Sullinger sets Celtics' season high with 16 rebounds


Sullinger sets Celtics' season high with 16 rebounds

BOSTON -- Last June, Jared Sullinger waited for his name to be called in the 2012 NBA Draft. Twenty players were chosen before the Celtics selected him with the 21st overall pick, a move they were excited to make that late into the first round.
The Celtics praised Sullinger's rebounding early on. While many teams passed on the forward due to concerns of a herniated disc, the Celtics were looking for size and brought him on board.
Seven months later, the rookie set a new team season high with 16 rebounds (including five offensive) against the Phoenix Suns.
"You've got to have a go-get-it attitude when it comes to rebounding," said Sullinger. "And that's what I have."
Sullinger has been a welcomed addition on a team that has struggled on the glass over the years. He is averaging 5.7 rebounds this season, including 10.0 per game during the Celtics four-game winning streak.
"I keep saying, 'Rebounds translate,'" said head coach Doc Rivers. "Most of the great rebounders aren't that tall when you think about it. They're big, they're physical, and they have great instincts. I think that's the number one thing. You have them big, you have them thin. Dennis Rodman was tall and thin -- he got all the rebounds. Just think about the list of great rebounders. They just have a knack for the ball, and they have great hands, every single one of them."
Sullinger's development over the season has given point guard Rajon Rondo a partner in transition. With Sullinger (6-foot-9, 260 pounds) crashing the glass and getting Rondo the outlet pass, the team has more opportunities for fast breaks.
"He gets the ball out quick," said Rondo. "When he gets the rebound, he doesn't hold it, he doesn't worry about a turnover. He just tries to get the outlet to me as quick as possible. To play with a big like that, it's big for our team so we can get to the break and get mismatches in transition."Said Kevin Garnett, "His timing, body positioning, he has the perfect body for rebounding. He can take the pounding and bump a little bit, he has great anticipation when it comes to the ball, and he has great hands. Put all that in the pot, you got Jared Sullinger. That's what makes him great."
The 20-year-old is quickly making an impression around the league. Following the Celtics win over the Suns, Marcin Gortat praised Sullinger after his first game against him.
"He's a talented, young big man, strong, big body," Gortat said. "Quite honestly, we focused on totally different guys. We focused on KG (Kevin Garnett), we focused on Brandon Bass, and we tried to make sure these guys aren't going to get going. That's just how it is. There's a lot of new, young studs coming into the league who are just impressing every night. That's how it was with me. Everybody was focusing back in the day on Dwight and I was doing the homework.
"One day it's not going to be easy for him because people will learn he's a good big man who can rebound the ball and who can get you a few buckets."
With others taking notice of his emergence, Sullinger isn't concerned about the teams that passed on him last summer. He is proving his future in the league is one to watch.
"I could care less," he said of his draft pick. "We're winning. We won four in a row, so that's my main focus is winning. Last June was behind me."

Drellich: Red Sox could have delivered better message on concussions

Drellich: Red Sox could have delivered better message on concussions

BOSTON — The right thing for a player to do, if a player has concussion-like symptoms, is report them immediately. For the player’s own health. 

Red Sox manager John Farrell on Saturday afternoon was not critical of Josh Rutledge’s apparent choice to keep the symptoms to himself. Rather, he praised Rutledge’s competitive spirit. 

Farrell was backing up his player, which is his job — to an extent. Concussions, minor as they can sometimes seem, are not the arena where a major league manager should deliver anything but a uniform message to the public: tell someone what you’re feeling.

Rutledge was in Friday’s lineup before he was scratched late because of what was announced as left hip soreness. On Saturday, the Red Sox announced he went to the seven-day disabled list with a concussion that is believed to have occurred May 29 in Chicago, almost a month ago.

“There was a play, when Pedey [Dustin Pedroia] came out of the game on Memorial Day in Chicago, Rut replaced him,” Farrell said. “There was a diving play that he made in center field and that’s the one event that he can pinpoint to that might have been the cause for it. So while he was dealing with some symptoms along the way, felt like he was going to be able to manage them but they really manifested themselves yesterday to the point where he had to say something. 

“The lack of focus, the loss of spin on certain pitches while he was hitting, that became more evident. And then when he went through the ImPACT [Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Test] and the assessment, there were a number of fields that they test for that indicates he’s got a concussion.”

Asked if in a perfect world, Rutledge would have said something about the concussion symptoms right away, Farrell said Rutledge would have done so within a couple days.

“But again, the fact that he can’t — I mean, he pinpoints that one event,” Farrell said. “But feeling like he may get past those. I mean, perfect world is a player who [does] as he did. He’s trying to compete and give you everything he has. But at the same time, particularly with a concussion, we don’t know anything until a player indicates. So I can’t fault him for wanting to stay on the field.”

What manager wouldn’t love a player who wants to stay on the field? But that can’t be the bottom-line message when it comes to head injuries.

Farrell was asked if the amount of time between when the concussion was believed to be suffered and the diagnosis meant there was a hole in baseball’s concussion protocol.

“No. There isn’t,” Farrell said. “This is very much a two-way street. When a player doesn’t want to succumb to some of the symptoms at the time he was dealing with — and I fully respect Rut for taking the approach he did. Here’s a guy that’s dealt with some injuries along the way. Didn’t want to make excuses for the slump that he might have been in offensively. But it grew to the point where he couldn’t continue on.”

The point is to never let it grow in the first place. From May 30 on, Rutledge hit .169 with 22 strikeouts and four walks spanning 16 starts and 19 games.

Rutledge, a Rule 5 pick for whom playing time is extra valuable, won’t be the last player to attempt to play through a concussion. He has a responsibility to speak up. Publicly, Farrell did not hammer home that message Saturday.

Eduardo Rodriguez slated to start in Double-A Thursday; could return early July

Eduardo Rodriguez slated to start in Double-A Thursday; could return early July

BOSTON — Helped by a custom knee brace, starter Eduardo Rodriguez could make an early July return to the Red Sox if all goes right from here.

The lefty threw a sim game Saturday at Fenway Park, his first time facing hitters since a right knee subluxation at the start of June. He’s to stay on a five-day schedule and is slated to start for Double-A Portland on Thursday if he comes out of Saturday feeling well.

Rodriguez threw 68 pitches Saturday, manager John Farrell said, and is to throw 75-80 for Portland.

"The key for me is seeing the height of the leg kick,” Farrell said. “The brace that he's wearing now gives him such a greater feeling of stability in the knee that he can be more assertive with the lower half, so the delivery is much more Eddie-like than when he had to adjust in that game in Baltimore.”

One rehab start would be ideal, Farrell said. Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said on Friday that Doug Fister could theoretically move to the bullpen upon Rodriguez's return. That’s still a few steps away, though. 

One, Rodriguez needs to get all the way back. Two, Fister needs to perform well enough that the Sox feel he’s worth holding on to. Fister’s first start is to come Sunday.

Rodriguez's progress has been encouraging to the Sox since he began to rehab. Without a setback, he'd return before the All-Star break, setting the team up well for the second half.