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04/04/2012 - 3:19pm
Patriots announce preseason schedule

The Patriots announced their 2012 preseason schedule on Wednesday. The Patriots will have home games the first two weeks, hosting the Saints Week 1 and the Eagles Week 2. The Eagles game will be played on Aug. 20 at Gillette Stadium.

The Patriots travel to Florida for Week 3 to take on the Buccaneers and the final preseason game in Week 4 is a Super Bowl rematch with the Giants at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. It is the eighth straight season the Patriots and Giants will play each other in the preseason finale.

Dates for the games between the Saints, Bucs and Giants will be announced at a future date.

For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots.


04/04/2012 - 2:17pm
Valentine: No restrictions for Beckett

DETROIT -- Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said that, after Josh Beckett sought medical examinations in both San Antonio and Cleveland for the discomfort in his right thumb, the right-hander is set to pitch without any restrictions.

"The nature of the injury is that it’s really not much of an injury, I would think, because he’s been cleared to pitch and compete and I haven’t been told about any limitations he might have," said Valentine.

Beckett had a 0.95 ERA and .117 batting average against during spring training while pitching with occasional discomfort in his thumb. He is coming off a season in which he went 13-7 with a career-best 2.89 ERA. Beckett will start the second game of the Sox' season on Saturday; he is then scheduled to pitch in the Sox' home opener on Friday, April 13.

For complete Red Sox coverage, visit weei.com/redsox.
 


04/04/2012 - 1:59pm
Red Sox tab Aceves as closer

DETROIT -- Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said that, with Andrew Bailey sidelined for the first half of the season due to surgery on his right thumb, Alfredo Aceves will serve as the Sox' closer at the start of the season. Mark Melancon will be the alternate closer on days when Aceves is not available.

"He loves competition. I think he's one of the better competitors that I've seen," Valentine said of Aceves. "I could be wrong. I haven't seen him up close and personal in battle, but I believe that he's a very good competitor, to say nothing of a very good pitcher."

Valentine said that the decision was made based on what he saw this spring in the pitchers, as well as based on the familiarity of the American League. The Sox skipper added that he would "of course" be open to using Aceves for saves of more than three outs "if necessary."

With Bailey out, the Sox will open the year with 13 pitchers on the...

04/04/2012 - 12:55pm
Boychuk, other Bruins won't go to Ottawa
By: DJ Bean

WILMINGTON - Tim Thomas, Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara all stayed out on the ice for extra work after Wednesday's practice, and all three players will join Johnny Boychuk in staying behind when the team travels to Ottawa for Thursday's game against the Senators. Of the four players, all but Boychuk will simply be given the game off for rest. 

Boychuk left Tuesday night's loss to the Penguins in the third period with a leg injury, but Claude Julien offered no update on the status of the defenseman aside from the fact that he won't be making the trip. 

Thursday's game will be the first this season in which Bergeron has not played, and it will leave Chris Kelly as the only Bruin to play in each contest. It will be Thomas' second straight scratch as the team aims to keep the reigning Conn Smythe winner fresh for the playoffs. 

For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins


04/04/2012 - 12:42pm
Olney on M&M: 'There's tension' around Sox

ESPN baseball reporter Buter Olney made his weekly appearance on the Mut & Merloni show Wednesday and talked about the Red Sox' closing situation and Bobby Valentine's first spring training with Boston.

With Andrew Bailey out 3-4 months, Olney predicts Daniel Bard will head back to the bullpen at some point.

"I think eventually that's the way they're going to go," Olney said. "Because let's face it, given their assets that they have on hand, the easiest solution in the back end of the bullpen if Mark Melancon doesn't grab this by the throat would be to put Bard in that role. I can't see them having [Alfredo] Aceves as their closer the whole year. I just don't see it, for a couple of reasons. One, he hasn't done that in the past. And two, I just think that he's so valuable as a guy you can move around to do different jobs. He obviously did that very well for them last year.

"So, the easiest solution is to call up a guy...

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