From Comcast SportsNetCINCINNATI (AP) -- Reds manager Dusty Baker returned to Cincinnati on Sunday after spending four days in a Chicago hospital getting treated for an irregular heartbeat.Baker missed the Reds' 6-0 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday that clinched the NL Central title. Doctors wanted to keep him one more night to make sure he had fully recovered.The 63-year-old manager was released from the hospital on Sunday. He met with players in the clubhouse at Great American Ball Park after batting practice, but didn't stay around for a game against the Dodgers.The Reds are off on Monday, giving Baker a day to rest before the start of a home series against Milwaukee."I'm managing tonight and hopefully with the day off tomorrow and him getting a good, relaxing night at home, (we'll) come back on Tuesday and see how he feels," bench coach Chris Speier said. "So yeah, it's great news."Baker's 13-year-old son, Darren, was in the clubhouse.Baker was hospitalized on Wednesday when the Reds were in Chicago playing the Cubs. He's had an irregular heartbeat for some time.The Reds had hoped he'd be back in time to see the team clinch its second division title in the past three years with Baker as manager.General manager Walt Jocketty texted him when the game ended on Saturday night, and the players toasted Baker in the clubhouse before spraying each other with beer and champagne.Speier rested several veterans for the final game of the series Sunday night against Los Angeles, which opened the day three games behind St. Louis for the final NL wild card spot.Left fielder Ryan Ludwick got a fourth straight day off to rest a sore groin, and third baseman Scott Rolen got to rest his back.Right fielder Jay Bruce and shortstop Zack Cozart also were out of the lineup. The Reds went 32-16 with first baseman Joey Votto out of the lineup because of a knee injury, successfully moving players around and changing the lineup.With the division title wrapped up, Speier had to balance trying to win games -- Cincinnati started the day tied with Washington for most wins in the majors at 92 -- while resting players to get them ready for the postseason."I don't think that's too difficult," Speier said. "I think with our personnel, we've put a competitive team out there every day. But again, we're going to take care of ourselves and make sure the people that need a day or two to get their injuries under wraps will have those. But I don't think that's going to be hard."Left-hander Aroldis Chapman finished the 6-0 win on Saturday, pitching the ninth inning. He'd been sidelined since Sept. 11 with a tired pitching shoulder that had his velocity down to the mid-90s. He was throwing 99 mph again on Saturday."I thought he looked good," Speier said. "I was happy that when he was off the strike zone, it was down. That's a good sign."I know he was anxious to get back out there. It was a good position for him to kind of have a soft landing, just go out and get that inning in because we're going to need him in the playoffs."Speier planned to use him in a non-save role again before moving him back into the closer position."We're definitely easing him back into that situation," Speier said. "Maybe another time or two out of the bullpen and then we'll see what happens."
Tom E. Curran and our Boston Sports Tonight crew debate whether the New England Patriots could have restructured Malcolm Butler's contract like they did Rob Gronkowski's.
CLEVELAND – There are 240 minutes of play in an NBA game, but Boston’s 112-99 Game 4 loss to Cleveland came down to seven (six minutes and 46 seconds to be precise).
That would be the amount of time left in the second quarter that LeBron James spent on the bench with four personal fouls (a first for him in the first half of an NBA playoff game ever) and Boston ahead by 10 points.
Boston could not have asked for a better scenario than that, especially considering how well they had played up to that point in the game and again, knowing that James wasn’t about to set foot back on the court until the third quarter.
But here’s the problem.
Boston’s 10-point lead when James left with four fouls.
Halftime rolled around and Boston’s lead was still at just 10 points.
Celtics players agreed that not finding a way to increase their lead with James out was among the more pivotal stretches of play in Game 4.
“They did a really good job of not letting it (the 10-point lead) get out of control while he was on the bench,” Boston’s Marcus Smart told CSNNE.com. “Every time we scored, they came back and scored. They answered back with everything we answered.”
While many will point to that stretch as a time when the Celtics failed to make the necessary adjustments to increase their chances of winning, it wasn’t as if the Cavs are a one-man team.
“They still have two All-Stars out on the court,” said Boston’s head coach Brad Stevens, referring to Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. “With the best player in the world they go to unreal, but they’re still a pretty darned good team when those guys are out there.”
Irving had a playoff career-high 42 points which included him scoring 12 of Cleveland’s 14 points in the final 6:46 of the second with James on the bench.
“He’s one of the best point guards in the NBA, and you know, you can tell he puts in a lot of work in his game, a lot of respect from myself, my teammates,” said Avery Bradley. “We have to do a better job at defending him as a unit, trying to make everything hard on him. He definitely got a great rhythm going tonight, and I felt like we had a chance to make it harder on him.”
James still finished with a strong stat line for the night – 34 points, six assists, five rebounds and a blocked shot.
As good as he was on the court, the Celtics have to be kicking themselves for not doing more with the time James on the bench in the second quarter which in hindsight, was among the bigger factors in them now returning home facing elimination as opposed to being tied at two games apiece in this series.
“What are you going to do?” said Cleveland’s Kevin Love. “You have to continue to fight through it. At halftime, we were down 10. We made some adjustments on the defensive end and we just fought; we needed to. They got everything out of us tonight in that second half, but we played more inspired basketball as well.”