From Comcast SportsNetBOSTON (AP) -- The Boston Red Sox have agreed to terms with right-hander Ryan Dempster on a two-year contract worth 26.5 million, two people familiar with the negotiations said Thursday.Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington would not comment on Dempster at a news conference to announce the signing of outfielder Shane Victorino. "We're engaged with a pitcher. That's all I can say at this point," Cherington said, without mentioning Dempster by name.But a few hours later the sides completed the framework of a deal, the two people familiar with the talks said. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because the agreement was pending a physical.Dempster would help a rotation led by Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz, promising young pitchers coming off subpar seasons. At the other end of the staff are Franklin Morales and Felix Doubront; pitchers the Red Sox hope can develop into dependable starters. John Lackey returns after missing last season due to elbow ligament-replacement surgery.Dempster, 12-8 with a 3.38 ERA this year, gives the Red Sox a reliable pitcher who has thrown more than 200 innings for four of the past five seasons. He was 5-5 with a 2.25 ERA with the Chicago Cubs this year before being traded to Texas. He was 7-3 with a 5.03 ERA for the Rangers.Boston hopes he will be an improvement over Josh Beckett, who was 5-11 with a 5.23 ERA before he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a deal that conceded the 2012 season while clearing 250 million in future salaries. Daisuke Matsuzaka, who arrived in Boston to international fanfare, was 1-7 with an 8.28 ERA last season while battling injuries.Dempster, 35, has a 124-124 record and a 4.33 ERA in a 15-year big league career, most of it with the Marlins and Cubs.
BOSTON – Like most of us around New England, Wyc Grousbeck heard all the early praise doled out on the Boston Celtics as being one of the elite teams in the East prior to this season starting.
“I felt before the season that maybe we were being overrated,” Grousbeck, co-owner of the Celtics, told CSNNE.com. “That we were maybe a top-10 team in the league and the top few in the East, maybe. But it still felt like a longshot.”
And here they are, preparing to play Game No. 75 this season, against Milwaukee, with the best record (48-26) in the Eastern Conference.
“They’ve grown into themselves,” Grousbeck said. “They’re playing better than I probably thought.”
But Grousbeck has been around the NBA long enough to know there is still much work to be done. After all, the Celtics’ focus remains on winning an NBA title. But Grousbeck is wise enough to know that while that is the goal, it often takes longer to accomplish than anyone – himself included – would like.
It’s even trickier when you consider how the East is still relatively close despite their being just a handful of games remaining.
“There’s a bunch of teams scuffling around in the East, and we’re scuffling around with them,” Grousbeck said. “We gotta do something in the playoffs.”
This will be Boston’s third straight season advancing to the postseason. Each of the first two appearances ended with a first-round exit.
But this year is different. The Celtics are on pace to finish with home court advantage at least through the first round of the playoffs. But if they’re able to win the games they are favored throughout the remainder of this regular season, they will finish with the top seed in the East and with it, home court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs.
And as we’ve seen of late, home court has indeed been an advantage for Boston which comes into tonight’s game having won its last seven at home, which includes the first four games of a current six-game home stand.
The success Boston has had thus far has raised the expectations of many.
And while Grousbeck certainly wants to see the Celtics have more success than they have had the last couple of years in the playoffs, there’s no mistaking he is pleased with the direction of the franchise that just four years ago was a lottery team.
“There’s no reason to put a ceiling on the season,” Grousbeck said. “I think this season already looks good to me. I love our coach. I love our young players. I love our draft picks and our potential cap room (this summer); all of our fans. So I’m already happy with where the team is going.
Grousbeck added with a grin, “If we can speed it up all the better.”
Jerod Mayo still has faith in New England Patriots cornerback Cyrus Jones.
The cornerback, who was the Patriots' top pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, struggled mightily in his rookie season. He fumbled his way out of a role on special teams, where he served as a returner.
He then failed to perform at nickel cornerback, and the Patriots traded for Eric Rowe, who pushed Jones down the depth chart and often onto the inactives on game day. Jones' emotional outburst during Week 5 when he got ejected for punching Browns receiver Andrew Hawkins didn't help.
Despite all that, Mayo thinks Jones will turn things around.
"I think Cyrus Jones will probably be most improved this year," Mayo said in the latest edition of "The Ex Pats" podcast. "I want people to remember a rookie [Matthew] Slater. A rookie Matt Slater was terrible. He would sit here on this podcast and tell you he's terrible, and I think Cyrus Jones is more athletic than Matthew Slater. I think -- I know for a fact, because I've seen it time and time again, the biggest leap not only in athleticsm but also in confidence is from year one to year two."
Jones admitted to the Baltimore Sun that his rookie was "hell." He added he felt "embarrassed." The 23-year-old cornerback said he didn't feel like he was a part of New England's Super Bowl LI win.
“Failure is another opportunity to begin again more intelligently,” Jones wrote in a now-deleted Instagram post.
Mayo seems to think Jones has learned his lesson, and will rebound with the help of Bill Belichick. And the Patriots may need Butler to be the most-improved player. Malcolm Butler's future with New England has become uncertain, and the remaining top cornerbacks are over 6-feet.
The Patriots need a slot corner. Jones is the next man up.
"As much as the media has kind of battered this young kid, Bill's going to boost him up this entire offseason," Mayo said. "Bill -- he's the best at putting lowlights up after a game . . . But during the offseason, he kind of -- it's individualized coach. He knows this guy's confidence is in the toilet. He's going to boost him up as much as possible.
"You know [Jones] can play football. He played in the SEC. He played on the top team on the country, and was a standout performer. So this is a confidence issue. This entire thing is a confidence issue, and I think they fix that."