Wakeup Call: Those Drew-to-Boston rumors just won't die

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Wakeup Call: Those Drew-to-Boston rumors just won't die

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy andor interesting tidbits -- for Wednesday, November 21:

AUTO RACING
Danica Patrick is divorcing her husband of seven years. (AP)

BASEBALL
The Stephen Drew-to-the-Red Sox rumor just won't die. (NBC's Hardball Talk)

Sox killer Robert Andino is on his way to Seattle. (AP)

Buck Showalter calls losing Andino "a tug on my heart". (CSN Baltimore)

If anybody's interested in Chone Figgins, he's available. (AP)

Old friend DeMarlo Hale may turn up in Toronto as bench coach. (CSN Baltimore)

Hiroki Kuroda got a short-on-time, big-on-money contract to stay with the Yankees. (AP)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
The Big East takes another hit, as Rutgers bolts for the Big Ten. (AP)

And the exodus may not be over, as the ACC apparently is targeting UConn, Louisville, South Florida or Cincinnati as potential replacements for Maryland. (CSN Philly)

Yet more woes for the Big East: One of its teams gets knocked off -- at home, no less -- by an Ivy League school. (CSN Philly)

At least one of its football-only members isn't going anywhere . . . despite rumors to the contrary. (AP)

Some vacation: No. 9 North Carolina went all the way to Hawaii to lose to unranked Butler. (AP)

No. 1 Indiana needed overtime to pull one out over Georgetown. (AP)

The Hoyas have been contacted by Florida about finishing the game that started on the USS Bataan, which was called at halftime -- with the Gators leading, 27-23 -- because of condensation on the court. (AP)

Georgia women's coach Andy Landers recorded his 800th career victory. (AP)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
Well, well. The Notre Dame-USC game just got a little more interesting. (NBC's College Football Talk)

After 11 years as head coach, Jeff Tedford's out at Cal. (AP)

The Bears better not send any alumni solicitation letters to Aaron Rodgers in the wake of Tedford's firing. (NBC's Pro Football Talk)

UTEP's Mike Price is calling it quits, ending his 31-year head-coaching career. (CSN Houston)

Maryland is barely competitive in the ACC, so how does it expect to survive in the Big Ten? But coach Randy Edsall insists that with "what we're building here and the depth we're creating, there's no doubt we will be able to compete and do well". (AP)

If President Obama can pardon turkeys, why not Ohio State? (College Football Talk)

GOLF
Rory McIlroy will break Tiger Woods' record for earnings in a single season if he wins the season-ending Dubai World Championship. (AP)

Looks like the belly putter is on the way out . . . much to Paul Azinger's dismay. (AP)

HOCKEY
Yeah, they're going to meet again today. No, no one expects much to come of it. (AP)

While things look bleak at the moment, a deal could be struck if the NHL moves on contracting rights and the NHLPA moves on economics. (NBC's Pro Hockey Talk)

The players have stood firm so far throughout this dispute. But if they don't bend a little on the escrow issue, they may not play this season. (CSN Washington)

Believe it or not, there have been some agreements in the talks so far. (Pro Hockey Talk)

PRO BASKETBALL
The Mike D'Antoni Era in L.A. begins with a victory. (AP)

It's been a month since his knee surgery and Dirk Nowitzki still has no idea when he'll play again. (AP)

PRO FOOTBALL
Turns out Ed Reed won't have to sit out a game after all, but he's still not sure why he was suspended in the first place. (CSN Baltimore)

Tim Dobbins and the Texans didn't agree with the 30,000 fine Dobbins received for the hit that caused Jay Cutler's concussion. Turns out Cutler didn't agree with it, either. (CSN Chicago)

Cutler says he's "as normal as can be", but still has some "hoops to jump through" -- medically speaking, that is -- before he'll be cleared to play. (AP)

Ben Roethlisberger won't play this weekend, but the Steelers are "encouraged about his status" . . . whatever that means. (NBC's Pro Football Talk)

Whenever Roethlisberger returns, he'll have a newold target to throw to. (AP)

Jim Harbaugh skipped his day-after-game conference call with the media to visit his heart doctor for a follow-up evaluation on the procedure he underwent last week. (CSN Bay Area)

Yet another case of not checking those darn ingredients of an over-the-counter medication -- or so says his agent -- has resulted in a four-game PED suspension for Seahawks rookie Winston Guy. (AP)

Down in Miami, one ex-Patriot, Jabar Gaffney, is out, and another ex-Patriot, Kyle Miller, is in. (AP)

TENNIS
Rafael Nadal, who's been sidelined since Wimbledon because of a knee injury, is targeting the Australian Open for his return. (AP)

Does uncertainty for Carson Smith mean Red Sox need bullpen help?

Does uncertainty for Carson Smith mean Red Sox need bullpen help?

BOSTON — Tyler Thornburg’s gone for the season and there’s really no telling when the other set-up man the Sox expected to help in 2017, Carson Smith, will be back.

The Sox have already made inroads, if minor ones, in bolstering their third-base situation and rotation. Smith’s situation leaves a question of whether the Sox will need to pursue help in the bullpen as well.

There's not an easy answer to settle on at this point.

For one, the timetable with the right-hander Smith — whose shoulder has bothered him on the way back from Tommy John surgery — isn’t clear.

“He's in a no-throw [time] through the weekend,” Sox manager John Farrell said Friday afternoon at Fenway Park. “He'll be reevaluated on Monday to hopefully initiate a throwing program. He's responding favorably to the treatment. He continues to rehab as he's been. We have not closed the book in a sense on anything Carson can contribute this year.”

What does this year mean, though? Will they be able to know by July, by the trade deadline?

“Still too early to tell,” Farrell said. “We thought he was days from starting his rehab assignment after his last live BP session in New York [on June 6]. Unfortunately, that was put on hold for the time being. To get into any kind of timeframes, timetables, I don't know that any of us can predict that right now.”

The Sox relievers have done extraordinarily well without either Thornburg or Smith. Can that continue without reinforcements? The bullpen’s ERA entering Friday was 2.94, the second best mark in the majors. Its innings total, 217, was the second. lowest in the majors. 

So it’s not like the entire group is about to collapse from fatigue. But a guy like Joe Kelly, for example, isn’t someone the Sox want to use back to back.

It’s a young group and ultimately an inexperienced group. But Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has already fallen into the trap of trading for premium set-up men twice, and that’s a dangerous road to pursue again. Perhaps a smaller trade makes more sense.

“Well, at this point, we’re open minded to help,” Dombrowski said when asked if he was targeting either third-base or relief help. “I’m not going to get into specifics at this time on what else we’re looking for. Keep an open mind on a lot of ways on which we can improve. We have guys coming back and both the spots, I think Carson Smith is very important to us and our bullpen has pitched great. The other day, we struggled but that was one of the few times we really struggled all year. 

“I think Carson still has a chance to come back and help us this year.”

 

Pedroia returns

Dustin Pedroia (ribcage) was out of the initial Red Sox lineup on Friday but was later added. Farrell said in the afternoon that Pedroia would be available by emergency Fridayand expected to be back in the lineup Saturday, but clearly, something changed.

Blake Griffin opts out of Clippers contract, becoming free agent

Blake Griffin opts out of Clippers contract, becoming free agent

According to multiple reports, Blake Griffin has opted out of his contract with the Clippers, making him a free agent. 

Griffin is considered one of the top free agents in a class that will also include Utah’s Gordon Hayward. The Celtics have been reported as possible suitors for both players. 

The first overall pick in the 2009 draft, the 28-year-old Griffin is a five-time All-Star, though injuries have limited him over the last three seasons. 

Over 61 games, the 6-foot-10 power forward averaged 21.6 points, 8.1 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game last season. Between numerous injuries and a suspension for hitting a member of the Clippers’ equipment staff, Griffin was limited to just 31 games in the 2015-16 season. 

Adrian Wojnarowski said recently that Boston’s reception for Clippers teammate Paul Pierce made a very strong impression on Griffin. Though there might not necessarily be a connection between the two, Griffin said on Barstool Sports’ “Pardon My Take” that Boston is on his Mt. Rushmore of NBA cities.