Sox Hold First Official Workouts Today

The Red Sox officially begin spring training this morning with the first workouts of pitchers and catchers down in Fort Myers.

A crack team, but with holes – As loaded as the Red Sox appear to be, Peter Abraham says that there are still valid concerns in certain areas.

Eight spring things every Sox fan should keep an eye on – Jon Couture has some things to consider about this edition of the Red Sox.

After up-and-down first year, Lackey eager for seconds – John Lackey was the subject de jour in Fort Myers yesterday, in addition to this Sean McAdam article, there are more from Brian MacPherson | Steve Buckley | Dan Shaughnessy | Alex Speier | Gordon Edes. If that’s not enough Lackey for you, I’m not sure where else to point you.

Sox always fit Dan Wheeler – John Tomase has the Rhode Island native living a dream by putting on the Red Sox uniform.

Michael Bowden hopes to cut in – Tomase’s notebook has Bowden trying to impress with a new pitch. The Red Sox Journal from MacPherson and the Red Sox notebook from Abraham both have more on Wheeler.

Celtics defy injuries, age, logic – Gerry Callahan says that these Celtics don’t just defeat opponents, they demoralize them.

Celtics show toughness by keeping cool – Paul Flannery has more about how the Celtics get in the heads of opponents.

Erden back with ill mother in Turkey – A. Sherrod Blakely with the scoop that the rookie center is all the way back in Turkey right now.

Bill Russell: Symbol of excellence – Mike Fine looks at Russell being recognized by President Barack Obama as a 2010 Medal of Freedom Award recipient.

Von Wafer doing more than scoring – Mark Murphy has the guard feeling peer pressure to step up his defensive game.

Pierce a member in good standing – Frank Dell’Apa has the Captain ready to go tomorrow night, and an update on each of the other injuries facing the Celtics. The Herald notebook from Mark Murphy has more on Pierce. Jim Fenton has Delonte West set to return tomorrow.

Time for Peter Chiarelli to trade – Stephen Harris says that the Bruins GM needs to make a big deal.

Bruins rookies going through growing pains – Fluto Shinzawa has has the Bruins youngsters experiencing peaks-and-valleys.

Logan Mankins gets tagged – Mike Reiss has the Patriots becoming the first team to use the franchise designation this offseason.

Patriots Could Look to Takeo Spikes for Veteran Leadership in Linebacking Corps – Jeff Howe wonders if the elder Spikes could be a mentor to his younger cousin here in New England.

Crowned Eagles – Nancy Marrapese-Burrell has Boston College holding off a strong bid from Northeastern to win the Beanpot.

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Celtics Hold Off Heat Wave Once Again

The Celtics were again shorthanded yesterday afternoon as they took on their Eastern Conference rivals, the Miami Heat. Boston seized control of the game in the third quarter, and held on for an 85-82 win, which clinched the season series between the two clubs. Get all the coverage at CelticsLinks.com.

Celtics keep Heat in their place – Jackie MacMullan has the Celtics presenting an obstacle that the Heat still cannot overcome. Gary Washburn wonders when the Heat will get over the hump. Jessica Camerato has the Heat disappointed despite feeling they’re making progress. Michael Muldoon says LeBron is not Mr Clutch.

Rajon Rondo sees things others don’t see – Paul Flannery has Rondo taking control of the game for the Celtics. A. Sherrod Blakely notes that this included guarding LeBron. Chris Forsberg has more on Rondo’s triple-double afternoon.

Tiny bench, huge mark – Steve Bulpett has Glen Davis and Von Wafer giving the Celtics a huge boost off the bench. Frank Dell’Apa has more on the play of the bench.

One-time voice of Friars has front-row seat to Heat’s rise – Bill Reynolds checks in with former Providence announcer Eric Reid, who has now been calling the Heat games for 23 years.

Pierce is scheduled for MRI on foot – Julian Benbow’s notebook has the Captain ailing with a pair of injuries. The Herald notebook from Mark Murphy has Pierce struggling to an 0-10 afternoon. The Celtics Journal from Tim Britton has more on Pierce.  

Wings sweep Bruins aside – Steve Conroy has the Bruins dropping their second straight game to the Red Wings.

After scratches, Seguin passes test – Fluto Shinzawa has the rookie returning to the active roster and notching a goal. The Herald notebook from Steve Conroy says it was a mixed bag for Seguin. Joe Haggerty has the rookie able to rise to the occasion.

From fringe to spotlight: Why Red Sox focus on unknowns in spring training – Alex Speier looks at the Red Sox thinking on bringing so many players to camp.

Jenks has never started fast, and he won’t this year either – Brian MacPherson says that the new reliever will be brought along slowly. Gordon Edes has Jenks OK with being a setup man.

Jonathan Papelbon’s missing swagger – Steve Buckley has the Sox closer looking to bounce back big in 2011.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia-Jason Varitek Catching Tandem Offers Red Sox Promise of Youth, Wisdom of Age – Tony Lee looks at the catching situation.

Leading question in camp – Peter Abraham’s notebook has Terry Francona looking to have Jacoby Ellsbury as the leadoff hitter. The Herald notebook from  John Tomase has Francona talking on a number of areas.

A French lesson for Bostonians – A columnist in the Montreal Gazette takes exception to Felger and Mazz.

I disappointed to see the following in yesterday’s NFL Notes from Greg A Bedard:

Wonder how many noticed that the Super Bowl winners, the Packers, aren’t a “one-voice’’ team. Coach Mike McCarthy lets all of his assistants speak to the media in one-on-one settings twice a week, and players are always available in the locker room. Seemed to work out OK for them. Once again, a team’s method for dealing with the media has little to do with whether it’s successful.

Is Mr. Bedard aware of the irony of his statement? If the team’s method for dealing with the media has little to do with whether it is successful, why mention it at all? In fact, why keep mentioning it constantly, as Bedard has done since he’s been here, and how the Globe has been doing for years? Seems odd to be harping on something that has “little” to do with success.

What the Packers do works for them, and what the Patriots do works for them. No one is saying that the Patriots way is the only way, which is a strawman that some around here like to hold up and argue against.

Depleted Celtics Overcome By Lakers

Ray Allen became the NBA’s all-time leader in three-point field goals last night, but the Lakers overcame an early 15 point deficit and dominated the Celtics the rest of the way as they cruised to a 92-86 win at the TD Garden. Get all the coverage at CelticsLinks.com.

Crashing down – Julian Benbow has Kobe Bryant ruining the Garden party for Allen. Mark Murphy and Tim Weisberg have more on Ray’s night being crashed by the Lakers.

Ray Allen’s record 25 years in making – Peter May looks at how Allen’s mom instilled a work ethic in him which has paid off. More on Allen reaching the top from: Ron Borges | Frank Dell’Apa | Jessica Camerato |Jim Fenton

Ray Allen ready to break 3-point record with Reggie Miller watching – Bill Doyle got the thoughts of the TNT analyst yesterday. Steve Bulpett has more on the presence of Reggie Miller.

No excuses for Celtics in loss to Lakers – Paul Flannery has the Celtics not making any excuses for last night. David Willis has injuries taking a major toll on the Celtics. A. Sherrod Blakely also has the injuries catching up with Boston. Chris Forsberg says that the Celtics aren’t panicking.

LA rounding into form – Bob Ryan has the Lakers righting their ship. Steve Bulpett says that that Lakers always remain confident. Mike Fine has the Celtics witnessing the Lakers improvement first-hand.

Delonte West on verge of a return – Murphy’s notebook has Doc Rivers saying there is an outside chance that West could play against the Heat. The Celtics Notebook from Jim Fenton has a look at the thin bench for Boston last night.

Theo Epstein on the state of the Red Sox – Sean McAdam has the Sox GM holding court in Fort Meyers yesterday.  John Tomase has more on the session from Epstein. Peter Abraham has Theo feeling good about his rotation.

Can Josh Beckett bounce back? Re-examining his terrible 2010 and what it means going forward – Alex Speier does some deep analysis on Beckett.

Gonzalez began with pocket of quarters – Gordon Edes talks to the slugger’s first manager.

New game for New Zealand Project – Tomase’s notebook has the Sox signing a 17-year-old New Zealand softball catcher. The Red Sox notebook from Peter Abraham has Daniel Bard pleased with the additions to the bullpen. Rob Bradford has more from Bard, who wouldn’t mind returning to being a starting pitcher.

Brad Marchand doing it all for Bruins – Joe McDonald has the 22-year-old rookie making a contribution to the Bruins.

It was hate that made it great – Kevin Paul Dupont says that facing their enemies brought out the best in the Bruins.

Patriots will play tag with Logan Mankins – Ian Rapoport reports that the Patriots will definitely place the franchise tag on Mankins sometime in the next two weeks.

McDonough still being heard from – Chad Finn has a feature on former Red Sox announcer Sean McDonough, who will be calling Monday Night Baseball for ESPN, and has mended fences with the Red Sox.

Media Roundup: Super Bowl XLV Draws Record Ratings, Boston Remembers The Bruins – My SB Nation Media column is posted. It’s a look at Super Bowl ratings numbers and at a busy 24 hours for Ryan Johnston.

Celtics/Heat More In Demand Than Celtics/Lakers

Looking at the trends for the Celtics this week, the data shows that Celtics fans are more excited to see an Eastern conference than a rematch of last year’s finals. Both games are also down significantly this week: down 14% for tonight’s game and down 21% for Sunday.

This could be due to tonight’s game being a night game with the Sunday one being a more friendly 1:00PM start.

Bruins Outfight, Outscore Rival Canadiens

The Bruins and Canadiens engaged in an old-fashioned hockey game last night, one which saw even the goalies set to square off and trade punches. (settling instead for a mild scuffle) The Bruins outlasted their rivals from the north 8-6 at the Garden. Get all the coverage at BruinsLinks.com.

Bruins score a wild win against Canadiens – Steve Conroy has the Boston/Montreal rivalry back in full force.  Douglas Flynn has both players and fans enjoying this one. Joe McDonald says this one was goals and fights galore.

Bruins find identity in beatdown of Habs – Joe Haggerty has the Bruins carving out a new, brutish identity. Stephen Harris says that Montreal wanted no part of a physical battle with the Bruins.

Fights aid Bruins in team unity, wins – James Murphy has more on what the fighting spirit is doing for this team. Kevin Paul Dupont is encouraged by the attitude. Mick Colageo says that this was Bruins/Canadiens circa 1971.

Tim Thomas drops catching gloves with Carey Price – Conroy’s notebook has the goalies facing off. The Globe notebook by Fluto Shinzawa has Tyler Seguin a healthy scratch last night. The Patriot-Ledger notebook by Mike Loftus has more on Seguin.

Special teams on the stage – Bob Ryan looks forward to the latest headline game for the Celtics, with the hated Lakers in town tonight. Jimmy Toscano says that Celtics/Lakers is the biggest and best rivalry in sports.

Preparation is key to Ray Allen’s 3s – Jackie MacMullan looks at Allen as he prepares to become the NBA’s all-time leader in three-point field goals. The Herald notebook from Steve Bulpett has more on Allen’s quest. Scott Souza has Allen getting his shot at history.

Drama follows LA on the road – Gary Washburn looks at the recent struggles of the Lakers. Dan Duggan has the Lakers looking to beat a quality opponent – something they’ve struggled with this season. It wouldn’t be a visit from the Lakers without a Bill Reynolds column on Lamar Odom.

Celtics have free pass against Lakers – Steve Bulpett says that the Celtics have so many injuries, that if they do down gallantly tonight, they will be forgiven. Chris Forsberg has more on the banged-up Celtics.  A. Sherrod Blakely has the Celtics looking forward to this one. The Celtics notebook from Julian Benbow has Paul Pierce missing practice because of illness.

Gonzalez arrives early to touch bases – Peter Abraham has the Red Sox new slugger showing up early for spring training, even though he can’t swing a bat for a couple more weeks. Brian MacPherson has more on Gonzalez arriving early.

Red Sox positional primer – Scott Lauber takes a run down the roster.

Logan Mankins could be tagged today – Karen Guregian says that the offensive lineman could receive the dreaded franchise tag as early as today.

We’ll also be monitoring announcements of coaching staff changes from the Patriots today. Ian R. Rapoport reports that Corwin Brown and Mike Woicik will not return to the staff next season.

Media, Sox Get Early Jump On Season

Spring Training hasn’t even begun yet, (though the truck did leave yesterday) and already Red Sox oriented stories dominate the sports pages today. The enthusiasm for the season hasn’t yet hit the sports radio airwaves, where there is still plenty of football talk going on.

Truck day is entirely a media creation, pumped up and hyped by outlets such as NESN and Boston.com, and while I grasp the symbolism of that truck beginning a journey that will lead us out of winter, into spring and summer, and hopefully deep into the fall, it’s still wildly overhyped. What I find amusing is the latest trend of those in the media – the group that created the holiday of “truck day” – now turning on it and calling it stupid and insipid.

Listening to 98.5 yesterday afternoon, I was struck at how while Michael Felger has consistently killed the Patriots for allowing their players (Wilfork, Mankins, Brady, etc)  to enter the final year of their deals, and to even hit free agency, his take on the Bruins is exactly the opposite. He criticized the Bruins for signing up players early, such Zdeno Chara, wondering why they couldn’t wait another year to see if they’re worth a new deal, and then if they need to outbid other teams on the free agent market they can do it then. He’s critical for the Bruins signing players early when they’re only bidding against themselves, whereas he is critical of the Patriots for not signing players early, saying they would save themselves money if they would only do so.

This morning Patriots Safety Pat Chung did a good deed by reading to Elementary school students in Taunton. Mike Reiss Tweets: [blackbirdpie id=”35352657140916224″]

It seems a little a disingenuous to me that those media people are not there to report on his working with the kids, (in my opinion) but instead for the opportuity to question him again about the fake punt in the Jets game. Would there be the same crowd if it was James Sanders, or Tully Banta-Cain reading to the kids? It turns my stomach a little bit.

Now finally, a few links.

Ex-hurler focusing on saves – Leading off with Shaughnessy? Well, this one of the few times he’s not in his usual formulaic mode, and instead tells a human interest story of former Sox reliever John Trautwein dealing with the suicide of his 15 year old son.

Managing the Red Sox’ situation – John Tomase offers some suggestions to Terry Francona on how to handle spring training.

Game of his life – Amalie Benjamin has a feature on new Red Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.

Saltalamacchia says yips are gone – I cringed at the headline of an otherwise very good article by Gordon Edes. (The catcher actually got help from a website called YipsBeGone.com)

Spelling relief: A closer look at the Red Sox’ crowded competition for bullpen roles – Alex Speier thoroughly profiles the candidates for the Red Sox bullpen. Peter Abraham looks at one of the candidates, Andrew Miller.

LaMarr Woodley Comparable to Adalius Thomas, Unlikely to Land in Foxboro and 18 Other Patriots Thoughts – Jeff Howe cranks out 20 thoughts on the Patriots.

Celtics-Lakers is a special rivalry again – Jim Fenton looks at the renewed hatred between the franchises.

Avery Bradley gets some needed prepping – Mark Murphy has the rookie guard back with the team after a stint on the developmental league.

Celtics may finally need reinforcements – Chris Forsberg has the Celtics getting tired of all the injuries.

Big week looms for Bruins – Stephen Harris looks at a tough stretch for the Bruins. Joe McDonald looks at tonight’s Bruins/Canadiens game.

Celtics Fade In Fourth Down In Charlotte

These road games on the second night of a back-to-back are becoming troublesome to the Celtics, who lost to the Charlotte Bobcats 94-89 last night down in North Carolina.

On the plus side, are you jacked and pumped for Truck Day? I thought so.

Celtics lack finish in back-to-backs – Chris Forsberg has the Celtics dropping to 2-7 on the road in the second game of back-to-backs. Mark Murphy has more on the Celtics low energy in these games.

History in the making: From Chris Ford to Ray Allen – Paul Flannery talks to Allen’s first NBA coach.

Allen’s Quest For Perfection Never Ends – Jeff Jacobs talks to Allen’s college coach, Jim Calhoun and several other connections from his UConn days.

The thinking is ‘forward’ – Julian Benbow’s notebook looks at the possibility that the Celtics might consider a roster move. The Herald notebook from Mark Murphy has Doc Rivers defending Kevin Garnett. A. Sherrod Blakely reports that Kendrick Perkins has rejected a contract offer from the Celtics.

Marc Savard has Bruins’ backing – Joe McDonald has the Bruins supportive of their teammate, who will miss the remainder of the season. More on Savard from: Mick Colageo | DJ Bean | Fluto Shinzawa | Danny Picard

Now, Chiarelli should reach for a Star – Kevin Paul Dupont says that the Bruins GM should make a play for Brad Richards.

Questions facing the Red Sox: Starting 9 – Michael Silverman has nine concerns about the Red Sox as spring training approaches.

Papelbon: Others can do the thinking – Gordon Edes has the Sox closer saying the the team doesn’t pay him to think. Thank god for that.

As season approaches, J.D. Drew is bracing for the unknown – Rob Bradford checks in with the outfielder, who says his hamstrings are already sore.

Loss packed with meaning – Greg A Bedard has the Packers pointing to their loss to the Patriots as the turning point of their season. This is the second year in a row that a Super Bowl champ has pointed to a game with the Patriots as the turning point of their season.

Dan Shaughnessy champions Andrew Ferrence’s critical comments of his teammate, and turns them into an excuse to bash Pedro Martinez. At least he’s consistent.