Sox looking for late-inning arms to replace Bard

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Sox looking for late-inning arms to replace Bard

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- If Daniel Bard is as successful as he hopes in making the transition from bullpen to starting rotation, the Red Sox will have to find someone else to handle the high-leverage innings that Bard handled so well for the last 2 12 seasons.

There are a number of candidates, including right-hander Mark Melancon, who has late-inning experience with the Houston Astros.

But manager Bobby Valentine isn't showing his hand when it comes to his bullpen plans.

"I think the talent will dictate that,'' said Valentine. "I don't have a puzzle that I'm trying to fit pieces into; I'm going to take the pieces and make the puzzle. We'll see what we have.''

Among the candidates for Bard's old role: Melancon, Alfredo Aceves and Matt Albers.

Aceves could either start or take over Bard in the set-up role.

"He can do either or,'' said Valentine. "We'll see how that plays out and see how his health plays out. He was very healthy last year. He looks in great shape right now. He's a very determined pitcher and athlete.

"Those innings (last year) -- 90 valuable innings is pretty valuable in meaningful ballgames.''

One problem could arise if both Bard and Aceves become starters is the Red Sox will have to somehow find a way to replace almost 165 innings.

"It's a concern,'' admitted Valentine, "but I don't what else there is. We'll have to see what the other members of this 2012 version can do. When we can see what they can do and how they fit into place, we'll know if we're adding or subtracting from last year or if we're building something totally different and new.''

Andrew Hawkins celebrates joining Patriots with 'Ballers' spoof

Andrew Hawkins celebrates joining Patriots with 'Ballers' spoof

Andrew Hawkins' situation isn't far off from a character in HBO's "Ballers." And he played into those connections with a video on Twitter.

The slot receiver, who signed with the Patriots on Wednesday, shares some similarities with the fictional football player Rickey Jerret, a veteran receiver who wades through interest from a number of teams, including New England, during free agency. Because of those similarities, Hawkins spoofed on a scene from "Ballers" where Jerret works out with Patriots receivers Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola. Hawkins imposes his face over Jerret's.

Coyotes hire Craig Cunningham as scout

Coyotes hire Craig Cunningham as scout

The Coyotes have hired former player Craig Cunningham as a pro scout, keeping the 26-year-old in hockey after a cardiac episode ended his playing career this season. 

Drafted by the Bruins in the fourth round of the 2010 draft, Cunningham played 34 games for Boston over parts of two seasons before he was waived and claimed by Arizona. He totaled 19 games for the Coyotes, but served as captain of the Tucson Roadrunners, the team’s AHL affiliate. 

Cunningham was hospitalized after he collapsed during pregame warmups on Nov. 19. He was kept alive by continual CPR, but had his lower left leg amputated the next months due to an infection from the episode. 

Known as a high-character player who was popular with his teammates, Cunningham’s transition to scouting lets him further his career after a scary break. 

"I'm very excited to begin the next chapter of my life with the Coyotes," Cunningham said in a statement released by the team. "I'm very grateful to John Chayka, Dave Tippett, the Coyotes and Roadrunners organizations, and all of the great fans across Arizona for the incredible support I've received over the past year. I'm looking forward to helping the Coyotes and I can't wait to get started in my new role."

Said Chayka, the team’s general manager: ”We're thrilled to have Craig join our hockey operations department as a pro scout. Craig was a smart, hard-working player with an incredible passion for the game. We're confident that he will bring those same qualities to the Coyotes in his new role and that he will be an invaluable asset to our organization. We look forward to Craig helping us in several areas and are excited that he is staying with the club."