Cubs

Montador: We're not holding our breath

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Montador: We're not holding our breath

Talking, discussing, working it out. The NHL and NHLPA havent done much of that lately but thats set to change. After a lengthy meeting at a secret location on Saturday, the two sides are reportedly set to meet this week again, beginning on Tuesday.

Great news, right? Well, sort of. As good as it is the two sides are talking and hopefully talking substantially now Steve Montador said proceed with caution.

Wed rather be talking than not talking, so thats definitely a positive. But nobodys holding their breath unless there are new proposals or changes coming from it, said the Blackhawks defenseman and player representative. Im not expecting much from it because I dont know how far (the league) will come toward our side. Weve come far enough with continued concessions. But our goal is to always talk. Thats important.

And the two sides need to keep talking throughout the week, not just on Tuesday. They need to take whatever came out of Saturday and build off it, get into the nitty-gritty of discussions. So much has already been canceled, from regular-season games through November to the Winter Classic, which was nixed on Friday.

So right now, theres at least some hope that this weeks chats could lead to progress.

Were just hoping theyre taking steps forward, said Washington Capitals forward Troy Brouwer. Hopefully this week and last weekend theyre making (up) some ground, be it core economics, discipline, pension, things like that. As long as things are getting worked out then were getting closer to a deal.

Saturdays meeting was done quietly, with NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly and NHLPA special counsel Steve Fehr talking at an undisclosed location. After they talked, reportedly into the early Sunday-morning hours, each made a quick statement and that was it. No snide comments, no details, no rhetoric. And it looks like the two sides will keep it quieter to the media this week, too. A league spokesman told CSNPhilly.coms Tim Panaccio not to expect a formal media session following Tuesdays talks, that the silence may lead to better traction in talks.

Fine. Whatever works. The quicker this gets worked out, quietly or not, the better.

Sometimes, just having meetings and not having to explain it and then have it critiqued a bunch of ways can help us, Montador said. I dont know how much that can really happen these days; someone will see or hear something. But wed rather keep meeting than not meeting. I dont think its a bad thing to have some quiet meetings sometimes.

Is Joe Maddon covering for Wade Davis? Where do Cubs go from here?

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USA TODAY

Is Joe Maddon covering for Wade Davis? Where do Cubs go from here?

Is Cubs manager Joe Maddon taking the heat and covering for Wade Davis while the All-Star closer deals with atypical soreness in his right arm?

“No, no,” Maddon said Tuesday when asked if Davis felt anything unusual that lingered into the National League Championship Series after last week’s all-out effort eliminated the Washington Nationals from the divisional round.

The Los Angeles Dodgers took a 2-0 lead in this best-of-seven bullpen battle without Davis throwing a single pitch, the backlash from Cubs fans, Twitter and the national media again putting Maddon on the defensive, the year after he got second-guessed for pushing Aroldis Chapman so hard during the World Series.

This NLCS truly is a bizarro world, with Maddon comparing the Buster Posey Rule to the Chicago soda tax, getting so little benefit of the doubt – the Cubs really did beat the Cleveland Indians in Game 7 – and working the baseball term “dry-hump” into one answer during Monday’s Wrigley Field press conference.

Maddon said he would have to check first with Davis – who would have almost five full days in between relief appearances – if the Cubs need a four- or five-out save in Game 3.

“Nevertheless, I always check,” Maddon said. “I can’t just assume that.”

Maddon’s Game 2 calculus on Sunday night at Dodger Stadium – sticking with lefty reliever Brian Duensing in a 1-1 game to start the ninth inning and then bringing in John Lackey to serve up the walk-off, three-run homer to Justin Turner – made you wonder if Davis was still dragging after ending Washington’s season and traveling on the overnight cross-country flight that got diverted to New Mexico for about five hours when Jose Quintana’s wife experienced a panic attack.

“I think he just got mentally exhausted,” Maddon said. “Physically, 44 pitches, he hasn’t done that in a while. But also the seven outs and what it meant and the plane ride itself, sitting on the tarmac, there was a lot of non-rest going on right there, so it was harder to recover.

“So, no, he was fine for the last game, but we set up the parameters before the game.”

Maddon is sticking with his story, that he would only deploy Davis in a save situation and not use him for one out against Turner (1.115 career postseason OPS) or have him totally warm up without the guarantee of getting him into the game.

“To put Wade in that position would be wrong on my part,” Maddon said. “We had already talked about the circumstances, so my loyalty there lies with Wade, or my decision-making lies with Wade, nobody else.

“That was a heavy day for him (in Washington). Going into the last game in L.A., like I talked about, we talked about one inning only, and not to get up and not put him in the game.

“If you get him up and sit him down, then you have no idea what it’s going to look like. My responsibility is to him, also, and to the players, so I told him that before the game, so I had to stick with our decision.”

Before finalizing the Jorge Soler trade at the winter meetings, the Kansas City Royals took the unusual step of allowing the Cubs to meet with Davis at his home in New York’s Hudson Valley and go through a physical exam. The Cubs wanted reassurances after Davis spent parts of last season on the disabled list with a forearm strain and a flexor strain.

The Cubs wondered if “dry-humping” had contributed to those injuries, and tried to stay conservative with Davis during his free-agent year, watching him convert his first 32 save chances and using him for three-plus outs only three times during the regular season, all in mid-to-late September.

“If you look at the numbers this year, I thought going into the playoffs his usage has been really good,” Maddon said. “Minimal, in a sense. We didn’t get him up hardly at all where we didn’t utilize him.

“He just wasn’t set up for it the other day. So honestly, I think he’s in really good shape right now, actually. I don’t think he could have gone those seven outs the other day if he had been overly dried up during the course of the season. He felt good. But that was above and beyond, and that wasn’t part of the game plan the other night.”

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Ben Zobrist shares his leadoff approach

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SportsTalk Live Podcast: Ben Zobrist shares his leadoff approach

Sports Talk Live is on location at the Brickhouse Tavern at Wrigley Field to get you set for Game 3 of the NLCS. David Haugh (Chicago Tribune), Jesse Rogers (ESPNChicago.com) and Bob Nightengale (USA Today) join Kap on the panel. 

Plus, Ben Zobrist and Curtis Granderson drop by to talk about the big matchup.

Listen to the full SportsTalk Live Podcast right here: