Red Sox

Light, Faulk as honorary captains: Nobody more fired up

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Light, Faulk as honorary captains: Nobody more fired up

FOXBORO -- The Patriots announced Thursday that former running back Kevin Faulk and left tackle Matt Light would serve as honorary captains for Sunday's AFC Championship game against the Ravens. Media availability for both was held the following day. 
The pair stepped before the podium after a brief introduction by Robert Kraft. 
Big as he is, Light could hardly contain his good humor. 
"As a fan I've never seen anything but a win at Gillette Stadium. Besides what some of you know is a guy who isn't the biggest sports fan off the field, there's nobody that's going to be in this stadium that's going to be more fired up for this one than this guy right here," he boomed. "And, secondly, the guy that's getting the honor alongside me right here, Kevin Faulk if there's one guy I'd want to walk out on the field one more time with, it'd be the guy who did it on third down, and every time he touched the field I felt better at my position.
"It's just an awesome thing to be back here, to be alongside Kevin Faulk, to have the Kraft family honor us in this way, to share in this special moment at this time of the year when everybody is amped up, is just truly a blessing."
Faulk was asked if the Patriots postseason run, happening just three months after he officially retired, is a mixed blessing. Of course he's thrilled for the team's success, but is it bittersweet to watch from the outside? 
"I don't know if it's a blessing or what," Faulk laughed ruefully. "It's a good thing in a way, but as a competitor, you want to be out there because you just left the locker room, you've just been with all these guys. Like last week, to see the excitement on Shane Vereen's face after the game that he had that's what I miss. And I know that's what Matt misses, too. I miss going in the locker room after a game like that when a guy I spent the whole year in the meeting room with has a game that really boosts his confidence for, probably, the rest of his career."
Light agreed, noting how much he respected the commitment and drive of his former teammates.
"Everybody talks about the system and everything else, but you have to have individuals that are really better than anybody else to make that work. You have to have the top. And I'm not saying they're better than everyone in the league, but you have to have people that really understand what it means to be selfless, and spend a lot of time working and never be satisfied. And that's one of the things I miss the most from my playing days because that's hard to find in the real world."
But though both admitted feeling nostalgic, Light made it clear he's not itching to suit up on Sunday. He's perfectly content to support New England from his seat in the stands. 
"I'd probably make it through the warmup. About that time I'd probably fall out," Light joked before sharing his answer. "I'd just be crazy to think that any former Patriot, any guy that's spent any time in this organization knows what it's like to be here, to not just be overly excited for this opportunity, and what these guys are going through, and all the work that that they've put into it."

Brad Ausmus interviews with Red Sox, but Alex Cora appears frontrunner

Brad Ausmus interviews with Red Sox, but Alex Cora appears frontrunner

BOSTON — Brad Ausmus was the second person to interview to replace John Farrell as Red Sox manager, baseball sources confirmed Monday afternoon. The Sox are expected to interview Ron Gardenhire, the Diamondbacks' bench coach, as well.

But the net might not be cast too wide. More and more, it sounds like the Sox already know whom they want.

Astros bench coach Alex Cora, who met with Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski in New York on Sunday, appears the frontrunner to take the reins next year. The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal has reported that to be the case multiple times, and for some inside the Sox organization, that's a growing feeling as well.

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The criteria the Sox value most isn't hard to guess: a strong connection with players, an ability to incorporate data and analytics; and someone who can handle the market.

"I knew Alex for a couple of years before getting a chance to work with him and had tried to recruit him to work a few years ago and he had other options," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said Monday in New York, before Game 3 of the American League Championship Series against the Yankees. "To watch him develop relationships with the players, he's all about baseball. He's all about the competition and small advantages within the game, one of the brightest baseball intellects that I've been around. And to see him pass some of that on and transition from player to TV personality to coach, he's had a ton of impact.

"He challenges people. He challenges me. He's someone who's all about winning. And I think to watch our players respond to him, he's got a lot of respect in that clubhouse because of the work he puts in and the attention to detail that he brings. That's why he's the hottest managerial candidate on the planet and deservedly so."

Cora joined the Astros before this season.

Ausmus, whom Dombrowski hired in Detroit ahead of the 2014 season, grew up in Connecticut and went to Dartmouth. The 48-year-old spent 18 seasons as a big-league catcher, the last in 2010. He was working for the Padres before Dombrowski gave him his first shot at managing the Tigers. 

Ausmus went 314-332 in four years managing the Tigers, a more veteran team than might have been ideal for him as a first-time manager.

Ausmus pulled out of the running to interview with the Mets, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag while Cora was expected to interview with the Mets on Monday or Tuesday, per the New York Post's Mike Puma.

What could change from here? One baseball source indicated a second interview with Cora was expected. Asked if he plans a second round of interviews generally, Dombrowski did not say.

"We have started the interview process," Dombrowski wrote via email. "I do not have any specific time frames at this point. Will wait and evaluate as we go through the process."

The Boston Herald's Chad Jennings first reported Ausmus' interview.

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Smart 'not worried' about lack of contract extension with Celtics

Smart 'not worried' about lack of contract extension with Celtics

CLEVELAND – For the third year in a row, a first-round pick of the Boston Celtics is unable to come to terms on a contract extension prior to the deadline.

That means Marcus Smart will become a restricted free agent this summer. Last year it was Kelly Olynyk (now with the Miami Heat) and in 2015 it was Jared Sullinger (now with Shenzhen Leopards of the Chinese Basketball Association).

Both the Celtics and Smart's camp intensified their discussions in recent days as the October 16th 6 p.m. EST deadline drew near.

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While there was progress made, there wasn’t enough to get a deal done.

Smart has repeatedly indicated that he wants to re-sign a long-term deal to stay in Boston.

And the market for the 6-foot-4 guard became clearer based on the contracts that some of his fellow rookie class of 2014, were receiving.

Denver’s Gary Harris agreed to a four-year, $84 million contract after establishing himself as one of the better young two-way talents in the NBA last season. And at the other end of the financial spectrum, you would have to look at Phoenix’s T.J. Warren who signed a four-year, $50 million contract.

More than likely, Smart’s deal next summer will fall somewhere between the deals those two players received.

As much as Smart would have preferred to get a deal done heading into the season, it’s not something that he’s going to cause him to lose any sleep.

“Get it done now, or get it done in six months, I’m OK either way,” he told NBC Sports Boston. “I’m not worried about it.”

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE