Celtics

Red Sox still want to talk with Varitek

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Red Sox still want to talk with Varitek

BOSTON When the Red Sox signed free agent catcher Kelly Shoppach Tuesday, it appeared the acquisition tolled the death knell for Jason Variteks tenure in Boston. Varitek, a free agent who turns 40 in April, has spent his entire 15-season big league career in a Sox uniform.

But, maybe the end is not near for Varitek and the Sox.

We have incredible respect for 'Tek, said general manager Ben Cherington. I have incredible respect for Tek on a personal level. We as an organization and ownership, have incredible respect for him and the contributions hes made. And I think our hope is that 'Tek will always be a part of the Red Sox in some way. As far as what this means immediately, what we want to do is keep talking with 'Tek and not discuss that in a public forum. But well have an opportunity to keep talking to 'Tek and his agent Scott Boras and figure out whats best for the Red Sox, best for him and we look forward to doing that.

Shoppach, who turns 32 in April, is returning to the Sox after being traded before the 2006 season in a seven-player deal with the Indians that brought center fielder Coco Crisp to Boston. He was with the Indians for four seasons, playing the past two with the Rays.

Shoppach, a right-handed batter, is a career .224 hitter, with a .315 on-base percentage, .417 slugging percentage, 59 home runs, and 180 RBI. In 87 games with the Rays last season, he hit .176.268.3391122.

He has thrown out 28.2 percent of would-be basestealers in his career (73 of 285), and lead the American League in 2011, catching 40.9 percent of attempted base stealers.

We obviously know Shop well, Cherington said. And as we went into the offseason we felt like there was a couple of things that were important to us with regards to the catching position. One was to continue to find ways to help in the running game and help control the running game, which was an area of concern of ours last year. Shops been able to help the pitching staff control the running game pretty consistently throughout his career. Hes also a guy that has consistently hit left-hand pitching and that sort of fits in as a compliment to switch-hitter Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

And we also felt like, we felt like in a perfect world we would look to solidify the catching position by adding strength to that area and not necessarily counting on Ryan Lavarnway going into spring training. That said, we really think highly of Ryan. We think Hes going to be a really good player for us in the future. So we just feel like Shop helps us strengthen the position overall and helps complement Salty.

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Could Gordon Hayward return this season?

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Could Gordon Hayward return this season?

0:41 - Kyle Draper, Brain Scalabrine, Tommy Heinsohn, and Mike Gorman break down the Celtics loss to the Cavs and Gordon Hayward’s injury.

4:22 - Tom Curran, Michael Holley, Tom Giles, and Kayce Smith give their reactions to the gruesome injury to Gordon Hayward and how it impacted the game.

9:39 - Dr. Chris Chihlas joins BST to give his medical opinion on Gordon Hayward and if he thinks there is a chance Hayward could return this season. 

13:40 - Chris Mannix and A. Sherrod Blakely discuss what the feeling was like in the arena when Hayward went down but how there is actually a 'cautious optimism' surrounding the injury.

Jayson Tatum flashes potential with double-double debut

Jayson Tatum flashes potential with double-double debut

CLEVELAND – Jayson Tatum has seen plenty of games featuring Cleveland’s LeBron James.

And in the Boston Celtics’ preparation for Tuesday night’s matchup, the 19-year-old rookie had seen plenty of James on film.

But facing him, up close and personal, was something entirely different.

“He’s way bigger than I thought,” Tatum said. “He’s way better than I imagined. That’s the reason why he is who he is.”

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James’ play was among the key factors in Cleveland handing Boston a 102-99 loss on Tuesday night.

But Tatum showed he too has some big-time potential by finishing with a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds which included some nifty drives to the basket as well as showing the ability to hold his own on the glass in terms of rebounding the basketball.

The last Celtics rookie to post a double-double on opening night?

That was Larry Bird back in 1980, helping the Celtics to a 114-106 win over the Houston Rockets.

What’s even crazier?

Bird had 14 points and 10 rebounds in that Rockets game, too.

Tatum’s solid performance didn’t seem in the making in the first half when Tatum had missed all five of his shot attempts while tallying just two points.

But as the Celtics mounted their comeback, Tatum’s play was a key to the team’s improved play.

“Just being more relaxed” was how Tatum described his improved play in the second half.

Tatum added, “first half, I think I was nervous and anxious. And then the game slowed down for me. That helped out a lot.”

And the Celtics will need even more from Tatum going forward after Gordon Hayward’s left ankle injury that will keep him sidelined indefinitely.

There was plenty of room for him to improve upon following Tuesday’s game.

But for the most part, head coach Brad Stevens liked what he saw from the rookie.

“Jayson was pretty good,” Stevens said. “He did a pretty good job for a first game. That’s pretty hard to do, to be thrown into this environment, first game and play that well.”

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