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04/05/2012 - 9:29am
Lineup: Ortiz cleaning up vs. Verlander

DETROIT -- The Red Sox will feature a largely familiar lineup as they prepare to open the 2012 season against the Detroit Tigers and Justin Verlander. Jacoby Ellsbury will return to his familiar leadoff spot, followed by Dustin Pedroia and Adrian Gonzalez. David Ortiz will bat cleanup behind Gonzalez, as the Sox feature back-to-back left-handed hitters, with Kevin Youkilis in the fifth spot.

Both Ortiz and Youkilis have solid career marks against Verlander. Youkilis is 6-for-20 (.300 average, .900 OPS) with two homers against the reigning Cy Young/MVP, while Ortiz is 5-for-18 (.278, .381 OBP, 1.048 OPS) with a pair of homers against him.

The left-handed Ryan Sweeney will bat sixth, with Cody Ross seventh for the group that will try to mount enough offense to back Jon Lester.

RED SOX LINEUP

Ellsbury, CF
Pedroia, 2B
Gonzalez, 1B
Ortiz, DH
Youkilis, 3B
Sweeney, RF
Ross, LF
Saltalamacchia, C...

04/05/2012 - 9:16am
Tape: Saints DC offered bounties this year

The night before a Saints-49ers playoff game in January, since-suspended New Orleans defensive coordinator Gregg Williams instructed his players to inflict physical punishment on San Francisco players, and according to a documentary filmmaker who was present, intimated that he would pay for a hard hit on 49ers quarterback Alex Smith.

Williams brought up the name of wide receiver Michael Crabtree, hinting about a severe knee injury, and told his players to "put a lick on" receiver Kyle Williams in an effort to “find out” if he was still suffering from the effects of a late-December concussion. He also repeatedly used the phrase "Kill the head," and compared San Francisco running back Frank Gore as the "head" of the 49ers' offense. Williams then ramped things up.

“We’ve got to do everything in the world to make sure we kill Frank Gore’s head,” Williams told the players. “We want...

04/05/2012 - 8:01am
Mashup: Ravens' Pollard criticizes Goodell

Ravens safety Bernard Pollard, known to Patriots fans as the player who caused major injuries to Tom Brady, Wes Welker and, this past season, Rob Gronkowski, is not happy with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's attempts to make the sport less dangerous.

"It’s getting out of hand," Pollard told Houston radio station KILT. "This is not powderpuff football, this is not flag football. This is a violent sport. And it’s a fun sport -- we all love playing this game. And we’re blessed by God to even go out there and display our talent to the world, but at the same time you can’t sit there and say, ‘We want guts, we want glory, we want heart.’ You can’t give a player heart but at the end of the day you tell him, “Well, hold on, but be careful when you go to make that hit.’ We wear helmets and shoulder pads. That means you’re supposed to go knock somebody around. We ain’t wearing flags....

04/05/2012 - 12:49am
Popovich: Bradley 'killed us all night'

Count Spurs coach Gregg Popovich as a fan of second-year Celtics guard Avery Bradley, who scored a game-high 19 points in their 87-86 loss to San Antonio on Wednesday.

“He’s a pain in the ass,” Popovich said. “I mean, the game starts and you know what he’s going to do. He’s going to cut from the corner to the bucket and lay it in. He’s going to cut diagonally from the top. You’ve got to give him credit. He knows his role and he does it very, very well. He killed us all night long.”

Bradley also played his usual lock-down defense, limiting Spurs' star Manu Ginobli to five points on just six shots. With Ray Allen's return from an injured ankle, Bradley returned to the bench, but coach Doc Rivers said he'll continue to play big minutes for the Celtics.

“It’s what I tried to tell you guys before the game,” Rivers said. “Start him or not, he’s going to play the...

04/04/2012 - 11:10pm
Pierce: 'This stuff is not really scripted'

Paul Pierce was making no excuses for taking the inbounds pass from Rajon Rondo and using the last 7.9 seconds of regulation before missing what would've been the game-winning shot against the Spurs Wednesday night at TD Garden. Instead, the shot - a jumper from the free throw line extended - clanged off the rim and left the Celtics thinking of what might have been in an 87-86 loss to the Spurs. 

"This type of stuff is not really scripted," Pierce said. "You don't have an idea of what's going to happen in those types of situations. You get in those pressure situations and sometimes they work and sometimes they don't. But the thing is, I'm not going to second-guess my decision. I thought I got a great shot, created some space right there at the free throw line. It's just some days they fall, some days they don't." 

Pierce was guarded by Tim Duncan after the Spurs made a switch that left their big man guarding a shooter...

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