Lowe Five

The Sox dropped another in Cleveland last night, falling 7-6 to the Indians. About the only good thing we can say about this one is that the Sox bats finally came alive in the ninth inning, putting across four runs in that frame. Joe McDonald says that the frustration is mounting for the Sox. He has Bill Mueller taking the blame for this loss because of a couple of errant throws. David Heuschkel says that the bats came alive too late. Michael Silverman says that last night’s loss featured a couple of new tricks for the Sox. Poor defense and so-so starting pitching. Bob Hohler says the Sox need something to free them from their worst May start since 1976. David Borges has the Sox somewhat encouraged by the ninth inning rally. Karen Guregian looks at a frustrated Derek Lowe following the game. Silverman is among the reporters in Boston who has a good relationship with Pedro Martinez. Today, he pens somewhat of a defense of Pedro, laying out what has happened thus far and urging fans to consider all the angles rather than just letting it become a black-or-white, good-or-evil issue. John Tomase says that Pedro is now at the mercy of the Red Sox. Gordon Edes looks at the challenges the Red Sox have faced in getting insurance on any new deal for Pedro. Sorry John Dennis, Pedro is not responsible for the current losing streak, no matter how many times you want to stir up a “curse of the bratino”.

Guregian talks with Lou Merloni about Nomar and his injury and situation with the Red Sox. Edes also takes a look at former Sox farmhand Rafael Betancourt, who registered the save for the second straight night against the Sox. Dan Shaughnessy looks at Harvard infielder Zak Farkes, who is aiming for the big leagues. (What? I figured Dan would be penning the article about the death of ’75 Sox manager Darrell Johnson. Maybe that’s for tomorrow.) Edes also has a bit on a one-on-one interview with Pokey Reese that will be televised on NESN tonight. (Reeses Pieces? They couldn’t come up with a better title?) Heuschkel’s notebook has Johnny Damon saying that of the Sox free agents the one that they cannot afford to lose is Jason Varitek. Hohler’s notebook has Scott Boras, the agent for Varitek and Lowe saying that he will not be negotiating during the season for either of his clients. McDonald’s notebook has a switch in the batting order for Bill Mueller. Borges’ notebook looks at the move to the bullpen for Bronson Arroyo. Silverman’s notebook has the Indians up in arms at Manny for admiring his 459 foot home run in the sixth inning and then having words with Indians pitcher Jason Davis.

Shira Springer has a brief report on Doc Rivers maintaining that he only has say in personnel when it comes to his coaching staff, not his players. She contacted Dr. Jack Ramsey who says he stands by his story that Rivers told him he had approval over player moves as well. Listening to Danny Ainge on WEEI yesterday was quite an experience. Ainge talked about the draft, he doesn’t plan on moving up unless he could get the # 1 or # 2 pick because the talent is so distributed in this draft. A guy drafted at 4 might have less of a long term impact than a guy drafted at 24. He said Jim O’Brien had a big say in previous player moves, says that previous Celtics drafts were a mess because it was done by committee, so while some wanted Kedrick Brown and Joe Forte, others wanted Zach Randolph and Tony Parker. He said that the coaches thought Kedrick Brown had more potential than Joe Johnson and that is why Johnson was dealt in his rookie year. He said O’Brien could’ve been a positive influence on Ricky Davis, and was at first, but he and his staff didn’t want to coach him. He expects Davis to do well under Doc Rivers, and laughed at the suggestion of trading Paul Pierce. He did acknowledge that they will need to obtain another superstar in order to contend, likely by trade as it would be hard to draft or sign one. They do expect to sign a free agent or two this summer. Just not an impact one.

Jonathan Comey looks at the special attention being given to Pat Tillman, who was a special man in Comey’s eyes.

NESN has Red Sox/Indians at 7:00. ESPN has White Sox/Orioles at 7:00. ESPN2 has A’s/Yankees at 10:00. TNT has Spurs/Lakers at 9:00.


Still Punchless

The offensive woes of the Red Sox continue as they could only muster one run while leaving 13 runners stranded on base. Bob Hohler has the game story and looks at the litany of futility at the plate last night. Michael Silverman says the Sox give new meaning to the phrase “nothing to it”. Joe McDonald looks at the Sox leaving a fine performance by Curt Schilling stranded. David Heuschkel looks at a few “Ripley’s Believe it or not” type facts from last night that prove just how bad things are going against the Red Sox right now. David Borges also looks at another punchless performance by the Sox last night. Karen Guregian says that if you want hope that the Sox bats are going to come around, look no further than the Yankees and what they’re doing right now. Gordon Edes looks at Bill Mueller, noting that the AL Batting champ isn’t going to let his current slump frustrate him needlessly. Bill Reynolds tells Pedro to shut up and pitch. Mike Fine wishes Pedro would just go away. You may just get your wish very soon, boys. Be careful what you wish for. Jon Couture wants to know who that guy playing left for the Sox is, and what has he done with Manny Ramirez? Stan Grossfeld looks at a movement by fans to have cellphones banned at Fenway.

Gerry Callahan has a pay column looking at Pedro, noting that his performance hurt him the most this weekend, not his words. Callahan says Theo is smart not to give in to Pedro’s demands and instead wait it out, simply because Pedro isn’t the pitcher he used to be. That’s all well and good, but how nicely that contrasts with what Callahan wrote on March 25th when he said the Sox need to sign Pedro at all costs. Nice flip-flop Gerry. Steve Buckley also has a pay column on Pedro, and his premise is that Pedro is made for Boston and needs to get his head on straight. Buckley still contends that Pedro will never play for the Yankees, simply because he has such a strong memory and Yankee stadium holds such bad memories for him over the years. Guregian looks at Rickey Henderson, who has signed to play another season with the Newark Bears, hoping for another big league callup. Edes also gets reaction from David Ortiz on a troubling ESPN report on the status of youth baseball in the Dominican, where Steroid use is through the roof and kids are dying. Hohler’s notebook has Theo Epstein still hopeful the Sox can strike a deal with one or more of their free agents to be. Silverman’s notebook has Curt Schilling shouldering the blame for the loss last night, saying he shouldn’t have given up that two run homer. Heuschkel’s notebook has Nomar stepping up his workouts. McDonald’s notebook and Borges’ notebook both look at Lou Merloni in Cleveland, looking forward to coming to Boston next week as a visitor.

ESPN’s Jack Ramsey reported last night that Doc Rivers had told him that he had approval over any personnel move made by the Celtics. Today, Steve Bulpett and Shira Springer have Danny Ainge and Rivers saying that the claim is not true. Rivers has say over his staff, but not players.

Bill Griffith looks at Monday Night Football hiring Michele Tafoya as sideline reporter. He also reports that Michael Holley is leaving the Globe again. He’ll likely be doing TV work with Max Kellerman on Fox Sports Net. By the way, Holley’s book on the Patriots, titled “Belichick : The Genius of Bill Belichick and How He Built a Super Bowl Champion.” is now available for pre-order from Amazon.com. You can order it through the link on the left side of the page. Wonder if Holley is leaving so that he doesn’t have to face Ron Borges with the title of that book…UPDATE: I’m being told that the title listed there and on Amazon is *not* the title of the book, it is still yet to be named. The title used is what Amazon is calling the book for now. John Molori tears into Mustard and Johnson for their comments on Pedro during the Saturday edition of their WEEI radio show in this week’s Media Blitz. Elsewhere, in the Globe today, Joseph P. Kahn reports on the Red Sox movie. Is Angry Bill’s 15 minutes of fame up yet? In that piece he refers to himself as an “assassin” on the radio. 1) Way to be politically correct, “Bill”. Assassin…nice word to use in this day and age. 2) I think you got the first three letters right, that’s about it.

NESN has Red Sox/Indians at 7:00. TNT has Heat/Hornets at 7:00 and Kings/T-Wolves at 9:30. ESPN has Sharks/Avalanche at 8:00 and ESPN2 has Flyers/Maple Leafs at 7:00.

Offensive Offense

The Rangers finished up a three game sweep of the suddenly punchless Red Sox in Texas last night. The Sox could only manage one run in the 4-1 loss. Game stories are provided by Bob HohlerMichael SilvermanJoe McDonaldDavid Borges and David Heuschkel. The Rangers were a hot team coming into this series, and Nick Cafardo looks at the Sox getting caught by the enthusiastic young Rangers team. Karen Guregian has the story of Manny Ramirez offering to defer as much as $5 Million of this contract a year to help keep Pedro with the Red Sox. Manny says:

"I am serious,'' he said sternly. "I want Pedro to stay. Pedro's the heart of the team. He's been here so long. I think it's going to be a sad moment to see him leave. That's why I said what I did. It's really no problem for me. Hey, how much money do I need?''

Guregian notes that even though Donald Fehr and the union would never allow such a move, Manny was sincere in his offer. Pedro’s comments Friday night put a smile on more than one writer’s face over the weekend, as noted in yesterday’s links, Dan Shaughnessy was thrilled that there was finally something negative to write about regarding the Sox. Lenny Megliola says today that love him or hate him, Pedro always manages to keep things interesting. Yesterday, John Tomase published a list of the top 10 replacements for the Sox should Martinez and/or Derek Lowe leave town. Michael Gee has a pay column looking at the fuss being made over Pedro’s comments. People claim that Pedro was too harsh and spoke out at a bad time. Gee says:

Both these complaints are specious. They're based on apparent ignorance of both Martinez' personal makeup and human nature in general.

Martinez is in his seventh season with the Sox. If we haven't learned he's an injustice collector by now, we never will. There's nothing to criticize when an easily insulted person feels insulted. He is what he is.

I just like that he used the word “specious” – a BSMW favorite. Silverman speaks with Johnny Damon about making the results of steroid testing public. Damon is in favor of those using steroids being exposed. Guregian has a look at how Bronson Arroyo is handling his move to the bullpen…like a manager’s dream. No waves, just doing whatever it takes to help the team best. Hohler’s notebook looks at Sox executive and former Interim GM Mike Port, who is resting after suffering a heart attack on Saturday. Heuschkel’s notebook has Manny imploring the Sox to sign Pedro before the Yankees do. The final three notebooks all focus on Trot Nixon having a slight setback in his rehab. Silverman’s notebook, McDonald’s notebook and Borges’ notebook all have more on the “tender quad” developed by Nixon.

The Patriots wrapped up their rookie camp yesterday, offering contracts to only two rookie free agents, Hofstra receiver Ricky Bryant and Michigan tight end Andy Mignery. Michael Smith reports on Receiver P.K. Sam and running back Cedric Cobbs and how they realized how much they have to learn to catch up to speed in the NFL. Alan Greenberg reports on Bill Belichick delivering a commencement address at the New England Institute of Technology yesterday, after picking up a honorary doctorate of humane letters. Greenberg relates some of the life lessons that Belichick tried to get across to the graduates. Michael Felger looks at how Belichick’s system and way is spreading, reaching into the college game, and how college players who come from a system like LSU or Iowa have an edge when they come to the Patriots. Tom Curran reports on the progress of Rohan Davey, who may be ready to claim the #2 QB spot on the Patriots roster. Kevin Mannix has always liked Stephen Neal, and gives us an update on the former wrestler trying to make a career at guard in the NFL. Rich Thompson reports on the tryout of Florida State track star Michael Jennings, who never played a snap of college football, but is trying to make the NFL as a receiver. Mike Reiss has former Bentley safety Ryan Ferguson talking about his experience this weekend at Pats rookie camp.

Bill Griffith watched the work of Doc Rivers during the Lakers/Spurs broadcast yesterday and attempted to pick up some clues as to what the new Celtics coach might be bringing to Boston as far as philosophy and coaching style.

Russ Conway’s Sunday NHL notes are always a worthy read on Monday morning.

Dave Scott has his Monday morning recap of the weekend’s activities and Sunday night sports shows. He offers the new Globe Sports editor a few suggestions and some constructive criticism for Dan Shaughnessy in today’s Scott’s Shots.

CN8 had a show about the new Red Sox movie last night, with interviews of the principals involved, the filmmakers, some of the “fans” that were followed throughout the season and Larry Lucchino. It just cemented my resolve not to see that movie at all. I immediately switch the radio whenever Paul “angry Bill” Costine comes on WEEI, why would I watch an entire movie with him featured? No thanks. The show sure seemed to push the idea of Red Sox fans reveling in their suffering and not knowing what they’d do if the Red Sox won it all.

NESN has Red Sox/Indians at 7:00. ESPN has Red Wings/Flames at 10:00. ESPN2 has White Sox/Orioles at 7:00. TNT has Nets/Pistons at 8:00.

Texas Two Slip

Sunday guest links from Tiny (tinyfrombsmw@yahoo.com):

Red Sox / MLB
Bad timing. Fresh off the heels of Pedro’s outburst about his contract, the Sox get swept by the Rangers and the Dominican diva throws a lemon in the nightcap, giving up six runs in four innings. The Globe’s Bob Hohler, the Herald’s Michael Silverman, and the Providence Journal’s Joe McDonald have the game story.

Meanwhile, its open season on Pedro. As expected, Dan Shaughnessy addresses the topic. Dan actually has a laugh at his role as resident pot stirrer.

Last weekend in New York, I wrote three columns about the Red Sox without a single shot at any player, manager, coach, or front office person. What else could one do? The Sox were almost flawless against the Yankees. A weekend of feel-good commentary was followed by a glowing tribute to the new, media-savvy Ramirez in Tuesday's Globe.

The readers were reeling. Our offices were bombarded with "What have you done with Shaughnessy?" inquiries. Kidnapped by aliens? Blackmailed by Boston Dirt Dogs? Hit in the head by a foul ball and unable to summon usual measures of sarcasm? Or maybe The New York Times Co. ordered him to write puff pieces about the Sox to protect its $75 million investment.

None of that was true. It's just that things were going so well for the Red Sox that the usual rules didn't apply. Searches for buffoonery, controversy, ineptitude, and hopelessness came up empty. It was as if the Sox suddenly were following the Patriot game plan that produced two Super Bowl championships in three seasons. Praise the Sox and pass the pompoms. That's all we did. Everything was perfect. Never was heard a discouraging word.

Now, finally, Pedro has delivered.

And Dan delivers, calling Pedro’s act offensive and tiring. He does, however, encourage Red Sox Nation to calm down, a sentiment shared by the Providence Journal’s Art Mattone, who writes that playing a season with a star “barreling toward free agency” is old hat for the Sox, and lists Roger Clemens, Mo Vaughn, and Bruce Hurst, among others. The Herald’s Karen Guregian details how awful Pedro looked last night, and says that outings like that make “management look smart for waiting”. Silverman’s notebook has Theo Epstein’s response to l’affaire Pedro, and some good news on Nomar. McDonald has more response from Sox management, including Terry Francona’s. Guregian polls the Sox other free agents in waiting. The words “not” and “distraction” come up a few times. Hohler has more on the free agent four. Hohler’s notebook focuses on Lenny DiNardo’s good outing in relief, as well as how the way Francona manages Curt Schilling has changed. Believe it or not, another starter pitched for the Sox last night. McDonald’s notebook looks at whether Bronson Arroyo’s solid effort will keep him out of the pen.

In his MLB Sunday notes, Gordon Edes gives us his 2 cents on Pedro and the “big four” (Why isn’t it the big 5 – David Ortiz was fourth in the MVP voting last year). He also reports that Carlton Fisk reportedly told Mets officials that he’ll show up at Shea Stadium next week if Mike Piazza has already passed him for most home runs by a catcher. Tony Massarotti also speaks to the Pedro’s contract stance in his MLB notes, comparing it to campaigning for office, and saying “talk is cheap”. Tony also describes some bad blood between the Giants and Marlins over intentional walks to Barry Bonds, and speculates on which players may participate in the world cup.

The Yankees drubbing of KC has them feeling good, and the New York Daily News reports that recent strong efforts by Jon Lieber and Javier Vazquez, coupled with the Pedro saga, make April seem like a distant memory to the bombers.

Steve Buckley has a nice profile of Mark Malaska, and how scouts encouraged the marginal outfield prospect to become a pitcher.

Gerry Callahan will be happy to know that the Fenway Jimmy Buffett concerts were approved, but unfortunately for parrotheads, no tailgating will be allowed.

Celtics / NBA
Shira Springer has a Q&A with Doc Rivers – pretty predictable stuff from Doc, but he does defend his record on developing young players:

It bugged me when someone asked me something about [former Orlando general manager] John Gabriel and the Orlando Magic saying I didn't develop young guys. I took offense as you can tell because I started thinking, "Now, wait a minute, Chucky Atkins had never played in the NBA and he flourished under me. Ben Wallace had really never played in the NBA and he got his biggest contract under me. Mike Miller got the Rookie of the Year. John Amaechi had never played in the NBA and ended up signing a multiyear deal under me. And Tracy McGrady." So, I'm thinking, "Where the hell is this coming from?"

However, South Florida columnists continue to question the Rivers hire. Dick Scanlon of the Ledger reiterates the charge that Rivers could not develop young players, and holds up Brendan Hayward as an example. Hopefully for Marcus Banks, Kendrick Perkins and the players the Celts draft this summer, Doc’s version is more accurate. In his Sunday NBA notes, the Herald’s Mark Murphy says the Celts franchise still has some national appeal, and has ownerships thoughts on the club making the playoffs. He also looks at the huge difference in Pacers this year after Larry Bird gassed Isiah Thomas and brought in a real coach (Rick Carlisle). The Globe’s Peter May’s NBA notes has the Spurs – Lakers conference semi-final being the real NBA championship. May also has the always candid Danny Ainge saying that “he hasn’t hired the perfect coach (there’s no such thing)”, and that he doesn’t think Rivers is “a finished product”, but that “neither was Bill Belichick” (when the Pats hired him). May also catches up with Chris Wallace and Leo Papile (yes, they are still on the staff). The Providence Journal’s Bill Reynolds proposes some reasons why so many fans no longer “love this game”. Did Bob Ryan and/or Jim Donaldson put him up to it? Celtics.com has a transcript of River’s initial press conference.

Patriots / NFL
Patriot’s rookie mini-camp continues. The Herald’s Michael Felger writes that Cedric Cobbs is struggling a bit, while Kevin Mannix writes that PK Sam “continued to catch everything”, that Cobbs and Ben Watson struggled, and that 7th round pick Christian Morton was “more competitive and productive than you’d expect of a player taken in the final round.” Felger’s notebook looks at possible nicknames for Marquise Hill.

The Globe’s Mike Smith notes that Belichick tends to look outside the draft for offensive lineman, and has Belichick’s thoughts Rohan Davey’s breakout performance in NFL Europe. Smith’s notebook has Belichick saying that draft picks and undrafted free agents are all “in the same boat”, and some news about Ty Warren. Mike Reiss of the Metrowest Daily News looks at the similar draft boards of Belichick and Titan’s GM Floyd Reese, and how both organizations put a high priority on the d-line. The transcript of Belichick’s press conference yesterday is available on Patriots.com.

Ron Borges NFL notes column has tidbits about two ex-Pats, as he looks at Tebucky Jones struggles last year and Drew Bledsoe’s contract “renegotiation”. The Bledsoe camp has spun this that Bledsoe did this to help the club, while it was clearly a move of self preservation knowing the Bills would release him rather than pick up his $7M option in November. Bledsoe did show why his name has always been synonymous with class when he, as reported by Leo Roth of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, called Bills #1 pick JP Losman and told him “We

Lets Play Two Today

Saturday guest links from Tiny (tinyfrombsmw@yahoo.com):

Red Sox / MLB
My first time doing the links (filling in for the vacationing Len) and the Sox get rained out. The game will be made up as part of a doubleheader today starting at 6 p.m, with Bronson Arroyo pitching the first game and Pedro Martinez the second. I wonder if the rain out will impact how Terry Francona sets the rotation for the playoffs? Steve Buckley will likely work out the scenarios on the Sunday baseball show on WEEI.

I thought Red Sox links would be light today due to the rain out, but Pedro saved the day with a rant that is sure to keep the sports radio phone lines humming next week. The Globe’s Bob Hohler has the story, which has Pedro closing the door on contract negotiations with the Red Sox while accusing the management of playing “dirty” (by raising questions about the condition of his shoulder) and suggesting they are lying about how serious an effort they are making to sign him and their other high profile free agents Jason Varitek, Derek Lowe, and Nomar Garciaparra. Pedro stopped short of playing the “Yankees card”, but did not close the door either.

I'll play for anybody, but I'm not going to say I'm going to try to play for the Yankees before I give Boston the opportunity to sign me," he said. "Boston has probably the same chances the Yankees will have."

Michael Silverman of the Herald also has the story, including quotes from Pedro’s agent Fernando Cuza saying nothing would get done contact wise between Pedro and the club this year. Nick Cafardo weighs in on the issue and says that the Pedro situation is not as dramatic as the Ty Law one because Law had an offer, just one he felt was beneath him, while Pedro does not even have an offer. Cafardo also wrote that Cuza “returns calls only to media outlets sympathetic to Martinez’s situation” and speculated that the Sox may let all of “the big four” free agents go and replace them with cheaper players (sound familiar?). The Herald’s Karen Guregian notes the odd timing – fresh off a six game win streak – for this latest salvo from the “Duke of Drama”.

Hohler’s notebook examines the Sox fast start, a visit from John Burkett, and has Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz on record as having no interest playing for the Dominican team in next year’s World Cup tournament, with Ortiz saying it sounded too “boring”. Silverman’s notebook has Francona saying he no intentions of keeping Arroyo in the rotation, and updates the injury status of Nomar, Nixon, Ramiro Mendoza, and Ellis Burks. The Providence Journal’s Joe McDonald’s notebook has Ortiz debunking a report out of the Dominican Republic that said he is close to signing a contract extension. Gordon Edes mailbag from yesterday hits on a variety of issues.

While the Sox were idle, the Yankees won their 4th straight and moved to 4 games behind the Sox in the standings. Imagine if they had Roger Clemens, who won his 5th straight start this season, and is sporting a 1.95 ERA. Insert “twilight of his career” joke here.

Buster Olney wrote a piece that will be appearing in ESPN The Magazine asking whether the Red Sox “moneyball” style (“never bunt, don’t take chances on the bases, sit back and let your hitters hack away and do the work regardless of the game situation, regardless of the identity of the opposing pitcher”) may hurt them given the injuries to Nomar and Trot Nixon , and the fact that they replaced Todd Walker with light hitting Pokey Reese. He uses a specific example from last Sunday’s game against the Yankees where the Sox were nursing a 2-0 lead in the 8th and had Johnny Damon on first and Mark Bellhorn (batting under .200 and 0-11 against lefties) up, but opted not to bunt. Bellhorn flew out. Olney’s argument is flawed on 2 levels. One, the Red Sox strategy is based on probability. You can’t pull out one single example of something not working and indict the whole strategy. As a reader noted, hitting on 18 occasionally wins, but that doesn’t make it a sound strategy. Two, even when analyzing this one case, Olney omits the fact that Bellhorn had a .450 OBP, therefore had a 1 in 2 shot of getting on anyway.

Celtics / NBA
The Herald’s Steve Bulpett revisits the well publicized disputes Doc Rivers had with his GM, John Gabriel, in Orlando. He also has Ainge getting a laugh at Rivers effort throwing out the ball at the Sox game Thursday, saying he “chicken-winged” it. Columnist Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel (subscription required) weighs in on the Rivers hire, and questions Doc’s “revisionist version” of the “profound personnel failures” during his tenure. Bianchi also says Doc never developed players, and “they got better only when leaving Orlando”. The Providence Journal had to post a correction because in Friday’s paper they referenced Ainge biting Tree Rollins finger. It’s bad enough that 95% of the country thinks Ainge bit Rollin’s, not the other way around…can we at least get it right in New England?

Former Celtic Antoine Walker’s new team was eliminated from the playoffs Thursday night. In an interview in the The Dallas Morning News (subscription required), Mark Cuban says he would do the Walker deal again “in a heartbeat”, and asks “How many games did Raef (LaFrentz) play?”. Page 2’s Bill Simmon’s disagrees:

Walker worked against them -- he didn't complement the other players or fill in any of the gaps they were missing. If anything, he took too many big shots away from Nowitzki and Nash, something that reared its head again in Game 5. They just didn't need him.

Walker did not live up to expectations in Dallas, and will almost certainly not see the “max” contract extension he hoped to get. Toine averaged 28 minutes, 9.8 points, and 10 rebounds in the 5 game series against the Kings, shooting 36% from the field (including 1 of 10 from three point land). He spent much of the fourth quarter on the bench due to his defensive liabilities. This must have been a hard pill to swallow for a player who averaged 43-45 minutes a game in 5 playoff series as a Celtic.

Jayson Williams was acquitted of manslaughter yesterday, but was convicted on four of the six lesser charges, which carry a maximum penalty of 13 years in prison.

Patriots / NFL
Patriots Rookie Mini Camp started Thursday and goes through the weekend. The Metrowest Daily News Mike Reiss writes that Benjamin Watson is already turning heads, and that, as expected, the coaching staff had Vince Wilfork over the nose. The Globe’s Michael Smith notes that PK Sam already learned a little lesson from Brad Seely. The Herald’s Michael Felger says it is probably unrealistic to expect the same production out of this year’s rookies that the Pats got from last year’s, but anything is possible. The Providence Journal’s Tom Curran writes that to secure a spot on this team, Bill Belichick said you must “play better than the competition” and cited David Givens, Tom Ashworth, and Tom Brady as examples. Kevin Mannix writes that Sam showed good hands, Watson had some drops, and Cedric Cobbs did not make anyone forget Kevin Faulk. Eric McHugh of the Patriot Ledger says that Wilfork has his role model already – Willie McGinest. The Herald’s Rich Thompson profiles New Bedford and Harvard’s own Dante Balestracci, trying to make the team as a linebacker. Felger’s notebook has Brady laying low. Smith’s notebook speculates about Anthony Pleasant joining the coaching staff. Curran’s notebook says that Belichick did not change anything about the routines of minicamp to prevent injuries. At last year’s minicamp, Bethel Johnson and Asante Samuel suffered injuries that limited them until the summer. A full transcript of Belichick’s press conference yesterday is available on Patriots.com. There are also transcripts of interviews with Watson and Wilfork.

In the 3rd part of a 3 part series on free agency, KCChiefs.com columnist Rufus Dawes cites the Patriots as a model of how to do business in the free agent market. Interesting in light of the angst expressed by some media/fans when Damien Woody, Ted Washington, and (to a lesser extent) Antowain Smith parted ways with the Pats.

In the face of what was reported by some media to amount to a player