Celtics

New MLB scheduling to bring fewer interleague games in September

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New MLB scheduling to bring fewer interleague games in September

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association are working on the schedule for 2013, when each league will have 15 teams for the first time.

So far, this much is clear: The unbalanced schedule is here to stay, and interleague play, while expanded throughout most of the season because of the odd-number of teams in each league, will be severely limited in September, when divisions are won and playoff spots are at stake.

"We've been working with the commissioner's office to try to formulate different possible 2013 schedules,'' said Michael Weiner, executive director of the Players Association. "Yes, we do have to have interleague play in every window.''

Weiner said teams within the same division will meet "more than 16 times'' during the season, since the unbalanced schedule "enhances the integrity of winning the division.''

In 2011, the Red Sox complained about having to play three straight road series in N.L. ballparks, where they had to get creative to find playing time for D.H. David Ortiz.

Weiner said the two sides are working on a format to ensure that interleague play is limited to a maximum of two series per team in the final month to avoid such inequities.

"That's very important to us,'' said Weiner. "We want to have as little interleague play as possible, knowing that there has to be some. But also, ideally, we'd like to have it so that, in the last month of the season, no team plays more than one away interleague series.

"Ideally no team would play more than one interleague series, period (in September). But when you're playing away, you're playing under rules that are not your normal rules. We're trying to get to a place where no team would play more than three games in September (under) the opposite league's rules.''

Moving to power forward 'presents a different challenge' for Horford

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Moving to power forward 'presents a different challenge' for Horford

PHILADELPHIA – For the third time in as many games, the Boston Celtics will field a different lineup.

It will have a domino effect on Boston’s usual starters, but no one more than Al Horford who will slide over to power forward with Aron Baynes inserted into the starting lineup where he’ll be charged with trying to defend Sixers 7-footer Joel Embiid.

Meanwhile, Horford will be assigned to defend Robert Covington who is one of Philadelphia’s better perimeter scorers.

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“I feel like one of my strengths is being able to play multiple positions,” Horford told NBC Sports Boston. “It presents a different challenge for me, which is making sure I do a good job of covering him out on the perimeter, staying between him and the basket.”

In Philadelphia’s 120-115 season-opening loss to Washington, Covington led all Sixers with 29 points which included him going 7-for-11 from 3-point range in addition to grabbing seven rebounds.

While Covington will be Horford’s first defensive assignment, he knows he will also be called upon at times to defend Embiid who ranks among the best centers in the NBA despite having played just 32 games over the course of three NBA seasons.

In the loss to the Wizards, Embiid had a double-double of 18 points and 13 rebounds.

Horford’s defense will be critical for Boston (0-2) to get its first win of the season, but the Celtics will also need him to take advantage of scoring opportunities as well.

“We have some guys down, but that creates opportunities for other guys to step up and contribute,” Horford said. “It’s going to all of us, the veterans, the young players, all of us to get that first win.”

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens agreed.

“I think that’s how we have to look at it,” Stevens said. “We’re going to have to make a few tweaks on how we do things, obviously. Hey, it’s gonna be something that we’re going to have to do really, really well on the fly.”

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