Patriots

Oft-injured pitcher set to return for Opening Day

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Oft-injured pitcher set to return for Opening Day

From Comcast SportsNet
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) -- After a spring full of injury-related news, finally some relief for the New York Mets: Johan Santana will start on opening day. The left-hander, returning from shoulder surgery performed in September 2010, met with manager Terry Collins in his office Sunday. Later, Collins announced that Santana was set to pitch at home against the Atlanta Braves. "After we talked to Johan yesterday after he threw, I walked by him and he said to me at the end, You've got your pitcher for Thursday,'" Collins said. Santana made his last spring training start Monday against St. Louis and worked a brief bullpen session Saturday. "It means a lot," he said. "It means that everything we've done from surgery to today has paid off. We worked hard, and I'm very happy." "I'm happy to have the opportunity to start the season from Day One with the team. That's something I was really looking forward to," the two-time Cy Young winner said. Santana was 0-1 with a 3.44 ERA in five exhibition starts. "He said to me in the winter, I came to New York to be the opening day starter. If I can do it, I'll be there.' He's ready to go," Collins said. The 33-year-old Santana has been rehabbing the anterior capsule in his shoulder since the surgery that cut short his 2010 season. He pitched briefly in the minors last year. Collins will have a built-in luxury that will help with easing Santana into the mix. Six of his first seven scheduled starts will include an extra day of rest simply because of the way New York's schedule unfolds. Left fielder Jason Bay was eager to see Santana return, especially after the Mets lost shortstop Jose Reyes to the Miami Marlins in free agency. "(Johan) brings a lot of the same type of energy that Jose had brought. We obviously lost Jose and not having Johan around all year last year, so getting him back is getting the energy back," Bay said. "It's almost like picking up another guy because you've missed him for the whole year. It's nice to have that back," Bay said. Right-hander Dillon Gee said the club will immediately feel the impact of Santana's return. "It's important to see him back," Gee said. "Everyone wanted to see Johan on opening day. The prestige of Johan on opening day is a benchmark." Collins said R.A. Dickey, Jon Niese, Mike Pelfrey and Gee would round out the rotation in that order behind Santana.

Gostkowski named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week

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Gostkowski named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week

FOXBORO -- Stephen Gostkowski is almost 34 years old, but in Mexico City he provided a reminder that he's not slowing down in his 12th NFL season. 

After going four-for-four on field goals -- including a team-record 62-yarder, a 51-yarder and a 40-yarder -- and making all three of his extra points, Gostkowski was named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week for the sixth time in his career. 

During a press conference on Wednesday, Bill Belichick explained that someone in Gostkowski's situation probably isn't improving at this point in his career. But if he's maintaining a strong level of play, that's OK. 

"I don’t know how much real improvement you’re going to see from a player that’s been in the league 12 or 20 years in a case like Adam [Vinatieri] or somebody like that," Belichick said. "But, if the level they’re performing at is pretty good, if they can maintain that, then that’s certainly enough to help the team.

"Are there things that a player can do better? Yeah, sure, there always are technique things. I think Steve has really improved in some of his alternative kicks on kickoffs, as an example, instead of just kicking every ball as far as he can. He’s done a great job of that. I’d say it’s maintaining the timing and the overall leg speed and technique that makes kickers good at their job."

Bruins hope to keep cooking with a winning recipe

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Bruins hope to keep cooking with a winning recipe

The Bruins seemed to discover a winning formula on the West Coast. Now the challenge is to keep it going.

It took them more than a month of play in the regular season, but they finally won two games in a row. Anton Khudobin and the B's played strong defense and finally built leads against the Kings and Sharks, and they avoided the kind of soft goal or defensive mistake that has been at the heart of so many of their losses.

Clearly that kind of tight, defensive game is how they're going have to play until they get their full lineup back, and they need plenty of wins. They're currently stuck in 13th place in the Eastern Conference, three points out of a playoff spot.

"It's always nice to get a couple of wins, especially against tough teams," said David Krejci, who is scoreless but averaging almost 17 minutes of ice time  in the two games since returning from a back injury. "We knew we had some areas of our game that we had to improve, and we still do after the start to the game we had against San Jose. It's nice to get two in a row, and we're focusing on three in [New Jersey]. We're building toward something, and we're on the right track. It's a big game [against the Devils].

"Playing with a lead, playing good defensively and having a good, structured game with everybody buying in . . . when you have a young team and you're playing strong clubs like LA and San Jose, it really says a lot about what we're trying to do here when you can get the job done."

The good news is the Bruins are going to make it through the Thanksgiving marker within shouting distance of a playoff spot, but they're still just scratching the surface of what they need to do to stay relevant in the East. They're hoping that finally reeling off a couple of consecutive wins can start a run of good hockey at a time when they desperately need it.

"I think we've played as a five-man unit" said Kevan Miller. "Forwards are getting back to help the 'D', and defensemen are stepping up to help the forwards. When you play like that and everybody is on the same page, it makes it that much easier. I think everybody, whether you're coming from Providence or you're up here, has played the same systems, but it can be a little bit of a struggle to get everybody on the same page.

"We've done a pretty good job of that, but doing it for 60 minutes has been a bit of an issue. We're trying to work on that."

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