RG3 accuses the Rams of playing dirty

878031.jpg

RG3 accuses the Rams of playing dirty

From Comcast SportsNetASHBURN, Va. (AP) -- Pushed and shoved throughout a game he felt was "unprofessional" and "dirty," Robert Griffin III finally heard the obvious from one of the St. Louis Rams defensive players."I remember one play," the Washington Redskins quarterback said. "After the play, the guy said: We're going to hit you every play.'"I said: Isn't this football?' It's nothing that I'm not used to. It was extremely weird the way they went about it, though."Sunday's 31-28 loss was barely over when the Redskins starting talking about replacement officials who had lost control and Rams players who were engaged in too much rough stuff after the whistle.A few days have gone by, but it's still too raw to let it rest. Griffin is going to handle the ball a lot this year -- he already had 20 rushes in addition to 55 pass attempts -- so the Redskins don't want him taking any extra hits, especially ones that he feels aren't clean."There was some extracurricular stuff going on after the plays," Griffin said. "They were doing a lot of dirty things. I still think they have an extremely good team, that doesn't take anything away from them, but the game was unprofessional. Who am I to talk? I've barely been a pro for very long, but from what I experienced against the Saints compared to that game, it was definitely unprofessional and it does need to be cleaned up."Griffin was sacked only once by the Rams, but he was knocked down several times."I don't want to tip-toe the lines of anything that's happened with bounties or anything like that, but they were definitely going after me," Griffin said. "They made it a point, obviously, all week to hit me. Some of the shots were cheap of that nature. But it's nothing I can control. Teams are going to try to hit me because they don't think I can take a hit. I think I've proved over my career that I can."It's something the Redskins have to watch as they prepare for this week's game against the Cincinnati Bengals. The replacement officials are getting a reputation for letting players get away with more."You have to have people take control," coach Mike Shanahan said. "And there wasn't any control in that game. Hopefully officials next week will take control. That's what you have to do as an official."If the first couple of weeks are any indication, the Redskins (1-1) are going to have to rely on Griffin more than planned this season. Traditionally, rookie quarterbacks succeed when they're surrounded by a solid running game and good defense, but Washington has already allowed 63 points and has lost injured defensive starters Brian Orakpo and Adam Carriker for the season.Griffin and the offense were able to outscore the Saints in Week 1 and came close to beating the Rams. The Redskins actually lead the NFL in scoring with 68 points, and they might have to keep up that pace unless the defense improves."We've definitely got to put up a lot of points to help them out until they get their situation on that side of the ball fixed with the injuries and the stuff like that," tight end Fred Davis said.Griffin also had the usual humorous and insightful moments during his weekly news conference, including the latest update on his ongoing marketing tussle with NFL uniform sponsor Nike.Griffin, who has a deal with Adidas, upset the league office when he covered up the Nike swoosh with the letter "H" to spell the word "heart" on his official team warm-up shirt before the opener against the Saints.So, he instead wore a plain gray T-shirt over the warm-up shirt when he took field before the Saints game. Asked if he was covering up the swoosh because of his Adidas allegiance, he laughed."Um. Nah. It's, uh. Yes," he finally said. "There's no way around that one. I can't dance around that one. In the preseason I had a blank, white, normal NFL equipment one, and they took it and gave me the other one. I just wanted to have a blank shirt on, and I'll probably have a blank one on the next game."Meanwhile, a visiting Japanese reporter joined in the RG3 hoopla, asking Griffin about the fact that he was born in Japan as the son of military parents."I'd like to thank my mom and dad for having me over there," he said.But Griffin didn't play any football in Japan. His mother declared it off-limits."My mom wouldn't let me play football as a kid," he said. "She didn't want me to get hurt. I didn't play until I was in seventh grade."Which means his mother probably wasn't happy with that Rams game, either.NOTES:CB Josh Morgan has been cleared to practice after sustaining a concussion against the Rams. He was officially listed as limited Wednesday. Asked how many concussions he's had, he answered: "I think that's a funny question. I don't remember." ... WR Pierre Garcon (foot) and S Brandon Meriweather (knee) were also limited.

Prepare to dominate: Lots of work goes into Sale's pitch

Prepare to dominate: Lots of work goes into Sale's pitch

Like his motion, the making of a Chris Sale start is unorthodox genius.

The ace's routine was formed in Chicago, where the Red Sox open a three-game series against the White Sox today. His plan for the usual four days between outings underscores how blessed he is, and how well the 28-year-old knows what his body needs to maintain three dominant pitches thrown at a hummingbird's pace.

MORE ON CHRIS SALE

When Sale takes the mound Tuesday against his old team, he'll have a 2.34 ERA and 101 strikeouts. Those are American League-best numbers entering the week.

Even Sale, no stranger to excellence, indicated some surprise at how well his Red Sox career has begun.

"Would I say I'm surprised? Yeah," Sale said recently. "But at the same time, I wouldn't say I am. I'm having fun, I know that. You know, it's a very result-oriented game. But results can be very skewed. Because two guys can work the same, do the same things on the same day at the same time, and get two totally different results in this game.

"So while people like to look at the results, sometimes they can be skewed . . . I look more in my preparation than I do in the results."

Sale explained to CSNNE just how that preparation works: from his choice to eschew scouting reports, to how he has recently embraced a Randy Johnson-influenced workout routine the Red Sox use across their entire system, something called Nine Innings.

"He's such a beast," assistant strength and conditioning coach Mike Roose said. "He's in phenomenal shape. We can push him harder than maybe some other guys . . . His body's able to work at such a high level."

* * * * *

Before every Red Sox game, there's a meeting to discuss the starting pitcher's plan. The catcher attends, along with pitching coach Carl Willis and bullpen coach Dana LeVangie.

The huddles are usually quick; maybe three minutes, backstop Sandy Leon said. Of course, the pitcher typically attends as well.

Sale never does.

"We don't talk that much," Leon said of Sale.

There's an outstanding work ethic behind every start made by Fenway's greatest spectacle since Pedro Martinez. A planning meeting just isn't part of it.

"My preparation is more physical than it is mental, I guess," Sale said.

The new Red Sox ace doesn't really use video. He doesn't look at scouting reports.

Sale, then, is a throwback beyond his get-it-and-throw-it pace. He actively avoids tools that other pitchers desperately need and seek in the age of analytics.

He wants a Buddhist-like temperament on the mound, a quiet mind.

Still, it's one thing to never shake your catcher, and another to separate yourself from his thought process. That's near lunacy, unless your stuff is just that damn good.

"I guess you could look at it like that," Sale said. "I look at it for me as just clearing my mind. When I'm out there, I'm not worried about what this guy's hitting over the last X amount of at-bats. Because if I read on a scouting report that he's hitting .450 on fastballs in, I'm still going to throw a fastball in. And if I know that going in, I could be timid throwing that.

"You don't ever want to throw a pitch in the big leagues, hoping, praying, defensively. That takes all that away from me."

Sale's greatest effort in between starts, then, is to keep his stuff this devastating, to keep his lithe machine in tune, so that his mind may remain free.

"Let's face it, any athlete -- I'm probably cliche here -- but when you're just in the present, in the moment, you're going to function at your absolute best," manager John Farrell said. "And with a guy that talented, who's got that much self-confidence to go along with tremendous physical ability, he's in that place a lot."

* * * * *

Roose (above), the assistant strength coach, has been in the Red Sox organization for nine years. The Cumberland, R.I., native served in Iraq and Afghanistan before he became an intern with the Gulf Coast League Red Sox -- that's rookie ball -- and worked his way up.Roose and head strength and conditioning coach Kiyoshi Momose are still getting to know Sale, but were immediately impressed.

"He's got a lot of really good physical qualities already,"  Roose said. "He's very flexible. Naturally, just by his genetics. His endurance is extremely high. He works on that [doing cardio]. You can tell. We knew right from the first week of spring training [that] endurance is something he works on.

"He has the three really important things you'd need to pitch 35 starts in the season."

That includes what Roose described as sneaky strength. Sale looks like he could use an extra burger or two, but he's better than his rotation mates at more than just pitching.

"He might squat more than all our starters, believe it or not," Roose said. "I was surprised. He surprises me sometimes."

Day 1 after Sale pitches is a recovery day. He likes to go for a run, and if the Sox are home, he'll try to do Pilates. A light workout is possible, too.

On Day 2 comes heavy lifting (as well as a shoulder program that customarily follows workouts).

"I'm not a big muscular guy," Sale said. "I'm just trying to stay long and loose as more the key to my success.

"I don't need to like do power lifting or anything like that. I mean I do squats, we do dead lifts . . . A lot of pulling. I don't do a whole lot of pushing, puts pressure on the front of my arm."

On Day 3, Sale throws his side sessions, goes through a shoulder program, and then works out.

But that workout has changed recently, to Nine Innings.

"You do three workouts, three sets of three workouts," Sale said. "Kind of equals nine innings. Raises your heart rate a little bit, gets some bloodflow."

* * * * *

Sixteen years after Johnson and Curt Schilling carried the Diamondbacks to a World Series championship, Sale has a slice of that duo's old workout plan.

Nine Innings is a pitcher's exercise circuit focusing on power and cardio work, and it's been in place with the Red Sox since Roose joined the organization in 2009.

The circuit dates back to Dave Page, the Sox' former strength coach who held that job for the 2001 Diamondbacks -- with Schilling and Johnson.

Like Schilling, Page wound up in Boston. The latter was let go after the September 2011 collapse, and Roose has overseen the program's evolution since. It exists now at every level of the Sox organization.

"Schilling was there, and then when Schilling came here, it kind of continued," Roose said of the origin story. "Now it's evolved way differently than what it was back then."

Nine Innings is tailored to each pitcher's needs before each outing, based on how they're feeling. Typically, sessions are 10-15 minutes.

"It's a series of power-based movements: plyometrics, medicine-ball throws, in kind of like a circuit fashion," Roose said. "We're also trying to get their cardiovascular system up . . . The third day is really about getting the fast-twitch muscle fibers, almost priming their neurological system to be able to repeat that intense throw."

When Sale joined the Sox, all coaches were simply learning what he likes to do. Like pitching coaches, strength coaches didn't dare tinker. Trust needs to be built.

At season's start, Sale decided he wanted to see what Nine Innings was about.

"He was just kind of like, ‘Hey, I want to try it out,'" Roose said.

The early review is great. Why? The sweat, in part.

"I love it," Sale said. "It's actually one of my more favorite days because I mean, let's be honest, you feel you get more out of it.

"It's been run on the treadmill, and then we're going to do a push-up. And then we're going to do a [medicine-ball] slam, and then we're going to do a TRX pull. Treadmill, go through that again, treadmill, go through that again, and then switch it up again."

Day 4, the final day before a start, is variable and typically very light. Sale always stretches -- hamstrings, lower body, arms -- and he might do Pilates.

He's a rubber-band man.

"I'll do push ups with a band over my shoulder, something like that for a little bit more resistance," Sale said generally. "I don't do like bench press or anything like that, and if I do, it's really low weight. Just trying to get reps, just get kind of blood flow in there.

"For me, it's just trying to stay loose and get that elasticity back and being able to get extension and really being able to get that whip back."

* * * * *

Someday, Sale won't have the benefit of youth, of the nastiest stuff, on his side.

Willis has seen a guy like this before in a previous gig, a guy who doesn't go to the little pregame pow-wows.

"Felix Hernandez when I was in Seattle," Willis said. "He didn't even care to know the lineup."

They call Hernandez "King." But Hernandez is at the stage of his career where his stuff is diminished.

"Maybe it's a little different now that his stuff's not the same," Willis said of Hernandez. "He's got more innings, he's got a little older. But I think it's that supreme confidence and a mix of pitches and action of pitches that you just have total confidence in: 'Whatever I choose to throw, I'm going to beat you with it.' "

Sale thinks that way. With the way he works, it could be a long time before he need think differently.

WNBA: Jones' 23 points, 21 rebounds leads Sun past Chicago, 97-79

connecticut-sun-jonquel-jones-052917x.jpg

WNBA: Jones' 23 points, 21 rebounds leads Sun past Chicago, 97-79

ROSEMONT, Ill. -- Jonquel Jones scored 19 of her career-high 23 points in the second half and finished with 21 rebounds to help the Connecticut Sun beat the Chicago Sky 97-79 on Sunday night.

Jones, who set her previous career best of 20 rebounds on May 13, became the 12th player in WNBA history with at least 20 points and 20 rebounds in a game. Alyssa Thomas had 17 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and two steals and Lynetta Kizer scored 16 with seven rebounds for Connecticut (1-4), which won its first game of the season.

Kizer's jumper midway through the first quarter made it 14-13 and the Sun led the rest of the way. Jessica Breland hit two free throws to pull Chicago (1-5) within four with 4:37 left in the third, but Jones scored seven points during a 10-3 run over the next three-plus minutes and the Sky got no closer.

Tamera Young led Chicago with 17 points. She has at least one made 3-pointer in each of the last five games after going nearly five calendar years (June 23, 2011) since her last 3.