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Why Red Sox are holding new winter program for prospects in Fort Myers this week

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Why Red Sox are holding new winter program for prospects in Fort Myers this week

While Major League Baseball’s lockout continues, a group of 28 Red Sox prospects — including some of the best in their system like Triston Casas, Nick Yorke and Blaze Jordan — are in Fort Myers this week to get some valuable and unique guidance and work in their continued development.

The new winter program — “Winter Warm-Up” — is a rookie minicamp of sorts that will serve as something of a prelude to minor league spring training. The camp began Monday and will conclude Friday at the Red Sox spring training home at JetBlue Park, where the prospects will get individualized instruction and training. It’s an additional opportunity for development that didn’t exist before.

“I think it’s a chance for us to get guys out of whether it’s colder climates or facilities where they might not have access to information or tech or just staff, and really get them down to Fort Myers and start them with their preparation for spring training,” said Red Sox director of player development Brian Abraham. “There’s strength and conditioning involvement, there’s individual player meetings, there’s larger group discussions in education, and obviously the biggest piece is the on-field work as players start to prep for the start of minor league camp.”

In the past, the Red Sox have hosted a January rookie program in Boston, which Abraham noted is different from what the prospects are experiencing this week. But this program, as Abraham alluded to, allows them to do more in warmer weather.

“It was an opportunity to get a large group of players into a warmer climate,” Abraham said. “We have had the program in Boston. Obviously when the weather permits us, we do have some workouts, but as most of you know, they’re very limited workouts. It’s certainly a focus on strength and conditioning, which is great, but guys aren’t able to really have their full workloads or they take time away from their progressions in spring training. Here, no matter where those players are coming from, we’re able to hit the ground running here at camp in the warmer weather. …

“It was a full day outside today. Batting practice on the field, some guys were able to throw lighter sides. It’s a chance to really be on the field more. A lot of the education, a lot of the conversations still happen. As we all know, the development of a player doesn’t just stop at the upper levels or begin at the lower levels. It gradually happens throughout time. I think some of the lessons or information we’re providing these players are things that can work, whether they are an A-ball player or a Triple-A player.”

The 28-man group does not include anyone on the 40-man roster due to the ongoing lockout as clubs are currently restricted from having contact with them. But the group includes several top prospects and a few newcomers to the organization — including Alex Binelas and David Hamilton, who were acquired in the Hunter Renfroe-Jackie Bradley Jr. trade.

The days this week will somewhat resemble what the prospects will experience in March during minor league spring training, with early morning report times and departure in the early afternoon.

“A fairly heavy day, but at the same time, also not trying to wear these guys out too early in the season,” Abraham said.

The camp taking place in Fort Myers will also allow prospects to get in a rhythm as they prepare for the spring. Abraham said the majority of the 28-man group will be sticking around to take part in the other winter programs that begin next week.

“I think that was one of the points of having it at this time of year, to hopefully get guys to come here that stay throughout,” Abraham said.

Thaddeus Ward, who had Tommy John surgery in June, is part of the group in Fort Myers this week. Abraham said the right-hander threw on Monday and “looks great.”

“We’re excited by where Thad is,” Abraham said. “He continues to progress in his rehab. As we all know, medically there’s never shortcuts, and there’s always ups and downs, but we’re excited about where Thad is and looking forward to continuing to progress with his throwing.”

Here’s the full list of prospects in Fort Myers this week:

Outfielders (3)
Tyler Dearden
Nick Decker
Gilberto Jimenez

Catchers (4)
Kole Cottam
Jaxx Groshans
Nathan Hickey
Stephen Scott

Infielders (9)
Alex Binelas
Brainer Bonaci
Triston Casas
David Hamilton
Blaze Jordan
Christian Koss
Matthew Lugo
Ceddanne Rafaela
Nick Yorke

Pitchers (12)
LHP Brendan Cellucci
RHP Michael Feliz
RHP Franklin German
RHP Brian Keller
RHP Zack Kelly
LHP Austin Lambright
LHP Chris Murphy
RHP A.J. Politi
RHP Chase Shugart
LHP Brandon Walter
RHP Thaddeus Ward
LHP Jeremy Wu-Yelland

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Heat’s Bam Adebayo says he has more ‘stuff to get mad at’ after All-Defensive vote

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Heat’s Bam Adebayo says he has more ‘stuff to get mad at’ after All-Defensive vote

Another file has been added to Bam Adebayo’s motivation folder.

And, yes, the Miami Heat center is keeping score, while also appreciating that the most important scores are the ones at the ends of each game in these Eastern Conference finals.

Hours after being relegated to the NBA All-Defensive second team, Adebayo spoke ahead of Saturday night’s Game 3 against the Boston Celtics about a different type of one-point decision.

“I appreciated it,” he said, “but like I’ve said, I always feel like I deserve to be first-team. So that’s what it is.”

After consecutive years of being second-team All-Defense, Friday night’s release of the balloting for the 2022 All-Defensive teams showed Adebayo one vote from the 100-member media panel from being part of the first team.

In the weighted system, Adebayo would have tied the Memphis Grizzlies’ Jaren Jackson Jr. for the final first-team spot with one additional second-team vote, and would have supplanted him with an additional first-team vote. As it is, Adebayo received 57 first-place votes to 55 for Jackson in the balloting that was completed before the start of the playoffs.

“Doesn’t matter,” Adebayo said of being on the cusp of the first first-team selection of his five-year career, “because I’m still second team. I’ve got to live with that.”

What it will do, he said, was continue to fuel his fire, noting that he has learned from Heat captain Udonis Haslem to turn slights into success.

“I mean, I’ve tried everything,” he said. “I’m like UD. We find stuff to get mad at. So that’s basically what it is.”

But, Adebayo said, the three consecutive second-team nods means he is a constant in the conversation.

“I mean, I guess the body of work speaks for itself,” he said.

And if it doesn’t, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra spoke up for Adebayo after Saturday morning’s shootaround at TD Garden.

“I feel for him,” Spoelstra said, “because I think he did everything this year to anchor a great defense. And what we do is really unique, being able to switch out a five on all different kinds of players but then also being able to play different schemes.

“Without him, we wouldn’t be able to do a lot of these things. And the most important thing is we had a great defense. So we just have to keep on doing it.”

The Heat closed the regular season with the NBA’s No. 4 defensive net rating.

“I think it’s one of those awards,” Spoelstra said, “I think it’s great for players to strive for that. Even though it’s an individual award, you have to have an effect on your team and winning. Like if we were a 25th-ranked defense, I would tell him you don’t have a shot on being on All-Defense.”

Lessons learned

Celtics forward Grant Williams said Saturday that among players that Tennessee coach Rick Barnes told him to try to emulate in the NBA was Heat power forward P.J. Tucker, who was coached by Barnes at Texas.

“Coach Barnes used to say a lot of times I reminded him of guys like that,” Williams said. “He said [former Heat forward] Jae Crowder, P.J., those are the roles you’ve got to find a way to fit in. And so an honor to be able to compete against him, and not only because he’s playing in the league for as long as he has, but the amount of guys he competed with, and the amount of tenacity and energy that he brings every single night.

“So I guess it’s that Rick Barnes connection that brings the best out of both of us, I guess.”

A bit late

It turns out the Celtics guard Derrick White, who left the series ahead of Thursday night’s Game 2, did not make it back in time for the birth of his son.

White’s family sent him videos of the moment as he traveled, landing in time to watch Game 2 with his expanded family.

“He’s already changed our lives, so it’s been crazy, just sitting with him watching the game, cheering us on from home,” White said of Hendrix James White. “It was cool, and just one of those moments I’ll have forever.”

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Orioles reach two-year agreement with left-hander John Means to avoid arbitration

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Orioles reach two-year agreement with left-hander John Means to avoid arbitration

The Orioles agreed Saturday to a two-year, $5.925 million contract with left-hander John Means to avoid arbitration, an industry source with direct knowledge of the agreement confirmed.

Means, 29, was in his first year of arbitration eligibility and was due to go to a hearing with the Orioles to determine his 2022 salary, deciding between the team’s $2.7 million figure and his suggested $3.1 million. The per-year average of Means’ deal, first reported by The Athletic, is slightly above the midpoint of those values.

Means was the Orioles’ opening day starter this season but made only two starts before undergoing season-ending Tommy John surgery. He is expected to return sometime in 2023. He will have one year of arbitration eligibility remaining after this contract.

In addition to calling up top prospect Adley Rutschman, the Orioles on Saturday also reinstated first baseman Ryan Mountcastle from the 10-day injured list, recalled right-hander Mike Baumann and optioned right-hander Logan Gillaspie and left-hander Nick Vespi to Triple-A. Gillaspie and Vespi did not allow a run across their collective first three major league appearances.

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Giants WR Kadarius Toney underwent minor knee procedure, will be ready for camp: sources

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Giants WR Kadarius Toney underwent minor knee procedure, will be ready for camp: sources

Giants wide receiver Kadarius Toney had a minor arthroscopic knee procedure, sources say, which is why he’s been in a red jersey on the side at spring OTA practices.

But he is expected to be fine and ready for training camp.

Toney, 23, was on his feet on the sidelines at Thursday’s open practice. He caught some balls off the JUGS machine before practice with fellow rehabbing wideout Sterling Shepard (Achilles).

Veteran receiver Kenny Golladay also wore red and didn’t practice. Head coach Brian Daboll wouldn’t disclose why but suggested that everyone other than O-linemen Nick Gates (leg fracture) and Matt Peart (ACL) is on track for the start of camp.

“I think everybody is moving in the right direction,” Daboll said. “They’ve done a good job. The training staff has really done a good job… I’d say [Gates] and Matt Peart, they’re rehabbing every single day, getting better each day. So we’ll see where they’re at.”

Wide receivers coach Mike Groh said Thursday that Toney is “not running around full speed right now” but assured “he’ll be ready to go” for real football.

Toney missed a lot of time during his rookie offseason last year due to a contract holdout, COVID and foot and hamstring injuries. Then he dealt with a laundry list of injuries in season: a second COVID positive, the hamstring, and an ankle, thumb, quad, oblique and shoulder.

He had encouraging production against the Saints and Cowboys, but he got thrown out of the Dallas loss for throwing a punch and struggled to stay healthy.

The Giants made calls looking to trade Toney in April — and drafted undersized gadget receiver Wan’Dale Robinson in the second round — but the former first-round pick remains on the team.

Offensive coordinator Mike Kafka said Thursday he has enjoyed working with Toney and views him as a playmaker in the Giants’ offense.

“He’s a dynamic player,” Kafka said. “He has play-making ability on the perimeter, inside, downfield, in short area. He’s one of those guys that you look for to make plays for us.”

The team’s offseason program started on April 4. The Daily News reported the team was exploring a trade on April 22. Several outlets confirmed Toney was available. Toney flew into the New York/New Jersey area that weekend and first reported to the facility on April 25.

GM Joe Schoen then said during the NFL Draft that the Giants were not shopping Toney. Now he’s dealing with a minor issue that is not expected to jeopardize his start of camp.

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