Cubs

Wood will start for Garza Sunday

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Wood will start for Garza Sunday

By Paul LaTour
CSNChicago.com contributor

Left-hander Travis Wood will make his first start at Wrigley Field in a Cubs uniform Sunday, replacing scheduled starter Matt Garza.

As Garza continues to recover from a virus, the Cubs promoted Wood from Triple-A Iowa on Saturday.

Its unfortunate that hes not feeling well, but hopefully I can step in and give them a strong outing, said Wood, who was acquired in a trade with the Reds in the offseason. Most of all its a big game (Sunday). If we win, we take the series.

Wood was 1-3 with a 5.08 earned-run average in five starts for Iowa. He has allowed 35 hits and eight walks with 30 strikeouts in 28.1 innings.

The ball was coming out well, the pitches were working well, Wood said of his time in Iowa. I feel better (than in spring training), more relaxed, Im able to command the fastball, off speed (pitches) are working. So everything is feeling good right now.

In parts of two major-league seasons with the Reds, Wood accrued an 11-10 record and 4.18 ERA with 66 walks and 163 strikeouts in 208.2 innings with Cincinnati in 2010 and 2011. His best season came in 2010 when he was 5-4 with a 3.51 ERA in 17 starts.

This will be Woods third start at Wrigley. He won both starts he made with the Reds in 2010.

On July 1, 2010 he earned the win in his major-league debut with a two-hit, seven-inning effort in the Reds 3-2 victory. He picked up another win Aug. 8, 2010 throwing 6 13 innings in an 11-4 victory.

Garza will miss his start completely after being pushed back from Saturday already. Manager Dale Sveum said he expects Garza to start Friday when the Cubs open a three-game series in Milwaukee.

Cubs Talk Podcast: 2017 season obituary and previewing an interesting winter for Cubs

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: 2017 season obituary and previewing an interesting winter for Cubs

In the latest Cubs Talk Podcast, Kelly Crull, Patrick Mooney and Tony Andracki close the book on the 2017 season following Theo Epstein’s press conference, looking back at what will go down as the craziest calendar year in Cubs history from last November through the team’s loss in the NLCS this October.

Moving forward, where do guys like Kyle Schwarber, Albert Almora Jr., Justin Wilson and Mike Montgomery fit? Will the Cubs re-sign Wade Davis or go after another proven closer? And how worried should fans be about the offense that completely disappeared in the postseason?

Take a listen below:

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks visit Niklas Hjalmarsson, Coyotes

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Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks visit Niklas Hjalmarsson, Coyotes

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Arizona Coyotes Saturday night on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Niklas Hjalmarsson's new home.

Brace yourselves, Chicago. It's going to be a weird site seeing Hjalmarsson in a different sweater other than the Blackhawks, where he spent his first 10 NHL seasons and won three Stanley Cups.

Now he serves as an alternate captain and blue-line anchor for the Coyotes, who are the only team still seeking its first win of the season. You know they'll be hungry to snap that skid, especially when there's extra motivation for a player on their team facing a bunch of old friends.

2. Connor Murphy returns to Arizona, too.

The man Hjalmarsson was traded for will also be returning to a place he called home for four years. Murphy's role with the Coyotes increased every year before he was dealt to the Blackhawks as part of a shake-up for both teams, so you know he's going to play with something to prove.

Murphy is a physical defenseman, and has laid several notable big hits this season. His former teammates surely know it, and may want to keep their heads up.

3. Patrick Kane 2.0?

Ever since he was drafted with the No. 7 overall pick in 2016, Clayton Keller has drawn comparisons to Kane. They're both undersized, offensive playmakers, possess supreme stick-handling abilities and are American-born players.

Keller got a brief taste of NHL action last year, but he's secured a full-time spot with the Coyotes this season and has been arguably their best player so far.

The 19-year-old forward paces all rookies with five goals and ranks second with seven points, and leads the Coyotes in both categories. Expect to see his name as a finalist for the Calder Trophy for the league's top rookie at the end of the season.