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05/08/2010 - 3:06pm
C's supportive of Pierce's offensive struggles

WALTHAM -- The Celtics are standing behind Paul Pierce as he struggles offensively against the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Pierce is shooting just 31 percent from the field, 25 percent from 3-point range, and averaging 12.7 points per game (down from 19.6 in the first round). Nonetheless, his teammates are not concerned.

 

“I’m not worried about P,” Kendrick Perkins said after practice on Saturday. “I’ve been around with P a long time. I’ve seen P have a few bad nights and come back and have a 35-point night. So you just never know with P. I know he’s capable of having big games and he always steps up in big games.”

 

Pierce is tasked with more than just scoring against the Cavs. It has been his job to contain LeBron James, who scored 21 points in the first quarter of Game 3 alone. While Doc Rivers wants to feed his captain more often, he understands...

05/08/2010 - 2:47pm
Matsuzaka likes fastball, not relieving

Speaking before the Red Sox' game against the Yankees Saturday afternoon Daisuke Matsuzaka said that despite two subpar pitching lines he is happy with the quality of his pitches thus far in his first two starts, specifically identifying his fastball as encouraging.

 

"When it comes to the fastball it's really in the best place it's been since I've arrived here," Matsuzaka said through translator Masa Hoshino. "It's a little frustrating to know how good my fastball is right now and not see the results I would like to see coming out of it. It's all about not necessarily the pitches themselves, but how I go about using them.

 

Matsuzaka, who has allowed 12 runs over his 10 innings of work (all but one coming in two separate innings), has produced similar velocity on his fastball compared to his previous three seasons with the Red Sox, averaging 91.9 mph on the pitch (according to Fangraphs.com). He had been...

05/08/2010 - 1:01pm
Tito on Tek: 'We dodged a bullet'

Sporting a protective white, padded bandage on his left forearm, Jason Varitek will be available for action off the bench on Saturday for the second game of the series against the Yankees after getting crossed up on a pitch in the sixth inning Friday and taking a fastball off the forearm from Josh Beckett.

 

"He's actually doing pretty well," Francona said before Saturday's game. "We actually checked with him last night but more telling certainly was this morning when he woke up. He's got a pretty good bruise but he could be available if needed, which is good news. 

 

"They were concerned about controlling the swelling and they did a pretty good job of that. I think we were pretty fortunate, we dodged a bullet there. Watching it, even live, I remember watching his reaction and watching the pitch, I thought that had a chance to [do damage]. 96 on the forearm can't feel real good. It's different...

05/08/2010 - 12:45pm
Francona: 'We already hit Tek'

Red Sox manager Terry Francona said he didn't expect warnings to both teams before Saturday's game after Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano were drilled by Josh Beckett on Friday night.

 

"No, and we took care of it anyway," Francona said, before adding some tongue-in-cheek perspective. "We hit Tek. We took it out of their hands. That's the ultimate respect." 

 

Jeter was hit in the left side on Friday with the bases loaded in New York's six-run sixth while Cano was hit by a fastball on the inside of the left knee. Cano had to come out for a pinch-runner and was a game-time decision for the starting lineup while Jeter reported no lingering soreness and was in the starting lineup at short. Ramiro Pena was in the original lineup for the Yankees before Cano tested his injury.

 

For more, visit the Full Count blog. 


05/08/2010 - 5:10am
Sabathia: Martinez not sweating contract

Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia said that there is "not a chance" that his close friend, Red Sox catcher Victor Martinez, has been affected this season by his contract status. With the prospect of free agency looming at the end of the 2010 season, Martinez, typically a terrific April performer, got off to one of the worst starts of his career, hitting .238 with a .632 OPS in the season's first month.

 

But Sabathia -- who first was teammates with Martinez in the New York-Penn League in 1999, when both were in the Indians system -- said there was "not a chance" that Martinez' uncertain contract status played into his struggles.

 

“Not a chance. No. I don’t think so at all,” said Sabathia. “He got off to a slow start, but you look at his numbers at the end of the year, they’re going to be just like they have been every year. He’ll hit. That’s one thing...

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