Sports – Press Herald Sat, 19 Aug 2017 08:01:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Maines’ coaching success was all in the details Sat, 19 Aug 2017 08:00:00 +0000 The way T.J. Maines remembers it, it should have been a rout on that December evening back in 1990. The Morse High boys’ basketball team was hosting its annual Christmas tournament and taking the court in front of 2,000 fans against Catholic Memorial, a powerhouse program out of Boston.

“They had a kid going to Boston College, they had a kid that went (NCAA) Division II, they had two kids that were really high-level Division III guys,” remembered Maines, then a senior at Morse. “And we had our team, and there were a couple of us (who) played Division III, and that’s it. They should have killed us.”

Tom Maines, the Morse coach and T.J.’s father, didn’t believe it. And he didn’t let his players think that way, either.

“My father said ‘We’re going to press them, we’re going to do exactly what we do,'” said T.J., now the head coach at Cony. “We ended up winning the game. We played probably the best game I ever played and probably my teammates ever played.”

Such examples of basketball acumen and inspirational savvy were the norm from Tom Maines throughout a high school coaching career that spanned parts of five decades. Maines turned programs into winners and Morse into a juggernaut, winning three straight Class A titles from 1987-89 en route to 369 career victories – accomplishments that have earned him induction into the Maine Basketball Hall of Fame on Sunday at Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.

Maines’ impact wasn’t just felt on the court. He founded the Maine Association of Basketball Coaches, began the push for what is the Maine McDonald’s High School All-Star Game, and linked the varsity teams with community youth programs at each of his stops.

“It’s a wonderful feeling. I’ve said my whole career, I tried to make Maine basketball better,” said Maines, a 70-year-old Windsor native. “It’s my state. I’m very proud to be a Maine resident my whole life, so it’s going to be a very proud moment for me.”

His head coaching career ran from 1973 to 2011, but he made his biggest mark at Morse from 1981-93, establishing a program that stifled opponents with an up-tempo style that became his signature.

“He was ahead of his time,” said former longtime Colby College coach Dick Whitmore. “Nobody taught the full-court pressing system like Tom did.”

Maines’ prowess as a coach boiled down to his skill as a teacher. His greatest asset was an ability to communicate, and to present complex schemes and concepts in a fashion that could be understood by each of his players. The key is in the details, a truth that Maines knew all too well.

“You can’t teach how to do the whole thing,” he said. “You have to break down each skill into its components, into its parts. Teach the parts, then add to the part until you get back to the skill.”

“He’s hands down the best teacher of the game, and other coaches have said that to me,” T.J. said. “I think that’s something that separates him from everybody, his ability to break stuff down and teach it so that kids and players understand it.”

Maines knew the right way to do things, and he made sure his players did, too. Players were expected to be disciplined, respectful and, above all, focused. There was no bigger sin for a player than not being ready when Maines called his name.

“You had to be dialed in. We were always changing defenses, so you really had to be paying attention to what the defense was that we were in. That was a big part of our advantage, to be able to change the level of our defense on the floor,” said Boothbay Coach Brian Blethen, who played for Maines from 1989-91. “There was such a high standard, you knew what that standard was and you worked your butt off to try to meet that expectation.”

Under Maines’ leadership, Morse thrived. The Shipbuilders made the Class A final in 1986, losing to Portland, then beat Waterville, Brewer and Lawrence for three consecutive titles. Morse became a renowned program throughout the region, drawing some of New England’s best teams to its annual Christmas tournament and playing in front of standing-room only crowds.

“Those were awesome,” Blethen said. “He always sought out the best competition he could find to challenge us and prepare us, and to make us better. … We were always ready for games like that. Those games didn’t intimidate us; we thrived in them because of his intensity.”

From 1985-92, Morse went 27-4 in those games, then set its sights on conquering the rest of Maine come playoff time.

“There was a swagger,” T.J. said. “(Those teams) knew they were good, that they had worked at it, they had put time in.”

The success continued after the championship years. After 10 seniors graduated from the final title team, leaving only three players with varsity experience, Morse went 16-2 the following season on the strength of a feeder system that Maines set up to make sure players were being taught the proper fundamentals as early as elementary school.

And when they reached high school, Maines ensured they got the most out of their development.

“The running and the absolute mental focus that you had to have to get through practice was insane,” T.J. said. “When you went to practice, it wasn’t fun. It was work time.”

It was demanding, but Maines knew it was the formula for success.

“First of all, you’ve got to have kids that are willing to work,” he said. “I’ve got to have a staff willing to coach what I want coached, I’ve got to have parents that keep their mouth shut and are willing to support us as coaches, and an administration that is wanting to achieve excellence. Good things happen when that happens.”

His career provided plenty of proof.

“You have to be lucky to win it all. You have to have everything fall right,” Maines said. “And to do it three years in a row is a great and wonderful accomplishment, with a lot of people responsible. It’s certainly not an isolated thing.”

]]> 0 Maines watches the clock tick down during a 2001 game when he was the boys' basketball coach at Madison High. Maines, who will be inducted into the Maine Basketball Hall of Fame on Sunday, achieved his greatest success at Morse High, winning three straight Class A championships.Fri, 18 Aug 2017 23:39:06 +0000
Major league notebook: Yawkey Foundations ‘disheartened’ by Henry’s comments on Yawkey Way Sat, 19 Aug 2017 03:32:27 +0000 BOSTON — A foundation set up by the former owners of the Boston Red Sox says its “disheartened” its namesake has become embroiled in the national controversy over racially divisive monuments.

The Yawkey Foundations said Friday in a statement to the Associated Press that Jean and Tom Yawkey’s philanthropy was “color blind” and their generosity benefitted thousands of disadvantaged children of all backgrounds.

John Henry, who purchased the franchise from the Yawkey Trust in 2002, wants the city to rename Yawkey Way in front of Fenway Park because he’s “haunted” by the racist legacy of Tom Yawkey.

Yawkey owned the team from 1933 until his death in 1976. The Red Sox were the last Major League Baseball team to field a black player in 1959. The street was named for him in 1977.

CUBS: The team got an encouraging report on Jon Lester before placing the ace left-hander on the 10-day disabled list on Friday.

Lester was examined by team physician Dr. Stephen Gryzlo after he left Chicago’s 13-10 loss to Cincinnati on Thursday in the second inning. He was diagnosed with tightness in his left lat and general shoulder fatigue, but his shoulder and side were deemed structurally sound.

The Cubs are hoping rest will clear up both issues and Lester will be able to return not long after he becomes eligible.

NATIONALS: Max Scherzer was scratched from his scheduled start Friday night and placed on the 10-day disabled list with a sore neck. Scherzer was coming off a 10-strikeout performance against San Francisco.

ROYALS: The team placed reliever Joakim Soria on the disabled list with a left oblique strain and recalled right-hander Kevin McCarthy from Triple-A Omaha.

Manager Ned Yost says Soria had been dealing with stiffness in his left side for about two weeks.

TIGERS: Right-hander Anibal Sanchez hit the 10-day disabled list with left hamstring tightness. Sanchez exited his last start on Wednesday against Texas early.

]]> 0 - In this April 4, 2014 file photo, fans enjoy pre-game festivities along Yawkey Way outside Fenway Park in Boston. Boston Red Sox principal owner John Henry says he wants to take steps to rename all of Yawkey Way, a street that has been an enduring reminder of the franchise's complicated racial past. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)Fri, 18 Aug 2017 23:34:36 +0000
Red Sox blow lead, then rally to top Yankees, 9-6 Sat, 19 Aug 2017 03:29:35 +0000 BOSTON — Neither bullpen could hold a lead Friday night as the Boston Red Sox came back to beat the New York Yankees 9-6 at Fenway Park.

Mitch Moreland’s two-run single capped a four-run seventh inning, putting the Red Sox ahead again after Boston let a 3-0 lead slip away.

Jackie Bradley Jr.’s two-run single in the eighth added insurance.

Boston (70-51) leads the Yankees (65-56) by five games in the American League East.

The Red Sox took a 3-0 lead on home runs by Rafael Devers (with a runner on base) and Christian Vazquez off Yankees starter Jordan Montgomery.

Boston starter Drew Pomeranz looked to be in control until he left the game with one out in the fourth inning because of back spasms.

Brandon Workman relieved and kept the 3-0 lead through the fifth inning.

But then the bullpen faltered.

Matt Barnes gave up a two-run homer to Todd Frazier in the sixth and allowed two more hits. Joe Kelly relieved with two outs and hit Aaron Hicks to load the bases.

In an electric matchup between Kelly’s 100 mph fastballs and Aaron Judge’s power, Judge fouled off four offerings and worked a full count before grounding out to shortstop.

But Gary Sanchez led off the seventh with a towering home run, and New York scored three more runs in the inning against Kelly, Heath Hembree and Robby Scott.

Addison Reed (1-1) got the final two outs of the inning and pitched a scoreless eighth before Craig Kimbrel closed out the win in the ninth.

In the bottom of the seventh, Christian Vazquez singled with one out and Jackie Bradley Jr. walked to chase reliever Chad Green. Tommy Kahnle (1-1), one of the relievers obtained from the Chicago White Sox just before the trade deadline, allowed an infield hit by Eduardo Nunez on a dribbler toward third base. Mookie Betts drove in Vazquez with a sacrifice fly to center and Andrew Benintendi singled home Bradley.

After Hanley Ramirez walked, Moreland pinch hit for Chris Young. He fell behind 0-2, missing two change-ups. He got a third change-up and lined it to center field for a two-run single and a 7-6 lead.

NOTES: Red Sox Manager John Farrell said David Price did not throw again Friday because of stiffness in his sore left elbow. His last threw on Tuesday after throwing three times on flat ground last week.

“He has to build up to an aggressive long-toss situation and build back to the mound. That’s going to take some time. I don’t have a return date at all,” Farrell said.

]]> 0's Andrew Benintendi, right, and Eduardo Nunez celebrate after scoring on a two-run single by Mitch Moreland in the seventh inning Friday night against the Yankees at Fenway Park.Fri, 18 Aug 2017 23:31:13 +0000
Major league roundup: Dodgers win again in return of Adrian Gonzalez Sat, 19 Aug 2017 03:28:37 +0000 DETROIT — Chris Taylor had four hits, including a pair of doubles, and the Los Angeles Dodgers welcomed Adrian Gonzalez back from the disabled list with another victory, beating the Detroit Tigers 8-5 on Friday night.

Gonzalez doubled in his first plate appearance since June 11, one of six two-base hits on the night for Los Angeles. The Dodgers (86-34) have won 20 of their last 23 games and are 51-9 over their last 60.

Rich Hill (9-4) labored through five innings, allowing three runs and six hits, but the Dodgers gave him plenty of support. Corey Seager drove in three runs for Los Angeles, and Logan Forsythe scored three times.

Justin Upton homered twice and Victor Martinez also went deep for the Tigers, but Jordan Zimmermann (7-10) allowed seven runs and 10 hits in 5 1/3 innings.

CUBS 7, BLUE JAYS 4: Jake Arrieta pitched into the seventh inning and allowed one run, Javier Baez homered and drove in three runs, and Chicago won at home.

Anthony Rizzo went 2 for 4 with two RBI, Victor Caratini went 3 for 3, and Jason Heyward and Albert Almora Jr. each had an RBI single for Chicago.

Arrieta (13-8) allowed six hits in 61/3 innings to win his third straight start. Wade Davis got the final three outs for his 25th save.

Ryan Goins had a two-run single and Kevin Pillar hit an RBI double to highlight a three-run eighth for the Blue Jays. Miguel Montero, who began the season with the Cubs, went 2 for 4 with a run scored against his former team.


INDIANS 10, ROYALS 1: Corey Kluber put together another Cy Young-worthy performance before leaving with a sprained right ankle, and Jay Bruce homered twice to help visiting Cleveland rout Kansas City.

Kluber (12-3) was cruising along until he hurt his ankle while covering first on a grounder by Eric Hosmer in the sixth inning. He allowed a homer to Brandon Moss along with five more hits while striking out four and walking one.

ORIOLES 9, ANGELS 7: Manny Machado capped a three-homer night with a grand slam in the bottom of the ninth inning, and Baltimore rallied past Los Angeles in a game that featured 10 home runs.

ASTROS 3, ATHLETICS 1: Dallas Keuchel threw seven shutout innings, Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve homered and host Houston beat Oakland.

Keuchel (11-2) allowed three hits, walked one and struck out three in a dominant performance. Keuchel had his second straight solid outing after allowing one run in 6 2/3 innings Sunday at Texas.

The 2015 AL Cy Young winner retired 14 of the first 15 batters he faced, with the lone hit being a bunt single by Matt Joyce.

Bregman and Altuve hit back-to-back home runs in the third to give Houston a 2-0 lead.

MARINERS 7, RAYS 1: Nelson Cruz hit two doubles and his 30th home run and Erasmo Ramirez won his first game for visiting Seattle since April 1, 2014.

Cruz’s home run was measured by MLB Statcast at 482 feet, the longest in Tropicana Field history.

Ramirez (5-4), who was traded back to the Mariners on July 28 after pitching 2 1/2 seasons with the Rays, gave up one run and two hits in six innings.


CARDINALS 11, PIRATES 10: Matt Carpenter homered in the second inning to send St. Louis on its way to a victory at Pittsburgh.

With the Cardinals leading 2-1 and two outs in the second, Carpenter homered over the center-field wall to extend the lead to 5-1. The Cardinals’ lead reached 11-3 in the eighth.

REDS 5, BRAVES 3: Cincinnati hit three home runs in the sixth, including a two-run shot by Adam Duvall, and Sal Romano threw seven strong innings as the Reds beat R.A. Dickey at Atlanta.

Eugenio Suarez and Jesse Winker added back-to-back homers for Cincinnati’s first three-homer inning of the season.

]]> 0 Gonzalez celebrates after scoring against Detroit in the second inning of the Dodgers' 8-5 road victory Friday night. Gonzalez doubled in first at-bat since June 11.Fri, 18 Aug 2017 23:49:41 +0000
On Baseball: Red Sox need a healthy Pomeranz Sat, 19 Aug 2017 02:59:50 +0000 BOSTON — Such is the unpredictable nature of this 2017 Boston Red Sox team that David Price has been hardly missed. But when the trainer went out to the mound Friday night to check on Drew Pomeranz, there was a gasp at Fenway Park.

Who knew Pomeranz would become so valuable?

The left-hander left Friday night’s game in the fourth inning because of back spasms. We will have to wait to see if this will be a lingering problem.

Pomeranz pitched 31/3 scoreless innings. That gives him a 2.61 ERA since May 20. Only Cleveland’s Corey Kluber (1.85) has been better among American League starting pitchers (Chris Sale is at 2.72).

“He’s more certain with his pitch mix as far as attacking the strike zone,” Boston Manager John Farrell said. “He’s worked at a quicker pace.

“And I think, as he has put (positive) outings under his belt, he’s grown with a lot of confidence.”

The pace used to be slow, the strike zone elusive. Pomeranz’s pitch counts elevated fast. There was the notorious May 20 start where Pomeranz was seen arguing with Farrell in the dugout because he was yanked after throwing 97 pitches in four innings.

Since then, Pomeranz has been in control.

“He’s done an outstanding job with men on base,” Farrell said. “He’s found a way to navigate through a potential big inning and has minimized it.

“That’s been one of the biggest things that has shown up – his ability to get out of the big inning.”

On Friday night, the Yankees were 1 for 8 against Pomeranz with runners on base, and the hit was a harmless Aaron Judge single with two outs in the third inning.

With runners on first and second, Pomeranz struck out Gary Sanchez on a wicked curveball that dropped like a shot put into the dirt as Sanchez swung through it.

It was Pomeranz’s second strikeout of Sanchez. The Yankees slugger was hitting .462 (6 for 13) with three home runs against Pomeranz.

Pomeranz got Sanchez to chase a curve in the first inning, too. His other two strikeouts came on elevated fastballs, against Aaron Hicks and Didi Gregorius.

Pomeranz began the game with six straight fastballs to leadoff hitter Brett Gardner, who lined a single into center field. Then Pomeranz began using his curveball.

He ended up throwing 23 fastballs (90 to 93 mph), 25 curves and just enough cut fastballs (eight) to make it a legitimate mix.

“He has confidence in all his weapons,” Farrell said.

In the fourth, though, Pomeranz’s first pitch was an 89-mph fastball that Gregorius lined to left, but it landed in the glove of a diving Andrew Benintendi.

Chase Headley stepped up, and Pomeranz threw two pitches for balls – an 87 mph fastball and a curveball that sailed outside and to the backstop. Second baseman Eduardo Nunez jogged in to check on Pomeranz, then first baseman Hanley Ramirez joined them. Soon, Farrell and the trainer were out of the dugout.

After a chat on the mound, Pomeranz threw a warmup pitch, then headed toward the dugout.

This isn’t the first time Pomeranz has left a game this year because of an injury.

On March 19, Pomeranz left a spring training start because of tightness in his left triceps muscle. He made his next start five days later.

On May 14, the triceps muscle tightened again and Pomeranz lasted only three innings. Still, he made his next scheduled start.

The Red Sox need Pomeranz to come back. Did Boston fans think they would ever be saying those words? After Dave Dombrowski traded prized pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza to San Diego for Pomeranz last year, there was angst. It did not help that Pomeranz had a 4.59 ERA in his 14 games with Boston.

It didn’t get better when Pomeranz’s ERA was 5.29 in mid-May. But now he’s on a roll. The hope is that his early exit Friday was a cautionary move.

Boston is suddenly having bullpen issues, and David Price may not come back this season. Pomeranz’s health is a priority.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

Twitter: ClearTheBases

]]> 0 Pomeranz, center, has been Boston's second-best starting pitcher this season, but now his health status is uncertain after he left Friday's game against the New York Yankees in the fourth inning because of back spasms.Fri, 18 Aug 2017 23:03:54 +0000
NFL notebook: Bills coach backtracks on Taylor Sat, 19 Aug 2017 02:24:52 +0000 ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Buffalo Bills Coach Sean McDermott didn’t want to be misunderstood on Friday when given a second opportunity to back Tyrod Taylor as the team’s starter.

“I have all the confidence in the world in Tyrod,” McDermott said. “Tyrod’s going to start for us this week, and I look forward to him getting back on track.”

McDermott was put in a position to voice his support for Taylor after providing a noncommittal answer regarding the quarterback’s status immediately following a 20-16 preseason loss Thursday night to the Philadelphia Eagles.

“We’re always going to evaluate everything, and that goes for everything, including the quarterback position,” McDermott said Thursday when asked if he would consider a change in quarterbacks after Taylor and the starting offense sputtered while playing most of the first half.

Whatever doubts were raised by his initial response, McDermott was quick to clarify them on Friday, saying: “By no means was that meant to come across that way.”

Having Taylor’s back doesn’t mean the first-year coach is happy with how his starting offense has played through its first two preseason appearances.

“I want us to get into a rhythm offensively,” he said. “We continue to evolve as an offense. That’s just the second game, keeping the big-picture perspective in mind. But we’ve got to do some things to get the offense on track, there’s no doubt about it.”

The Bills’ starting offense has combined for 165 yards, nine first downs and two field goals over nine drives in the two games, including a 17-10 loss to Minnesota last week.

Accuracy has been an issue for Taylor, who went 8 of 18 for 53 yards and two interceptions in six series against Philadelphia. He was sacked three times.

Meanwhile, rookie fifth-round draft pick Nathan Peterman has jumped ahead of veteran backup T.J. Yates into the No. 2 spot on the depth chart.

BEARS: Running back Jordan Howard was one of 11 players who did not travel with the team to Arizona for Saturday night’s preseason game against the Cardinals.

Howard suffered a corneal abrasion during a walk-through Friday, according to a team spokesperson. While the Bears figure it to be a minor injury, it’s enough to keep their top running back out of action for their second exhibition game.

Howard finished second in the NFL in rushing as a rookie last season, piling up 1,313 yards and averaging 5.2 yards per carry.

Chicago signed veteran free-agent linebacker Kelvin Sheppard and waived rookie linebacker Hendrick Ekpe.

Sheppard is entering his seventh season in the NFL. He made 11 starts and had 50 tackles for the New York Giants in 2016, a year after he had 105 tackles as a starter for Miami.

RAVENS: Baltimore signed center Jeremy Zuttah, who returns to the team that traded him to San Francisco in March.

Zuttah started every game last year and made the Pro Bowl as an alternate. He was dealt to the 49ers so Baltimore could save salary-cap space and move up 12 spots in the sixth round of the draft.

Zuttah was released by San Francisco last week, and the Ravens signed him to join a depleted offensive line in dire need of a veteran presence in the middle.

A GUN CHARGE against free-agent linebacker Khaseem Greene was dropped because the man who said he gave him a weapon admitted he lied, the player’s attorney said.

The Kansas City Chiefs released Greene the day charges against him were first reported in May. He last played a game in 2014 for the Chicago Bears after being drafted in 2013.

]]> 0 Taylor had his five-year contract extension restructured and will remain as the starting quarterback for the Buffalo Bills for a third season.Fri, 18 Aug 2017 22:48:37 +0000
Duke basketball recruit could play this year Sat, 19 Aug 2017 02:17:00 +0000 Marvin Bagley III, widely considered the top recruit in the class of 2018, reclassified this week and could be eligible to play for Duke in the upcoming season.

His decision immediately thrusts the Blue Devils to the front of the national-title conversation for the 2017-18 season.

But what exactly does it mean to reclassify and how does the process work?

According to the NCAA, all incoming student-athletes must complete 16 core courses from a list that includes English, math, natural or physical science, social science, foreign language, comparative religion or philosophy. Classes such as physical education, health and music do not count as core courses, nor do remedial classes or classes completed through credit-by-exam.

The student-athlete must also show proof of graduation from high school and have an ACT/SAT test score that corresponds to his or her core course GPA on a sliding scale; the higher the GPA, the lower the standardized test score needs to be.

The NCAA eligibility center’s amateurism team then determines whether to certify a student-athlete. The process and requirements are the same for every sport.

Bagley is scheduled to graduate from Southern California’s Sierra Canyon High School later this month, completing his course work a year ahead of schedule. His transcripts may be a little more complicated because he attended three high schools and the NCAA will review his final transcript following his graduation to determine if he is eligible to play Division I basketball.

Bagley’s move is not unprecedented.

Through the years, five-star prospects who want to get a jump on their college careers – and potentially professional careers – have gone through the same process, though usually not right before the fall semester begins as Bagley did.

Mike Gminski is considered the leave-high-school-early originator, graduating a year early so he could play at Duke in 1976. He went on to become an All-American and played 17 NBA seasons.

In recent years, Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins, North Carolina State’s Dennis Smith Jr., Duke’s Derryck Thornton and Kentucky’s Karl-Anthony Towns were among the student-athletes who graduated early to play college basketball sooner. Kentucky’s Hamidou Diallo graduated a semester early and joined the Wildcats in January last season, but did not play. He declared for the NBA draft before deciding to return to Lexington.

]]> 0, 18 Aug 2017 22:53:09 +0000
Sports Digest: Celtics to retire Paul Pierce’s number Sat, 19 Aug 2017 02:10:53 +0000 BASKETBALL

Paul Pierce to have number retired by Celtics

The Boston Celtics will retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34 during their Feb. 11 game against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The longtime Celtics forward will be the 22nd player so honored – the first since 2003.

Pierce was drafted by Boston in 1998 and played 15 seasons for the Celtics. Only John Havlicek played longer in a Celtics uniform. Pierce helped the team win its NBA-record 17th title in 2008 and was named the finals MVP.

Pierce is the franchise leader in 3-point field goals, free throws and steals and is the Celtics’ No. 2 career scorer with 24,021 points. His number has already been retired by the University of Kansas.


EASTERN LEAGUE: David Thompson hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning and Tomas Nido added a two-run single in the fifth to push the Binghamton Rumble Ponies to a 5-1 win over the Portland Sea Dogs, completing a doubleheader sweep at Binghamton, New York.

Portland (59-63) scored in the seventh on a Cole Sturgeon sacrifice fly.

Marcos Molina went the distance for the Rumble Ponies (73-49), allowing seven hits while fanning five and walking just one.

Danny Mars was 2 for 3 for the Sea Dogs in the second game but had his 17-game hitting streak snapped in the opener, a 4-1 loss. Sturgeon tripled in each game.


WESTERN & SOUTHERN OPEN: Defending champion Karolina Pliskova made it a doubleheader sweep, reaching the semifinals by winning a pair of matches with little rest in between.

First, the top seed completed a 6-3, 4-6, 6-0 victory over qualifier Camila Giorgi in a match resumed from Thursday night. After a quick turnaround, she needed only 67 minutes to beat a rested Caroline Wozniacki, 6-2, 6-4.

Men’s No. 1 seed Rafael Nadal also was trying for a 2-0 day, with little time to rest and prepare.

Nadal spent an hour and 37 minutes on court in beating fellow Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas 7-6 (1), 6-2, a match that never got started Thursday night because of rain. He was scheduled to face Nick Kyrgios late Friday night.

John Isner and Grigor Dimitrov reached the semifinals on the men’s side, while in the women’s bracket, Garbine Mugaruza advanced to face Pliskova and Svetlana Kuznetsova also moved on.

U.S. OPEN: Past champion Samantha Stosur pulled out of the tournament because of an injured right hand.

OUDIN RETIRES: Melanie Oudin is retiring from professional tennis, eight years after her captivating run to the U.S. Open quarterfinals as a teenager.

The 25-year-old American announced her decision in a series of posts on Twitter. She has dealt with a series of health problems in recent years.


NWSL: Former U.S. national team captain Christie Pearce is going to miss the rest of season because of cumulative injuries, Sky Blue FC announced.

]]> 0 Pierce spent 15 seasons with the Celtics before being traded to Brooklyn in 2013. He signed with the Celtics on Monday so he could retire with the team.Fri, 18 Aug 2017 22:50:53 +0000
Golf roundup: U.S. sweeps fourball matches at Solheim Cup Sat, 19 Aug 2017 01:31:20 +0000 WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — The favored Americans found themselves trailing Europe after a sluggish start to the Solheim Cup.

Then the U.S. players settled down Friday afternoon, pulling away with a record-setting fourball performance.

The United States swept the afternoon fourball matches to take a 51/2-21/2 lead at Des Moines Golf and Country Club.

Lizette Salas and newcomer Danielle Kang each won two matches, teaming up to beat Carlota Ciganda and Caroline Masson 1-up for the Americans’ lone full point in the morning foursomes, then leading the U.S. to its first ever fourball sweep in the afternoon.

“This is the history we really don’t want. We want the history on Sunday night. We want the Cup,” U.S. captain Juli Inkster said. “We’ve got a lot of work (ahead). I know (European captain) Annika (Sorenstam) is going to get that team fired up.”

Salas and rookie Angel Yin routed Ciganda and Emily Pedersen 6-and-5, and Kang and Michelle Wie topped Madelene Sagstrom and Jodi Ewart Shadoff 3-and-1.

In the other fourball matches, Brittany Lincicome and Brittany Lang beat Masson and Florentyna Parker 3-and-2, and Stacy Lewis and Gerina Piller edged Charley Hull and Georgia Hall 2-and-1

In the morning foursomes, Americans Cristie Kerr and Lexi Thompson rallied to halve with Hull and Mel Reid. For Europe, Hall and Anna Nordqvist beat Paula Creamer and Austin Ernst 3-and-1, and Karine Icher and Catriona Matthew topped Lewis and Piller 1-up.

PGA: Ryan Armour shot a career-best 9-under 61 for a share of the lead with Webb Simpson after two rounds of the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Armour and Simpson were at 13-under 127 halfway through the PGA Tour’s final event of the regular season. Simpson shot a 64.

Henrik Stenson was a stroke behind them after a 66. Ollie Schniederjans and Vaughn Taylor were 11 under. Schniederjans shot 63, Taylor had a 66.

First-round leader Matt Every followed his 61 with a 72 to slip six strokes off the lead.

The field at Sedgefield Country Club is again full of players trying to qualify for the Fed-Ex Cup playoffs. The top 125 players on the points list earn berths at The Northern Trust next week in New York.

At No. 187 in the standings, Armour isn’t even close to the bubble, but he can still qualify for the playoffs with a top-two finish.

“Could turn your life around,” Armour said. “I had some goals at the beginning of the week. I knew where I stood and, you know, right now the goals are attainable.”

Rory McIlroy has decided his health is good enough for him to start the FedEx Cup playoffs next week in New York.

McIlroy said after the PGA Championship that he could feel a back muscle spasm in recent weeks as he practiced more to get ready for the final major of the year. He said before leaving Quail Hollow he could return in a few weeks or not until next year.

His manager said in a text message that McIlroy plans to play The Northern Trust, which starts next Thursday at Glen Oaks on Long Island.

McIlroy won two playoff events last year, including the Tour Championship, to capture the FedEx Cup and its $10 million bonus.

He has played only 13 times worldwide in 2017 and hasn’t won this year.

EUROPEAN TOUR: Scott Hend shot a 6-under 66 to move into a four-way share of the lead after the second round of the Fiji International in Natadola Bay, Fiji.

The 44-year-old Australian was tied with first-round leader Daniel Pearce of New Zealand, who shot 71, and Australia’s Jason Norris (69) and Malaysia’s Gavin Green (69) at 7-under 137.

Mike Weir (71) and home favorite Vijay Singh (72) were at 1 under in the tournament sanctioned by the PGA Tour of Australasia, European and Asian tours.

]]> 0, 18 Aug 2017 21:35:16 +0000
College football notebook: Want to know Michigan’s football roster? You may need legal action Sat, 19 Aug 2017 01:17:01 +0000 Right or wrong, Jim Harbaugh has tried his best to run the Michigan football program under a cloak of secrecy since taking the job at the end of 2014.

Last season, Michigan was one of the few teams not to release a depth chart all year (Colorado even mocked the Wolverines with a fake depth chart starting Elmer Fudd at quarterback and Eric Cartman at left tackle), presumably to gain the slightest competitive advantage it could.

Harbaugh didn’t even announce his starting quarterback until Wilton Speight took the field on the first series of the 2016 opener vs. Hawaii.

Now, with the 2017 opener against Florida on Sept. 2 two weeks away, Michigan is the lone Big Ten team withholding its 2017 roster. The roster listed on the school’s website is from 2016.

NJ Advance Media believes Michigan has gone too far and submitted a Freedom of Information Act request Aug. 3 for the program’s updated roster.

The university responded Aug. 11 with a legal request seeking an additional 10 business days to respond, which could put the roster release date at Aug. 25, eight days before the 2017 opener.

Last season, the Wolverines waited until one week before the opener to release their roster.

GEORGIA TECH: Dedrick Mills was kicked off the team Friday, having violated athletic department rules in what was essentially a third strike for the dynamic but troubled running back.

The stunning announcement came with the season opener less than three weeks away.

Coach Paul Johnson did not specify what rule was broken, but stressed that it was different from the two suspensions Mills served a year ago – totaling three games – for violating team rules.

“Last year he got suspended for a couple of football violations, football team rules,” Johnson said. “This was a (Georgia Tech Athletic Association) rule. So it’s set rules. When you break ’em, the punishment is pretty standard.”

The coach said it didn’t involve a legal matter or a violation of NCAA rules.

Still, it was clear the Yellow Jackets had run out patience with a player who was highly productive in the triple-option offense but struggled away from the field.

“He’s a good kid,” Johnson said. “He loves to play football. He just made some poor choices.”

Mills was the Georgia Tech’s top returning offensive player after a stellar freshman season. He rushed for 771 yards and 12 touchdowns in just nine games.

PENN STATE: Coach James Franklin has signed a contract extension that guarantees him $34.7 million through 2022.

According to terms released by Penn State on Friday, the deal is worth an average of $5.78 million annually and contains up to $1 million in incentive bonuses each year. The extension modifies the initial six-year contract Franklin signed when he was hired in 2014. That contract was to pay him $4.6 million this year.

The Nittany Lions won the Big Ten last year, finishing finished 11-3 and No. 6 in the country.

]]> 0 Coach Jim Harbaugh uses everything he can think of to lure recruits, and it's working. The Wolverines were 5-7 the year before he arrived and 10-3 in his first season.Fri, 18 Aug 2017 21:22:30 +0000
Le’Veon Bell’s agent denies running back had deal with Steelers Sat, 19 Aug 2017 01:06:55 +0000 Le’Veon Bell’s agent denied a report Friday that he and the Pittsburgh Steelers had agreed on a lucrative contract for the Pro Bowl running back last month.

Earlier in the day, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that the team and agent had come to an agreement on a five-year deal on the afternoon of July 17, which was the deadline for Bell and other players who received the franchise tag designation from their teams to come to terms on multiyear contracts.

According to the same report, however, Bell pulled the plug on the deal at the last minute, even though it was reportedly worth more than $12 million annually and would have paid more than $30 million in the first two years.

But Bell’s agent, Adisa Bakari, said the reported long-term agreement with the Steelers never happened.

“All stories to contrary are false,” he said, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Either way, Bell is still not under contract at this point. If he is to play in 2017, he must now do so under the one-year, $12.12-million franchise tag the Steelers placed on him in March. He has yet to sign that contract and missed all of the team’s training camp.

Bell is set to become an unrestricted agent in 2018, although the Steelers will have the option to place a one-year, $14.54-million franchise tag on him then. The Post-Gazette reported that Bell is seeking a contract that pays him $15 million a year.

The highest-paid running back in the NFL right now is the Atlanta Falcons’ Devonta Freeman, who makes an average of $8.25 million a year.

Bell rushed for 1,268 yards and seven touchdowns, with 75 receptions for 616 yards and two TDs, in 12 games last season.

]]> 0'Veon Bell is now the main runner for the Pittsburgh Steelers, which has helped him and the franchise.Fri, 18 Aug 2017 21:23:38 +0000
Patriots linebacker Kyle Van Noy feeling confident in coverage Sat, 19 Aug 2017 00:56:02 +0000 HOUSTON — New England Patriots linebacker Kyle Van Noy, who has shown marked improvement with his pass coverage, was discussing the intricacies of his strides this week when he revealed the root of style.

It’s become increasingly challenging for linebackers to hold their own in coverage in the NFL, as offenses work to isolate them with supremely athletic tight ends, quicker slot receivers and speedy running backs. So what’s been the key to Van Noy’s development since he arrived on the Patriots in October?

“Confidence,” Van Noy boasted while flashing a grin and walking away to drop the proverbial microphone.

Van Noy is passionate and energetic, and he exudes both qualities on the field. He is also loyal, and his teammates appreciate the way in which Van Noy dedicates himself to their cause.

There was an example this week during the Patriots’ joint practice with the Houston Texans when Van Noy ran over to tight end Stephen Anderson and swiped the ball from him well after the play. That obviously wouldn’t fly during a game, but it was a simple gesture that almost certainly got under the Texans’ skin and picked up the Patriots at the same time. It was a move that would make former Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett proud.

“Honestly, I just want to win at the end of the day,” Van Noy explained of his post-whistle action. “I just want to perform for my family as well as my teammates. I’m just happy to be here and be a Patriot.”

Van Noy’s tenure with the Lions, who selected him in 2014 with a second-round draft pick, was largely forgettable, and he wasn’t shy last season about their inability to use him correctly. After Lions Coach Jim Caldwell gave up on Van Noy, he traded the linebacker and a seventh-round pick to the Patriots for a sixth-rounder.

Van Noy was used as a rotational player upon his insertion to the lineup in November and ultimately grew into a starting-caliber role down the stretch. It was a testament to his work ethic because Van Noy spent hours at the facility with Dont’a Hightower to watch film and soak up his defensive assignments.

The Patriots recognized Van Noy’s talent and had to put him in positions to succeed, so they typically fielded him in passing situations to give him a chance to chase the quarterback or fall into coverage if necessary. He racked up 11/2 sacks, three quarterback hits, five pressures, two forced fumbles, a drawn holding penalty, two run stuffs, an interception and a pass breakup.

“When he first got here, off the rip, he was probably one of our better cover guys,” safety Duron Harmon said. “I could see over time, he got better at covering. That’s hard, covering these tight ends, these backs. They’re so elusive and such great athletes. When you have a ‘backer like him who can continually show that he can go out and cover them, it’s tremendous for the defense.”

It wasn’t always perfect. Van Noy surrendered Kenny Stills’ 25-yard touchdown in Week 17 against the Dolphins and was a target on those pesky wheel routes. But if he was a liability, he would’ve been exposed in the playoffs, and he was only targeted twice (one reception for 7 yards) in the playoffs, which featured matchups against pass-happy offenses like the Steelers and Falcons.

Van Noy has shown up throughout training camp, too. He broke up five passes in team drills over the course of 14 live practices. The rest of the linebackers didn’t break up any. Van Noy, who is typically reserved with the media, beamed when discussing his progress in coverage, as he has worked hard to improve his leverage and his ability to read his keys before the snap.

“I mean, I work really hard at that every day,” Van Noy said. “I have great coaches that help with the technique and players that I go to and ask to pick their brains.”

Van Noy’s greatest strength is probably his ability to get after the quarterback, and the Patriots will ask him to do plenty of that this season. But he’ll potentially remain on the field as much as any linebacker except Hightower because he is versatile enough to play any of their linebacker positions.

For those reasons, within a strong defense like the Patriots’ reigning championship unit, this season could serve as Van Noy’s long-awaited coming-out party.

“I think sometimes you just need a change of scenery,” Harmon said. “I’m just excited that he came here because he has continued to do great things for us, and I think he’ll do great things for us this year.”

]]> 0 linebacker Kyle Van Noy, right, never really clicked with Detroit after the Lions took him in the second round in 2014, but he made an impact in New England last season – and looks to be getting better.Fri, 18 Aug 2017 21:17:28 +0000
Auto racing roundup: Jones wins pole at Bristol Sat, 19 Aug 2017 00:43:31 +0000 BRISTOL, Tenn. — Erik Jones’ timing was perfect for first career pole in the NASCAR Cup Series.

The rookie turned a lap at 128.082 mph around the high-banked bullring Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway to take the top starting spot for Saturday night’s race. Jones, who drives for Furniture Row Racing, bumped Kyle Larson from the pole.

Larson qualified second at 128.057 to continue his hot streak. He won Sunday at Michigan, beat Furniture Row teammates Jones and Martin Truex Jr. on the final restart for his third victory of the year.

Kasey Kahne qualified third and was followed by his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Chase Elliott.

Matt Kenseth was fifth, followed by Truex and Denny Hamlin as Toyota drivers took four of the top seven spots.

This is crunch time in the Cup Series because there are just three open spots in the 16-driver playoff field. There are 13 drivers locked into the playoffs by race wins, not including Joey Logano, who won at Richmond but failed inspection, so the victory doesn’t count toward playoff eligibility.

Chase Elliott, Kenseth and Jamie McMurray – all of whom made the playoffs last year – are among the drivers on the bubble and could get into the playoffs on points even if they don’t win one of the next three races. Jones, meanwhile, is among the drivers who need a win to qualify for the playoffs.

“We definitely have to win,” Jones said. “It’s just too big of a deficit with three races to go. I think the pressure is on, but we’ve been handling the pressure really well.”

Elliott, ranked seventh in the standings, is highest among drivers not locked into the playoffs.

“You’re never comfortable,” Elliott said. “We’re certainly in a tight spot. We’re there toward the back. I don’t exactly know 100 percent where we are, but I know we’re one of the last few spots of non-winners that are still in. That’s not a comfortable position to be in, because there is always an opportunity for a guy on the outside to win a race and bump you back another position.”

TRUCKS: Brad Keselowski is closing his team at the end of the season, a decision that in part came down to him losing money on the venture.

Brad Keselowski Racing has fielded trucks since 2008, and more than a dozen young drivers have come through his organization. His team has won nine races and twice contended for the championship. Keselowski fields two full-time Fords – for Chase Briscoe and Austin Cindric – and has about 50 employees.

But Keselowski has not turned a profit on his passion, and has said before he loses $1 million a year.

“There wasn’t really one reason, but certainly at some point every business needs to have some profitability,” Keselowski said. “But I never went into it expecting to make money, so I can’t really blame that. Everybody is losing a little, but that was one of the factors. I wouldn’t say it was the only one.”

]]> 0 Jones turned a best lap of 128.082 mph Friday to win the pole for the Cup Series race Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway.Fri, 18 Aug 2017 23:21:58 +0000
One final scrimmage for UMaine football, one big decision still to make Sat, 19 Aug 2017 00:16:31 +0000 ORONO — Liam Coen, the offensive coordinator for the University of Maine football team, gathered his four quarterbacks Friday morning and challenged them.

With a wide-open competition for the starting quarterback position needing to be decided soon, Coen’s message before the team’s final scrimmage Friday afternoon was simple: “I told them to come out and act like you’re the guy.”

While Drew Belcher, Chris Ferguson, Max Staver and Isaiah Robinson each have had moments to shine, no one appeared to shake the competition. Still, with the Black Bears season opener at rival New Hampshire just 12 days away, Coach Joe Harasymiak knows a decision has to be made.

“I don’t ever want to rush it,” said Harasymiak, in his second year as head coach. “But I think we’re less than two weeks away and we want to settle in on something. The issue going forward is, ‘What else are we going to evaluate them on?’

“We still have to get guys back (from injuries). We can’t let this trickle on too long.”

Injuries on the offensive line have impacted the evaluation process. For Friday’s scrimmage, Maine had only six healthy offensive linemen, then lost another – Cody Levy – because of back tightness. Six linemen were already sidelined: Jamil Demby (a preseason all-Colonial Athletic Association left tackle), Michael Supp, John Reddington, Daniel Burrows, Archie Callahan and Gunnar Docos.

Not that the quarterbacks could think about who was playing and who wasn’t.

“There was a little pressure,” said Ferguson. “But you just want to go play. You think about it sometimes, but it’s better to just leave it aside when you’re on the field and worry about it later, and just do what you can – make plays and show off your talents and what you can do, lead the team.”

Belcher, who started the scrimmage with the first unit, threw the only touchdown pass of the afternoon, a 6-yard rollout pass to Marquise Adams in the back corner of the end zone. But he also threw the only interception. In fact, Belcher missed his first five passing attempts before completing two passes on his third series.

Ferguson, a redshirt freshman, was second to play at quarterback and had a quick start, with three completions. But a penalty ended his first drive. He finished 3 for 9 with a drop.

Staver, who transferred to Maine as a grad student, took over after Ferguson, and Maine scored two touchdowns with him at quarterback. One was a 45-yard reverse by receiver Jaleel Reed down the right sideline – sprung on a lead block by Staver, who finished 5 for 9. He then directed another scoring drive, capped by a short run by former Cheverus star Joe Fitzpatrick.

Robinson, a talented freshman from Bowie, Maryland, had a couple decent passes in his two series.

Harasymiak and his staff spent Friday night looking at the film and planned to name a starter Saturday. That’s important, said Coen, for a lot of reasons, but especially one: “You want to get a guy and get the team to rally around him.”

The staff will dissect each quarterback’s performance from Friday, taking into account everything that happened.

“It comes down to what coverage was (the defense) in, did (the quarterback) read it right?” said Harasymiak. “What were the play calls? How many reps did they get?”

Coen noted that Friday’s scrimmage won’t be the only factor. “It’s really going to come down to the body of work, of all 14 practices,” he said.

And the quarterbacks know that. Belcher has been through this three times already in his career, always against Dan Collins. “Competition brings out the best in everyone,” he said. “Coach will make the best decision for the team.”

All the quarterbacks can do is try to make that decision a difficult one.

“The position alone, quarterback, is very competitive,” said Staver. “As quarterbacks, we can only do what we can do, control what we can control, how we play in practice. At the end of the day, that’s the coaches’ job and their call. We’ve got to do everything we can to put ourselves in position.”

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

Twitter: MikeLowePPH

]]> 0, 18 Aug 2017 20:42:52 +0000
Reports: Patriots rookie Derek Rivers may have suffered season-ending ACL tear Fri, 18 Aug 2017 17:02:57 +0000 New England Patriots rookie defensive end Derek Rivers may be out for the season after suffering a torn ACL, according to media reports.

Rivers was injured during a kickoff coverage drill Wednesday in a joint practice with the Houston Texans in West Virginia. The Patriots play a preseason game in Houston on Saturday night.

The injury is the latest blow to the Patriots’ depth at defensive end. Rivers was expected to compete for playing time since Rob Ninkovich retired at the start of preseason training camp.

Rivers, who played at Youngstown State, was the Patriots’ top selection in the 2017 NFL draft. He was taken in the third round at No. 83 overall. Rivers, 23, was born in Augusta, though his family moved to North Carolina when he was 2 years old.

With Trey Flowers, the Patriots have a more than capable edge rusher, but beyond that, there are plenty of questions.

Fourth-round pick Deatrich Wise looked like he was pushing for a starting spot opposite Flowers, but his momentum was halted last week by a concussion. If he can get healthy, he’ll still be in line for a lot of playing time.

Kony Ealy is another option. The veteran has had an up-and-down summer and saw little time with the starters in the first two weeks of training camp. Geneo Grissom started camp with the first-team defense, but has been seen playing with the second and third stringers.

The Patriots also have undrafted free agents Keionta Davis and Caleb Kidder on their 90-man roster.

]]> 0, 18 Aug 2017 21:17:32 +0000
Connecticut strikeout specialist edges New Jersey in Little League World Series Fri, 18 Aug 2017 03:37:22 +0000 SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — Chris Cartnick hit four home runs and had 10 RBI for New Jersey in its Mid-Atlantic regional tournament. Ethan Righter of Connecticut struck out 18 over 9 1/3 innings in the New England tournament.

On Thursday, in the first inning of their first game at the Little League World Series, the two faced each other at a key moment.

Righter had just surrendered a deep home run to Tai Mann of Jackson, New Jersey, with Cartnick, who has picked up the nickname Diesel, coming to the plate.

Unlike many Little Leaguers, Righter displayed no signs of frustration after allowing his first run in three games. He fought Cartnick for nine pitches before striking him out on a high fastball, something not many pitchers have been able to accomplish this year.

Fairfield, Connecticut, then built a five-run lead before hanging on for a 7-6 win.

“I was just trying to get them to put the ball in play and get outs,” said Righter, who gave up four hits and bounced on the mound when a couple of calls went against him. “I knew my defense would back me up.”

Righter settled into a groove after sitting Cartnick down. He struck out the side in the second inning and allowed only one run more in 3 2/3 innings before reaching the 85-pitch limit. He finished with seven strikeouts.

Just for perspective, Jackson averaged more than 10 runs in the Mid-Atlantic regional tournament and didn’t score fewer than eight in a single game.

Righter hovered around 66-68 mph with his fastball and mixed in a disappearing curveball about 15 mph slower to keep hitters guessing. Everything needed to be on the outside half of the plate to take away Jackson’s pull power, and Righter did his job.

Righter also showed poise and baseball knowledge beyond his years in clutch situations. When he faced Mann again in the third inning, Righter remembered the last time he tried to groove a high fastball past him. To keep this ball from leaving the stadium, Righter spun four straight curveballs to Mann and struck him out.

In the same inning, Righter found himself in a bases loaded jam with two outs. One wild pitch got past catcher Aidan Rivera and Cartnick scored from third, but Righter again found his composure and struck out Charlie Meglio to limit the damage.

“He was dynamic,” said Jackson Coach Rob Grano. “He could place his fastball anywhere he wanted, great curveball. He really did a great job today, and even when he had runners on base he got real tough.”

If stifling a high-powered club on the biggest stage wasn’t enough, Righter also cracked two singles and scored two runs to help pace Fairfield’s offense.

Fairfield took a 7-2 lead into the sixth inning, but Cartnick wasn’t done. Delighted to see a different pitcher in the game, Cartnick crushed a two-run homer to left-center off Michael Iannazzo to spark a four-run rally. But Tyler Bauer subbed in as a reliever and closed out the game.

Fairfield will play again Sunday in the winners’ bracket, but Righter will not be able to pitch because he threw over 66 against Jackson.

]]> 0, 17 Aug 2017 23:37:22 +0000
Major league roundup: Reds defeat Cubs despite blowing 9-0 lead Fri, 18 Aug 2017 03:17:15 +0000 CHICAGO — Phillip Ervin hit a two-run homer to snap a tie in the seventh inning and had four RBI in his first major league start as the Cincinnati Reds rebounded from blowing a nine-run lead to defeat the Chicago Cubs 13-10 on Thursday.

Ervin, in right field in his fifth game, also had a single and double in four at-bats. On Wednesday, the 25-year-old homered as a pinch hitter for his first hit.

Joey Votto lofted a three-run homer in a nine-run, second-inning rally as Cincinnati raced to a 9-0 lead against Cubs starter Jon Lester, who left the game with left lat tightness.

Ian Happ hit two solo shots and a sacrifice fly, and Alex Avila went deep and had three RBI for the Cubs, who used six homers to erase a nine-run deficit for the first time since August 1989 versus Houston.

BRAVES 10, ROCKIES 4: Ender Inciarte hit two of Atlanta’s four homers and the Braves won at Denver.

Freddie Freeman and Tyler Flowers also homered, and Lucas Sims (1-3) got his first win in the majors for the Braves.

The Rockies got a scare in the seventh, when All-Star third baseman Nolan Arenado left the game with an apparent injury to his left hand but X-rays were negative.


INDIANS, TWINS SPLIT: Max Kepler made up for a fielding mistake in the top of the inning with the go-ahead home run in the bottom of the seventh, sending Minnesota to a 4-2 victory over Cleveland in the second game at Minneapolis on Thursday to salvage a doubleheader split.

Twins starter Aaron Slegers sailed through 61/3 innings in his debut, helping stop Cleveland’s six-game winning streak.

Yan Gomes and Jason Kipnis each homered and had three hits for the Indians in a 9-3 victory in the opener as the Twins set a franchise record with 19 strikeouts.

Minnesota’s Glen Perkins made his first appearance after missing more than 16 months because of shoulder trouble, but retired only one batter while allowing two runs.

BLUE JAYS 5, RAYS 3: Justin Smoak hit a tiebreaking home run in the eighth inning, Josh Donaldson added two solo blasts and Toronto won at home.

Smoak hit a two-run drive off Tommy Hunter (2-4), his 33rd, as the Blue Jays took three of four from the Rays to remain on the fringes of the AL wild card race. Toronto is 10-5 in August.


YANKEES 7, METS 5: Gary Sanchez homered and matched a career high with five RBI, Luis Severino got right back on track and the Yankees made it a four-game sweep in the Subway Series with a road victory.

Sanchez hit a three-run homer off struggling starter Steven Matz in the first inning and a two-run single in the fourth. Brett Gardner broke his 3-for-29 slump with a two-run double, and the Yankees won twice at Citi Field just as they did back home in the Bronx.

DIAMONDBACKS 4, ASTROS 0: Patrick Corbin came an out short of his first career shutout and as Arizona won at Houston.

After allowing a two-out double to Yuli Gurriel in the bottom of the ninth, Corbin was pulled by Arizona Manager Torey Lovullo. Archie Bradley took over on the mound and struck out Marwin Gonzalez.

Corbin (10-11) allowed four hits and one walk, struck out seven and threw just 105 pitches.

]]> 0 catcher Alex Avila, left, talks with starting pitcher Jon Lester in the second inning Thursday. Lester left the game with left lat tightness having allowed nine runs in the inning.Thu, 17 Aug 2017 23:21:11 +0000
Major league notebook: Pace of play the focus at owners’ meetings Fri, 18 Aug 2017 03:04:50 +0000 CHICAGO — Major League Baseball is having conversations with the players’ association over possible rule changes designed to speed the pace of play, and Commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday he hopes to reach an agreement instead of implementing any measures unilaterally.

Speaking at the conclusion of the owners’ meetings, Manfred also said the Bruce Sherman-led ownership group trying to purchase the Miami Marlins has presented the league with a financial structure that would work for finalizing the deal. He expressed confidence that a major league franchise can be successful in the market.

The average time of a nine-inning game is a record 3 hours, 5 minutes this season, up from 3 hours last year and 2:56 in 2015. Management proposed making changes for this year, such as installing pitch clocks and limiting trips to the mound by catchers, but players’ association head Tony Clark said his side would not agree. The league can implement changes by itself with one-year advance notice.

“We met with Tony Clark and a group of players last week,” Manfred said. “The tone of those conversations have been very positive. Hats off to Tony and the players on that, and I remain confident that we will have changes for next year on the issue of pace of game that will be significant.”

Union spokesman Greg Bouris confirmed the dialogue is ongoing and said players “are committed to discussing ways to enhance the game and move it forward.”

DIAMONDBACKS: Reliever Rubby De La Rosa will undergo a second Tommy John surgery. De La Rosa first underwent the surgery in 2011 while with the Dodgers and missed most of the 2012 and 2013 seasons.

YANKEES: New York put first baseman Garrett Cooper on the 10-day disabled list with tendinitis in his left hamstring and promoted Tyler Austin from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

METS: Jose Reyes was placed on the 10-day DL with a sore left ribcage.

]]> 0, 17 Aug 2017 23:19:06 +0000
Sports Digest: Surge swept on the road Fri, 18 Aug 2017 02:41:28 +0000 BASEBALL

Surge swept by Explorers in road doubleheader

Ramon Cedeno’s three-run homer in the fifth inning helped the Sullivan Explorers take the lead for good in a 7-3 victory over the Old Orchard Beach Surge that completed a sweep in an Empire League doubleheader at Sheldrake, New York.

The Surge opened the scoring in the third on an Edgar Lebron Jr. triple that scored Sebastian Diaz. Sullivan answered in its half of the inning. Old Orchard took a 3-1 run lead in the top of the fifth on Kevin Putkonen’s RBI single and an infield groundout.

Sullivan won Game 1, 5-1.


ACADEMIC INVESTIGATION: North Carolina wrapped up a two-day hearing with an NCAA infractions committee panel that will decide whether the school will face penalties tied to its multiyear academic scandal.

Now the case goes into yet another holding pattern.

School officials spent much of Wednesday meeting with committee members in Nashville, Tennessee. They returned Thursday morning for a second session lasting about four hours with the panel that will determine whether UNC faces penalties such as fines, probation or vacated wins and championships.

NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn confirmed the hearing was complete but didn’t comment further because the panel must deliberate before issuing a ruling, which typically comes weeks to months after a hearing.

UNC faces five top-level charges, including lack of institutional control, in a case involving irregular courses.


WESTERN & SOUTHERN OPEN: Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza overcame a long rain delay in the third set and fought off three match points before advancing to the quarterfinals at Mason, Ohio, by beating American Madison Keys, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (3).

Before the storm, second-seeded Simona Halep became the tournament’s first quarterfinalist with a 6-4, 6-3 win over 15th-seeded Anastasija Sevastova.

In the men’s bracket, Grigor Dimitrov rallied from a 4-1 second-set deficit for a 6-3, 7-5 win over Juan Martin del Potro.

David Ferrer reached his first ATP Masters quarterfinal in his last 11 tries with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Pablo Carreno Busta.

Top-seeded Rafael Nadal’s match against Albert Ramos-Vinolas was pushed back to late Thursday night.


NHL: New Jersey Devils center Travis Zajac will be out 4 to 6 months after surgery to repair a torn pectoral muscle.

Devils GM Ray Shero said Thursday that Zajac was hurt last week during offseason training.

The Buffalo Sabres signed forward Zemgus Girgensons to a two-year contract that carries an average value of $1.6 million. Girgensons, from Latvia, has 37 goals and 49 assists in 277 career games.


EUROPA LEAGUE: Fans of Croatian football club Hajduk Split threw projectiles and encroached on the pitch, forcing a game in Liverpool, England, against Premier League club Everton to temporarily stop on Thursday.

Play was halted for a few minutes in the first half when trouble flared shortly after Michael Keane’s 30th-minute header put Everton in front.

After stewards and police moved to bring the situation under control, the players returned to the pitch.

Everton doubled its lead in the 45th minute of the qualifying playoff first half through Idrissa Gueye’s strike.

]]> 0 Thu, 17 Aug 2017 22:48:47 +0000
For Patriots, Marcus Cannon is the right tackle to have Fri, 18 Aug 2017 02:32:51 +0000 WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — J.J. Watt, a three-time Defensive Player of the Year for the Houston Texans, found himself in familiar territory this week, again firmly held captive by New England Patriots right tackle Marcus Cannon.

Watt appeared to try it all against Cannon in the first of two joint practices, but was neutralized. In back-to-back plays at one point, Cannon withstood Watt’s power rush and next easily stayed in front of Watt amid consecutive spin moves.

Consecutive spin moves? It was the work of a shockingly desperate pass rusher who likely has grown tired of getting locked up by Cannon. When the teams met in Week 3 last season, Cannon kept Watt in check over the course of 24 blocking assignments, including 16 one-on-one meetings.

Watt had a bit more success at the joint practice while kicking inside. But he never mustered much against Cannon, who kept him out of quarterback Tom Brady’s area code. It’s the latest in a strong string of performances this summer.

Marcus Cannon

“I’m not where I need to be yet,” Cannon said. “I’ve got a lot of stuff I’m still working on, trying to get better.”

Cannon absorbed another challenging move by Watt in the first 11 on 11 period of the practice. By staying square in his set, Cannon gave Brady time to complete a 20-yard pass to Julian Edelman.

To be fair, Watt was coming off back surgery last year and the Texans shut him down after falling to the Patriots in September. And while these joint practices don’t present game speed, the parallel within the results indicates Cannon has a knack for handling Watt, who has grown to enjoy the challenge.

“You live for that,” Watt said. “That’s the goal. You want to get the guy’s best shot. You want somebody to give everything he has because that’s the only way you’re going to find out how good you are. It’s a lot of fun. I love the competition. I love competing. ”

On a greater scale, Cannon is backing up his breakout season with a sturdy training camp, and that may yield the answer to one of the Patriots’ few questions. Will Cannon’s breakthrough be a one-hit wonder or the start of a long, successful career?

Cannon’s peak was so sudden and impressive that his five-year, $32.5 million contract extension wasn’t even questioned in November. After a disastrous season in 2015, which ended when he allowed eight quarterback hits and 2.5 sacks in the AFC championship game loss to the Denver Broncos, Cannon was saved by position coach Dante Scarnecchia.

It’s possible Cannon could even be on the cusp of an All-Pro team. That’s how he’s getting paid anyway; his average annual value of $6.5 million is the seventh most among right tackles.

“Keep listening to my coach, what (Scarnecchia) tells me, what Coach (Bill) Belichick tells me,” Cannon said. “Anything I’ve got to work on, I’ve got to write it down, remember it, work on it at practice and get better at it. There’s still a lot that I have to get done. Keep working hard until I’m the best I can be and help the team as much as I can.”

Cannon, a six-year veteran, turned 29 in May but his career trajectory has been anything but ordinary. Now that he’s a year into his prime and seemingly building on that success, who knows how good it could get.

Cannon isn’t changing anything and wants to keep the goals simple.

“We’re just in training camp. I just want to help my team,” Cannon said. “I want my teammates to trust me. If I’m doing everything the coach tells me to do and my teammates trust me, then I’m happy with where I’m at.”

]]> 0, 17 Aug 2017 22:39:29 +0000
Golf roundup: Every matches mark in opener at Wyndham Fri, 18 Aug 2017 02:14:25 +0000 GREENSBORO, N.C. — Matt Every matched the Wyndham Championship’s first-round record with a 9-under 61 on Thursday to take a one-stroke lead.

Every tied the opening-round mark set in 2010 by Arjun Atwal, who went on to win the PGA Tour’s final tournament before the postseason.

Henrik Stenson opened with a 62. Former Wyndham winner Webb Simpson was at 63 along with Cameron Smith, Vaughn Taylor, Tim Wilkinson, Harold Varner III, Brian Campbell and Sam Saunders.

Davis Love III – the 53-year-old who has won this tournament three times, most recently in 2015 – matched Martin Flores and Rick Lamb with a 64.

For Every, a 33-year-old with two career victories on tour, this was a much-needed strong start to what he hopes is a long week.

“I played good, and have been playing good for a while,” Every said. “So it’s just nice to see it come together.”

Every arrived at par-70 Sedgefield Country Club in a tie for 183rd on the FedEx Cup points list. The top 125 qualify for The Northern Trust next week in New York.

His best finish this season was a tie for 14th at the Canadian Open, and he had a string of seven consecutive tournaments from April to June in which he either withdrew or missed the cut. Both of his victories came at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, in 2014 and ’15.

“I have a high regard for my talent. Like, I know I’m as talented as anyone out here – maybe like five guys are more talented than me – so I couldn’t let myself quit,” Every said. “There were a lot of low points, though. That’s life. Just everything that I’ve been through, I’ve brought on myself. So I don’t need any sympathy or anything. It’s just the way my path has gone so far in the last couple years.”

After the best round of his career, he sure looks like a safe bet to reach the weekend at Sedgefield.

Every started his round with an eagle on the par-4 first, holing out a 105-yard shot from the left fairway that bounced three times and rolled in. He birdied three straight holes from Nos. 3-5, then added another on No. 7 and three more on the back nine.

He had a chance at the overall course record of 60 with a 6-foot birdie putt on No. 18, but missed it and tapped in a 5-inch putt for par.

EUROPEAN TOUR: New Zealand’s Daniel Pearce shot a 6-under 66 to take a one-stroke lead after the first round of the wind-swept Fiji International.

Compatriot Ben Campbell and Australian Daniel Valente shared second place on the Natadola Bay course at Sigatoka.

Gavin Green of Malaysia was among four golfers tied for fourth with 68s. Local favorite Vijay Singh was five strokes behind after a 71.

Defending champion Brandt Snedeker withdrew with a sternum injury after missing last week’s U.S. PGA Championship.

Anthony Wall holed a long birdie putt on No. 18 to begin the defense of his Paul Lawrie Match Play title with a 1-up win over Sam Walker in the first round at Bad Griesbach, Germany.

Edoardo Molinari also progressed after beating Ryder Cup vice captain Robert Karlsson on the 24th hole, making it the longest match in the three-year history of the tournament.

Lawrie was 1 down with three to play but recovered to beat Peter Hanson on the 20th hole as the former British Open champion started another bid to win the tournament he is hosting.

]]> 0 Thu, 17 Aug 2017 22:21:51 +0000
Former Patriot Vrabel already impressing in new role with Texans Fri, 18 Aug 2017 02:02:19 +0000 WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — Mike Vrabel isn’t making any drastic changes in his first season as the Houston Texans’ defensive coordinator.

After what the unit did last year he knows that isn’t necessary. The defense was the strength of the team in 2016 and allowed the fewest yards per game in the league, even though defensive end J.J. Watt missed all but three games because of back surgery.

“I’m not really trying to put my stamp on our defense,” Vrabel said. “I’m just trying to coordinate a group of professional athletes that were successful last year as a group. … Our guys play hard and I appreciate that. So I don’t know if that’s my stamp or that’s their stamp, but we try to have a culture that is built around competitiveness and winning.”

Vrabel spent three seasons as Houston’s linebackers coach before being promoted to coordinator when Romeo Crennel became the assistant head coach. As the Texans prepare for their second preseason game Saturday night against the New England Patriots, Coach Bill O’Brien already has been impressed with the work he’s done in his new role.

“They’re doing a good job over there mixing it up. We’re mixing it up,” O’Brien said. “I think he’s doing a good job. He’s very organized, detailed, works very hard. He’s got a great way with the players, so I think so far, so good.”

Before becoming a coach, Vrabel spent 14 seasons as a linebacker for Pittsburgh, New England and Kansas City, where he piled up 511 tackles and 57 sacks. His extensive playing experience is a big reason the players have taken to him so well as a coach.

“He brings enthusiasm every day and we just kind of feed off of his energy,” cornerback Kareem Jackson said. “He’s been in the situations that we’ve been in and some big-time ball games. So we’re definitely going to follow him. He’s going to be our leader and he’s a great leader for us.”

“It won’t be long before he’s a head coach,” says Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, right, about his friend and former teammate, Mike Vrabel, left. Associated Press/David J. Phillip

Vrabel played the bulk of his career with New England, spending 2001-08 there and winning three Super Bowl titles. When the Patriots and Texans had joint practices this week, it gave Vrabel a chance to catch up with some old friends and gave those friends an opportunity to laud him for work he’s done in his coaching career.

New England Coach Bill Belichick wasn’t surprised that Vrabel transitioned into coaching when his playing career was done.

“He could call signals, he had great leadership, was a multiyear captain, so his leadership, his presence, his communication, awareness, situational awareness in addition to just being a good football player, those things were traits that carried over into coaching,” Belichick said. “And Mike’s one of the physically and mentally toughest players I’ve ever coached, so I’m sure that will serve him well in this profession, too.”

Vrabel credited Belichick for helping him develop as a player when he joined the Patriots after spending four years with the Steelers, where he didn’t start a single game.

“If you can pay attention and focus in the meetings, you can learn a lot,” Vrabel said.

Tom Brady is thrilled to see his former teammate and close friend moving up the coaching ranks and already can see him doing even more.

“It won’t be long before he’s a head coach,” Brady said. “He’s just got a great presence. He was a great player for us. He’s been one of my great friends for a long time. … I love the guy and what he’s accomplished.”

The Texans enjoy Vrabel’s coaching style and believe his energy rubs off on them, and makes them better every day. He brushes off such compliments and said he’s just focused on trying to get the most out of a talented defense led by Watt that also includes 2014 No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney, and veterans Brian Cushing and Johnathan Joseph.

“They know I’m passionate, they know that I do this for one reason, and that’s to make the players better,” Vrabel said. “I can’t play anymore. I love the game. I love every coach that I’ve played for. I felt like they’ve made me better, from Bill Belichick all the way down to a college coach. I’ve played for great guys and they tried to make me better, and I try to do the same thing for them.”

]]> 0 Vrabel, left, once a standout linebacker for New England, spent three seasons coaching Houston linebackers, such as Brian Cushing, center, and Justin Tuggle, and earned himself a promotion to defensive coordinator.Thu, 17 Aug 2017 22:09:08 +0000
U.S. Open: Custody battle may limit Azarenka Fri, 18 Aug 2017 01:32:53 +0000 Two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka says her participation in the U.S. Open is in doubt because she might not be able to bring her son with her to New York as a result of her separation from the baby’s father.

Azarenka wrote in a post on Twitter on Thursday that she is “faced with a difficult situation which may not allow me to return to work right away.”

Added Azarenka, who used to be No. 1 in the WTA rankings: “No parent should have to decide between their child or their career.”

Victoria Azarenka

The 28-year-old from Belarus gave birth to Leo, her first child, in December, then returned to the tour in June.

She said that shortly after Wimbledon – where Azarenka lost to Simona Halep in the fourth round on July 10 – she separated from her son’s father.

“As we work to resolve some of the legal processes, the way things stand now is that the only way I can play in the U.S. Open this year is if I leave Leo behind in California,” Azarenka wrote, “which I’m not willing to do.”

The U.S. Open starts Aug. 28.

“I remain optimistic that in the coming days Leo’s father and I can put aside any differences and take steps in the right direction to more effectively work as a team and agree on an arrangement for all three of us to travel and for me to compete,” Azarenka wrote, “but, more importantly, to ensure that Leo has a consistent presence from both of his parents.”

Azarenka was the runner-up in New York in 2012 and 2013, losing in the final each year to Serena Williams.

Those were also the years that Azarenka won her two Grand Slam singles titles in Australia.

Wimbledon was Azarenka’s first major tournament in more than a year. She currently is ranked 204th.

“Balancing child care and a career is not easy for any parent, but it is a challenge I am willing to face and embrace,” Azarenka wrote.

]]> 0 AzarenkaThu, 17 Aug 2017 21:36:09 +0000
For the Red Sox, the Impossible Dream team of 1967 changed everything Fri, 18 Aug 2017 00:22:03 +0000 BOSTON — Carl Yastrzemski stood at Fenway Park among his 1967 Boston Red Sox teammates Wednesday, laughing, joking with Ken Harrelson. Yaz took a seat, peered into the cameras and in his signature abrupt way gave us his view of the 50th anniversary of the “Impossible Dream.”

“What do I think?” he said. “It’s going by too quick.”

Yaz looked around.

“We’re all gray.”

Oh, but so much of the Impossible Dream will always be in vivid colors. Like the soft popup by Rich Rollins of the Twins that shortstop Rico Petrocelli caught over his head that Sunday the Red Sox clinched the pennant, sending hundreds of fans onto the field at Fenway Park.

“My claim to fame,” Petrocelli said. “Rollins got jammed a little. It was no problem but I made sure I squeezed that ball so hard. I’ve watched that play hundreds of times. Thank God I caught that ball. Think about it. I would have been shot.”

Rico laughed.

“Man, that year was fun,” he said.

The fans descended on winning pitcher Jim Lonborg. The Red Sox wouldn’t clinch until later that afternoon when the Angels beat the Tigers, but already there was pandemonium. The fans tore at Lonborg’s uniform. Does he still have a piece of it?

“No,” said Lonborg, who won 22 games and the Cy Young Award that season. “They used to rehab those things down to Triple-A and then to Double-A. The only thing I have left is the glove.”

And the memories. Yes, he has the colorful memories.

“We sparked the fire,” Lonborg said. “That fire is now Red Sox Nation.”

The Red Sox hadn’t averaged 20,000 fans since 1948. In 1965, they averaged 8,052. The first major league game I ever attended in 1966, there were barely 11,000 fans at Fenway. They averaged 10,014 fans that season.

“My father brought me to a game once when I was smaller,” said pitcher Gary Waslewski, who grew up in Berlin, Connecticut. “There was hardly anybody here.”

“How many people showed up for Ted Williams’ last game?” Yastrzemski asked. The answer: 10,454 on Sept. 28, 1960.

“How many people did we have Opening Day in ’67 (8,324)?” Yastrzemski said. “I know my previous six years we hardly had 10,000 people on a Friday night. We brought fans back to the ballpark.”

“It flipped,” Waslewski said. “It went from ‘ho hum, do you want to go to the ballpark?’ To ‘we’ve got to go to the ballpark.’ Now you can’t get a ticket hardly.”

A team that couldn’t attract a million fans a year drew 1.7 million and an average of 21,331 in 1967. Yet the Impossible Dream would be so much more than the number of fans pushing through the turnstiles. Empty seats became full hearts.

The Red Sox hadn’t had a winning season since 1958. They finished ninth in 1965 and 1966. They were a sad-sack country club, awoken by an acerbic rookie manager named Dick Williams. Sarcasm, Lonborg said, was one of Williams’ defining characteristics. They also were only 42-40 on July 13.

That would change. Lonborg, Petrocelli, Yaz, they talked about returning from Cleveland to Logan Airport on July 23. They had swept a doubleheader to extend their winning streak to 10 games. Something was up, the pilot said, upon landing.

“It was a weird experience, especially when you think about airport travel now going through security,” Lonborg said. “We went down the runway and the pilot said we can’t stop here.”

Out of nowhere, there were 10,000 fans awaiting the team.

“It was a big pat on the back for us to realize all of a sudden we have a following here in Boston,” Lonborg said.

“Yeah, I think that’s when we knew,” Yaz said.

Yeah, the Summer of ’67 in New England was the Summer of Yaz, the summer a baseball team demonstrated, yeah, anything was possible.

“It gave everybody hope that something could happen when you least expect it,” Lonborg said.

“Players that were here in previous years all of a sudden started thinking differently,” Yastrzemski said. “Instead of being losers, they started thinking being winners. That’s how it all changed.”

Seventeen former players were honored before the game Wednesday. Yaz, of course, got the greatest reception from the 37,181 fans. In winning the 1967 Triple Crown, hitting 44 homers, he produced one of the great sustained performances in baseball history as the Red Sox emerged from an unforgettable four-team pennant race.

“Yaz had the most impactful season on a franchise in the history of the game,” Harrelson said. “It was a renaissance of baseball in New England.”

Game after game, hit after hit, catch after catch, Yaz lifted a team, lifted a region.

“Look, the ’67 team, we never claimed we were great,” Petrocelli said. “The big thing was it brought people back to the ballpark, families, kids were excited. But Yaz was everybody’s hero, including us. That was the key to the ballclub.

“We couldn’t wait for him to get up at the plate. He had it all going. A tremendous swing. He started pulling the ball, hitting homers. He used to hit to left field a lot. All of a sudden, wow, he hit shots over the bullpen in right.”

Petrocelli played his entire career with the Red Sox. He still lives in the area. He watches every Red Sox game.

“I love this team,” he said. “I love the young guys. (Rafael) Devers, Mookie (Betts, Andrew) Benintendi, all of them, there’s great future. I look at the pitching. There’s 2004, of course, but this could be one of the best staffs in a long time.”

Waslewski, who started Game 6 of the 1967 World Series against the Cardinals, a game the Red Sox won, lives half the year in Southington, Connecticut, and half in Arizona.

“Summers to see the Red Sox, winters to see the Cardinals, I miss the UConn guys and girls,” said Waslewski, who went to UConn for a year.

No, he doesn’t know Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes, another UConn pitcher. He does know this much as a fan.

“He frustrates me at times when he starts overthrowing,” Waslewski said. “He has great stuff if he’d just relax and let it go.”

Waslewski didn’t know it at the time, but he would find out later that schools in his home town had recessed classes and the intercom piped in the broadcast of the ’67 World Series games. That Game 6 he started was on a Wednesday afternoon.

“It was interesting to hear that some of the schools were even stopping classes to see what was happening,” Waslewski said. “My dad grew up in Wallingford (Connecticut). Waslewski wasn’t always spelled the same but I saw a lot of kids were named after me after what happened in 1967. That was cool.”

From Reggie Smith to Hawk Harrelson, everybody had a story, colorful memories.

“Oh, man, what laughs we’ve been having,” Petrocelli said. “But we’ve lost a lot of guys. Outstanding ballplayers and great men. We talked a lot about that, too.”

George Scott, Joe Foy … 14 players from the 1967 Sox have passed.

“That’s the thing that’s the hardest when you get a gathering like this,” Lonborg said. “But a lot of good life has been lived, grandkids born, a lot of good things have happened in Boston.”

The Red Sox finally won a World Series in 2004, breaking a curse of 86 years. They won again in 2007 and 2013. Yet it is the 1967 team that killed the greatest curse of all: A lack of interest.

Winning begot winning. The Red Sox got to the World Series in ’75 and ’86. Crowds got bigger and bigger. Television ratings got bigger and bigger. The Red Sox became a dominant New England narrative.

“I don’t think some of the magic of this Impossible Dream team would have had the same feeling had we won everything,” Lonborg said when asked about the Game 7 World Series loss. “The fact that we got so close and didn’t win almost was a better ending than having won it all, and just expecting things to be perfect after that. It was bittersweet but if I was a writer, I would have written that (loss) into the script.”

]]> 0 played on the Red Sox team that not only won the pennant in 1967, but turned around baseball in Boston. On Wednesday they reunited at Fenway. Left to right are Ken Harrelson, Rico Petrocelli, Jim Lonborg and Carl Yastrzemski.Thu, 17 Aug 2017 20:41:13 +0000
On Baseball: Trey Ball shows another glimpse of his talent Thu, 17 Aug 2017 22:34:24 +0000 Three right-handed batters came to the plate Thursday for Altoona in the second inning at Hadlock Field.

Left-hander Trey Ball challenged with fastballs inside, setting up his splitter and slider.

Strikeout. Strikeout. Strikeout.

“For him to be able to pound inside just opens up the entire outside half of the plate, to allow that splitter to work,” said Portland Sea Dogs catcher Jordan Procyshen. “He can also go back foot with that slider.”

Ball, 23, a first-round draft choice (seventh overall) in 2013, gave another glimpse of the potential the Boston Red Sox saw in him when they chose him out of New Castle High in Indiana.

Thursday marked the third time this year that Ball had pitched at least six innings without allowing a run. He went seven innings – with an economical 89 pitches – allowing four hits and one walk, striking out nine to tie a career best.

“Yeah, it was a very good outing,” Ball said matter-of-factly. “Made some pitches and let the defense work.”

Ball’s calm tone doesn’t represent the aggression he brings to the mound – often too aggressive. Ball wants to excel, sometimes at his peril.

“We’ve talked a lot about controlling his aggression level,” said Portland pitching coach Kevin Walker. “Sometimes that haunts him a little bit, trying to do too much. When he does that, he mislocates pitches.

“Today, he was a lot more under control and put the pitches where he wanted to. You saw the difference.”

Ball’s fastball hits 91 mph – not overpowering but effective when pinpointed.

“Everything was working off his fastball,” Procyshen said. “He was able to locate it down and in, up and in, down and away … wherever he wanted to put that fastball, he was hitting the glove.”

At times, Procyshen has been lunging with his glove. Ball can be wild. He came into Thursday with 50 walks in 105 innings. His WHIP was 1.84, tied for highest on the Portland staff.

But on Thursday, Ball allowed only one hit and one walk through the first four innings – and both baserunners were erased on double plays.

“He threw the ball with conviction,” said Manager Carlos Febles. “The ability to throw the secondary stuff for a strike was huge.”

Conviction will bring Ball far. You hear all the time that talented athletes need only to have confidence in their ability, and not press (see Devers, Rafael).

No telling if Ball will bloom into a major league starter, but his stuff looked good enough Thursday.

“Just going outing by outing and working on things in between,” Ball said. “Trying to stay consistent with everything.

“Recently I’ve been working on throwing the ball hard late, and not early when I tense up and the ball is going everywhere.”

In Ball’s two previous starts, both against Bowie, he didn’t get out of the fifth inning (needing 88 pitches for one game, and 90 for the other). He allowed a total of 21 hits, five walks and 10 earned runs.

“The name of the game with Trey is just being consistent,” Walker said.

Ball’s record is 6-10 and his ERA is 5.46. But there are some gems to be found. In nine of his 21 starts, he’s allowed two earned runs or fewer.

Everyone expects first-rounders to rush up to the big leagues – a la Benintendi, an outfielder who played in college – but Ball is grinding away. Boston has time. While Ball is eligible for the Rule V draft this offseason, it would be quite a gamble for a team to pick him and stick him on a major league roster for the entire 2018 season.

Ball won’t be a minor league free agent for two years – two more seasons to find that consistency.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

Twitter: @ClearTheBases

]]> 0 Ball of the Portland Sea Dogs put the ball where he wanted and let his defense do the work Thursday, pitching seven shutout innings and showing the talent that made him a first-round draft pick.Thu, 17 Aug 2017 23:05:55 +0000
Red Sox consider name change for Yawkey Way Thu, 17 Aug 2017 22:16:41 +0000 BOSTON — The Boston Red Sox will ask the city to rename Yawkey Way, the street alongside Fenway Park, to erase what owner John Henry called a haunting reminder of the team’s history of racial intolerance.

Henry told the Boston Herald on Thursday that he welcomes changing the name of the street that honors his predecessor, Tom Yawkey, an inductee in the baseball Hall of Fame, and is the mailing address for the ballpark and team offices.

Under Yawkey, who owned the club for four decades, the Red Sox were the last team in the major leagues to cross the color barrier while choosing not to sign black players, including Jackie Robinson and Willie Mays.

“It’s a continuation of John’s strong feelings about tolerance and inclusion, and making sure that everyone in Boston and New England feels welcome at Fenway Park,” said the Red Sox president, Sam Kennedy.

“This is just the beginning of a process that will involve the community.”

Henry didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

Kennedy said a change would require a discussion among the property owners along Yawkey Way. In addition to the Red Sox, that would mean the owner of a large souvenir stand across the street from Fenway Park as well as a hamburger restaurant on the corner, he said. (The owners of the souvenir shop told the Herald they wouldn’t be opposed to a name change.)

“The different property owners would need to get together and discuss this,” Kennedy said. “You need a consensus to petition the city.”

Yawkey came into his inheritance in 1933 at age 30 and promptly bought into the all-white sport of major league baseball.

Then he did what he could to keep it that way.

As other teams abandoned the color barrier, the Red Sox held out, giving Robinson a tryout and scouting Mays but opting to sign neither. The club eventually signed Pumpsie Green as its first black player in 1959 – more than a decade after Robinson debuted for the Brooklyn Dodgers and after even Willie O’Ree took the ice for the Boston Bruins as the first black player in the NHL.

Yawkey owned the club until his death in 1976, when his wife, Jean, took control. She died and left the ballclub in the care of a foundation that bore their name; a trustee, John Harrington, ran the team until it was sold to Henry and his partners in 2002.

“When we got here in 2002, one of the first things (Henry) did was acknowledge the shameful past in terms of race relations and inclusion,” Kennedy said.

Still, the team has struggled to accomplish its goal of making Fenway more welcoming to minorities.

In May, Orioles outfielder Adam Jones said a fan called him a racist slur; Kennedy apologized. The same week a fan was banned from the ballpark for life for using a variant of the N-word while speaking to another fan about the national anthem singer.

The Red Sox also distanced themselves from their flagship radio broadcaster, WEEI, where hosts doubted Jones’ version of the events; former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling also said Jones was lying.

Henry told the Herald that he previously approached the city about changing the name, but Mayor Tom Menino “did not want to open what they saw as a can of worms.”

The Yawkey Foundation, which was funded largely by the $700 million Henry’s group paid for the team, has been a philanthropic force in Boston for the past 15 years.

“The Yawkey Foundation has done a lot of great things over the years that have nothing to do with our history,” Henry told the paper.

Among the things in Boston named for Yawkey are an athletic building at Boston College and the Red Sox Most Valuable Player Award bestowed by the local chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Henry told the paper he would like to see the street renamed for David Ortiz; the city already has named an extension of the road after the former Red Sox slugger, who retired last year.

“That’s a conversation for another day,” Kennedy said.

]]> 0, 17 Aug 2017 21:07:24 +0000
Sea Dogs finish short homestand with 2-0 matinee victory Thu, 17 Aug 2017 18:22:53 +0000 Pitchers Trey Ball and Mitch Keller were locked in Thursday, which meant the Portland Sea Dogs and Altoona Curve were being shut out.

But Cole Sturgeon awoke the Sea Dogs with a leadoff triple in the fifth. Two RBI hits followed and that was all Portland needed in a 2-0 win at Hadlock Field.

Portland finished a short homestand by winning 2 of 3 from Altoona.

Ball, 23, the Boston Red Sox first-round draft pick in 2013, won it with seven shutout innings. The left-handed Ball (6-10) gave up four hits and one walk, striking out nine.

Keller, 21, rated the Pittsburgh Pirates’ No. 2 prospect, took the loss (now 0-1) in his third Double-A start. Keller, a right-hander, used a 95 mph fastball and deadly curve to allow four hits, striking out eight over six innings.

Keller had allowed only one hit – a bunt single – through four innings. Then Sturgeon came up.

“He was working in and out all day. He located well,” said Sturgeon, who bats left-handed. “Just trying to have a good at-bat. I got an inside fastball.”

Sturgeon jumped on the pitch – 103 mph exit velocity – sending it down the right-field line. He reached third base standing up.

With one out, Deiner Lopez fisted a bloop double down the left-field line, scoring Sturgeon. Danny Mars singled in Lopez with a grounder up the middle.

Ball was on his game and also got good defense. In the third inning, Elvis Escobar singled and tried to score on Pablo Reyes’ double to left. But the relay from Mars to the shortstop, Lopez, to catcher Jordan Procyshen, got Escobar.

Jake Cosart pitched a 1-2-3 eighth (two strikeouts). Bobby Poyner continued his amazing run with a scoreless ninth (one single), for his eighth save. Poyner, with a 90 mph fastball, along with a solid change-up, lowered his ERA to 0.27 (one earned run in 33 innings).

“The guy goes out there and has a plan,” pitching coach Kevin Walker said. “He has a really, deceptive, sneaky fastball he commands as well as anybody.

“He can command on the corners and can elevate the fastball and that helps the change-up play well.”

NOTES: The announced paid attendance was 5,674. … Mars has a 17-game hitting streak. … Mars and Jeremy Barfield entered the game 2-3 in the Eastern League batting race. Mars (1 for 4) stayed at .313 and Barfield (0 for 4) dropped to .304. Garabez Rosa of Bowie leads at .319.… Cosart lowered his ERA to 3.35 and has 48 strikeouts in 43 innings. … The Sea Dogs left after the game for Binghamton, New York, and five games over three days, making up two previous rainouts. If any of this weekend’s games are rained out, they will be made up when the Rumble Ponies come to Portland on Aug. 24-27. … Binghamton’s appearance at Hadlock would be a lot more interesting if a certain outfielder is promoted to Double-A. But the Mets still have Tim Tebow in advanced Class A.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

Twitter: @ClearTheBases

]]> 0 Lopez slides safely into second with a double for the Sea Dogs as Altoona's Pablo Reyes applies the tag Thursday at Hadlock Field in Portland.Thu, 17 Aug 2017 23:24:17 +0000
NFL notebook: Former Patriots nose tackle Lester Williams dies at 58 Thu, 17 Aug 2017 17:19:00 +0000 FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The New England Patriots said Thursday that former nose tackle Lester Williams, who started in the franchise’s first Super Bowl appearance following the 1985 season, died at age 58.

The team said Williams died at home Wednesday in Birmingham, Alabama. It didn’t give other details.

Williams, the 27th overall pick in the 1982 draft, played in 40 games for the Patriots from 1982-85. He also played one season for San Diego (1986) and Seattle (1987). For the Patriots, he had 39 solo tackles, 60 assists, five sacks and three fumble recoveries.

Williams started all nine games during his NFL strike-shortened rookie year.

RAIDERS: Los Angeles prosecutors said cornerback Sean Smith was charged with beating his sister’s boyfriend last month, and will face assault and battery charges.

They say Smith, 30, beat the victim and then stomped on the man’s head July 4 in Pasadena, California.

JETS: Linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin tweaked his back and sat out practice, leaving him uncertain for the preseason game Saturday night at Detroit.

Mauldin dealt with a back issue earlier during training camp but returned to the field Wednesday. Coach Todd Bowles said Mauldin was inside receiving treatment during practice.

BROWNS: Coach Hue Jackson said comments he made earlier in the week about players protesting during the national anthem were misconstrued.

Jackson was criticized – most notably by Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe – for appearing to discourage his players for displaying any form of protest prior to games. Jackson wanted the focus to remain on football, saying, “I would hope we don’t have those issues.”

SEAHAWKS: Center Justin Britt signed a multiyear contract extension that will keep the anchor of the offensive line in place beyond the 2017 season.

It’s believed to be a three-year deal and takes away any concern that Britt would leave after this season when his rookie contract expires.

49ERS: Rookie linebacker Reuben Foster has a mild AC joint sprain in his surgically repaired right shoulder.

Foster was held out of contact during practice with the Denver Broncos because of the injury. The team said the injury isn’t related to the torn rotator cuff that Foster had an operation on before the draft.

COLTS: Center Ryan Kelly will have surgery on his injured foot and be out indefinitely.

Kelly was injured during a joint practice with Detroit last week and didn’t play in Sunday’s preseason opener.


EAGLES 20, BILLS 16: Of all the high-profile players making debuts in a new uniform, Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby was most impressive.

Darby intercepted former teammate Tyrod Taylor’s pass and returned it 48 yards and also broke up two passes in his first game since Philadelphia acquired him from Buffalo last week, and the Eagles won at home.

Alshon Jeffery, a former Pro Bowl wide receiver signed by the Eagles in the offseason, caught his first pass from Carson Wentz and finished with two receptions for 23 yards.

Bills cornerback E.J. Gaines also had an interception in his first game since coming from the Rams in a trade last week. Gaines picked third-string quarterback Matt McGloin, who has struggled in two preseason games.

Wideout Anquan Boldin, a three-time Pro Bowl pick recently signed by the Bills, caught one pass for 5 yards.

The Eagles traded wide receiver Jordan Matthews and a 2018 third-round pick for Darby. Matthews, a popular player in Philadelphia’s locker room, didn’t make the trip because of a chest injury.

RAVENS 31, DOLPHINS 7: Jay Cutler ran onto the field with the Dolphins for the first time, and the home fans greeted their new quarterback with a loud ovation.

They didn’t have much else to cheer about over the next three hours.

Ryan Mallett threw for 113 yards and a touchdown, Josh Woodrum ran for two more scores and the Baltimore Ravens beat the Dolphins in the second preseason game for both teams.

Cutler played the first two series for the Dolphins, his debut as injured starter Ryan Tannehill’s replacement in Miami. He was 3 of 6 for 24 yards, some of it in a no-huddle tempo, and his highlight play was one that didn’t count. Facing a third-and-16, Cutler stepped up and found DeVante Parker for what would have been a 31-yard gain — one erased by a holding flag.

“He was good. We kind of got the tempo going and got comfortable,” Dolphins Coach Adam Gase said. “He had a couple really nice moves in the pocket, pushing up and making a couple guys miss. We had penalties on the play, so it was negated, but he felt good.”

Ravens starting quarterback Joe Flacco isn’t expected to play until Week 1 of the regular season because of back woes, and Mallett played the entire first half.

Mallett completed 13 of 22 passes, getting intercepted twice — both on passes intended for Quincy Adeboyejo.

BUCS 12, JAGUARS 8:  Jameis Winston continued his solid preseason, completing 21 of 29 passes for 196 yards and helping Tampa Bay beat host Jacksonville.

Winston had two passes dropped, including what would have been a 43-yard touchdown strike to Mike Evans in the first quarter.

The Buccaneers (1-1) scored on their first three possessions, getting a short touchdown run from Doug Martin and two field goals from Nick Folk. Tampa Bay dominated Jacksonville in two quarters that featured mostly starters, outgaining the Jags 240-59 and looking like the much better team.

Evans finished with five catches for 57 yards, but missed a chance for a huge gain when he let Winston’s perfectly thrown deep ball slip through his fingers. It was about the only thing that went right for the Jaguars (1-1).

]]> 0, 17 Aug 2017 23:12:58 +0000
Grindle edges Wyman for Match Play golf title Thu, 17 Aug 2017 16:48:46 +0000 OAKLAND — It was Sam Grindle’s turn Thursday.

Five weeks after losing to Jack Wyman by two strokes in the Maine Amateur, Grindle turned the tables, winning the Maine Match Play Invitational 3 and 2 in the final at the Waterville Country Club.

“Sam and I have battled for a long time. This isn’t the first time we’ve met in the final,” said the top-seeded Wyman. “He’s like my arch-nemesis. He’s a good buddy of mine. It seems like we always meet up toward the end.”

The second-seeded Grindle won holes 15 and 16 to break open a close match.

“I’ve played Jack a bunch this summer and a bunch over the last five or six years. He’s a great kid. He’s a good player,” said the 22-year-old Grindle. “I knew it was going to be tough but I knew it was going to be fun, too. Lucky for me I only had to beat him once.”

It was the first Match Play title for Grindle, who won the Class C state championship for Deer Isle-Stonington High in 2012.

“This is actually the best I played all week. It’s nice to play your best in the most important time so I’m definitely pleased with that,” Grindle said.

Grindle clinched the match by sinking an 8-foot birdie putt on the par-3 16th. The putt was slightly downhill and Grindle studied it a little longer than usual.

“I was afraid I was going to overread it at first, but I took a little break and made the putt,” Grindle said.

He put himself in position to win on No. 16 by parring the 15th; Wyman took a bogey.

The 15th was emblematic of Wyman’s putting troubles. On the 12th and 13th, he missed birdie putts that would have evened the match.

“Sam just didn’t make any mistakes so I knew I had to make a few (putts) in order to win against him. They didn’t fall but he just beat me. That’s how it goes,” said the 26-year-old Wyman. “The putter just wasn’t there for me today. That’s kind of my story. Overall I’m happy with it and I’m happy Sam won. He’s a great kid. It just wasn’t my day.”

Wyman, who plays out of the Portland Country Club, made a few early putts, including a 20-footer uphill for birdie on No. 4 to tie the match.

“I hadn’t really made anything that long all week,” he said.

The tie lasted one hole.

Grindle’s second shot on No. 5 was arguably the best of the three-day, five-round tournament. From approximately 145 yards and playing a little into the wind, Grindle stuck his approach within a foot of the pin.

“It was nice to hit a few good shots in the beginning. You always like to settle into the round as early as possible,” said Grindle. “I’ve played a lot of golf this summer and I’ve played decent, so I was pretty comfortable.

“Jack had missed the green so I didn’t want to get too aggressive. I just fired the shot down and it was a perfect number, right next to the flag. I was just hoping it wouldn’t come down off that slope, but it stopped right next to the hole. I was hoping it was as good as it looked walking up, and it was.”

Grindle went 2 up when Wyman bogeyed No. 7. On the eighth, a Grindle bogey cut his lead back to 1 up, where it remained until the final two holes.

“We both went back and forth. We both had a lot of putts to win holes and hit some pretty good putts,” Grindle said.

“He hit three or four that caught a lot of the hole and didn’t fall. That’s definitely golf. It happens. We both had our opportunities and I was fortunate enough to take advantage of some near the end.”

Next week Grindle will head south for his senior season as a member of the golf team at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. He said he’s undecided about his golf plans after college.

“I’m going to play it by ear. Playing pro golf would be awesome but we’ll see how it goes,” said Grindle. “(I’ll see) if I’m playing well at the right time, or in for more school. We’ll see.”This story will be updated.

]]> 0, 17 Aug 2017 23:22:59 +0000
Portland’s new hockey franchise unveils 5 finalists for team name Thu, 17 Aug 2017 16:45:58 +0000 They won’t be the Pirates.

Nor will they be Moosequitoes or Wharf Rats.

Portland’s newest professional hockey franchise will be nicknamed from one of five options that the team announced Thursday. The finalists were culled from 3,805 submissions during a name-the-team contest over the past few weeks:

Mariners (whether Maine or Portland remains to be seen).

Watchmen (think lighthouse keepers).

Lumberjacks (Bunyanesque).

Puffins (could make for a colorful goalie mask).

Wild Blueberries (sounds juicy).

“I’m happy with any of the five,” said Adam Goldberg, vice president of business operations for the franchise, and the only team employee based in Portland so far. “I think all five have good value, a good connection to the area and some good marketing (possibilities) behind them.”

Fans can vote for their favorite on the team’s website, The team will begin play at Cross Insurance Arena during the 2018-19 ECHL season.

Goldberg said the team had reserved internet addresses for all five names, though in some cases that required using a variant of the name. A search of the WHOIS domain registry Thursday night indicated that is registered to Goldberg, and is registered to Brian Dick of Prosper, Texas. The three other combinations of Portland and the nickname were not found in the registry.

The most popular suggestion, judging from entries received – harkens back to the area’s original pro hockey franchise. The Maine Mariners played in the brand-new Cumberland County Civic Center in 1977 as a member of the American Hockey League.

The Mariners instantly endeared themselves by winning the Calder Cup title in each of their first two seasons, the only franchise in AHL history to do so.

“I’m in for the Mariners redux,” said Lynda Hathaway, a longtime figure skating coach at Troubh Ice Arena who lives in Yarmouth. “I think it’s really cool. They could bring back that original Mariner team with Gordie Clark and Brian Burke and all the guys, the old-timers now.”


If Mariners is selected, there may be a few legal hurdles to clear because of trademark issues. Similarly, the Portland Lumberjacks currently do business (albeit one weekend in April) as a Professional Bowling Association team.

“The Watchmen, that was my second choice,” Hathaway said. “Because of the (Portland Observatory) watchtower up on Munjoy Hill, I thought that could be a nice symbol.”

Lindsey Bateman, 28, of South Portland, liked Watchmen best of all. Instead of a lighthouse or observatory, the name conjured images of the graphic novel and movie adaptation.

“It reminds me of everyday superheroes,” Bateman said.

Rob Simopoulos, 40, of Cape Elizabeth, concurs. The Watchmen, he said, “seems like a role that’s strong and decisive and makes sure things are done right. A hockey team needs something like that.”

Andrew Rinaldi, 39, of Cape Elizabeth, is in Hathaway’s nostalgic corner.

“I think Mariners makes the most sense,” he said. “That’s what Portland is all about, right? Lots of people on the sea.”

Even though fans are being asked to vote for their favorite among the five nicknames, the team may not adhere strictly to the popular vote.

“It’ll be more of a fan suggestion of what they would like the team name to be,” Goldberg said. “We won’t go purely based on percentages. But I’d like to think we’re smart enough to know when something is wanted.”

The winning name will be announced in mid-September.


The Portland Puffins has a nice ring to it, said Peter Dixon, 76, a former semi-pro hockey player in Connecticut who lives in Cape Elizabeth, “but you’re not going to get cross-checked by a Puffin.”

Hold on, objected his lunchtime dining companion outside Taco Trio restaurant in South Portland.

“If you could be a Duck,” pointed out Michael Murphy, 79, of Cape Elizabeth, referring to the NHL franchise based in Anaheim, California, “you could be a Puffin.”

Another in their party of five, Priscilla Harrison, 70, addressed the most creative of the five choices.

“I love blueberries, especially wild ones,” she said. “But I can’t see that for a sports team.”

Three boys waiting for autographs from Sea Dogs baseball players Thursday afternoon between the ice arena and Hadlock Field’s left-field clubhouse all went with the juicy selection, independent of each other.

“I’d go with the Wild Blueberries,” said Ed Brewer, 13, of South Portland. “It’s unique. It stands out more.”

Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or

Twitter: GlennJordanPPH

]]> 0 Cross Insurance Arena in Portland has been without a major tenant since the Portland Pirates left in May 2016, shortly after the completion of a $33 million renovation that overhauled locker room and training facilities and upgraded other aspects of the arena, which was built in the mid-1970s.Fri, 18 Aug 2017 14:30:00 +0000
Poll: Pick your favorite name for Portland’s new ECHL team Thu, 17 Aug 2017 12:34:35 +0000
]]> 0, 17 Aug 2017 12:50:22 +0000
On Baseball: Barfield rebuilding his resume Thu, 17 Aug 2017 08:00:00 +0000 From May 29 through Tuesday, only four professional baseball players had hit 22 or more home runs.

Three are in the major leagues – Giancarlo Stanton, Cody Bellinger and Mike Moustakas.

The other is in Double-A.

Jeremy Barfield keeps swatting them out. His 22 home runs are already a record for the Portland Sea Dogs as a Red Sox affiliate, even though he did not join the team until late May.

But why is he still on the team? If Barfield was a young prospect, Red Sox fans might be calling for his promotion. This is an organization that could use power.

But several factors are keeping Barfield in Double-A.

He’s not young in baseball years. Barfield turned 29 in July. If he was in the Red Sox lineup Wednesday night, he’d be the fourth oldest player.

Lack of track record. Barfield has never reached the majors. He has 77 Triple-A games on his resume, the last of those coming in 2015. He spent last year and the start of this season in an independent league.

The organization. The Red Sox are stocked in young outfielders – with Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Andrew Benintendi.

In fact, Boston may have the most stacked group of minor league outfielders, with no place to go.

In Triple-A Pawtucket, Bryce Brentz has hit 28 home runs, and Rusney Castillo is batting .308 with 14 home runs.

So, is Barfield buried in Double-A?

“I wouldn’t say that,” Sea Dogs Manager Carlos Febles said. “To me, he’s putting himself on the map. (With him coming) from independent ball, I wasn’t expecting him to do what he’s doing.

If not for his age, Jeremy Barfield might be regarded as a top prospect. But even at age 29, he’s sure to attract interest in the offseason if the Red Sox elect not to keep him. Staff photo by Brianna Soukup

“He can hit fastballs and breaking balls. He’s a very good hitter. I wouldn’t count this guy out. Something I would never give up on is power. Where can you find power?

“He might get a shot to come back to this organization, or with another team.”

Barfield, who first played pro ball in 2008, knows better than to think ahead.

“There’s nothing else to think about. I’ve been on my way out of this game the past two years. I’m just trying to keep my foot in the door,” Barfield said.

Barfield was released in spring training in 2015, but played his way back into affiliate ball. But he did not get any offers in 2016 and played for the independent Sugar Land (Texas) Skeeters, hitting 27 home runs.

When Barfield again did not get any offers in 2017, he considered retiring but was convinced by his wife to return. He hit nine homers for Sugar Land before the Red Sox signed him and sent him to Portland.

Barfield received no promises.

“They said I’m going to Portland, and how I do will dictate my playing time. That’s it. That was good enough for me,” Barfield said.

“If I’m here the whole time, that’s fine. I enjoy it here. Good opportunity to set myself up for whatever happens next.”

There are other elder Sea Dogs players with major league experience. They, like Barfield, can control only so much.

“We’ve talked about it,” said corner infielder Mike Olt, 28, who has played for the Cubs and White Sox. “You just need to play, stay healthy and hope good things will happen.

“Putting up numbers like this will help (Barfield) next year.”

What about next year? Has Barfield talked to his agent? He chuckled at the question.

“I don’t have an agent,” he said. “That’s a thing I need to reconsider … It’s a good position to be in, to actually have that conversation.”

But Barfield keeps the conversation in check.

“I’m just trying to be as consistent as possible, in all honesty,” he said. “Just seeing it well. Just trying to capitalize on pitches to hit.”

On Wednesday, Barfield went 2 for 4 with two doubles while also showing off his arm. With a runner on second base, Barfield charged a single and threw home on the fly, keeping the runner at third.

Barfield finally has enough plate appearances to rank among the Eastern League batting leaders – his .309 average is third best, and his .992 OPS easily leads the league. His 22 homers rank fourth. The numbers make Barfield a legitimate MVP candidate.

“Everyone has their own path,” Barfield said. “I’m just trying to prolong my career at this point. I guess I’m just a late bloomer, and that’s OK. I still enjoy it as much as ever.”

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

Twitter: ClearTheBases

]]> 0 he hit his first home run for the Sea Dogs on May 29, Jeremy Barfield has more homers – 22 – than any other minor league player.Wed, 16 Aug 2017 23:49:35 +0000
Real Madrid beats Barcelona 2-0 without Ronaldo to win Super Cup Thu, 17 Aug 2017 03:41:17 +0000 MADRID — Real Madrid beat Barcelona 2-0 to complete a 5-1 victory on aggregate in the Spanish Super Cup on Wednesday, dominating its fiercest rival without the need of Cristiano Ronaldo or Gareth Bale.

Marco Asensio and Karim Benzema provided the goals in the second leg for a Madrid side that showed every ounce of confidence that Barcelona sorely lacked.

While Bale was rested on the bench, Ronaldo watched the game from the Santiago Bernabeu stands as he completed the first game of a five-match ban for pushing the referee who sent him off in Sunday’s 3-1 first-leg win.

Asensio filled in perfectly for Madrid’s star, scoring five minutes into the match for his second goal in the season’s curtain raiser. Benzema added a second goal in the 39th after Lucas Vazquez had already hit the post for the hosts.

Last season’s Liga and Champions League winners, Madrid also beat Manchester United to win the European Super Cup last week.

“We played very well in the away leg and we had a great game tonight, above all in the first half, which was spectacular,” Madrid cCoach Zinedine Zidane said. “We have to congratulate the players because they were fantastic. You couldn’t notice the changes (to the starting lineup).”

Barcelona struggled to score for a second match since the shocking departure of Neymar on a world-record transfer to Paris Saint-Germain. The closest it went to scoring was Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez hitting the woodwork in the second half after the title was already in Madrid’s grasp.

After seeing his team be soundly beaten on its home pitch in his debut with the team on Sunday, Barcelona’s new coach Ernesto Valverde decided to revamp both his starting 11 and its formation.

He ditched Barcelona’s classic 4-3-3 formation for a 3-5-2, with only Messi and Suarez up front. Neymar had accompanied them for the past four seasons before he bolted for PSG.
Valverde also gave starts to midfielders Andre Gomes and Sergi Roberto and defender Javier Mascherano, in place of Sunday’s starters Aleix Vidal, Gerard Deulofeu and the injured Andres Iniesta.

It didn’t matter.

Barcelona had no answer for Madrid’s pressure, lost ball after ball in its own half, and clearly missed Neymar’s presence on the left flank to start quick attacks.

“They showed more energy in their pressure and we suffered when they recovered the ball,” Valverde said. “It’s obvious that we have to recover our spirit quickly.”

The only bright spot on another long night for Barcelona was the positive contribution of Roberto, who provided the only consistent attacking spark besides Messi.

Zidane also rested Francisco “Isco” Alarcon and Casemiro, who went on late. Luka Modric was back from suspension and outplayed all of Barcelona’s midfielders.

Asensio picked up right where he had left the first leg, stunning goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen with a long strike that floated overhead before landing in the net.

Asensio earned a place in Zidane’s starting 11 after going on as a substitute on Sunday and capping Madrid’s victory by scoring a 90th-minute goal with a long shot that Ter Stegen failed to stop.

The 21-year-old forward started the second leg with a similar superb strike, bending a left-footed shot from well outside the area over a flatfooted Ter Stegen.

Messi needed over 10 minutes to finally touch the ball, and once he did Barcelona showed signs of life with two Messi-led attacks that made Madrid work in defense.

But despite having five midfielders, Barcelona never established control. A bad pass by Mascherano almost led to a goal from Vazquez, who hit the post in the 33rd.

That was just a warning of was about to come when Sergio Busquets lost another ball near Barcelona’s area. Madrid left back Marcelo pounced by sending a low cross into the area, when Benzema twisted around Samuel Umtiti and swept in his goal.

It took almost an hour for Messi to finally produced Barcelona’s first serious threat when he forced Keylor Navas to palm his shot onto the bar in the 53rd.

Suarez headed a rebound of Messi’s strike parried by Navas off the upright in the 71st. The striker finished the match favoring his right knee after running into Navas.

Madrid starts its defense of its Spanish league title on Sunday at Deportivo La Coruna, while Barcelona will try to rebound at home against Real Betis.

]]> 0, 16 Aug 2017 23:42:27 +0000
Major league roundup: Judge homers, Yankees top Mets again Thu, 17 Aug 2017 03:19:43 +0000 NEW YORK — Aaron Judge launched a titanic homer, Didi Gregorius snapped a seventh-inning tie with a two-run double and the New York Yankees beat the Mets 5-3 on Wednesday night for their third straight victory in the Subway Series.

After taking the first two matchups in the Bronx this week, the Yankees kept up their winning ways when the crosstown rivalry shifted to Queens. Judge enjoyed his first game at Citi Field, hitting a solo drive into the rarely reached third deck in left.

Mets left fielder Yoenis Cespedes never even budged as Judge’s AL-leading 37th home run, projected at 457 feet, soared way over his head.

The rookie slugger also singled and scored on Chase Headley’s sacrifice fly. But he struck out in the ninth inning to extend a dubious streak: Judge has fanned in 33 consecutive games, three shy of the record for a position player set by Adam Dunn from 2011-12.

ANGELS 3, NATIONALS 2: Luis Valbuena and Kole Calhoun homered, Ricky Nolasco bounced back from a rocky first inning before exiting with an injury and the Los Angeles Angels won at Washington to split a two-game series.

Tanner Roark (9-8) allowed four hits in seven innings for Washington, but was done in by the two home runs. Valbuena hit his 13th homer of the season to center to lead off the fifth, and Calhoun followed Mike Trout’s two-out infield single in the sixth with a shot into the second deck in right field. It was Calhoun’s 14th homer.


BLUE JAYS 3, RAYS 2: Marcus Stroman pitched 6 1/3 innings, Steve Pearce homered and scored twice and Toronto won at home.

Stroman (11-6) allowed two runs and six hits to beat the Rays for the first time in five career meetings at Rogers Centre. The right-hander entered 0-3 with a 6.38 ERA in four home starts against the AL East rivals.

MARINERS 7, ORIOLES 6: Recently acquired Yonder Alonso hit his first homer for host Seattle and drove in three runs, and Marc Rzepczynski struck out Chris Davis with the bases loaded to seal a victory over Baltimore.

Alonso, acquired in a trade with Oakland on Aug. 6, hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning, his 23rd of the season. He added an RBI single during a three-run fifth and also singled in the seventh.

ROYALS 7, ATHLETICS 6: Alex Gordon hit a go-ahead RBI single in the ninth after Oakland tied it in the bottom of the eighth, and Kansas City won at Oakland.

Alcides Escobar doubled to start the ninth against Blake Treinen (1-1), matching his season high with three hits. Then Gordon delivered his second run-scoring single of the series finale.


PADRES 3, PHILLIES 0: Clayton Richard pitched a three-hitter for his first shutout since 2012 and Wil Myers stole three bases in an inning as San Diego completed a three-game sweep at home.

BREWERS 7, PIRATES 6: Manny Pina hit a two-run homer in the eighth inning to lift host Milwaukee over Pittsburgh.

Pina’s one-out shot to right field came off Pirates reliever Juan Nicasio (1-5).

MARLINS 8, GIANTS 1: Giancarlo Stanton’s homer streak ended at six games, but he singled, stole a base and scored in a four-run first inning to help Miami win at home.

]]> 0 Judge of the Yankees homers during the fourth inning of Wednesday's game against the New York Mets. Didi Gregorius also homered as the Yankees won, 5-3.Wed, 16 Aug 2017 23:23:15 +0000
Red Sox score three in the 9th to edge Cardinals, 5-4 Thu, 17 Aug 2017 03:13:16 +0000 BOSTON — Mookie Betts lined a two-run double off the left-field wall with two outs in the ninth inning, capping a three-run rally that lifted the Boston Red Sox to a 5-4 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday night.

Xander Bogaerts hit a solo homer for the AL East-leading Red Sox, who won for the 12th time in 14 games and maintained their 41/2-game lead over the second-place New York Yankees.

Kolten Wong had three hits, including an RBI single in St. Louis’ four-run second inning, and Lance Lynn held Boston’s offense down with six solid innings before the Red Sox rallied.

It was just the third loss in 11 games for the Cardinals, who were swept in the two-game series, their first visit to Fenway Park since the 2013 World Series.

Cardinals Manager Mike Matheny was ejected by home plate umpire Chris Segal in a wild ninth inning. Trevor Rosenthal gave up Bogaerts’ homer into the Green Monster seats. Zach Duke (0-1) struck out a batter and walked one before John Brebbia gave up Betts’ hit, with Jackie Bradley Jr. beating a relay home with a headfirst slide for the winning run as catcher Yadier Molina dropped the throw.

Craig Kimbrel (5-0) pitched one hitless inning for the win.

Lynn allowed two runs – one earned – and seven hits, walking and striking out three.

Eduardo Rodriguez gave up four runs and eight hits in 51/3 innings.

The Cardinals jumped ahead 4-0 when Wong and Matt Carpenter sandwiched RBI singles around Luke Voit’s run-scoring double. Wong scored on Christian Vazquez’s passed ball.

Vazquez scored on a throwing error in the third when Lynn fired the ball wildly past first on Eduardo Nunez’s infield hit. Betts added his sacrifice fly.

NOTES: Manager John Farrell said LHP David Price (left elbow inflammation) rested after throwing Tuesday. … LF Andrew Benintendi returned to the lineup after getting hit by a pitch and leaving early Tuesday. …The Red Sox honored their 1967 AL champs – known as the Impossible Dream team. Led by Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski – a Triple Crown winner that season – there were 18 former players honored during an on-field pregame ceremony. It’s known as the team that triggered fan interest in Boston after years of small crowds. “I think we were the ones that sparked the fire and the fire is now ‘Red Sox Nation’ – and it’s great to be a part of that,” said Jim Lonborg, who won the ’67 Cy Young Award.

]]> 0 Betts is doused after his walk-off two-run double in the ninth inning Wednesday night against the St. Louis Cardinals at Fenway Park. Betts' two-out double gave Boston a 5-4 win.Wed, 16 Aug 2017 23:19:30 +0000
Sports Digest: Gavin Kane to coach UMPI women’s basketball team Thu, 17 Aug 2017 02:20:32 +0000 COLLEGES

UMPI hires Gavin Kane as women’s basketball coach

Gavin Kane, a member of the New England Basketball Hall of Famer, is the new coach of the University of Maine at Presque Isle’s women’s basketball program.

Kane won 17 conference championships, 13 Western Maine championships and seven state championships as a high school coach at Rangeley, Dirigo, Spruce Mountain and Mt. Blue, compiling a 522-117 record. He also had three-year stints as an assistant coach for the UMaine’s women’s basketball program and the UMaine-Farmington’s men’s program.

His greatest success was coaching the Dirigo girls, going 263-17 while winning 11 consecutive Western Class C titles from 1995-2005 and six state championships.


HALL OF FAME: Deanna (Rix) Betterman will become the first woman inducted into the Maine Amateur Wrestling Alliance Hall of Fame on Saturday at Hyde School in Bath.

Betterman won 100 high school matches, all against boys, and was the Class A runner-up in her weight class as a senior in 2005 at Marshwood High, where she was coached by her father, Matt Rix. Betterman, a mother of two, continues to wrestle nationally and internationally. A three-time U.S. team member, she has twice finished fifth in the world championships.

Also being inducted are Roy Treadwell, a three-time state champ at Sanford High (1968-70), Matt Lindsay, a four-time state champ at Penobscot Valley (1995-98), and former USM coach Joe Pistone.

Other honorees include four-time state champ Bradley Beaulieu of Marshwood as high school wrestler of the year, NCAA Division III champion Daniel Del Gallo of Southern Maine as college wrestler of the year, and Mt. Ararat/Brunswick’s Erick Jensen as coach of the year.

Sanford High’s 1964 and 1967 New England championship teams will also be honored.


WESTERN & SOUTHERN: Venus Williams fell in the second round to a qualifier, Ashleigh Barty, who rallied for a 6-3, 2-6, 6-2 upset in Mason, Ohio.

U.S. OPEN: Kei Nishikori is the latest top player to withdraw because of an injury – a torn tendon in his right wrist.

Defending champion Stan Wawrinka and three-time winner Novak Djokovic also are sidelined.


MAYWEATHER-MCGREGOR: The Nevada State Athletic Commission granted an exemption allowing Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor to use 8-ounce rather than 10-ounce gloves for their Aug. 26 bout.


NHL: Six weeks after extending Connor McDavid for eight years and $100 million, the Edmonton Oilers signed 21-year-old Leon Draisaitl to an eight-year contract with a sizable annual cap hit of $8.5 million. Draisaitl posted a career-best 77 points last season – eighth best in the NHL.

Matt Cullen signed a one-year, $1 million contract with the Minnesota Wild that contains $700,000 in potential bonuses. Cullen, who turns 41 in November, played on Pittsburgh’s Stanley Cup winners the past two seasons.


INDYCAR: Sebastien Bourdais has been cleared to resume racing, nearly three months after crashing during Indianapolis 500 qualifying.

IndyCar medical director Dr. Geoffrey Billows said the 38-year-old Frenchman was evaluated by IndyCar orthopedic consultant Dr. Kevin Scheid on Tuesday.

]]> 0 Wed, 16 Aug 2017 22:23:04 +0000
Major league notebook: Jeter can star in Miami front office, Torre believes Thu, 17 Aug 2017 02:10:35 +0000 CHICAGO — Derek Jeter won five World Series during a 20-year run with the New York Yankees. He piled up 3,465 hits and made the All-Star team 14 times while becoming one of baseball’s biggest stars.

Will that success continue in the front office of the Miami Marlins? Stay tuned.

Jeter is a limited partner in an ownership group led by venture capitalist Bruce Sherman that has a $1.2 billion agreement in place to buy the Marlins from Jeffrey Loria. Sherman met with the MLB ownership committee at the owners’ meetings on Wednesday, and the deal could be completed by the end of the season.

It’s a long road to the finish line, but the 43-year-old Jeter would take over Miami’s business and baseball operations if the transaction is approved. The Marlins have finished under .500 every year since 2010, something that never happened to Jeter while he was wearing pinstripes.

“He’s pretty well put together,” said former Yankees manager Joe Torre, now an MLB executive. “I don’t think he’s going into this thing blind. He’s pretty observant, came up in a tough organization in the city of New York. He’s been tested pretty much as far as consistently having to be responsible.”

PADRES: Right-hander Jered Weaver announced his retirement.

Weaver, a three-time All-Star, has battled health issues since signing with the Padres in the offseason. The 12-year veteran, who spent the bulk of his career with the Los Angeles Angels, had a lifetime mark of 150-98 with a 3.63 ERA. He was 0-5 with a 7.44 ERA this season.

“I’ve decided to step away from baseball,” Weaver, 34, said in a release. “While I’ve been working hard to get back on the mound, my body just will not allow me to compete like I want to.”

]]> 0 New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter is honored during a pregame ceremony Sunday at Yankee Stadium in New York. Jeter's No. 2 was retired and a plaque in his honor will be placed in Monument Park at the stadium.Wed, 16 Aug 2017 22:15:14 +0000
NFL notebook: Perfect season for Patriots, winless season for Jets both unlikely Thu, 17 Aug 2017 01:38:42 +0000 The two teams getting the most speculation during the NFL preseason, the New England Patriots and New York Jets, are garnering that attention for different reasons.

Some think the Patriots will go undefeated during the regular season, as they did in 2007. The oddsmakers in Las Vegas have high expectations for New England, too – the lines released by sports book operator CG Technology in May had the Patriots favored in every game. The Jets, on the other hand, have been cited by one unnamed NFL executive as having “the worst roster I’ve seen in a decade.”

Either of these extremes is a rare occurrence. The 2007 Patriots are the only team in league history to finish the regular season 16-0, joining the 1972 Miami Dolphins (14-0) as the only other team to go undefeated since the NFL-AFL merger of 1970. Only four teams have gone winless for an entire season since 1944: the 1960 Cowboys (0-11-1), the 1976 Buccaneers (0-14), the 1982 Colts (0-8-1), and the 2008 Lions (0-16).

The optimism for the Patriots is easy to defend. They went 14-2 last season en route to a Super Bowl victory, and based on 10,000 simulated seasons using Football Outsiders’ early season projected win totals, the Week 15 matchup on the road against the Pittsburgh Steelers is the most likely loss for the Patriots (48.2 percent chance), followed by a Week 10 game with Denver (44 percent chance of a Broncos win).

The Jets may find it difficult to win games. A season-ending neck injury to receiver Quincy Enunwa and a broken foot for Lucky Whitehead leaves the team with second-year pros Charone Peake (19 catches for 186 yards in 2016) and Robby Anderson (42 catches, 587 yards, two touchdowns) at the top of the depth chart. The offensive line ranks 20th at Pro Football Focus after left tackle Ryan Clady retired and center Nick Mangold was released.

Yet going winless is still a stretch, with good chances to beat the Cleveland Browns on the road in Week 5 (60.3 percent) and Jacksonville Jaguars at home in Week 4 (52.4 percent). It takes just one win to keep the Jets from making history.

Overall, the Patriots have a 1.1 percent chance (90-to-1) of going 16-0, and the Jets are less than half as likely to go 0-16 (0.4 percent, or 260-to-1).

SAINTS: Coach Sean Payton says cornerback Delvin Breaux needs lower-leg surgery that will sideline him about six weeks and that an initial misdiagnosis of the injury sparked a shake-up in the team’s medical staff.

Payton says Breaux has a fibula fracture that was initially diagnosed as a contusion. Breaux has missed more than a week of practice and Payton said he had been getting frustrated with the pace of Breaux’s recovery, based on the initial diagnosis.

The coach said the Saints will replace two orthopedic surgeons, and in the meantime receive help from Chargers physicians during joint practices in California leading up to their game Sunday in Los Angeles.

COWBOYS: Running back Ezekiel Elliott’s appeal of a six-game suspension over a domestic violence case will be heard by arbitrator Harold Henderson, who reduced Greg Hardy’s ban when the defensive end was with the Cowboys two years ago.

TV: Beth will become the first woman to call NFL play-by-play for CBS – Browns vs. Colts on Sept. 24.

Mowins will start the season calling a Monday night game between the Chargers and Broncos for ESPN. She will be the second woman to call play-by-play for an NFL regular-season game, and first since NBC’s Gayle Sierens in 1987.

]]> 0, 16 Aug 2017 21:52:29 +0000
Commentary: Bruins might let another young star leave Thu, 17 Aug 2017 00:57:51 +0000 The Bruins are starting to look like the University of Kentucky basketball program: Talented young players come and go in the blink of an eye, honing their skills and then moving on to bigger and better things.

For the Kentucky basketball players, “bigger and better things” means the National Basketball Association.

For the Bruins, it’s every other team in the National Hockey League.

The latest young, talented Bruin who may or may not be playing elsewhere next season – depending on whose tweets you’re reading – is right winger David Pastrnak. The 21-year-old had a sterling 2016-17 season, scoring 34 goals, but it’s the offseason that should worry Bruins fans.

As always, it comes down to money. Pastrnak wants more of it. The Bruins, alas, are like the short-armed alligator in the Geico commercial.

The two sides haven’t been able to work out a new deal, leading to speculation Pastrnak could soon be past tense.

My mission here isn’t to break down the Bruins depth chart, or give you a Popsicle headache with long, boring lectures about budgets and salary caps. Instead, I’ll simply pose a question: Doesn’t anybody grow old in a Bruins jersey any more?

David Pastrnak had a breakout season in 2016-17, scoring 34 goals, but the 21-year-old right wing’s future with the Bruins appears to be in doubt because of a contract dispute. Associated Press/Charles Krupa

Put another way, in 30 or 40 years, when aging Bruins alums are dusted off and asked to drop a ceremonial puck or speak at a charity event or appear with 100-year-old Dale Arnold on the NESN pregame program, will there actually be any aging Bruins in our midst?

Yes, it’s looking more and more like Patrice Bergeron is going to be a Bruin for life, even if, at the end of his playing career, he pulls a Raymond Bourque and does a cameo with another team. But no sweat: The Bruins could have him sign the symbolic one-day contract, as Vince Wilfork did last week with the Patriots, and we’d all have a group hug.

I’m not suggesting the Bruins are totally anonymous. David Krejci, Brad Marchand, Zdeno Chara and Tuukka Rask have been around long enough to know where the cool places are. But the point remains: If you’re a very talented, very young member of the Boston Bruins, don’t buy that hip Charlestown condo until you have an idea if you’re going to be around for a while.

What do Phil Kessel, Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton have in common? They’re all former first-round picks who played exactly three seasons with the Bruins and then were traded. Why they were traded – didn’t fit in with the system, too much partying, didn’t play nice with the other kids, Bruins didn’t want to pony up, etc. – isn’t important. Not for this discussion, anyway. What matters is that they all came to Boston, showed some promise, and then were shown the door.

And now look where we are: David Pastrnak is a former first-round draft pick who has completed his three seasons at the rock pile of the not-heavily-compensated. Now it’s his turn to want more dough. It may also mean it’s his turn to get traded, though the Bruins are saying that won’t be the case.

While reading about Pastrnak, I was reminded that just one night earlier I was at Fenway Park, watching rookie Rafael Devers bring life to an otherwise snoozefest of a game with two home runs. Devers is just 20 years old, and he’s been in the big leagues for less time than has elapsed since my car’s last trip through the car wash.

And Devers is the latest of a growing cast of young Red Sox players I’d be very pleased to watch play for the next 10 years. There’s nothing quite like seeing Jackie Bradley Jr. make those dazzling catches. Mookie Betts is kneeling in the on-deck circle of superstardom. I believe Xander Bogaerts will get his health back and figure things out.

My point: The baseball connoisseur in me wants to write about talented young players as they grow and blossom and mature. I’ll happily rip them to shreds when they screw up, but great athletes make for great stories. Keep ’em coming.

Look, I get it: It’s the 21st century. Players come, players go. But I still found myself missing Phil Kessel a few years ago when, during a playoff game at the Garden, the then-Toronto Maple Leaf picked up a loose puck behind his own net and proceeded to go coast-to-coast with Orr-like precision. (Settle down: I’m not putting Kessel in the same class as the sainted No. 4; I’m just saying it was an Orr-like play.)

Kessel is a grizzled guy. He looks like he played with the great Johnny Bower on the 1958-59 Maple Leafs. Incredibly, he’s still just 29. But he’s been so long an ex-Bruin that only a handful of his ex-teammates remain in the Boston dressing room.

As the Bruins determine whether Pastrnak’s playing skills make him worthy of a long-term deal for, say, $6 million per, they should also be determining what the kid’s name is worth.

We can agree Patrice Bergeron will be a Bruin for life. But he won’t be playing for life.

The Bruins should consider growing some veterans.

]]> 0 Pastrnak had a breakout season in 2016-17, scoring 34 goals, but the 21-year-old right wing's future with the Bruins appears to be in doubt because of a contract dispute.Wed, 16 Aug 2017 21:05:50 +0000
Saltwater fishing report Thu, 17 Aug 2017 00:51:43 +0000 If you are a recreational saltwater angler, Maine law may require you to register with the Maine Saltwater Recreational Fishing Registry. To learn more or to register, visit or call 633-9505.


As of Wednesday night, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has closed the Atlantic Bluefin General and Charter/Headboat categories (when fishing commercially) until Sept. 1. The NMFS has determined that the adjusted June through August subquota has been reached and that a closure is warranted at this time. Shark fishing remains very good with a mix of blues, makos and threshers. The minimum size for all keeper sharks (makos, porbeagles, threshers and blues) is 41/2 feet in length while basking and white sharks are federally protected species. If you are not sure of what species you have hooked, then “If you don’t know, let it go”. All vessels fishing recreationally for Atlantic tuna, sharks, swordfish and billfish must have an Atlantic HMS Angling Permit. For more information contact the NMFS at 978-281-9260 or visit their website. Changes have been made in the cod and haddock regulations for 2017. Anglers cannot retain any Atlantic cod, and the minimum size for haddock is 17 inches with a 12-fish-per-angler, per-day bag limit. The minimum size for halibut in federal waters is 41 inches and the taking of halibut in Maine territorial waters is closed from July 1 to April 30. Groundfishermen continue to report decent catches of haddock, pollock, hake, cusk and cod (cod must be released) using either bait or jigs with a teaser fly. Anglers heading offshore this weekend can expect a substantial swell generated by Hurricane Gert as it passes well to the east of us. Sea surface temperature are like last week. Reports from the Jeffrey’s Ledge buoy show temps in the high 60s while at the Portland LNB weather buoy temperatures are in the low 60s.


Federal striped bass regulations: It is unlawful to fish for, take or possess striped bass in federal waters (waters greater than three miles from shore). Statewide striped bass regulations: An angler may fish all year for striped bass, but may only keep one per day that measures over 28 inches total length. If you have any questions or would like copies of the 2017 saltwater regulations, call 633-9505 or check the web.

ZONE 1: For all zones, shore anglers should exercise caution this weekend as rip currents and unusual surf generated by Hurricane Gert could cause problems in some areas. Stripers, schoolies to trophies, are there for the taking. The key is to be flexible and to remember that what is a hot spot today may not produce any fish tomorrow. Pine Point, the Bathhouse end of Biddeford Pool, Goosefare Brook (coming tide) and Old Orchard have been giving up fish. Beach fishermen should check local ordinances prior to fishing as some area beaches may restrict fishing between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. until Labor Day. Chunked macs, worms and clams are the baits to use. Anglers can also find action in the lower portion of the rivers and the estuaries. If you are casting (from shore or boat) use Al Gags Whip-it Eels, Storm WildEye Swim Shad or the Bill Hurly’s 7 1/2 inch Cape Cod Sand Eels. Fly fishermen report better catches of late (fish the coming tide) using mackerel pattern, red/white and red/yellow Clousers and the pure black Deceiver (night). Mackerel are readily available in their usual spots.

ZONE 2: Anglers can still find stripers around the ledges, flats, islands and the lower portions of the rivers. Fishing has been decent for those willing to put in the time and effort. The mouths of the rivers (Presumpscot, Royal, Harraseeket, New Meadows, etc.) are best fished on a dropping tide while fishing along the ledges is often more productive during a coming tide. Clams and sea worms are the baits that have been producing fish. For the crank fisherman, artificials that are working include the Daiwa SP and DS Minnows, Yo-Zuri Pin’s Magnet, Hydro Pencil, Hydro Popper and the Rebel Jumpin’ Minnow. Blue or olive 1/0 and 2/0 Deceivers (day) and red or black Deceivers (night) have been doing the trick for those tossing a fly. Water temperatures at the Maine State Pier are almost at the 60-degree mark.

ZONE 3: Striped bass fishing remains very strong throughout most of this zone and well east of the Penobscot (Union, Narraguagus, Pleasant, etc. rivers). That is something that I have not been able to report in a number of years. Fish can be found in most of their customary spots, but like everything else, you’ve got to make the time investment to reap the reward. See Zones 1 and 2 for baits, artificials, flies and fishing tips. Boat anglers who are willing to move around until they find the fish have reported the best catch of macs. Shore anglers have found fishing hit or miss as these fish meander about. Chum (cat food) generally helps to hold the fish once you find them. With the Eastport Breakwater still out of commission, the mackerel crowd Downeast is finding it hard to find a place to fish. Remember that if you are fishing on the Kennebec, upstream of the power line in Augusta, you must have a current freshwater fishing license. Sea surface temperatures, as reported from the DMR dock in West Boothbay Harbor, are in the low to mid 60s.

This saltwater report is compiled by Bruce Joule, Maine Department of Marine Resources, P.O. Box 8, West Boothbay Harbor 04575. If you have information to report contact me at 633-9505 or


]]> 0, 16 Aug 2017 20:56:34 +0000
Versatility remains Bolden’s biggest asset for Patriots Thu, 17 Aug 2017 00:41:18 +0000 FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Despite being a serviceable running back and a solid special teams player with extensive playoff experience, Brandon Bolden sat on the free agent market for nearly a month waiting to be offered a contract.

Although Bolden waited, he didn’t wonder or worry.

“My daughter was born in the offseason, so I was just kind of focused on being a father and a good husband to my wife,” Bolden said. “Whatever was going to happen was going to happen, so I was just kind of like waiting around.”

Brandon and Arianna Bolden welcomed their daughter, Axelle, on March 11. The former high school sweethearts also have a son, 6-year-old Brycein.

“I got a boy, a girl and dog, so I’m calling it quits,” Bolden said with a smile before leaving the door to his family future ajar. “We’ll see what the wife says.”

As for that contract, the Patriots stepped up April 5 and signed Bolden to a one-year deal worth $855,000 that included a modest $80,000 in bonuses and an opportunity to earn a roster spot in New England for a sixth straight season.

There’s no other place this 27-year-old would rather be.

“I mean, I like it here,” Bolden said. “I’m comfortable here. I’m into the program. … You become part of the program, and it becomes part of you. And being here as long as I have, it’s really a part of me – I’m a testament (to the program).

“It’s a great feeling to be here for so long, to be comfortable and to have … some type of foundation. For the guys that are bouncing around (the league), it’s tough. Everybody finds a home, and I found mine.”

Bolden appeared in 48 games over four seasons for the University of Mississippi and finished his collegiate career ranked second in school history in touchdowns (33), third in all-purpose yards (3,681) and fourth in rushing yards (2,604) before entering the 2012 draft.

But over three days, seven rounds and 253 picks – 19 of which were running backs – Bolden went undrafted. He signed with the Patriots two weeks later and wasted no time making a promise to Coach Bill Belichick.

“I told Bill the first day, ‘If you give me an opportunity, I’m going to run with it, and I doubt you’ll catch me,'” Bolden said. “So he’s still playing chase back there.”

Bolden has appeared in 67 regular-season games and 12 postseason games, including wins over the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX and the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI.

With the exception of a monster game as a rookie when he shredded the Buffalo Bills for 137 yards on 16 carries, Bolden hasn’t made much of an impact offensively. He checks in with ho-hum career totals of 203 carries, 46 receptions and eight touchdowns.

But Bolden is typically dependable when called upon to play running back, as his career numbers of 4.2 yards per carry and zero fumbles would attest. And he’s a valued contributor on special teams.

That versatility has allowed him to outlast the likes of former backfield mates Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen and LeGarrette Blount.

“Here we take every phase of the game seriously and I adopted that philosophy myself,” Bolden said. “So every time I’m called to go out, I take it as serious as possible. It’s worked for me in the past. So it’s going to be the same for me whether it’s offense, special teams.”

Bolden has never entered training camp in July as a sure shot to make the 53-man roster come September. This year is no different, and the challenge to survive the cut is arguably as difficult as any time since his rookie year because of the depth in the backfield.

The Patriots added free agents Rex Burkhead and Mike Gillislee and brought back Dion Lewis, James White and D.J. Foster in addition to Bolden. They’re likely to keep five backs, meaning someone has to go.

Bolden will wait and see how it plays out. What he won’t do is wonder or worry.

]]> 0, 16 Aug 2017 20:49:59 +0000
Jimenez solid as Sea Dogs beat Curve, 6-1 Thu, 17 Aug 2017 00:33:25 +0000 His fastball does not register above 90 mph, but left-hander Dedgar Jimenez, only 21, knows how to pitch.

“Tempo, tempo, tempo,” said Sea Dogs Manager Carlos Febles. “He gets the ball and he throws it. He has the ability to work both sides of the plate.”

Jimenez was dominant for six innings Wednesday night in a 6-1 win over the Altoona Curve, before a sold-out crowd of 7,368 at Hadlock Field.

Josh Ockimey led Portland (58-61) with two RBI singles. Jeremy Barfield added two doubles.

Jimenez (4-0) allowed three hits and no runs through six innings. With two outs in the seventh, he gave up four straight singles and one run.

His ERA in five Double-A starts is 2.83.

Jimenez signed with Boston when he was a 16-year-old in Venezuela. He has worked his way through the system and was 10-3 for Class A Salem before his promotion to Portland.

His 14 total wins is best among Red Sox minor leaguers, and second best in minor league baseball.

He mixes a curve and change-up with his deceiving fastball.

“His fastball plays pretty well,” Febles said. “He has such a smooth delivery and a short arm. The ball comes out of his hand – it’s 88-90 mph and it looks 95.”

Jimenez did not walk a batter and struck out one.

In the seventh, with the bases loaded and two outs, reliever Ty Buttrey stranded the runners with a strikeout. He then pitched a 1-2-3 eighth, and Bobby Poyner did the same in the ninth. Poyner’s ERA is 0.28.

Portland took a 1-0 lead in the second inning on back-to-back doubles by Henry Urrutia and Danny Bethea.

Michael Chavis and Barfield each hit an RBI double in the third, and the Sea Dogs were on their way.

Urrutia and Danny Mars each had two hits. Urrutia is batting .357 (10 for 28) this month. Mars was 2 for 5, raising his average to .313, second-best in the Eastern League.

NOTES: Wednesday’s sellout was the 10th of the season for the Sea Dogs. … Thursday’s game is a noon start with Trey Ball on the mound for Portland … Poyner has allowed one earned run in 22 Double-A appearances (32 innings). … Bethea has had limited playing time but has been effective (.325, 13 for 40). He also threw out a base stealer Wednesday.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

Twitter: ClearTheBases

]]> 0 Dogs pitcher Dedgar Jimenez delivers a pitch during Wednesday's game against Altoona at Hadlock Field. Jimenez threw six strong innings before needing relief in the seventh, and he improved to 4-0 as the Sea Dogs earned a 6-1 win.Wed, 16 Aug 2017 23:33:13 +0000
Wyman, Grindle advance to Match Play final Wed, 16 Aug 2017 23:40:10 +0000 OAKLAND — After playing 30 holes Wednesday morning – which came after playing 33 holes Tuesday – Jack Wyman loaded his clubs into the trunk of his car and called it a day.

Was he going to stick around Waterville Country Club to see who he’d play in the Match Play Invitational championship match Thursday morning?


“I’m going home. I’m going to bed. I’m tired, man,” said Wyman, the top seed and reigning Maine Amateur champ. “It’s mental warfare. That’s all it is. It’s a completely different game than stroke play. You’re kind of playing against yourself and trying to figure out how deep you can dig.”

Wyman continued his dominant summer, cruising to a 7-and-6 victory over Craig Chapman in the semifinals. Wyman will meet No. 2 seed Sam Grindle in the final at 7:30 a.m. Thursday.

Grindle, who defeated No. 3 seed Joe Baker 3-and-2 in the semifinals, placed second to Wyman in the Maine Amateur at Brunswick Golf Club in July.

“I’ve played a lot with Jack in the last five or six years. I’ve played with him a bunch. He’s a good guy. Should be a fun one,” Grindle said.

Wyman’s match against Chapman was close through six holes. Wyman went 1-up on the third hole, then won six consecutive holes – seven through 12.

“Going into it, I knew he was the hottest player in Maine,” Chapman said. “After a long week of grinding, it was very tough out there. He’s a great player. I think early on, it got a little loose and I just couldn’t find it.”

While Wyman bogeyed the par-4, 320-yard hole seventh hole, Chapman made double bogey. Wyman then birdied three of the next five holes, clinching the match with a birdie on 12.

“I just kind of grooved it out. I figured out something that was working for me. After that, the putts were just dropping,” Wyman said.

For Wyman, it was the first match since the opening round that did not go down to the final hole. Earlier Wednesday, Wyman advanced with a 1-up win over Lance Bernier. Wyman was 3-up after eight holes, but Bernier clawed back to tie it with a birdie on 16. Wyman’s birdie on 18 gave him the victory.

In the round of 16 on Tuesday, Wyman knocked out Mike O’Brien with a birdie on 18.

“Me and Lance play in the weekend events in the MSGA, so we play every week. I knew he was going to grind it out until the end,” Wyman said.

“He made a great run. He was 2 under, I think, on the back, and I was just lucky to make a birdie on 18.”

Grindle was 2-down against Baker after three holes but won Nos. 4 and 6 to square the match. He then pulled ahead with a par on 7 and won 14 and 15 to go 3-up. He halved No. 16 to clinch the match.

“Match play, you never feel like you really have control, especially when my biggest lead was 2-up until the final few holes there,” Grindle said. “It never felt like it was under control. He played solid golf, but he made a couple mistakes. Neither one of us played very well coming in, but I was able to get it done.”

Grindle advanced to the semifinals with a 3-and-2 win over Andrew Slattery, the 2015 Match Play winner. Chapman beat Tim Desmarais by a 3-and-2 margin, and Baker advanced with a 2-up win over Will Kannegieser, last year’s runner-up.

]]> 0, 16 Aug 2017 20:24:09 +0000
Elvis is celebrated at Hadlock Field: Photos Wed, 16 Aug 2017 22:56:51 +0000 The Portland Sea Dogs hosted a tribute to Elvis Presley on Wednesday to mark the 40th anniversary of the singer’s death.

Dana Z, an Elvis impersonator, performed prior to the game.

Any fan that sang at least four lines from “Hound Dog” at the ticket window received one free ticket.

Presley died in 1977 in Memphis, one day before he was scheduled to perform in Maine.


]]> 0, 16 Aug 2017 18:57:28 +0000
Major league roundup: Gray helps Yankees to a Bronx sweep of Mets Wed, 16 Aug 2017 03:22:57 +0000 NEW YORK — Sonny Gray outpitched Jacob deGrom, Jacoby Ellsbury and Gary Sanchez homered, and the New York Yankees held off the Mets 5-4 on Tuesday night to sweep both Subway Series games in the Bronx.

Despite another late stumble by closer Aroldis Chapman, the Yankees kept the Empire State Building lit up in pinstripes with the win. The Mets will try to change the color scheme to their shading when the rivalry now shifts to Citi Field for two games beginning Wednesday night.

Gray (7-7) earned his first win in three starts since being traded from Oakland to a playoff contender. He blanked the Mets on four singles until the seventh inning, when he issued a leadoff walk and rookie Dominic Smith followed with his first major league homer.

NATIONALS 3, ANGELS 1: Gio Gonzalez allowed two hits in six scoreless innings, Howie Kendrick hit two solo home runs and host Washington snapped the Angels’ winning streak at six.

Gonzalez (11-5) struck out four and issued three walks. The left-hander, who was three outs from a no-hitter July 31 at Miami, allowed his first hit two outs into the fifth against the Angels.

Kendrick has homered in three of his past four at-bats.

ASTROS 9, DIAMONDBACKS 4: Houston had six extra-base hits in the first four innings, building a big enough lead to hold off the Diamondbacks at Phoenix.

Houston jumped to an 8-0 lead in the fourth inning. Starting pitcher Brad Peacock couldn’t get out of the bottom of the fifth, so Francis Martes (5-2) came on and struck out all four batters he faced in 11/3 innings for the victory.


GIANTS 9, MARLINS 4: Giancarlo Stanton homered in his sixth consecutive game to give him a major league-leading 44, but Miami fell at home.

Stanton hit a solo shot to deep left-center field off Madison Bumgarner (3-5) in the third inning. He has 11 homers in his last 12 games and 23 in the last 35. Only Sammy Sosa (25 in 1998) and Barry Bonds (24 in 2001) have hit more in that span.

BREWERS 3, PIRATES 1: Keon Broxton hit a pinch-hit home run, Manny Pina drove in two runs, Zach Davies pitched into the seventh and Milwaukee won at home.


RAYS 6, BLUE JAYS 4: Lucas Duda hit a two-run homer, Wilson Ramos added a solo shot and Tampa Bay won at Toronto to snap a four-game skid.

Backed by Tampa Bay’s biggest offensive outburst since Aug. 1, Blake Snell pitched six innings to win for the first time this season.

INDIANS 8, TWINS 1: Carlos Santana hit two of Cleveland’s five home runs and Danny Salazar continued his strong second-half stretch in the Indians’ rout at Minneapolis.

]]> 0 closer Aroldis Chapman reacts as Amed Rosario of the Mets runs the bases after hitting a two-run homer off Chapman in the ninth inning Tuesday. The Yankees held on to win, 5-4.Tue, 15 Aug 2017 23:34:57 +0000
Wasted chances haunt Sea Dogs in 5-3 loss to Altoona Wed, 16 Aug 2017 02:54:15 +0000 The Altoona Curve are a first-place team. The Portland Sea Dogs are fighting to reach .500.

Altoona showed that winning edge Tuesday night, beating the Sea Dogs 5-3 before 6,321 at Hadlock Field.

The Sea Dogs swatted 10 hits. Teddy Stankiewicz recorded his 11th quality start.

But Portland also couldn’t drive in enough runs, leaving 11 on base, including two bases-loaded squanders early.

Danny Mars, Henry Urrutia, Mike Olt and Jordan Procyshen had multiple-hit games for the Sea Dogs, who dropped to 57-61, in fourth place in the Eastern League East Division.

Altoona (63-57) remained in first place in the West.

Stankiewicz (4-5) got into trouble immediately. Leadoff hitter Cole Tucker tripled to right field. Pablo Reyes followed with his ninth home run, a shot over the left-field wall. Stankiewicz, in his second season with the Sea Dogs, lasted six innings (three runs on seven hits).

Mars began the bottom of the first with a single but was thrown out at second when he overslid the base. Altoona starter J.T. Brubaker (7-4) then walked the bases loaded, but Josh Ockimey struck out and Urrutia flied out.

Mars singled in a run in the second, but Portland missed another chance in the third, loading the bases again with one out. Josh Tobias popped out to short and Procyshen grounded out.

Altoona scored three in the seventh (two off reliever Josh Smith) for a 5-1 lead.

Portland scored two in the eighth, including a Procyshen RBI double.

Tate Scioneaux of Altoona recorded his 12th save with a 1-2-3 ninth.

NOTES: Fans began lining up at Hadlock three hours before the game to be among the first to receive Yoan Moncada bobblehead dolls, given to the first 1,000 fans. Moncada played for the Sea Dogs last year and was traded to the White Sox in the offseason. … Former Boston Celtics player (and current TV analyst) Brian Scalabrine threw out the first pitch. Scalabrine filled in for Celtics forward Jaylen Brown, who canceled his scheduled appearance at Hadlock. … Wednesday’s game will begin at 6 p.m. because of the scheduled fireworks afterward. … Before Wednesday’s game, the South Portland American Little League team will be recognized. … Procyshen had a good night behind the plate, throwing out both attempted base-stealers. … Mars was 2 for 5 with two RBI and bumped his average to .312, second-best in the Eastern League. … Third baseman Michael Chavis had a scheduled day off. … Left-hander Dedger Jimenez (3-0, 3.27) will make his fifth start for the Sea Dogs on Wednesday night.

]]> 0, 15 Aug 2017 23:14:08 +0000
On baseball: For those in the know, Devers’ success was inevitable Wed, 16 Aug 2017 02:43:28 +0000 Aroldis Chapman had already blown away Hanley Ramirez on three pitches when the Red Sox rookie stepped in Sunday night.

A month before, Rafael Devers represented the Portland Sea Dogs in the Eastern League All-Star Game.

“Now he’s in Yankee Stadium, 46,000 fans, national TV,” said Sea Dogs Manager Carlos Febles, who knows about playing in Double-A and the major leagues the same year (1998 with the Royals).

“Once you get to the big leagues, you elevate your game.”

That defines Devers, who played 3½ months for the Sea Dogs, before stopping by Triple-A Pawtucket (nine games), and on to Boston, where his name is coming up in conversations alongside players like Ted Williams and Tony Conigliaro.

In his first 17 games with Boston, Devers is hitting .348 with six home runs and 13 RBI.

“It’s nothing out of the ordinary. That’s Devers,” said Sea Dogs catcher Jordan Procyshen, a teammate for three seasons.

But it has been extraordinary, especially that at-bat against Chapman. The Red Sox trailed 2-1 in the top of the ninth. Chapman is brutal against left-handed batters (.130 average, one homer allowed in his career).

Chapman’s first pitch was a called strike at 102.4 mph.

Devers didn’t back down.

“I think he’s not going to let any moment be too big for him,” said Sea Dogs teammate Mike Olt, a former major leaguer with the Cubs and White Sox. “His natural ability will take over.”

Devers took a ball, then fouled off a high pitch. Both fastballs were also 102 mph.

Then Devers did what has made him such a dangerous hitter. He adjusted.

According to Jeff Sullivan of, Devers made a slight change for the next pitch to catch up with Chapman’s heat.

“He tweaked to a quieter, up-the-middle approach,” wrote Sullivan. “The feet didn’t open and the hips didn’t open.”

Chapman came with a 102.8 fastball, elevated, inside in the strike zone. Devers met it square for a home run to left-center, tying the game that Boston would win in the 10th inning.

Boston lost Monday night but Devers still hit two home runs, one over the Green Monster, the other golfed on a diving curveball, launched into the visiting bullpen in right field at Fenway Park.

“That’s very unique for any hitter of any age,” Manager John Farrell said.

Devers is only 20. In the last 100 years, only two other Red Sox players under age 21 hit two home runs in a game – Williams and Conigliaro.

Former teammates said they saw it coming.

“I don’t know what people are surprised about this,” tweeted former Sea Dogs infielder Mauricio Dubon (now in the Brewers’ organization). “He’s been doing this since he signed!”

The Sea Dogs usually play at the same time as the Red Sox and later catch highlights of Devers. “We’ve been watching him every step of the way,” Olt said.

Was this much success honestly expected?

“It’s hard for me to say yes but from what we saw here, it’s not hard to believe,” Febles said. “He doesn’t just want to be good. He wants to be great. And he works hard at it.”

Febles praised Devers’ defense, which has greatly improved since 2015, when he was considered a liability at third base.

Now he’s making plays, including the calm way he began a triple play Tuesday night.

And his bat is helping Boston in the stretch run.

“It’s a testament to his development and his preparation,” Sea Dogs hitting coach Lee May Jr. said. “He prepared himself for this moment from the time he’s been here.

“That’s the way Carlos sets things up – preparing guys to go and perform at Fenway. (Devers) took that to heart and that’s the way he went about his business.”

Febles has sent four players to the bigs – Devers, Andrew Benintendi, Tzu-Wei Lin (now in Pawtucket) and Yoan Moncada (traded to the White Sox).

When the White Sox traded Chris Sale to Boston, Chicago reportedly wanted Devers. The Red Sox said no and Moncada was dealt.

Interestingly, the Sea Dogs sponsored a Moncada bobblehead night Tuesday (the dolls were ordered before the trade).

Can you guess one of the bobblehead giveaways next year at Hadlock?

]]> 0, 15 Aug 2017 23:19:11 +0000
Red Sox use triple play, 8-run inning to down Cardinals, 10-4 Wed, 16 Aug 2017 02:28:06 +0000 BOSTON — Xander Bogaerts had three hits, Hanley Ramirez, Sandy Leon and Jackie Bradley Jr. all added two RBI and the Boston Red Sox beat the St. Louis Cardinals 10-4 on Tuesday night.

Boston blew the game open courtesy of a wild fifth inning, totaling eight hits and eight runs against Cardinals starter Mike Leake and reliever Matt Bowman. It came an inning after the Red Sox turned their first triple play in six years .

The Red Sox have won 11 of their last 13.

With runners at first and second in the fourth, slow-footed Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina grounded sharply to Rafael Devers at third base. He stepped on the bag and threw to second baseman Eduardo Nunez, who relayed to Mitch Moreland at first, where Molina was out on a close play.

It was the first triple play for Boston since Aug. 16, 2011, in Game 2 of a doubleheader against Tampa Bay.

Rick Porcello (7-14) was mostly able to cruise, giving up eight hits and three runs over seven innings to pick up the victory. He has won his past three starts after going winless for more than a month.

Leake (7-11) got the loss and has failed to win in his last four starts. He’s yielded 28 hits and 15 earned runs in 151/3 innings over his last three outings.

Nearly everyone had a hand in the Red Sox’s offense in the fifth.

Nunez and Mookie Betts reached on consecutive singles with one out, then Leake loaded the bases by hitting Andrew Benintendi’s left knee with a pitch.

Benintendi needed a few moments to shake off the pain before jogging to first to load the bases for Ramirez. He then doubled off the Green Monster to drive in Nunez and Betts.

Leake intentionally walked Devers, loading the bases again, and Bogaerts and Moreland followed with RBI singles to put Boston up 5-0.

Bowman replaced Leake after Moreland’s single and allowed a two-run double by Leon, Boston’s 10th hit of the game and sixth in the inning, bringing up Bradley for the second time in the inning.

Bradley, whose fly to left remained the only out of the inning, singled to right, bringing in two more runs, and Nunez followed with his second single of the inning.

Betts popped out to first for the second out, ending a run of 10 straight batters reaching base.

NOTES: Benintendi was pulled after the fifth inning and replaced by Chris Young. … Manager John Farrell said Dustin Pedroia, who went on the disabled list Aug. 12 with left knee inflammation, continues to do strengthening exercises to stabilize it. But Farrell said he expects his absence to last longer than 10 days. … Eduardo Rodriguez, who starts Wednesday, has allowed two earned runs over his last 12 innings.

]]> 0 left, Boston Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers, shortstop Xander Bogaerts and second baseman Eduardo Nunez, celebrate after turning a triple play on a ground out by St. Louis Cardinals' Yadier Molina during the fourth inning Tuesday in Boston. Associated Press/Charles KrupaTue, 15 Aug 2017 23:23:44 +0000
Sports Digest: Old Orchard Beach Surge use six-run 10th inning to beat Plattsburgh RedBirds, 13-7 Wed, 16 Aug 2017 02:26:01 +0000 BASEBALL

Surge pour it on against RedBirds in extra innings

Tony Bakeris scored the go-ahead run on a bases-loaded walk by Mike Davis in the top of the 10th, and the Old Orchard Beach Surge (30-20) added five runs to take a 13-7 victory over the RedBirds (27-23) at Plattsburgh, New York, on Tuesday, Old Orchard’s fourth straight win.

Edgar Lebron Jr. singled home Gevon Jackson and James Simpson during a four-run sixth that gave the Surge a 6-4 lead. Plattsburgh tied it with two runs in the bottom of the inning.

The Surge went up 7-6 in the ninth on a sacrifice fly by Matt Martinez, but the RedBirds answered in the bottom of the inning.


NEW ENGLAND JUNIOR AMATEUR: James Imai of Brookline, Massachusetts, shot a 70 and held a one-stroke lead after two rounds of the three-day invitational at Manchester Country Club in Vermont.

Imai was at 9-under 135 to lead Patrick Welsh of Providence, Rhode Island, who shot a round-low 65. Logan Thompson of Lincoln was Maine’s best scorer at 152 after a 78.

Massachusetts led the team competition at 10-under 710, while Maine was sixth at 773.

The final round will be played Wednesday.

SOLHEIM CUP: U.S. star Paula Creamer, a lock to play in the event for virtually her entire career, is now a last-minute alternate, intent on showing she can still play at golf’s highest level.

Creamer had been told earlier by U.S. captain Juli Inkster that for the first time she wouldn’t play in the Solheim Cup. Then Jessica Korda withdrew because of a forearm injury and Creamer joined the team.

The biennial tournament between the U.S. and Europe begins Friday at Des Moines Golf and Country Club.


WESTERN & SOUTHERN OPEN: Milos Raonic became the seventh player ranked in the men’s top 10 to withdraw from the tournament, right before fellow seeded players David Goffin, Tomas Berdych and Jack Sock were knocked out in the first round.

The ninth-seeded Goffin became the first seeded man to be knocked out in Cincinnati, falling to Nick Kyrgios, 6-2, 6-3. Juan Martin del Potro advanced with a 3-6, 7-6 (1), 6-0 upset of the 10th-seeded Berdych. No. 46 Yuichi Sugita followed with a 7-5, 6-4 win over the 13th-seeded Sock.

On the women’s side, second-seeded Simona Halep and seventh-seeded Johanna Konta became the first players to reach the third round. Halep beat qualifier Taylor Townsend 6-4, 6-1, while Wimbledon semifinalist Konta beat Kiki Bertens, 6-3, 6-3.

Ninth-seeded Venus Williams cruised into the second round, beating fellow American Alison Riske, 6-2, 6-0.

U.S. OPEN: Maria Sharapova was granted a wild-card invitation for the main draw and will take part in a Grand Slam event for the first time in more than a year.

The former No. 1-ranked player and owner of five major titles, including the 2006 U.S. Open, hasn’t entered a major since the Australian Open in January 2016, when she tested positive for the banned drug meldonium.


CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Liverpool spoiled Hoffenheim’s debut in European competition by winning 2-1 in the first leg of their Champions League playoff.

Also, CSKA Moscow beat Young Boys 1-0, Azerbaijani team Qarabag beat FC Copenhagen 1-0 and APOEL Nicosia won 2-0 at home to Slavia Prague.

– Staff and news service report

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College notebook: Louisville’s Bonnafon looks forward to new role Wed, 16 Aug 2017 01:47:28 +0000 LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Reggie Bonnafon didn’t complain when an eventual Heisman Trophy winner supplanted him at quarterback, and he hasn’t looked back on what might have been.

He has focused on succeeding wherever Louisville coaches placed him and has stayed optimistic while seesawing between being running back and wide receiver the past two seasons.

“Any opportunity I’m blessed to have and the coaches trust me with, I don’t take it lightly,” said Bonnafon, who caught 13 passes for 159 yards and five touchdown passes from Jackson during his amazing run to the Heisman last fall.

He added, “I try to give the best that I have.”

The process continues for the versatile Cardinals senior, whom Coach Bobby Petrino said he regrets not using more often in 2016. Getting touches won’t be an issue this fall as Bonnafon transitions to full-time duty in the backfield.

Seeing an obvious need last spring when injuries thinned the Cardinals’ backfield, the Louisville native took some snaps in a scrimmage and discovered his best skill might be carrying the ball. Petrino agreed and has placed him atop the depth chart, looking forward to utilizing Bonnafon more at a position that seems to suit him well.

“He played wide receiver most of his life growing up, so that was an easy thing for him to transition to playing another position,” Petrino said of Bonnafon on media day. “But he looks a lot more natural running the ball. He’s seeing it, he’s making the cuts. I’m anxious to see how he does.”

Despite his current status as the featured back, the 6-foot-3, 212-pound Bonnafon is being pressed by fellow seniors Jeremy Smith and Malik Williams. They also face a big task of replacing the durable Brandon Radcliff in an offense that averaged nearly 533 yards per game in 2016 behind Jackson’s arm and feet.

With opponents keying on Jackson again this season, the Cardinals need someone to take some of the load off him and create balance. Already considered one of Louisville’s fastest players, coaches believe Bonnafon is also strong enough to bull through the middle.

AUBURN: John Franklin III, the quarterback turned receiver, is transferring.

Tigers Coach Gus Malzahn said that Franklin indicated he is looking “for the chance to play more and get closer to home.” Franklin, who is from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, has already graduated and could play immediately as a graduate transfer. He posted on Instagram that he’ll play his final season at Florida Atlantic.

TENNESSEE: Freshman wide receiver Jacquez Jones will miss the entire season because of a knee injury.


DUKE: The program signed top high school prospect Marvin Bagley III and said he will enroll for the fall 2017 semester.

Bagley committed Monday in a nationally televised ceremony.

The 6-foot-11 Bagley was widely considered the top recruit of the 2018 recruiting class. He petitioned the NCAA last month to reclassify and become college eligible for the upcoming season.

]]> 0 Bonnafon was once Louisville's quarterback, then split time between receiver and running back and now looks to be the featured back.Tue, 15 Aug 2017 21:59:36 +0000