NFL: New England Patriots-Minicamp

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady hands the ball off to running back James White during mandatory minicamp at the Gillette Stadium practice field in June. The team's training camp starts Thursday.

RELIEF is on the way for New England sports fans.

No, we’re not talking about the weekend’s oppressive heat.

We’re talking about the frustration over the Red Sox.

The relief, as the enigmatic Sox begin their stretch of 14 straight games against the Rays and Yankees, comes in the form of the Patriots.

Training camp and the quest for No. 7 starts Thursday in Foxborough, Mass.

By that time, of course, the Red Sox could be 3-0, 0-3, 2-1 or 1-2 against the Rays down in St. Pete. Regardless, the Pats are back and that has to make folks feel better, right?

Julian Edelman will miss three weeks with a thumb injury. Sony Michel is among those on the Physically Unable to Perform list after a knee procedure (he’s supposed to be ready for the opener), Tom Brady has survived his annual cliff diving, this time on video with his little girl (that didn’t look very high, did it?).

The Patriots will be back — and all should be good with the local sports world.

About that heat

Now, the Red Sox.

Losing two out of three to the lowly Orioles over the weekend, leaving the defending champs three games out of the second wild card spot, was in many ways a microcosm of this season for your favorite baseball team.

There was the Friday blowout loss (which followed the Chris Sale bounce-back), with David Price celebrating the return of his public battle with Dennis Eckersley, by giving it up in front of sloppy fielding. On Saturday, there was a 17-run attack, but another lousy start by Rick Porcello, who now owns a 5.61 ERA.

Then came Sunday, when someone named Asher Wojciechowski, getting his first major league win in two years and pitching for his ninth organization, took a no-hitter into the seventh inning and Andrew Cashner laid his second straight egg after joining this team.

“It’s a tough one, of course. But we have to turn the page,” manager Alex Cora said. “We know what starts tomorrow. … We have a tough schedule coming now and (have to) be ready for it.”

Simple enough, right?

But NOTHING is simple with this team.

Said Brock Holt: “If I knew the answer to (how to fix our performance), we’d be doing it. We have to play better in all aspects. We have a good stretch here against teams that we are chasing, so this is a good time to start if we are going to do it.”

The best quote from Baltimore came from the sizzling Rafael Devers, who said, “Yeah, I’m mad. This is a game we should be able to win, especially against a pitcher like that. We’re not getting the job done. That’s what I’m upset about.”

Buy or sell?

Amid reports the Red Sox have shown interest in closers Kirby Yates and Ken Giles, there has been plenty of calls, on social media and otherwise, for the team to be sellers at next week’s trade deadline.

Selling would mean moving … Mookie Betts?

Imagine the haul on this very talented player who still has a year of contractual control remaining. But it’s a pretty crazy idea, eh?

Writing for Boston Sports Desk, Jeff Flanagan said, “The reigning AL MVP is hands down the best chip that any team in the game will have to offer during baseball’s upcoming silly season, and he could bring back a haul that not only could help restock the Sox very limited farm system, he could also yield the pieces that may place (Dave) Dombrowski’s team back into serious contenders next season.”


It’s hard to look into a crystal ball and predict Betts’ future. But if Dombrowski does in fact intend to move him, know this: There’s plenty of talent still with this team if he is moved.

Consider the left side of the Boston infield. Thanks to @SoxNotes for pointing out, “Xander Bogaerts & Rafael Devers have combined for more hits (240), RBIs (150), and doubles (59) than any other pair of teammates in MLB. Their 103 XBH rank 2nd behind only MIL’s Christian Yelich & Mike Moustakas (107). Bogaerts & Devers have combined to hit .319 with a .957 OPS.”

Special stuff.

Eck speaks

Eckersley spoke to Dan Shaughnessy of The Boston Globe in Cooperstown about the latest Price flare-up.

“He’s my new Kirk Gibson,’’ Eckersley said with a laugh. “Everywhere I go people are asking me about David Price, telling me what he said about me. For years, I carried the Gibson thing (the 1998 World Series homer) around. Everybody was droppin’ a Gibson on me. Now I got this. I don’t get it.’’

Cora, talking about the latest incident, said, “The timing was like, ‘Why now?’ It was out of nowhere. David is very honest and he speaks his mind. But at the same time, why do we have to talk about this while we’re in the middle of the season?”

Mitch Moreland, closing in on a return to the field, and his wife, Susannah, will hold a special event during this weekend’s four-game series against the Yankees: “Christmas in July.”

Fans are being asked to bring new toys and craft items for kids (up through teens) currently at Boston’s Children’s Hospital. From the Sox release: “Donations to the “Christmas in July” collection will be accepted at Gate A and D from the time gates open through the end of the 1st inning of each game. Items need to be brand new and appropriate for infants, toddlers, and teens.”

And so on

Did you see how the San Francisco Giants won their third straight extra-inning game over the Mets on Sunday? Mike Yastrzemski’s walkoff homer in the 12th inning. …

NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport says the Pats would welcome Josh Gordon back but are counting on nothing. “As always with Josh Gordon, the talent is incredible,” he said. “We’ve seen probably one-tenth of it, honestly. But there’s always so much that goes into it. I think the Patriots know better than to say this is a guy we’re counting on for next season.”

Clemson has been picked by ACC media to repeat as football league champs, with Boston College tabbed fifth in the Atlantic Division, ahead of Wake Forest and Louisville.

Marcus Morris reportedly turned down three years/$41 million from the Clippers, before accepting and then backing out of a two-year/$20 million deal from the Spurs and then landing with the Knicks at one year/$15 million. He has fired his agent.


Mike Shalin covers Boston pro sports for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is Follow him on Twitter @mscotshay.