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Archives for: December 4, 2016

The Red Sox have been in contact with Napoli

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As all patrons of Boston’s favorite fictional watering hole undoubtedly know, sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name. Cheers, then, to the idea of Napoli returning to this city, where his shirtless romp down Boylston Street after the 2013 World Series preceded the urges of Cleveland Indians fans to party at Napoli’s this year.

Not only does Napoli know Boston, he actually likes it here, which is more than many free agents wind up saying. The Red Sox have been in contact with Napoli, according to a league source, but prefer to wait on the resolution of the competitive balance tax in the new collective bargaining agreement before signing any free agents.

It¡¯s easy to see the Sox signing Napoli to rotate with Hanley Ramirez between first base and DH. Napoli, 35, also has a well-earned reputation as a clubhouse leader and would be a positive influence on still-impressionable right fielder Mookie Betts and shortstop Xander Bogaerts.

“How long do you want to tie somebody up for that [DH] position when we have a lot of young players coming?” Dombrowski said. “I think that’s a very important part of it. Do you want to tie up that one spot with one individual? I’m not sure. Now, one year? Maybe one year is different. But from a long-term basis, do you want to do that? I’m not sure.”

Fourteen years ago, the Red Sox signed a hulking slugger who had been cast aside twice before, including by the Minnesota Twins after hitting 58 homers in 1,477 big league at-bats.

And, of course, Ortiz morphed into Big Papi.

That brings us to Carter, designated for assignment Monday night by the Milwaukee Brewers despite leading the National League with 41 homers and posting his best OPS (.821) since 2012. But Carter, a right-handed hitter who turns 30 in December, is the epitome of an all-or-nothing slugger. He struck out 206 times this season and has averaged 188 whiffs since 2013.
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Austin Pasztor Jersey And the free-agent pool is filled with power hitters, including lefty-swinging Pedro Alvarez, Michael Saunders and Brandon Moss.

Could Carter be the second coming of Ortiz? Some team might think so.

Just don¡¯t bet on it.

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Rob Gronkowski hasn’t played in all 16 regular-season games for the Patriots since 2011

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Last week, the Pats used backup offensive lineman Cameron Fleming as their second tight end for 15 snaps, which obviously offers little utility in the passing game. One of the ways to move on from Gronkowski might be to rely more heavily upon the running game, but Gronkowski’s absence makes that harder to pull off too. The threat of Gronkowski running up the seam is enough to keep safeties off the line of scrimmage, and his success as a pass-catcher has left him as a criminally underrated run-blocker. I wrote about his role in the running game in 2015 before the Colts-Patriots AFC Championship Game, and Gronkowski has been a huge part of why the Pats have been able to run all over Indianapolis at will in years past.

Schematically, the Patriots will likely get away from their two-tight-end sets and shift their base offense toward three-wide-receiver formations, with Danny Amendola and Malcolm Mitchell getting more snaps. Mitchell and Chris Hogan, in particular, will need to threaten teams downfield more frequently with Gronk missing. Mike Reiss noted yesterday that the Patriots have begun to experiment with a “Pony” grouping, which includes a pair of receiving backs in James White and Lewis. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Patriots try to use that grouping more, perhaps in sets with no tight ends, in the hopes of forcing opposing linebackers into a matchup they can’t win.

This time around, there’s also not much the Patriots can do to make it easier on their star receiver. Coach Bill Belichick already has made positive changes designed to ease the workload on Gronkowski. After Gronk famously fractured his forearm blocking on an extra point attempt, the Patriots took him off of special-teams duties. In an attempt to keep him healthy for the regular season, the Patriots have stopped using Gronkowski in the preseason; he hasn’t taken a single preseason snap since the 2012 campaign. I’ve seen both articles and fans suggest that the Patriots hold Gronkowski out of meaningless regular-season games, but that’s going to make him far less valuable, and it’s not going to insulate him from injury. Remember: He suffered a chest injury against the Seahawks on a hit by Earl Thomas, as there were concerns Gronkowski might have punctured a lung on the play.

There also should not be any arguments calling for Gronkowski to change his style of play, as if shrinking from contact or avoiding full exertion would somehow fix his injury issues. The forearm injury was a fluke accident. He suffered the back strain that led to his college surgery in practice. As far as we know, he suffered his back injury against the Jets diving for an overthrown pass. The torn ACL he suffered was on contact, but it was a pass up the seam where he couldn’t protect himself and Ward took out his knees. It’s not as if he injured himself, say, throwing Sergio Brown out of the club.
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The reality is that the Patriots and Gronkowski alike have known all along that injuries were going to be a part of the Gronk experience. It’s how they ended up together in the first place; it has underpinned their contract negotiations; and it’s an inescapable part of Gronkowski’s future with the team. There’s no way to eliminate it outside of keeping Gronk on the sidelines when he’s healthy, which does nobody any good.

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Matthew Dellavedova played against his former team for the first time

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FAMILIAR FACES

Matthew Dellavedova played against his former team for the first time since signing with Milwaukee as a free agent in the offseason.
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“He was with those guys in a lot of battles,” Kidd said.

Lue said he misses having Dellavedova run his team’s second unit.

“He’s going to compete and play hard. He’s going to scrap. His teammates loved him,” Lue said.

LOOKING FOR ANSWERS

Smith entered the game just 1 for 22 in his last two contests, including going 0 for 11 against the 76ers on Sunday. He hit his first two shots, both 3-pointers, but missed his next five shots, all 3-pointers.

IN THE HOUSE

Michael Redd, the fourth all-time leading scorer in Bucks’ history, attended the game. Redd played 11 seasons for the Bucks.

IN REMEMBRANCE

A moment of silence was observed for the victims of a plane crash in Columbia on Monday. A chartered airliner slammed into the Andes mountains while transporting a Brazilian soccer team traveling to the finals of one of South America’s most prestigious club tournaments. More than 70 passengers were killed.

TIP-INS

Cavaliers: Channing Frye missed his second straight game following the death of his father on Nov. 24. He is expected to rejoin the team by Thursday. … Iman Shumpert (left hamstring strain) returned to the lineup after a one-game absence. … Cleveland’s bench totaled just five first-half points.

Limited Charles Barkley Jersey Bucks: Beasley, who entered averaging just more than eight points per game, scored 11 first-half points, connecting on 5 of 6 shots. … Milwaukee shot 57 percent in the first half.

UP NEXT

Cavaliers: Host Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday night. Lue was an assistant under Clippers coach Doc Rivers in Boston and Los Angeles.

Bucks: At Brooklyn on Thursday night. Milwaukee has won 12 of its last 16 meetings with the Nets, dating to Jan. 9, 2009, including a 110-108 win in Milwaukee on Oct. 29.

Check out the team sites for the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Milwaukee Bucks for more game coverage.

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