There are Christmas presents, and then there's the one Warwick native Dan Wheeler gave to his family Saturday. The veteran relief pitcher has signed a one-year deal with the Boston Red Sox with a vesting option for 2012. Wheeler said he has taken his physical, meaning the deal is complete.
"I've always loved the teams I've played on," said Wheeler Saturday afternoon, "but there's a little part of me that's always wanted to put on the Red Sox uniform. I'm pretty excited about that."
Saturday morning saw several media outlets proclaim that the Boston Red Sox had reached a deal with Rhode Island native Dan Wheeler. However, sources close to Wheeler, a reliever, say no deal is in place as of Saturday afternoon.
Stay tuned for updates ...
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. 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.
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 feels 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 Driscoll. 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.
Just got off the phone with East Providence native Davey Lopes, a solid baseball man as any youâ€™ll come across. After a 10-minute discussion centering around the merits of free agent outfielders Jayson Werth and Carl Crawford, I asked Lopes if he sees himself coaching next year. Earlier this month the Phillies announced that Lopes would not be returning as the clubâ€™s first base coach in 2011.
â€śI think if you wait a day or two youâ€™ll get that answer,â€ť said Lopes, a hearty laugh following the response that seems to suggest the La Salle Academy graduate is close to landing a job.
I did a story yesterday talking about how playoff-bound football teams like Woonsocket and Tolman have two games to prepare for right now -- the holiday tilt and then the Nov. 30 D-II semifinals five days later.
Woonsocket coach Carnell Henderson explained to me how his coaching staff will approach the problem. They will prepare the players for the holiday game against Cumberland. The coaching staff will work overtime, looking at films of playoff foe Chariho while also getting ready for Cumberland.