Cubs

Justin Verlander returns to his All-Star form

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Justin Verlander returns to his All-Star form

From Comcast SportsNet
BALTIMORE (AP) -- Justin Verlander put on a show at the All-Star game, with horrific results. Against the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday, the reigning Cy Young Award winner staged a pitching clinic that ended quite nicely for the right-hander and the Detroit Tigers. Verlander allowed three hits in eight innings and the Tigers cruised to 4-0 victory, their seventh win in eight games. In his first appearance since yielding five runs in one inning for the AL in an 8-0 loss Tuesday night, Verlander (10-5) struck out eight and walked two. He retired 16 of the last 17 batters he faced before leaving after 117 pitches. "He was just in total command and I knew he would be, particularly after the All-Star game," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "The fans wanted to see him throw it 100 (mph) and he threw it a 100. Today he pitched the way he can pitch and has been pitching. ... Today the horse did what the horses do." Verlander allowed only two runners past first base. The only hits against him were a single by Jim Thome in the first inning, a double by Thome in the third and single by Mark Reynolds in the seventh. It was the Anti-All-Star game for Detroit's ace, who couldn't wait to get back on the mound after the debacle in Kansas City. "Yes, but at the same time, I had to tell myself that that's not the kind of pitcher that I am," Verlander said. "Everybody that has watched me or followed the Tigers or myself knows that that's not me. That's not the way I normally pitch so it's easy to turn the page." It was Verlander's 117th win for Detroit, tied with Denny McLain for 13th on the team career list. He improved to 7-0 in 10 lifetime starts against the Orioles, including 5-0 at Camden Yards. "When he had some struggles in the All-Star game I wasn't too excited about it," Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said. "I kind of had an idea he was going to be on top of his game today." Jose Valverde worked the ninth to complete the four-hitter. Austin Jackson and Miguel Cabrera homered for the Tigers, who took two of three from the Orioles. Making his second start and appearance in the majors, Baltimore's Miguel Gonzalez (1-1) gave up three runs, six hits and five walks over 5 2-3 innings. In his first start, the right-hander allowed just one run in seven innings against the Los Angeles Angels. In this one, the rookie fell behind 1-0 after throwing two pitches. "I kept the team in the game. That's what I'm trying to do," Gonzalez said. "I felt good. Good pitches. They got hit. That's just baseball." Thome had three hits for the Orioles, who have lost 10 of 14. Second baseman Robert Andino left in the sixth inning after hurting his left shoulder diving for a single. X-rays were negative, and he will receive an MRI on Monday. Baltimore was under three runs for the 14th time in 25 games. Wilson Betemit struck out three times and J.J. Hardy failed to hit the ball out of the infield in four at-bats to extend his hitting slump to 4 for 55 (.073). Blame it on Verlander. "After the All-Star game, I thought we were going to have a real good shot of lighting him up, but I think he was just setting us up," left fielder Chris Davis deadpanned. "He's good. He won MVP last year for a reason. I felt like at times that he was just toying with us." Jackson opened the game with a drive into the center-field seats, his third leadoff homer of the season and seventh of his career. He also extended his run-scoring streak to 12 games, most by a Detroit player since Rocky Colavito scored in 12 straight in 1961. The Tigers added a second-inning run when Brennan Boesch doubled and scored on a single by Jhonny Peralta. Detroit made it 3-0 in the sixth. Prince Fielder walked, took second on a single by Boesch and scored on a single by Alex Avila. Orioles right-hander Steve Johnson, the son of former Baltimore pitcher Dave Johnson, made his major league debut in the eighth. He escaped that inning after walking the first two batters, but gave up Cabrera's 20th home run in the ninth. Johnson was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk before the game and optioned back afterward to make room for Chris Tillman, who will start for the Orioles in Minnesota on Monday night. NOTES: Orioles RHP Jason Hammel will undergo surgery on his right knee to remove loose cartilage. He is expected to miss at least a month. He was placed on the 15-day DL. ... Detroit's Jim Leyland managed in his 3,264th game, 15th-most in major league history. ... Baltimore's Mark Reynolds ended a 0-for-17 drought with a seventh-inning single.

Willson Contreras willing to pay the price for mound visits

Willson Contreras willing to pay the price for mound visits

News broke to Willson Contreras that the league will be limiting mound visits this upcoming season, and the Cubs catcher —notorious for his frequent visits to the rubber — is not having it.

“I’ve been reading a lot about this rule, and I don’t really care. If you have to go again and pay the price for my team, I will," he said.

The new rules rolled out Tuesday will limit six visits —any time a manager, coach or player visits the mound — per nine innings. But, communication between a player and a pitcher that does not require them moving from their position does not count as a visit.When a team is out of visits, it's the umpire's discretion to allow an extra trip to the mound.

But despite the new rules, Contreras is willing to do what's best for the team.

“There’s six mound visits, but what if you have a tight game? They cannot say anything about that. If you’re going to fine me about the [seventh] mound visit, I’ll pay the price.”

Left, right, center: Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert and Micker Adolfo are dreaming of being the White Sox championship outfield of the future

Left, right, center: Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert and Micker Adolfo are dreaming of being the White Sox championship outfield of the future

GLENDALE, Ariz. — All that was missing was a dinner bell.

From all over the White Sox spring training complex at Camelback Ranch they came, lined up in front of the third-base dugout and all around the cage to see a trio of future White Sox take batting practice.

This is all it was, batting practice. But everyone wanted to get a glimpse of Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert and Micker Adolfo swinging the bat. And those three outfield prospects delivered, putting on quite a show and displaying exactly what gets people so darn excited about the White Sox rebuild.

How to sum it up if you weren’t there? Just be happy you weren’t parked behind the left-field fence.

Jimenez and Robert are two of the biggest stars of the White Sox rebuilding effort, with Adolfo flying a bit more under the radar, but all three have big dreams of delivering on the mission general manager Rick Hahn and his front office have undertaken over the past year and change: to turn the South Siders into perennial championship contenders. The offensive capabilities of all three guys have fans and the team alike giddy for the time they hit the big leagues.

And those three guys can’t wait for that day, either.

“Actually, just a few minutes ago when we were taking BP, we were talking about it,” Jimenez said Tuesday. “Micker and Luis said, ‘Can you imagine if we had the opportunity one day to play together in the majors: right, left and center field? The three of us together and having the opportunity to bring a championship to this team?’ I think that’s a dream for us, and we’re trying to work hard for that.”

“We were just talking about how cool it would be to one day all three of us be part of the same outfield,” Adolfo told NBC Sports Chicago. “We were talking about hitting behind each other in the order and just envisioning ourselves winning championships and stuff like that. It’s awesome. I really envision myself in the outfield next to Eloy and Luis Robert.”

How those three would eventually line up in the outfield at Guaranteed Rate Field remains to be seen. Adolfo’s highly touted arm would make him an attractive option in right field. Robert’s speed and range makes him the logical fit in center field. Jimenez will play whichever position allows his big bat to stay in the lineup every day.

Here in Arizona, the focus isn’t necessarily on some far off future but on the present. As intriguing as all three guys are and as anticipated their mere batting practice sessions seem to be, they all potentially have a long way to go to crack the big league roster. Jimenez is the furthest along, but even he has only 73 plate appearances above the Class A level. Adolfo spent his first full season above rookie ball last year. Robert has yet to play a minor league game in the United States.

The group could very well make its way through the minor leagues together, which would obviously be beneficial come the time when the three arrive on the South Side.

“We were talking about (playing in the big leagues), but also we were talking about just to have the first stage of the three of us together in the minor leagues first and then go to the majors all three of us together,” Robert said. “To have the opportunity to play there should be pretty special for us. We were dreaming about that.”

For months now, and likely for months moving forward, the question has been and will be: when?

Whether it’s Jimenez or top pitching prospect Michael Kopech or any other of the large number of prospects who have become household names, fans and observers are dying to see the stars of this rebuilding project hit the major leagues. Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez made their respective jumps last season. Hahn, who has said repeatedly this offseason that the front office needs to practice patience as much as the fan base, has also mentioned that a good developmental season for these guys might involve no big league appearances at all.

And it’s worth remembering that could be the case considering the lack of experience at the upper levels of the minor leagues for all three of these guys.

“In my mind, I don’t try to set a date for when I'm going to be in the majors,” Jimenez said. “That is something I can’t control. I always talk with my dad and we share opinions, and he says, ‘You know what? Just control the things that you can control. Work hard and do the things that you need to do to get better.’ And that’s my key. That’s probably why I stay patient.”

But staying patient is sometimes easier said than done. The big crowd watching Jimenez, Robert and Adolfo send baseballs into a to-this-point-in-camp rare cloudless Arizona sky proved that.

Dreaming of the future has now become the official pastime of the South Side. And that applies to fans and players all the same.

“I’m very, very excited,” Jimenez said, “because I know from the time we have here, that when the moment comes, when we can all be in the majors, the ones that can finally reach that level, we’re going to be good, we’re going to be terrific. I know that.”