BOSTON In 2012, the Red Sox had just one starter reach the 200-inning mark, as Jon Lester threw 205 13 innings. That was just one flaw on a starting rotation that underperformed on a team that underperformed.The Sox may have addressed at least that shortcoming with the addition of right-hander Ryan Dempster, who was introduced Wednesday afternoon at Fenway Park as their newest free agent acquisition. Dempster and the Sox agreed to a two-year, 26.5 million deal."We went into this offseason wanting to add a proven starter to the rotation, someone that has a history of success, reliability and someone who we thought would embrace coming to Boston and everything that comes with pitching and playing in Boston, on and off the field," said general manager Ben Cherington said. "We think Ryan is the perfect fit for that."Dempster, who turns 36 in May, has reached the 200-innings mark in seven seasons. Last season was the first since 2007 that he did not reach that plateau. He spent two stints on the disabled list with the Cubs from April 18 - May 3 with a right quad strain and June 16 - July 8 with a sore right lat muscle. Jon Lester was the only member of the Sox staff in 2012 to reach that mark, with 205 13 innings.Its a point of pride to Dempster to reach that number.I think that's your responsibility as a starting pitcher in the big leagues, he said. The norm used to be 300 and somehow weve worked it down to like 200, even 180 seems to suffice. But Im a guy that wants to go out there and I work extremely hard during the offseason and during the season to try and keep myself as healthy as I possibly can so that I can take on that workload. Its something I pride myself on.Dempster was a third-round pick of the Rangers in 1995 out of Elphinstone High in Gibsons, British Columbia. He made his big league debut in in 1998 with the Marlins and has spent all of his 15 seasons in the majors in the National League with the Marlins, Reds, and Cubs except for the final two months of the 2012 season when he was acquired by the Rangers from the Cubs at the trading deadline. He has a career record of 124-124 with a 4.33 ERA in 547 games, 322 starts.He had a combined record of 12-8 in 28 starts, spanning 173 innings, with a 3.38 ERA and 1.197 WHIP in 2012. With the Cubs he posted a record of 5-5 with a 2.25 ERA and 1.038 WHIP. With the Rangers he was 7-3 while his ERA jumped to 5.09 and his WHIP to 1.435 in 12 starts. From June 4-July 14 with the Cubs, he had a career-best 33-inning scoreless streak, winning all five starts in that stretch. I think aside from a few starts I think I try to define myself as a pretty consistent person, a consistent pitcher, Dempster said of his 2012 season. Im prepared every fifth day to go out there and try and give the team a real good chance to win a ball game.Obviously the first half of the season went extremely well. And once I got over to Texas and after a few starts really seemed to get on a roll and pitch well. Im just going to try and continue to work as hard as I can through this offseason to go out there and be exactly that, be as consistent as I possibly can be to know every fifth day that we got a real good chance to win that ball game.The poor performance and dysfunction that defined the Sox in 2012 did not dissuade Dempster.Excited, he said of joining his new team. Obviously theres a lot of room to go up. Ben and the organization have done an incredible job of adding a lot of really good players and good baseball guys. So were just going to go into spring training and work as hard as we can and go out there every day and leave it all on the field and play as hard as we can to get the best out of each other What happened last year is last year. We dont know whats going to happen tomorrow.But he knows it will be an adjustment to the American League.Youre facing a DH instead of a pitcher, he said of the biggest difference. Whether people admit it or not, aside from probably about 10 pitchers, there is that little bit of a break at the bottom of the lineup where you get to face the pitcher. You still have to make your pitches and get outs but Id much rather sit there and face a pitcher than have to face a David Ortiz, thats for sure. Thats probably the bigger test, you have to maintain your focus. And once you do that, its just about making pitches.Dempster has made three starts in his career at Fenway Park, where he is 1-1 with a 6.06 ERA, allowing 11 earned runs, with five home runs in 16 13 innings. He made one start at Fenway in 2012, though, going seven scoreless innings for the win on June 15.I think if you concern yourself with the ballpark youre pitching in, rather than just trying to make the pitches and execute the pitches, then youre probably going about it the wrong way, he said.Obviously, Im well aware that the American League East is a very tough division. But at the same time every team in baseball is a tough team to pitch against. And if you go out there and make your pitches and you execute, it doesnt matter who youre pitching against, where youre pitching. Youre going to have success. Thats what Im going to try and do and simplify it as much as I can.Dempster joins a rotation that includes Lester, Clay Buchholz, John Lackey, and Felix Doubront. As with several of the other players the Sox have added this offseason, Dempster is known as a person with a high-quality character.Were excited to add a guy of this caliber to our rotation and to our clubhouse, Cherington said.Dempster will wear No. 46, which was worn by Franklin Morales last season. A Canadian, Dempster is unsure if he will play in the World Baseball Classic in the spring. But, hes confident the Sox can get back to the postseason, which they have missed since being swept in the Division Series in 2009 by the Angels.Thats why we play, he said. The money and things like that in baseball are great, but I came here because I believe this team has a chance of winning as much as anybody else. Ive always believed that should be your mentality going into any season. Because its proven day in, day out every teams going to win 50 games, every teams going to lose 50 games. Its what you do with the other 62 that matter.
FOXBORO -- During the tail end of the season, Rob Gronkowski was probably the league’s most unstoppable skill player. If any team was going to beat the Patriots, it needed to stop Gronk.
The Jaguars stopped Gronk on Sunday. They still didn’t win.
PATRIOTS 24, JAGUARS 20
The Patriots tight end was driven from the game by a helmet-to-helmet hit from Jaguars safety Barry Church. Gronk, running down the seam on a first-and-10 play with 1:28 left in the half, was hammered by Church, who really didn’t have a lot of options on the play. The throw was too up-for-grabs for Church to ignore the chance of picking it off. And by the time a pick was out of the question, the collision was inevitable.
“I just tried to dislodge the ball,” Church explained. “He’s a big dude and I was just trying to dislodge the ball but I gueess they felt it was too high of a hit. I hope he’s healthy. I know he didn’t come back so I hope he’s alright. It was a tough call but you have to go with what they call. It’s the toughest play in football. If you go low for the knees you are considered a dirty player and if you go high, they throw the flag at you. It’s a bang-bang play and I was just trying to play football. I tried to lead with my shoulder.”
Gronk was slow to rise and when he did, he was unsteady. Teammate Chris Hogan kept Gronk steady until he got some assistance to the sideline. From there, we was squired to the locker room and into the concussion protocol. He didn’t return.
The hit, the flag and the fact the Patriots would soon score a touchdown to chew into the Jaguars lead caused the inevitable discussion of what Chruch was supposed to do on that play.
The hit on Gronk is the only way Church could have done his job without just obliterating Gronks knee. If he would have just hit him low most ppl would calm him dirty. So there is nothing he can do to make everyone happy and do his job. Unless you think he should let him catch— Richard Sherman (@RSherman_25) January 21, 2018
Church had the same debate himself.
“It’s tough, that guy s humongous,” said Church. “If you wait for him to catch it and bring it down, he might run you over. You have to go with it and try and hit him in the right target zone but, going 100 MPH, that is nearly impossible.”
Gronk wasn’t spotted in the locker room after the game. He’ll have checkpoints to pass before he’s cleared to play in Super Bowl 52.
NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE
Apparently there was a miscommunication of sorts during Patriots practice this week.
Reports of gushing blood and Brady screaming in pain left many wondering what type of shape Tom Brady was in.
It turned out that he was just fine and ready to go, leading the Patriots to yet another comeback postseason victory.
But a first look at Brady's thumb was finally captured by an Associated Press photographer after tonight's game.
The collision occurred during a handoff and Brady needed 12 stiches, it also injured the collateral ligament in his thumb.