Bruins

Red Sox minor leaguer Light still hard at work

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Red Sox minor leaguer Light still hard at work

Last season, his first professional season, was an education for Pat Light.

The right-hander was the Red Sox third pick in the first round (37th overall) in the June draft out of Monmouth University in New Jersey. He made 12 starts for Low-A Lowell, posting a record of 0-2 with a 2.37 ERA. In 30 13 innings, he recorded 30 strikeouts, with 27 hits and five walks, for a 6.00 strikeouts-to-walks ratio, an 8.9 strikeouts-per-nine innings ratio, and a WHIP of 1.055.

It went well, Light said. It definitely went well. It was a little frustrating at times. In Boston they like to keep an eye on their young guys and make sure theyre not being overused. Im very OK with that. I dont mind at all. I know they know what theyre doing. We had some tough times as far as the team was concerned in the middle of the year. I would have liked to pitch more and help them out. But I understand. Its a little bit different now. Its not college. Its more of a business-type feel for it. But it was a great year. I loved the guys on the team. It was a great team. It was an awesome year in general.

Now, Light, who turns 22 in March, is adjusting to his first offseason.

Its new for me because my whole life, especially in college, you dont get an offseason, Light said. You play in the fall, you start up in the winter and play all spring and all summer and you start back up in the fall. So its new. Its a little different to have all this free time. But Im enjoying it. Its been fun. Working out a lot. Cant complain, its not a bad job to have.

Light, whose hometown of Colts Neck, NJ, was badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy, is currently in California, meeting with his new agent, Scott Boras.

The season, he said, was a bit of an eye opener.

I think the biggest thing for me, I think for any player moving up to the next level, you need that little bit of confidence, he said. All it takes is a little bit of knowing you can pitch well. Saying, OK, I actually can pitch here. You still have that little doubt in your mind: Gee, can I pitch at this level? Its good to have that little bit of confidence to know that you can keep going. I didnt get a lot out of the season because I didnt get to pitch that much. I learned a lot. But I think the biggest thing for me was that I got that little bit of confidence to know that I can move on.

In his final three outings, he recorded nine scoreless innings, giving up four hits with no walks and seven strikeouts.

You always want to end good, said Light. This past year I think I strung together about two or three good starts. I thought that was a good way to head into the offseason. You can feel good about yourself walking into the spring training complex in February. I enjoyed that. It was a good way to end it.

In addition to his innings with Lowell, Light pitched 101 13 innings for Monmouth, then threw in the Instructional League in September. By that point, he felt good, but he felt the effects of the workload.

In my last start with Lowell I still felt strong, he said. But when I went to Instructional League for three weeks I started feeling it. I was up to about 140 innings, which is the most Ive ever pitched in my life. And I think that was when I started feeling a little bit of fatigue, my arm started tiring, everything mechanically started going a little haywire. It took till about the end of September, early October when I started feeling tired, which was a good sign that I was strong till then. But I did feel it at the end of the season there.

In December hell begin his throwing program, and hell go to Fort Myers for a few days in for the Sox strength and conditioning camp. After that, hell get ready for his first spring training and first full professional season.

Im just hoping to keep moving up, keep doing better, keep refining my skills and my pitches, he said. My pitches still need some work. My mechanics still need a little bit of work. Hopefully I just keep getting better and learning more things, and hopefully Ill keep moving up and be in the big leagues in a couple of years or so.

Everyone says Im living the dream now. But I dont see it that way. Its not the minor leagues thats the dream. Its the big leagues. So I got a little ways to go. So Im still working.

David Krejci, Adam McQuaid forced out of Bruins win with injuries

David Krejci, Adam McQuaid forced out of Bruins win with injuries

BOSTON – The Bruins returned Patrice Bergeron and David Backes to good health and their lineup on Thursday night, but they also saw a few more players get banged up in their win over the Vancouver Canucks. 

David Krejci exited Thursday night’s 6-3 win over the Canucks with an upper body injury after scoring a power play goal, and Adam McQuaid also had to leave the game after dropping to one knee to block a shot with his right leg. McQuaid was also already banged up after taking a shot off his knee in last weekend’s loss to the Vegas Golden Knights, so taking another shot off the leg certainly wasn’t a helpful development. 

“He blocked a shot, so he’ll get evaluated tonight or tomorrow. I don’t know how serious – he blocks a lot of shots. This one stung him obviously so we’ll see how it turns out. Adam [McQuaid] has been doing that for years around here. He’s one of the unsung heroes in that locker room. Doesn’t get a lot of credit for what he does, the tough parts of the game, blocking shots, sticking up for your teammates,” said Bruce Cassidy. “He actually manages the puck very well. He’s not a flashy player. He’s not a guy that just throws it away either. He makes good decisions with it, and every team needs an Adam McQuaid. We’re certainly fortunate to have him.”

With Krejci it appeared that he suffered some back spasms after getting cross-checked, and that’s what ended up forcing him out of the win. Cassidy doesn’t foresee it being a long-term thing with Krejci, who finished with a goal and two points in 8:21 of ice time centering Jake DeBrusk and David Pastrnak.  

“He has an upper body; he had to leave. He wasn’t feeling too terrific today, and then he got, I think there was a cross-check there. He tried it, but couldn’t continue [playing]. I think he had some spasms, but I don’t think there’s anything long-term there at all.”

It remains to be seen if either McQuaid or Krejci will miss any time with the bumps and bruised suffered on Thursday, but it goes without saying that the Bruins hope they can stay in a lineup that’s beginning to take shape with the full group. 

Haggerty: Patrice Bergeron returns as game-changing force for Bruins

Haggerty: Patrice Bergeron returns as game-changing force for Bruins

BOSTON – To the surprise of absolutely nobody, the presence of Patrice Bergeron is a major game-changer for the Boston Bruins. 

Bergeron finally felt good enough to return to the B’s lineup after missing the first five games of the season with a lower body injury, and the impact was immediate and unmistakable with a goal and four points in a 6-3 win for the Bruins over the Vancouver Canucks at TD Garden. It was also a far-reaching impact with the Bruins center pumping life back in the B’s power play with a return to his bumper position, returning a top penalty killer to the Bruins rotation, bringing normalcy back to the forward group by slotting fellow forwards back into their rightful spots and simply giving the B’s their best all-around player back. 

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Clearly it was a joyous moment for Bergeron to get back on the ice and play after getting a couple of good days in on the practice ice leading up to Thursday night. 

“It’s hard no matter what it is. You know, when you’re missing games, when you’re missing time, it’s… you miss being out there with the guys and battling with them and going through what we have to go through as a team. It’s good to be back,” said Bergeron. “You don’t know what to expect obviously [after a long layoff]. You’re trying to hope for the best. I don’t want to say I was surprised [at his high level of play] because you want to be at your best every time you step on the ice.”

Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Anders Bjork finally skated together for the first time after building chemistry all throughout training camp, and they finished with four goals, 10 points, a plus-6 rating and 13 of Boston’s 35 shots on net for the game. It was the way that the Bruins roster was drawn up headed into the season before they had a five-game detour due to the injuries, and the hope is that’s the way it will continue to look for the Black and Gold moving forward. 

“I mean it’s pretty evident, you know, the way [Bergeron] played out there. He just, it’s incredible the way he came back and dominated the game after being out for that long, you know?” said Brad Marchand, who finally has his longtime partner-in-crime back. “He’s just such a big part of the group. He’s able to calm things down in the room, on the bench, and he leads by example. He just does everything that a top guy does.”

Perhaps most striking of all was the emotion and organization that the Bruins played with having Bergeron and David Backes back in the lineup. The breakouts, reloading counter-attacks and defensive zone coverage all had more noticeable structure, and the Bruins were able to get the wave after wave attack from their forward groups that spurred on goals both during 5-on-5 play and when special teams were involved. 

Some of that is getting two highly talented players like Bergeron and Backes back from injury, and some of it is getting an important, tone-setting leader like No. 37 back for everything he does off the ice as well. 

Bergeron set up the important answering goal in the first period by firing a puck that created a rebound for Bjork to clean up, he did the same for David Krejci’s power play to close out the first period scoring, he created the turnover that led to Marchand’s goal in the second period and then he sniped home his own goal from the bumper spot to finally clinch things in the third period. It was clear that Bergeron is still navigating through discomfort and some level of injury while playing at this point, but his hockey IQ and his gritty toughness are allowing him to still be a highly effective player. 

“I think it was self-evident out there that the play on the ice, first of all, built a matchup against whoever we really want. The Power play obviously [was a] big impact there. I think it’s just morale as much as anything, on the bench and in the room,” said Bruce Cassidy. “Those intangibles, leadership, first shift of the game, he’s standing up. They had scored a goal and [he’s] kind of settling the troops down, talking about the details of the game. 

“[He’s talking about] finishing your routes on the fore-check and reloading all the way to our zone.

[It’s the] stuff that coaches preach a lot, but goes in one ear and out the other sometimes. When you hear it from the leaders of the group, it means so much more. To have that back in the room and along with David Backes, those are guys that are just vocal players that bring a lot in that aspect. It’s generally, a quiet group. That doesn’t mean you can’t be effective and win as a quiet group, but it just helps sometimes to have a little bit of that energy.”

While it was a clearly a feel-good story to see Bergeron back in his proper environs on the ice, it was also just as apparent there’s still some lower body discomfort with the Bruins center. He looked like he was in pain or laboring at times out on the ice, and admitted after the game that the lower body injury might be something he’ll need to manage for the time being. That would tend to mean that once again this isn’t something that’s going to go away anytime soon, and Bergeron will again need to grind his way through the pain. 

“That’s the million dollar question, right? I don’t know what to say to that. I guess yeah, I mean I’m feeling good,” said Bergeron. “But there’s… we might manage a little bit for quite a while. But I’m feeling good and tonight was no issue.”

Clearly Bergeron and the Bruins will gladly take it if he can be a difference-maker like he was on Thursday night with a four points, eight shot attempts and plenty of hard-working shifts in his 20:58 of ice time for the game. They’ll just need to keep their fingers crossed that No. 37 can keep suiting up and playing at a high level, and that the 32-year-old can avoid any further problems after already sitting out the first five games of the regular season.