, Gloucester, MA

March 7, 2013

Crunch Time

Gloucester Daily Times

---- — Testing the market

It appears that Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker will test the free agent market according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Welker, 31, officially becomes an unrestricted free agent on Tuesday and can sign with any team in the league. The Patriots hit Welker with the franchise tag in 2012 but declined to do the same for the upcoming 2013 season.

Welker, the Patriots all time leading receiver, led the team in receptions and receiving yards this season but has come under scrutiny in the last couple seasons for key drops against the Giants in Super Bowl XLVI and the Ravens in this past season’s AFC Championship game.

Sure Welker made two huge drops in huge situations over the last couple of seasons, but if he is to leave for another team Tom Brady and the Patriots will miss his production badly. It is rumored that the team has shown interest in Danny Amendola as a possible replacement and if healthy he could produce in Foxborough, but the team will be hard pressed to find anybody to replace the gaudy numbers Welker put up in a Patriots uniform.

The ideal scenario for the team should be to sign Welker up, especially after Brady restructured his contract.

Westmoreland retires

Red Sox prospect Ryan Westmoreland, 22, announced on Wednesday that he will retire from the game of baseball citing health reasons.

“With a clear mind and heart, as well as the unwavering support and friendship of my family, friends, agent(s), doctors, therapists and the Boston Red Sox, I have decided to voluntarily retire as a professional baseball player,” Westmoreland wrote in an email. “Although it is a very difficult decision for me, it has become clear that the neurological damage caused by the most recent cavernous malformation and surgery leaves me with physical challenges that make it impossible to play the game at such a high level.”

Texeira hurt

On Tuesday it was reported that Mark Texeira will miss the World Baseball Classic with a wrist injury. On Wednesday it was announced that Texeira will miss part of the regular season as the wrist injury will keep him out for 8-10 weeks.

The Yankees are already starting the season without Alex Rodriguez, who could miss more than half the season after hip surgery, and Texeira’s ailments mean that two middle of the lineup hitters will be out of the New York lineup to start the season.

With improvements to Toronto and Baltimore’s emergence in the American League East, the Yankees can’t afford to have their stars get injured the way they could in the past.