PAWTUCKET â€“ Felix Doubront is returning to his pitching roots. After serving as a left-handed option in Bostonâ€™s bullpen for a week-plus, Doubront will now serve as a member of Pawtucketâ€™s starting rotation.
â€śHeâ€™s going to start games,â€ť confirmed Mike Hazen, the Red Soxâ€™ vice president of player development. â€śHeâ€™ll probably be on a shortened pitch count to start, but weâ€™ll build him up from there. Heâ€™ll start the games.â€ť
PAWTUCKET -- Matt Albers tossed two scoreless innings in relief for the PawSox Tuesday night, tossing 27 pitches (17 for strikes). The reliever pitched the sixth and seventh innings, allowing one hit while striking out one.
Albers, currently on the DL with a strained lat muscle, is expected to be reinstated by Boston on Thursday, which is the first day he's eligible to come off the disabled list.
PAWTUCKET - Matt Albers looked sharp in the first of two scheduled relief appearances Sunday for the Pawtucket Red Sox. The righthander pitched a 1-2-3 sixth inning, needing just 11 pitches (eight) strikes to set down the heart of the Buffalo Bisons' offense.
Albers threw exclusively fastballs that generally resided in the 93 miles per hour range, according to the McCoy Stadium radar gun. He topped out at 94 mph. His outs came via groundout to third, a fly to center that Ryan Kalish made a nice diving play coming in and a swinging strikeout on a changeup.
PAWTUCKET â€“ The Boston Red Sox werenâ€™t the only affiliate to shake up its pitching staff on Friday. The PawSox made two moves, activating Kris Johnson and Tony Pena Jr. Both pitchers were in extended spring training.
Johnson will be placed in Pawtucketâ€™s starting rotation and is expected to make his first start next Tuesday in Buffalo. Johnson (9-26 in two seasons with Pawtucket) takes the spot of Alfredo Aceves, who was summoned to Boston on Friday. Pena Jr. takes the place of reliever Randy Williams, who Pawtucket placed on the disabled list with shoulder soreness.
As we finish filling out our brackets â€“ thankfully there are some pools that have chosen to ignore the â€śFirst Fourâ€ť â€“ we do so keeping an eye on Providence Collegeâ€™s ongoing search for the next menâ€™s basketball coach. Some names make sense; others leave a lot to be desired.
With rumor mill in full regale, we present the case for one Larry Brown. No, this isnâ€™t as far-fetched as it may seem.
A resolution regarding the status of menâ€™s basketball head coach Keno Davis and menâ€™s hockey coach Tim Army is expected to come as quickly as this Sunday, when the school is targeting to announce that Davis and Army will not be retained.
Cumberland High is 40 points behind Warwick Veterans after Saturday's semifinals. The Clippers were badly hurt by the injury default of Shai Lariviere in Friday night's second round. Shai hurt an ankle in practice on Monday, toughed out one victory on Friday, then defaulted. The two-time state champ and one-time New England champ finished with an unofficial career record of 147-10.
Twin brother Shoneil pinned his way into the finals at 125 pounds. Cumberland also has Cody Beaudette (103), Erik Travers (130) and Tom Lacroix (189) in tonight's finals. Starting time is 7:30 p.m.
Some baseball news on this snowy day, courtesy of the PawSox and the International League:
The International League announced Tuesday, Jan. 25, that Steve Balboni, Wade Boggs, and Cal Ripken, Jr., will be inducted into the circuit's Hall of Fame as members of the Class of 2011. All three players starred in the International League during the early 1980's, and they now comprise the first Class elected to the IL Hall by a vote of current Hall of Fame members, along with longtime executives, broadcasters, and members of the media.
Let's see. The Eagles beat the Giants 38-31 today after trailing 31-10 in the third quarter. DeSean Jackson did his Muhammad Ali impersonation, begging the Giants' punter to keep the ball in-bounds with 14 seconds left, and then he ran 65 yards for the winning touchdown. He is the greatest (kick returner).
Jackson is a very modern player with enormous talent. Nobody makes more big plays in the open field than this guy. He was a bit of a troubled student-athlete in college at California and fell to the second round, where the Eagles took a chance on him.
Tolman High and the Pawtucket Boys & Girls Club conducted their annual Tip-Off hoop tournaments last week. Tolman hosted the James Donaldson Memorial Tournament while the Boys & Girls Club offered up the Dennis M. Lynch, Jr. Memorial event.
I got to spend a little time with the sons of both Pawtucket hoop legends. Fellow sports writer Jim Donaldson watched his alma mater edge Shea in the championship game on Friday night. We talked about regular sports stuff like Cam Newton and the Heisman Trophy, and then about Jim's long association with the Tolman High gymnasium.
In this era of baseball free agency, championships are sometimes won in the offseason.
The Red Sox certainly made themselves the team to beat in the American League when they got Carl Crawford to agree on a 7-year contract worth a reported $142 million late Wednesday night. Crawford will take his physical in Boston on Friday and sign the contract soon after.
GM Theo Epstein can now focus on signing one more strong arm for his bullpen and then take it easy.
CRANSTON -- Some thoughts on Woonsocket's 28-14 victory over Tolman in Sunday's Division II Super Bowl:
Woonsocket just had too many weapons, too many ways to win the game, than Tolman did. The Villa Novans had a big size advantage in the middle of both lines, they had way more seniors than Tolman in their starting lineup, and they had a better game plan.
While the imminent arrival of slugging first baseman Adrian Gonzalez to Boston is the big news of the today, itâ€™s not the only tidbit of info regarding the ball club.
Reliever Rich Hill, who along with fellow pitcher Chad Paronto were at McCoy Stadium Saturday for the PawSoxâ€™ Kids Christmas party, told Blackstone Valley Sports that he will be returning to the Red Sox organization for 2011.
â€śWe agreed to a deal about five weeks ago and Iâ€™m looking forward to (returning),â€ť said Hill, a native of Milton, Mass.
Scratch another catcher off the Red Soxâ€™ list, as Pittsburgh inked Dusty Brown to a minor-league deal Wednesday. Brown was perceived a long shot to return to Boston in 2011 â€“ he was out of options and removed from the 40-man roster â€“ but his chances were thought to have improved after Victor Martinez signed with Detroit last week.
Instead, Brown gets a fresh start with a new team. Drafted by the Sox in 2000, Brown made his major-league debut in 2009. He appeared in 13 games with Boston over the past two seasons, batting .267 with a .313 on-base percentage and one home run.
"This is the biggest football game these two schools have ever played against each other," Tolman athletic director John Scanlon said before his Tigers kicked off to St. Raphael Academy on Tuesday night.
Scanlon was emphasizing the fact that these two former Thanksgiving rivals had never met in a playoff game before. They did on Tuesday night and Tolman pulled away to a 25-12 victory before an estimated 1,200 fans at Max Read Field.
Tolman coach Dave Caito sounded pleased when he talked about the game on Wednesday afternoon.
Usually I stay away from making predications, particularly on the high school front. Still, with so many area teams competing in Tuesday nightâ€™s semifinal round, I thought it would be a good as time as any to gaze into the crystal ball.
With that in mind, hereâ€™s one reporterâ€™s feeling on what may transpire this evening (home team in caps):
TOLMAN 21, St. Raphael 7
This wonâ€™t be the blowout we saw in September, yet it wonâ€™t be close to the point that the game comes down to the final five minutes.
Woonsocket 35, CHARIHO 14
On a day in which the Big East Conference got even bigger with the addition of Texas Christian University, Providence athletic director Bob Driscoll believes the move can only serve as a boon for the basketball schools.
â€śI think (the addition of TCU) helps us because it solves some of the football issues,â€ť said Drsicoll. â€śWithout it, it probably causes more stress. If Villanova goes in the director of major college football, then I think weâ€™ll be in very good shape.
Back in the 1950s and 1960s, it was not uncommon for thousands of people to jam McCoy Stadium for the Tolman-SRA Thanksgiving Game. In the 1970s, the R.I. Interscholastic League engineered a playoff system that evolved from two teams participating from each division to four in the current era (with eight in the 16-team Division II).
One of the effects of these playoffs has been the diminished appeal of Thanksgiving games to local football fans. When the Tolman-SRA rivalry died 10 years ago, crowds had fallen to less than 1,000 per game. The Shea-Tolman rivalry draws about half that many.
Here's a scouting report from River Avenue Blues on Mason Williams, who lived in Pawtucket until he was 13 before moving to Florida, where he became a star baseball player drafted in the fourth round last June by the New York Yankees:
Rhode Islandâ€™s mixed martial arts community lost one of its premier figures and founding fathers early Monday morning when Pawtucket native Manny Neves passed away. He was 45.
Neves wore many hats in the fight business. He was an MMA fighter, Muay Thai fighter, and kickboxer. He was a trainer, a gym owner, and during the 2000s (when MMA shows werenâ€™t allowed in Rhode Island), a promoter of several Massachusetts events.