EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

December 24, 2012

Thank you, Santa Claus

Christopher Smith
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — THANKS, SANTA.

Santa Claus always has treated me well.

When I was a kid playing youth baseball, all I wanted was to be the catcher. But none of my coaches would let me because I’m left handed. The position is mainly for righties.

Well, Santa didn’t care that I was a southpaw. One year, he brought me all the catching gear — chest protector, mitt, shin guards, mask, everything.

Happy holidays to all you sports fans out there and thanks Santa for the equipment.

CHRISTMAS TOURNEY

I will be on vacation this week, so I won’t be the one covering the girls Greater Lawrence Christmas Tournament. But I wish I was around to watch Central Catholic and Andover battle in the semifinals. It should another great game in this heated rivalry.

My prediction: Central wins the tourney.

Both North Andover and Salem will play in the other semifinal. I expect a North Andover victory, but coach Annie Alosa definitely has brought a great deal of energy to the Salem program and has her squad playing well. Both teams hustle. It should be interesting.

HECTOR IS MY BIG SHOW

Tom Brady entered last week having thrown just four interceptions in his first 13 games this year. He has thrown four picks over the past two games. He had two picks against the 49ers and two more against the Jaguars.

Kudos to Eagle-Tribune football writer Hector Longo. While it seemed like everyone else was calling Brady’s second-half comeback against San Francisco “epic,” “historic” and “Hall of Fame-like,” Longo named Brady one of his “No Shows” last week, pointing out that the star QB put the Pats in a huge hole with his poor first-half play.

SWISHER OFF BOARD

Wow, I was close on this one. In an article I wrote Sept. 23, I said the Boston Red Sox should offer Nick Swisher four years, $57 million.

Swisher reportedly is headed to the Cleveland Indians for four years, $56 million with an additional option year, which could bring the contract to $70 million.

I still think Swisher would have been a perfect fit for the Boston Red Sox, who still are trying to work out a contract with Mike Napoli.

It appears Boston was reluctant to pursue Swisher because he was given a qualifying offer by New York, and therefore, the Sox would have had to give up a second-round draft pick if they signed him. Napoli was not offered a qualifying offer from Texas so the Red Sox do not have to forfeit a draft pick.

If the Napoli deal falls through, however, the Red Sox would probably then target Adam LaRoche, who was offered a qualifying offer from Washington.

SOX WIN THIS ONE

If the reports are correct that the Red Sox will send first baseman/outfielder Jerry Sands and right-handed pitcher Stolmy Pimentel to the Pirates in exchange for closer Joel Hanrahan, then Boston appears to have won the trade.

The 25-year-old Sands, who the Sox acquired in their nine-player trade with the Dodgers, has had some productive minor league seasons, including hitting 35 homers in 2010. But his power hasn’t translated to the majors. He has just four homers and a .701 OPS in 70 big league games.

Pimentel, 22, has potential. He once was considered one of the top pitchers in the Red Sox’ farm system but has struggled over the past two seasons. He had a 6.79 ERA between Single-A and Double-A in 2011 and 4.59 ERA for Double-A Portland this past year.

WILCOX COULD MISS MONTH

Celtics’ Chris Wilcox (sprained ulnar collateral ligament in right thumb) could miss a month, coach Doc Rivers told reporters.

The injury happened against the Bulls last week.

Wilcox is averaging 4.7 points and 2.3 rebounds per game.