Sox have outfield options despite Crawford surgery

644668.jpg

Sox have outfield options despite Crawford surgery

With the news that Carl Crawford underwent an arthroscopic procedure on his left wrist Tuesday and may not be ready for Opening Day, the Red Sox, who were already challenged by their outfield depth, face an even bigger challenge.

The Sox currently have outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury, Ryan Kalish, Che-Hsuan Lin, Darnell McDonald, Ryan Sweeney and Mike Aviles, in addition to Crawford,on their 40-man roster. Kalish missed most of last season because of injuries, underwent surgery on his neck and shoulder this offseason, and is not expected to be available until June. Lin was promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket last season and added to the 40-man in November. Aviles appeared in five games in the outfield for the Sox last season for the first time in his professional career, but has played in Puerto Rico this offseason to game some more experience there.

We expect Carl to be back and recovered from this hopefully early in the season, Sox general manager Ben Cherington said on a conference call Tuesday. So we dont think it changes much with regard to the outfield mix. Well certainly keep our eyes open if theres way to sort of protect ourselves. Well look for that between now and spring training. But right now we feel like we have some options even if Carls not ready quite on Opening Day.

Certainly Ellsbury will be in center. Sweeney will be a big part of our outfield mix. We still have Darnell on the roster, whos done a very good job. We sent Aviles to Puerto Rico to play some outfield. So hell, Im sure, see some time out there during spring training. And, again, if theres ways to build depth and add to that mix between now and spring training or during spring training, well certainly keep our eyes open for that. But dont think this changes much in terms of the outfield mix, the overall outfield mix for the 2012 season.

Whether Aviles will see more time in the outfield or infield this season remains to be seen. The same day the Sox lost infielder Jed Lowrie in a trade with the Astros in December for right-hander Mark Melancon, they signed infielder Nick Punto as a free agent.

I think time will tell, Cherington said. But we have Punto and Puntos done a really good job as a utility infielder and good defender at a bunch of different spots. We know Aviles can play the infield. Outfield is newer to him. He got exposed, as you guys know, a little bit last year. But then he played more this winter in Puerto Rico and I expect hell get some work out there in spring training and well just have to keep watching.
"But hes a guy that we want to try to get on the field because we think he can hit, we think he can help us. So perhaps thats an opportunity for him to do that. But thats something that manager Bobby Valentine and the staff will work out during spring training.

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.

“I’m excited to be back out there,” Bradley said. “I can’t wait for the game to start.”

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said Bradley will play with a minutes restriction for the first week, and adjust accordingly.

“I wanted to come back four weeks ago,” Bradley said. “But I have to do what’s smartest. Those (medical) guys know better than me. It was tough listening to them. But we came to a compromise I guess you could say and I can play tonight. I’m happy with that decision.”

Bradley said the training staff wanted him to get more practices playing at the level he’s accustomed to, prior to returning to action.

But with the Celtics’ schedule, practice time would be few and far between so limiting his minutes initially is indeed a compromise of sorts.

Although rookie 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

cardinals_chandler_jones_022717.jpg

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.