Cubs

Mariano Rivera has a torn ACL ... and another issue

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Mariano Rivera has a torn ACL ... and another issue

From Comcast SportsNet
NEW YORK (AP) -- Mariano Rivera hobbled up to the podium on a pair of crutches he's quickly grown tired of, ready to reveal more news about his health. This time, it was something more serious than a torn knee ligament. Rivera has a blood clot in his right calf, the latest medical problem for the longtime New York Yankees closer who injured his knee last week while shagging fly balls during batting practice. Rivera is on blood-thinning medication intended to dissolve the clot and said Wednesday he is OK, though he was scared when he received the diagnosis. He needs to spend at least a week or two strengthening his right knee before he has surgery to repair his torn anterior cruciate ligament -- but he said that would have been the case regardless of the blood clot. Strengthening the knee now will help when he begins his rehabilitation program after the operation. He must stop taking the blood thinners 24 hours before surgery, he said. The 42-year-old Rivera, baseball's career saves leader with 608, said he can guarantee he will work hard and do "whatever it takes" to return next season. But if his leg doesn't come back strong enough, then he will take it as a sign that it's time to retire. "If it's my call, I don't want to leave the game the way it happened. ... My will and my desire is to stay," Rivera said, adding that he was leaning toward pitching in 2013 even before the injury. "The traveling, I hate it. And the game, I love it." Rivera was injured last Thursday in Kansas City, tearing his ACL and damaging the meniscus in his right knee, when he stumbled and fell while chasing a fly ball during batting practice, a regular part of his pregame routine. He is expected to miss the rest of the season. The following day he announced he was determined to get back on the mound next season and he was examined Monday by three doctors at two New York hospitals as he prepared to decide where to have knee surgery. While he was being examined, Rivera mentioned to the doctor that his right calf was "sore and painful." He was diagnosed with a blood clot and spent Monday night in the hospital, beginning treatment right away. That was the complication Yankees general manager Brian Cashman and Rivera's agent, Fernando Cuza, referred to this week when discussing Rivera's schedule and prognosis. Cashman would not elaborate Tuesday at Yankee Stadium. "I was more concerned with the blood clot than the knee. For a minute I was like, what else is going to happen?" Rivera said. "I was scared because I never hear good things about blood clots. ... I take it like, OK, what do we have to do?" In the worst cases, blood clots can be life-threatening if they travel to the lungs. Rivera said he's not sure what caused the clot, and he didn't even ask. "I know that I've got to deal with it," he said. "They don't know if it happened before or after the trauma of the injury." Rivera planned to speak to his doctor later Wednesday and he will soon go back for a check-up. He hasn't decided on a doctor to perform the knee surgery yet, but he said the clot will not affect the date of the operation. "I really believe if Mo wants to continue to play, he'll play," manager Joe Girardi said. "I mean, obviously he's got to go through a process of rehab here, but I don't see any reason why that's not going to happen and he's not going to get through that, so I look forward to seeing him back in a Yankee uniform." Rivera appeared in good spirits at a 25-minute news conference before the Yankees played the Tampa Bay Rays. Wearing a long-sleeve shirt and jeans, he sat down carefully at a table with a microphone and managed a familiar smile as he faced a room full of reporters. "I just feel old. Walking with these crutches is not fun at all," he said. Later, he joked that would begin running again in 5 or 10 minutes. "I didn't even have chance enough to taste the season," Rivera said. "It will be hard to just put it down and walk away." Rivera said he'll be at the ballpark as much as possible to help his teammates however he can this season, but for the first time in his life he thinks he needs to be a bit "selfish" and focus on his rehab. He said he watched nervously from his couch at home as fill-in closer David Robertson loaded the bases Tuesday night before saving New York's 5-3 victory over the Rays. "It's still tough, though, mentally. These games don't help me. He did a good job," Rivera said. "I was sweating and screaming. It was difficult, but I was screaming at Robby on the TV." And when he returns, Rivera said he'll resume shagging flies during batting practice. "Oh, no doubt about it," he said. "I don't know what the Yankees will do. They might need to tie me up."

Ben Zobrist breaks down how Dodgers pitching has made Cubs offense disappear

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USA TODAY

Ben Zobrist breaks down how Dodgers pitching has made Cubs offense disappear

Ben Zobrist didn’t look for any deeper meaning in Kyle Schwarber’s first-inning homer off Yu Darvish on Tuesday night at Wrigley Field, or hope that one swing could change the entire momentum of this National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Zobrist knows what it takes to win in October, the Cubs identifying him as the missing piece to their lineup after he helped transform the 2015 Kansas City Royals into a championship team, and then getting a World Series MVP return on their $56 million investment.

That “Schwarbomb” turned out to be fool’s gold, the only run the Cubs would score in front of a quiet, low-energy crowd of 41,871, the defending champs one more loss away from golfing/hunting/fishing/signing autographs at memorabilia shows.

“That was great to get a homer, but I’d rather see some hits strung together,” Zobrist said after a sloppy 6-1 loss, standing at his locker for almost 10 minutes, answering questions in the underground clubhouse. “I’d like to see a couple doubles together, a few singles, three or four hits in an inning. We just haven’t done that.

“That’s what makes rallies. They’ve stayed away from those kinds of innings. That’s why they’re ahead right now.”

Darvish – Jake Arrieta’s replacement in the 2018 rotation? – canceled out the two singles he allowed in the first inning by getting two of his seven strikeouts and answering some of the questions about how he would respond to all the pressure in October.

Darvish – a trade-deadline acquisition that had echoes of Theo Epstein’s “If not now, when?” explanation for last year’s Aroldis Chapman trade – walked one of the 25 batters he faced and pitched into the seventh inning before handing the game over to a lights-out bullpen.

“There’s nothing that we didn’t see beforehand on video,” Zobrist said. “It’s just a matter of we need him to make more mistakes, and we got to take advantage of those mistakes when he makes them.

“When he got to 3-2 counts, he wasn’t throwing a heater. He was throwing the cutter, and it’s a tough pitch to hit. You have to sit on it, and even then it’s got good movement to it. He kept us off-balance.”

Forward-thinking manager Dave Roberts is at the controls of a Los Angeles bullpen that can match up against right- and left-handed hitters, target locations, unleash upper-90s velocity, execute the elevated fastball that messes with eye levels and lean on All-Star closer Kenley Jansen for multiple innings.

The Dodger relievers essentially put together a no-hitter that lasted nine-plus innings across Games 1, 2 and 3. Together, they have pitched 10.2 scoreless innings, facing 36 batters and allowing two hits and a walk and hitting Anthony Rizzo with a pitch.

“They kept the ball on the edges and kept us off-balance,” Zobrist said. “They’re not throwing the pitch in the middle of the plate when we need them to. They’re keeping it on the edges and those are hard (to hit). When you got guys with good stuff on the mound, you need them to make some mistakes for you, or at least start walking some guys.

“When they’ve gotten in those situations with a three-ball count, they’re still making the pitch when they need to. They’re not walking many guys – and we are.

“That’s why they’re up 3-nothing.”

Zobrist (4-for-23 this postseason) is now more of a part-time player/defensive replacement, no longer the switch-hitting force who dropped the bunt at Dodger Stadium that helped end the 21-inning scoreless streak during last year’s NLCS.

Zobrist insisted the Cubs are still all there mentally, not checked out after a grueling first round against the Washington Nationals and a brutal walk-off loss in Game 2 at Dodger Stadium. He owns two World Series rings and one has the Cubs logo and this inscription: “We Never Quit.”

“We keep it loose all the time,” Zobrist said. “We know what’s at stake. And we don’t shy away from it. We look forward to the challenge ahead. It would be a great story for us to be able to come back in this series and win this series.

“We make adjustments, we take advantage of mistakes and we come out with a victory tomorrow. That’s what we have to do.”

Winter is coming for Cubs team that looks checked out of 2017

Winter is coming for Cubs team that looks checked out of 2017

Kyle Schwarber took a Babe Ruth swing on Tuesday night at Wrigley Field, posed for a moment and dropped the bat out of his follow through, watching that Yu Darvish pitch soar 408 feet out toward the left-center field bleachers.

Those carefree Cubs relievers shown on the video board – wait, was that John Lackey bouncing around? – danced in the bullpen in the first inning. This is exactly what the Cubs wanted: Grab an early lead? Check. Get one of their big boys going? Check. Energize the crowd of 41,871? Check.

That sense of momentum lasted less than the time it takes to buy a beer or go to the bathroom at Wrigley Field, because the Los Angeles Dodgers look like the unstoppable force this October.

Now Wade Davis may never pitch in this National League Championship Series and Wednesday night could be Jake Arrieta’s final start in a Cubs uniform. Winter is coming after a 6-1 loss left the defending World Series champs looking mentally checked out of 2017.

The Cubs played AC/DC and Motley Crue in their underground clubhouse and answered questions about why they believe they can match the 2004 Boston Red Sox who took down the New York Yankee Evil Empire, becoming the only team to come back from an 0-3 deficit since the LCS expanded to a seven-game format in 1985.

But Kris Bryant’s glassy look and bloodshot eyes told a different story, the reigning NL MVP admitting how “draining” those five games felt against the Washington Nationals in Round 1.

“But you kind of expect that around this time when games mean a lot,” Bryant said. “It takes a lot of energy to get ready for these games, and at the end, you feel wiped out. It’s expected.”

But no one could have predicted this lack of buzz in Wrigleyville, which felt less than a lot of midweek games during the regular season. A silence fell over the old ballpark when Andre Ethier – who has three homers across the last two seasons combined – lined a Kyle Hendricks pitch off the video board in right field to lead off the second inning.

Hendricks – who has made 10 postseason starts across the last three years and kept the Dodgers completely off-balance last October on the night the Cubs clinched their first NL pennant in 71 years – watched in the third inning as Chris Taylor crushed another home-run ball that bounced off the roof of the batter’s eye in center field.

“I wouldn’t say we’re running out of gas,” shortstop Addison Russell said. “Every time we step on the field, I feel like we have a pretty good chance of winning. We’re going to come into the clubhouse tomorrow positive and just ready to strap it on.”

The Dodgers will be out for beer and champagne on Wednesday night and the chance to kick back and watch the Yankees and Houston Astros expend all their energy in the ALCS.

Dodger manager Dave Roberts – who pushed all the right bullpen buttons in Games 1 and 2 (eight no-hit/scoreless innings combined) – toyed with the Cubs by letting Darvish hit against struggling reliever Carl Edwards Jr. with a two-run lead and two outs and the bases loaded in the sixth inning.

Darvish showed bunt on all four pitches – and drew a four-pitch walk and slammed his bat to the ground in celebration. The fans booed after Edwards struck out Taylor on three pitches to end the inning.

“We were there just as much as any other game,” said Ben Zobrist, last year’s World Series MVP. “Mentally, there was no letdown. Physically, there was no letdown. It was just a matter of them capitalizing on some mistakes that we made. That’s part of the game. And they didn’t make a lot of mistakes.

“They played better baseball than us tonight. That’s why they got the W.”

The Cubs committed two errors in Game 3 and then had a National-style meltdown in the eighth inning, from Zobrist misjudging the flyball to right field that dropped in front of him, to Mike Montgomery throwing a wild pitch, to catcher Willson Contreras getting crossed up on a swinging strike three, his glove nowhere near Montgomery’s 92.7-mph fastball, which crashed into his right arm and ricocheted into the visiting dugout.

A three-run game became 6-1 – and head for the exits and then the offseason. There was Albert Almora Jr. in the ninth inning, driving a ball into the ivy in left field and sprinting right into lead runner Alex Avila at third base, bailed out only because Kike Hernandez waved his hand to signal a ground-rule double.

At least that made All-Star closer Kenley Jansen work the last three outs, accumulated stress that might benefit the Yankees or Astros more than the Cubs.

“They are done,” an NL scout wrote in a text message. “You can see it in their faces.”