Sox bullpen in the middle of team's first loss

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Sox bullpen in the middle of team's first loss

DETROIT -- After all the upheaval in the Red Sox bullpen over the last week, it was almost inevitable that the club's relievers would play a role -- one way or another -- in Boston's season opener against the Tigers.

Sure enough, they did. And not in a way the Sox would have liked.

Following Jon Lester's seven-inning outing in which he allowed just one run, the bullpen figured in a big way to the 3-2 walkoff loss to Detroit.

The combination of Vicente Padilla and Franklin Morales resulted in a run in the eighth before Mark Melancon and newly-minted closer Alfredo Aceves combined to allow the winning run in the bottom of the ninth.

Padilla allowed a leadoff triple to Austin Jackson in the eighth, and after a groundout, walked Miguel Cabrera intentionally. With Prince Fielder due next, Bobby Valentine went to the lefthanded Morales, who got Fielder to hit a weak fly ball to shallow center.

Ellsbury charged the ball, but his throw hit the mound and caromed off line as Jackson scored, giving the Tigers a 2-0 lead.

After the Sox had rallied off closer Jose Valverde to score twice and tie the game, Valentine went with Melancon, who quickly gave up back-to-back one-out singles, putting the potential winning run in scoring position.

"It was a tie game on the road,'' explained Valentine. "So Melancon's was going to get the inning out and as soon as it got to be a jeopardy situation, I wanted to try and close the door with the last guy who's going to be the closer.''

Melancon was asked if he had been given a quick hook by his manager.

"Yeah, a little bit,'' he said. "But (second-guessing the manager) isn't my job. My job is to get outs.''

That became Aceves's job, too, thought Valentine conceded that he thought about allowing Aceves to start the inning fresh.

"But with the righthanders coming up,'' Valentine said, "I didn't think there was any reason Mark couldn't start that inning.''

Valentine conceded, however, that bringing in his closer (Aceves) into a tie game on the road was "not very'' customary.

"Same approach all the time,'' offered Aceves. "I'm trying to get the hitters out. It doesn't matter if its the ninth or the eighth... The manager has to make his own decision and we have to be out there ready to help. That's the way I think.''

Aceves inherited a first-and-second jam with one out, then made matters worse when a tailing breaking ball caught Ramon Santiago's foot, loading the bases.

That brought Jackson to the plate with the bases loaded and one out. Valentine moved the infield in, but Jackson was able to slap a single just past the reach of third baseman Nick Punto.

"I wanted to get ahead (in the count),'' said Aceves, "which I did, and get a ground ball. Make him make contract and put the ball in play and see what happens.''

What happened was a game-winning, walkoff single, and the Red Sox bullpen, in the middle of the news for the last week, was in the middle of the team's first loss of the season.

Avery Bradley (Achilles) returning to Celtics lineup vs. Hawks

Avery Bradley (Achilles) returning to Celtics lineup vs. Hawks

BOSTON – The wait is finally over for the Boston Celtics and Avery Bradley.
 
Bradley will return to the Celtics starting lineup tonight after having missed the previous 18 games (and 22 out of 23) with a right Achilles injury.
 
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said Bradley will play with a minutes restriction for the first week, and adjust accordingly.
 
Although Jaylen Brown has done a solid job filling in for Bradley with the first unit, Stevens had every intention of Bradley returning as a starter.
 
“He’s our starting two-guard,” Stevens said. “We started the year really well as far as that group playing together. We haven’t had that group playing together very often. Jaylen and Marcus (Smart) are both able to give us a lot off the bench as well as if we need to plug them into a (starting) lineup later on. We feel good about that.”
 
As far as handling Bradley’s minutes this week, Stevens has a very simple approach to what he needs to do.
 
“I’m just going to play him in the first couple of stints,” Stevens said. “And when his minutes run out he won’t play anymore. It is hard if you’re trying to save minutes for the end. I’m not sure that makes a lot of sense with getting stiff, sitting for a long time, coming off a long lay-off.”
 
Bradley is the Celtics’ second-leading scorer at 17.7 points per game along with a team-high 6.9 rebounds. A first-team All-NBA Defender last season, Bradley is also shooting a career-high 40.9 percent from 3-point range.

Arizona Cardinals place franchise tag on Chandler Jones

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Arizona Cardinals place franchise tag on Chandler Jones

PHOENIX - The Arizona Cardinals, in an anticipated move, have placed a non-exclusive franchise tag on outside linebacker Chandler Jones after failing to reach a long-term deal with the player.

The non-exclusive tag allows the Cardinals to continue negotiating with Jones through July 15. If another team makes him an offer, Arizona can either match it or receive two first-round draft picks.

It's unlikely that any team would express interest in Jones, however, given what it would cost.

Under the franchise tag, Jones would receive about $15 million for the coming season.

Acquired in a trade with New England a year ago, Jones had 11 sacks, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and 15 tackles for loss last season

Jones has 25 1-2 sacks over the past two seasons, third-most in the NFL over that span.

The Cardinals' move came two days before the NFL deadline for making franchise designations.

It also came on Jones' 27th birthday, prompting teammate David Johnson to tweet "Happy BDay to `The Man,' `Mr. Franchise' himself.....The one and only."

The franchise tag move came as no surprise.

Club President Michael Bidwill has stated all along that Jones would not be going anywhere, that the team didn't make the trade - sending guard Jonathan Cooper and a second-round draft pick to New England - to keep him just for one season.

"We're not going to mess around with that," Bidwill said in a recent interview on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. "He's a great pass rusher, but if we can't agree to terms that work for us, we're just going to franchise him, and his people know that."

Jones immediately upgraded what had been an average Cardinals pass rush at best. His fellow outside linebacker Markus Golden had 12 1-2 sacks and seven tackles for loss. Together they form one of the better outside pass rush combinations in the NFL.

By all accounts, the contract talks with Jones have been cordial and Jones has said he wants to stay in Arizona.

"I love it here," he said near the end of last season. "I love the vibe that the people give off and I can see myself being here for a long time."

Chandler heads a long list of free agents that the Cardinals must either re-sign or let go. That group includes starters defensive tackle Calais Campbell, safety Tony Jefferson and inside linebacker Kevin Minter.