Roster numbers influence Pats call on Fletcher

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Roster numbers influence Pats call on Fletcher

FOXBORO -- The Patriots had a decision to make with Dane Fletcher and his torn ACL:

Put the third-year linebacker on injured reserve right away and have him occupy a spot on the team's roster for two more weeks, or waive him as an injured player and hope that none of the other 31 teams are interested in paying Fletcher his 2012 salary while he sits on their injured reserve.

The Patriots -- apparently -- decided to take the chance with Fletcher, waiving him Monday. Once he clears waivers, Fletcher will, according to an NFL GM, revert to the Patriots' injured reserve.

I say "apparently" because Pats Director of Player Personnel Nick Caserio reacted as if he'd been asked for the nuclear codes on Tuesday when the Fletcher topic arose.

"We made the decision that we made, and were moving forward, Caserio stated. When the question of whether Fletcher would have counted against the roster if he was put on IR was posed, Caserio seemed exasperated.

"We make decisions every day on the roster," he said. "If there are any rules questions, I would direct those to the league and their interpretation.

The decision exposes one of the roster idiosyncrasies we don't often see. If it were the regular season, Fletcher could have gone straight to IR and a roster spot would have opened up.

But when a player is IR'd with the roster limit still at 90, the team does not get to fill his spot until the cut to 75. Presumably, the rule was enacted to head off any teams hoping to stash young players on IR during camp with phantom injuries.

Fletcher's injury isn't a put-on, though. And the fact his knee is blown will -- the Patriots seem to hope -- scare off any suitors.

And Fletcher's very specific role with the Patriots -- a coverage linebackerspecial teamer in a multiple defense -- may not have as much relevance around the league as it does here.

Bruins sign restricted free agent Acciari to two-year deal

Bruins sign restricted free agent Acciari to two-year deal

The Bruins have locked up a potential fourth-line piece for next season at a bargain basement price.

The B's signed Rhode Island native and Providence College alum Noel Acciari, a restricted free agent, to a two-year deal worth $1.45 million, a contract that breaks down to a very affordable $725,000 cap hit for each of the next two seasons. The 5-foot-11, 205-pound bowling ball of a forward finished with two goals and five points in 29 games for the Bruins last season, and has appeared in 48 games at the NHL level over the last two seasons in Boston. It was also encouraging that Acciari seemed to be tapping a bit more into his offense toward the end of the season, and was building some confidence for whatever modest offense he’ll end up bringing to the NHL table once he’s reached his potential ceiling as a player.

Clearly the two-year, one-way deal portends that Acciari, 25, will be counted on as a high energy, hard-hitting fourth-line player who does a good job of aggravating opponents while playing at full tilt. The real question is whether his body can hold up with his maximum effort style of playing, and whether he can avoid serious injuries with some of the car-crash level of violence he puts in his hitting.

Acciari has battled several different injuries over the last couple of seasons, but managed to be healthy enough to log time in the playoffs for both Boston and the P-Bruins.

Either way it’s a low-risk, affordable contract for the Bruins for a young player who, if healthy, will be a large piece on their fourth line as a diligent worker and excellent teammate. So that’s a good proactive signing for Don Sweeney as he continues to work on a more complicated contract for a higher profile player like David Pastrnak.

Francona misses second game this month because of health issues

Francona misses second game this month because of health issues

CLEVELAND -- Indians manager Terry Francona missed Tuesday night's game against Texas after his second trip to the hospital this month.

The Indians said doctors for now have ruled out major health issues and Francona will be monitored the next several weeks.

Francona, 58, left Monday night's game because he wasn't feeling well. He spent several hours at Cleveland Clinic and underwent a series of tests.

Francona was released from the hospital on Tuesday and spent the rest of the day at home. He was expected to return to the dugout Wednesday when the Indians host the Rangers. Cleveland lost to Texas 2-1 on Tuesday.

Bench coach Brad Mills ran the team in Francona's absence. Cleveland began the day in first place in the AL Central after rallying for a 15-9 win Monday.

"Tito actually wanted to come back to the ballpark today," team president Chris Antonetti said Tuesday. "I told him he can't come back to the ballpark today. He only got a couple hours of sleep last night, so despite his desire to want to be here, I thought it was best that he gets some rest tonight and just come back tomorrow. His plan when he was getting released from the hospital was to come over here."

"I don't think he was exceedingly happy with me," Antonetti said with a laugh. "That's OK."

Francona was hospitalized June 13 following a game at Progressive Field. He underwent tests and was released a few hours later, returning to work the following night. Last August, he missed a game after experiencing chest pains but was back the next day.

"Thankfully, we've got some great doctors that are coordinating his care," Antonetti said. "They've done every test they can possibly imagine. They've all come back clean. They're now working to try to figure out what are some of those things that are causing him to not feel so well."

Francona, a close friend of Mills for several years, has retained his sense of humor through his health issues.

A statement released by the team Tuesday read, "Mr. Francona also wanted to express that medical personnel have not yet ruled out an allergy to Bench Coach Brad Mills."