Celtics

Ciriaco vying for roster spot

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Ciriaco vying for roster spot

FORT MYERS, Fla. After five moves were made on Tuesday morning, the Red Sox' 25-man roster is becoming clearer. But there are still questions. One of the most interesting: Who will get the final spot?

Among those vying to make the team are catcher Ryan Lavarnway, outfielder Jason Repko, and infielders Nate Spears and Pedro Ciriaco. Of those, Ciriaco entered the spring as one of the least familiar to observers.

Originally signed with the Diamondbacks in 2003 before being traded to the Pirates at the 2010 deadline, Ciriaco joined the Sox as a minor league free agent this offseason.

He has appeared in just 31 major league games in his career, over the last two seasons with the Pirates, going 13-for-39 (.333) at the plate while playing 47 23 innings at shortstop, third base, and left field.

In seven minor league seasons, he has hit .270 with 24 home runs, 298 RBI, and 401 runs scored, playing shortstop, second base, left field, and third base.

This spring, though, he has opened some eyes with his fielding and his bat, including two consecutive games earlier this month when he delivered the winning hits. On March 12 he delivered a two-run, 10th-inning walk-off home run to beat the Marlins. The next day against the Yankees in Tampa, he bolted around the bases to score as his ninth-inning single, compounded with two errors, accounted for the only run of the game.

After going 0-for-1 Tuesday, entering as a pinch runner in the sixth inning for third baseman Kevin Youkilis, Ciriacos Grapefruit League average dropped to .429. Ciriaco, though, is satisfied with his spring. He has appeared in 20 of the team's 25 games.

Everything is pretty good so far right now, said Ciriaco, who turned 26 in September. I just feel good the way Ive been working and playing this spring. Just keep doing the work.

Every day when you get a chance to play and do the right thing and stay on the field and help your team so they can see what you can do is a good thing for me.

The Red Sox offered Ciriaco no hints when he signed as to their expectations for him, other than to show what he could do this spring.

Nothing really, just come here and compete like everybody else, he said. They didnt tell me youre going to do this or youre going to make the team or anything like that. Just have fun and play the game, like Ive been doing my whole life.

Ciriaco has played 80 innings this spring, appearing at shortstop (40 innings), second base (32), third base (6), and center field (2). Playing different positions can only help him, he believes.

Yeah, I think its good if you can help the team in different positions, he said. Because thats more opportunity for me.

But hes taking nothing for granted. With a little more than a week before the start of the regular season, Ciriaco just wants to keep doing what hes been doing this spring.

Just keep having fun, do the right thing and play the game the right way, he said. And just keep moving forward.

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Celtics back in win column

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Celtics back in win column

0:41 - The Celtics returned to their winning ways with a 118-103 victory over the Orlando Magic. Tom Giles, Phil Perry and Rob “Hardy” Poole break down the win.

6:58 - Tom Giles and Hardy discuss the Bruins’ four-game winning streak and how the success of Anton Khudobin has helped keep the team afloat.

11:39 - Is the Patriots' Week 12 matchup with the Dolphins a trap game? Tom Giles, Phil Perry and Hardy discuss where Miami ranks among NFL teams and how the Patriots should approach the game.

17:07 - With Black Friday upon us, the Boston Sports Tonight crew discusses what big-ticket item they would choose to buy for any Boston sports team. 

 

Morris out, Brown questionable for Pacers game Saturday

Morris out, Brown questionable for Pacers game Saturday

BOSTON – Boston made strengthening their depth at the wing position a priority during the offseason.

Well, that depth will be put to the test with the possibility of at least one and maybe two of their top wing players being out for Saturday’s game at Indiana.

Shortly after Boston’s 118-103 win over Orlando on Friday night, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens announced that Marcus Morris (left knee) would not travel with the team for Saturday’s game against the Pacers.

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Also, Jaylen Brown will be attending the funeral of his best friend (Trevin Steede) in Georgia on Saturday and isn’t sure if he’ll be back with the team in time for Saturday’s game.

“My intention is to make it back. If I can, I’ll definitely be playing,” Brown said. “But we’ll see.”

The absence of Brown would be a huge blow for the Celtics.

Boston only returned four players from last season’s team, none of whom have improved their overall game as much as Brown did during the offseason.

He came into the season focused on being a lock-down defender.

But Gordon Hayward’s left ankle injury was a game-changer for all the Celtics, including Brown.

Not only would Brown be charged with being an elite defender, but Boston now needed the second-year wing player to become more of a scoring threat.

And to Brown’s credit, he has risen to the challenge.

In 20 games (all starts) this season, Brown has averaged 15.9 points per game which is second on the team to Kyrie Irving (22.9). In addition, Brown’s defense has been among the keys to Boston’s 17-3 start which is the best record in the NBA thus far this season.

His defensive rating of 95.0 is fifth among players to appear in at least 10 games this season, and tops among all second-year players. And of the four players ahead of him, two – Aron Baynes and Marcus Smart – are teammates.

But just like the Celtics gave Isaiah Thomas all the time he needed in dealing with the death of his sister right before the playoffs last season, a similar approach has been taken with Brown which he is admittedly appreciative of the organization for doing.

“Brad (Stevens) has been great in this process,” Brown said. “Just somebody to talk to, allowing me to deal with it in the best way our family and their family feels we can deal with it. He’s been great; we’ll see how it goes. Hopefully I can make it to Indiana; if not, I just have to re-group with my family and I’ll see you guys next game (against Detroit on Monday).”

While there's a chance that Brown will play against Indiana, the same can not be said for Morris who is definitely out.

Morris, who missed the first eight games of the season with left knee soreness, has been on a minutes restriction all season in addition to not being allowed to play in back-to-back games.

Following Friday’s game, Morris said the knee feels good but he understands the need to be cautious.

“It’s frustrating,” said Morris who acknowledged the decision was made by the coaching and medical staff. “I’m a competitor, so I want to be out there.”

He added, “Like I said, at this point I pretty much don’t have control over it when I’m playing. It’s a long season. I just want to be ready for June.”

With Morris out and Brown potentially out as well, the Celtics will be extremely thin and inexperienced at the wing position. Look for Marcus Smart and Aron Baynes to be in the starting lineup if Brown is out along with Morris.

Also, Stevens will likely use Terry Rozier and first-year forward Semi Ojeleye more in addition to increased spot-duty for another rookie, Abdel Nader. On Friday, Rozier had a career-high 23 points while Ojeleye and Nader had seven and three points, respectively.

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