensively, Milwaukee’s ball movement was solid all game, generating lots of good looks at the rim.
Despite all that, the Celtics were down just 90-87 following a 3-point play by Tyler Zeller. Boston had a chance to tie the game, only for Terry Rozier’s 3-pointer to hit the back of the rim and roll out. Bucks coach Jason Kidd knew he had to do something to slow the growing momentum by Boston, leading to him calling a time-out with 5:35 to play with it being a one-possession game.
Boston continued to fight its way back into the game, and were within two (93-91) after Marcus Smart made the second of two free throws.
He wasn’t done.
Smart, who had his second double-double of the season with 11 points and a career high-tying 11 rebounds, scored on a driving lay-up to knot the game at 93-all with 2:46 to play. From there, the Celtics could not make the necessary plays to get the victory.
BRIGHTON, Mass – While the NHL debut for Charlie McAvoy is a matter of “when” rather than “if” at this point after agreeing to an Amateur Tryout Contract (ATO) with the Boston Bruins, the jury is still out on Boston University center Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson and University of Notre Dame winger Anders Bjork become pros.
Bruins general manager Don Sweeney says that Forsbacka-Karlsson has yet to make a “final decision” on his status for next season after BU’s elimination from the NCAA hockey tournament, and Bjork is readying for the Frozen Four this weekend along with the rest of his Fighting Irish teammates. The 20-year-old Forsbacka-Karlsson just wrapped up his sophomore season with the Terriers and posted 14 goals and 33 points in 38 games with a plus-11 rating, and has not given the Bruins any firm word on his plans for the immediate future.
The urgency perhaps isn’t there for the Bruins to lock things up with Forsbacka-Karlsson right this second, because he wouldn’t be a factor for this year’s NHL team.
Meanwhile the Bruins can’t do anything with the 20-year-old Bjork until at least the end of next weekend, but have been mightily impressed with a player that’s posted 21 goals and 52 points in 38 games for Notre Dame this season. Bjork had three assists in the game that propelled Notre Dame into the Frozen Four, and there would be a great deal of urgency for the Bruins to lock up a talented forward that might be able to help them right now.
“I’ve been able to see [Bjork] a few times including the regional [in New Hampshire] last weekend, and he was outstanding. He played every other shift, he set up goals in the game and he’s had a really nice progression as a college player this season,” said Sweeney of the explosive Notre Dame junior, who was far and away the best player at B's development camp last summer. “They’ve done a fabulous job with their team, and hopefully they get to the Finals on Saturday against Harvard, and we get the best of both worlds seeing how our prospects play in the final game. He’s had a tremendous college career to this point, and we’re excited about his development.”
McAvoy is the front-burner issue for the Bruins at this point, but it would surprise exactly nobody if both Forsbacka-Karlsson and Bjork join him in Providence in the next couple of weeks as they wrap up their AHL season.