Loretta is Second Choice

The Red Sox made one trade yesterday and were working feverishly on a second that would just get Edgar Renteria out of town, even for a prospect. Michael Silverman reports on the acquisition of second baseman Mark Loretta from the Padres in exchange for Doug Mirabelli. Sean McAdam says that Loretta is expected to hit second in the lineup and provide good defense. David Heuschkel also looks at the trade, notes it was a swap of two players who were very comfortable where they were. David Borges feels it’s pretty clear that the Red Sox got the better of this deal. Joe Haggerty has more on the trade, and observations on Loretta, whom some feel lost a bit of his game last year. Tony Massarotti has Tim Wakefield speaking on the loss of his batterymate.

Chris Snow & Gordon Edes team up in the Globe to report on the Red Sox efforts to trade Edgar Renteria, as well as reporting on the Loretta deal. Tony Massarotti examines the work done this offseason by the Red Sox, and says: “So far, so good for the Four Horsemen”. Gordon Edes notes that the Red Sox did not offer arbitration to Kevin Millar, ending his tenure…and and era…on the team. Sean McAdam looks at Scott Boras as he works to get his client Johnny Damon the best deal out there, regardless of who it is from. Rob Bradford looks at the Blue Jays landing AJ Burnett, a pitcher some within the Red Sox organization would rather have had instead of Josh Beckett.

Jon Couture looks at Grady Little getting second chance to prove himself as a big league manager. Borges’ notebook wonders if Kelly Shoppach is ready to take Doug Mirabelli’s spot as the backup catcher behind Jason Varitek. Edes’ notebook examines former Dodgers GM Dan Evans as a possibility for the still vacant Red Sox job. Silverman’s notebook has more on the possible Renteria trade and a number of other items.

There’s plenty more hot stove talk in the New York Papers, as they drool over Roger Clemens being available and look at a possible return for one more year from Bernie Williams.

The Celtics got themselves a 101-87 win over the Hornets in Oklahoma City last night. Mark Murphy cites production from both the starters and the big men off the bench as a key to this victory. Peter May notes that there wasn’t much mystery to this one, the Celtics simply came to play. Darnell Mayberry covered the game for The Oklahoman, and says that the Hornets never stood a chance last night.

Murphy notes that Al Jefferson had a big night for the Celtics off the bench, chipping in 16 points and 9 rebounds as he seems to be rounding into form. Berry Tramel has a bit on the woes this season of former Oklahoma State star Tony Allen. Bill Simmons had a piece on Larry Bird yesterday as it was the legend’s 49th birthday. May’s notebook says that this trip to Oklahoma City worked out better for Paul Pierce and Raef LaFrentz than the last time the pair played here. Murphy’s notebook has Danny Ainge praising Mark Blount and identifying him as the key to the victory last night.

The Patriots continue to gear up for their game Sunday in Buffalo. Jackie MacMullan has a column on Rosevelt Colvin, who is finally getting the chance to show Patriots fans the player he was before his hip injury. I’m pleased to see him playing well, as I can’t forget how many of the “experts” all said repeatedly before the 2004 season how this guy would never play again. Others had called him a free agent bust, or even the worst free agent signing of the Belichick era, as if the injury was something that could’ve been predicted. Still others complained about his slow recovery last year, when it was amazing that he was on the field at all. Albert Breer also has a feature on the Patriots linebacker, who is playing with new life now that he is fully recovered. Christopher Price also looks at Colvin.

Jerome Solomon and Michael Parente look at Artrell Hawkins, who has made the move from cornerback to safety since joining the Patriots and has done a lot to shore up that positive which was a revolving door in the weeks following Rodney Harrison’s injury. Dan Pires and Eric McHugh have articles on David Givens, who is sick of being hurt, glad to be back, and who adds a lot to the Patriots offensive attack. John Tomase says Kevin Faulk is the Patriots secret weapon, a stealth bomber that flies under the radar of opposing defenses. Karen Guregian looks at the patchwork offensive line which has managed to keep Tom Brady upright for the most part this season. Guregian also looks at Deion Branch playing a little Wheel of Fortune.

Alan Greenberg looks at the challenge facing the Patriots on Sunday…Buffalo in December. Greenberg told a funny story on FSN’s NE Sports Tonight last night of leaving the stadium in a swirling storm after a game in the 2001 season when Nick Cafardo’s “big Russian fur hat” was swept off his head, and forever gone. The writers had to link arms to walk through the parking lot to find their cars so they didn’t get separated and lost in the storm. He cited that as an example of how crazy the weather can be there. Tom E Curran says that the Bills appear to have lost all sense of direction this season. Chris Kennedy looks at Buffalo quarterback JP Losman, who seems to follow his own path in life. Bill Burt has a look at former Heisman Trophy candidate and SI cover boy Joe Dudek of Plymouth State College, 20 years after the magazine cover that made him famous. Colts fan Buddy Thomas is puffing his chest out and awaiting his championship.

Solomons’ notebook also looks at the difficulty of playing in Buffalo in December. Parente’s notebook looks at Eric Moulds being in the doghouse of coach Mike Mularkey this week. Kennedy’s notebook has more on this topic. Curran’s notebook notes that the Buffalo defense is much stronger on their home field. Tomase’s notebook has more on Hawkins making the move to safety.

Nancy Marrapese Burrell and Stephen Harris report on the Bruins 4-1 loss to the Avalanche last night. On ESPN.com, Terry Frei has a pretty critical look at Bruins management in wake of the Joe Thornton trade. Harris’ notebook looks at defenseman Nick Boynton being sidelined 4-6 weeks with a broken kneecap. Burrell’s notebook looks at Andrew Raycroft being unable to hold back the Avalanche in his return to net.

TNT has Wizards/Pacers at 8:00 and Rockets/Kings at 10:30. ESPN2 has UMass/UConn college hoops at 9:00. CN8 has Harvard/UNH college hockey at 7:00.