EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

September 9, 2013

Sports in a minute

Christopher Smith
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — NICE BEARD

Mike Napoli was in the Boston Red Sox dugout before a recent game at Fenway Park and was telling some team employees that he attends to keep growing his beard over the offseason and into next spring.

Who knows if he was really joking or not? He had a smirk on his face.

That said, one Sox employee made a humorous comment, telling Napoli he at least needs to keep it until Christmas (so he can dress up and look exactly like Santa Claus).

ADVICE TO COACHES

From doing some high school previews this week, I can there are some very enthusiastic new local coaches.

I’ve never coached any team so some might think I’m the last person who should provide advice about coaching.

But I’ve dealt with hundreds of high school, college and professional coaches over my reporting career and have noticed the best coaches know every detail about their players.

So my suggestion for new coaches: Learn as much about your players as possible, including their goals and what they are dealing with on and off the field.

For example, Red Sox manager John Farrell knows everything about his players. Bobby Valentine didn’t. Farrell is on his way to the playoffs. Valentine managed one dismal 69-win season. Get the picture?

We at The Eagle-Tribune have an “odds and ends” section in our high school previews. Some coaches have difficultly providing one interesting fact about a player. Other coaches (without even knowing it) provided me enough interesting notes while filling out the other sections of the preview that there already were four or five interesting team/player facts before even getting to the “odds and ends” section of the preview, the second to last question asked to coaches.

ANOTHER SEVEN SCORELESS

Twins pitcher Scott Diamond dominated the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on May 7, hurling 7.0 scoreless innings. At the time, Diamond improved to 3-2 with a 3.03 ERA.

But he struggled tremendously thereafter, posting a 5-10 record and 5.52 ERA in 20 starts.

Diamond was demoted to the minors in August and he pitched against the Boston Red Sox’ Triple-A affiliate, the Pawtucket Red Sox, in the International League playoffs Saturday. Ironically, Diamond had a similar line, going 7.0 scoreless innings.

BIG GAME ALERT

Two local field hockey teams kick of their 2013 seasons today against each other.

Lawrence plays at Haverhill at 4 p.m.

Both teams struggled last year. Lawrence went 1-17 but the Lancers are return six starters. Haverhill was 3-11-1 and is returning just three lettermen, none of whom were starters.

PAWSOX IN FINALS

Kudos to the Pawtucket Red Sox that just have kept on winning each of the past two Septembers despite Boston calling up several key players.

The Pawtucket Red Sox will be going for their second straight Governors’ Cup this week. They play in Game 1 of the International League finals tomorrow at 7:05 p.m. in Durham.

The PawSox won decisive Game 5 of the semifinals 3-0 over Rochester last night behind a two-run single from Heiker Meneses who spent most of his year with the Double-A Portland.

...

Follow Christopher Smith on Twitter @SmittyonMLB