The Patriots took another step in their offseason overhaul yesterday, signing free agent wide receiver Donte’ Stallworth. Mike Reiss notes that this deal could be as long as six years, or as short as one, as it is structured to give the team a good look at Stallworth this season, and then be able to decide whether to keep him going forward. Albert Breer says that the Patriots now have a group of receivers comparable to those which won Super Bowls.
Michael Felger says the addition of Stallworth improves the team, “bottom line, story over.” But, the story isn’t over, as he adds “there’s a lot not to like about Stallworth.” Shalise Manza Young notes that Stallworth adds a “downfield burner” to the Patriots. John Altavilla says that in a number of ways, this is an unusual signing for the “button-down Patriots.”
Albert Breer has Asante Samuel OK with being tagged as the Patriots franchise player, but still hoping to get a long term deal done with the team.
Daisuke Matsuzaka hit his first rough patch of the spring, as the Japanese ace was lit up for a pair of home runs in a spring training game against the Orioles yesterday. Despite the homers, John Tomase says that Matsuzaka earned praise from the Orioles for his stuff. Gordon Edes notes that Matsuzaka took the rough patch in stride. Karen Guregian says that the outing was a “learning experience” for Matsuzaka. Alex Speier notes that Matsuzaka remained calm through his struggles. Jon Couture and Joe Haggerty have more on Matsuzaka’s first outing against AL East competition.
Rob Bradford says judging spring training is an inexact science. Guregian has Wily Mo Pena hoping to get 400 at bats this season. Tomase has Bill Belichick and Scott Pioli stopping by to visit with Terry Francona. Alex Speier has a quick note on Jon Lester continuing to work his way back.
Edes’ notebook has Belichick enjoying his time spent with Terry Francona and the Red Sox yesterday. Tomase’s notebook has the Red Sox/Yankees game tonight already generating some buzz. Sean McAdam’s notebook has more on Matsuzaka hitting his first speed bump of the spring. Jeff Goldberg’s notebook says that “Matsuzaka attributed his struggles to some experimentation with the strike zone.” Couture’s notebook has Jon Lester hoping to come North rather than stay in extended spring training when the season starts next month.
The Celtics softer schedule of games appears to be over, and that was evident with Boston’s 94-78 loss to the Chicago Bulls at the Garden last night. Paul Pierce was held to eight points by Luol Den on the night. Gerald Green led the Celtics with 15.
Shira Springer has Pierce and the Celtics being held in check all night by the Bulls. Steve Bulpett has more on the Chicago defense clamping down on Pierce. Bill Doyle has Doc Rivers giving the credit to Deng for shutting down Pierce, noting it isn’t the first time he’s done it.
Tim Weisberg has Al Jefferson justifying the high hopes placed in him. Springer’s notebook has the Celtics holding out Delonte West, and Bulpett’s notebook says that the team is being cautious in bringing the guard back from his concussion. Doyle’s notebook has Sebastian Telfair feeling like he’s gotten the short end of the stick this season.
The Bruins have seen their playoff hopes fade in recent days, but managed to right the ship in Detroit yesterday, posting a 6-3 win over the Red Wings.
Bob Ryan notes that debate and analysis over the NCAA brackets is almost as much fun as the games themselves. Jeff Goodman looks at the regions and notes that there is no easy path to a title this year. Zach Rocha tabs Kevin Durant as his player of the year in college basketball.
David Scott has a couple quick items before heading to NCAA coverage for the rest of the month.