White Sox

Blue Jays player at mall where gunshots fired

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Blue Jays player at mall where gunshots fired

From Comcast SportsNet
TORONTO (AP) -- Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie said Sunday that he narrowly missed being in the area where a gunman fired shots in a crowded food court in one of Canada's busiest malls, killing a man and injuring seven others. Police said the shooting on Saturday at Eaton Centre in downtown Toronto targeted one individual and there were a number of innocent bystanders in what they think might be a gang-related shooting. Police said seven people were shot in all, including a 24-year-old man who was killed in a hail of bullets and a 23-year-old man who remains in critical condition. Det. Sgt. Brian Borg said a 13-year-old boy who was visiting Toronto and shopping with family members was shot in the head but has been upgraded to stable, but critical condition. He said a 28-year-old pregnant woman who went into labor after being trampled in the rush to get out of the mall has not yet given birth. He said she is doing well. Borg said they believe the dead man, identified as Ahmed Hassan of Toronto, had gang affiliations and was targeted. He was known to police. Police think they know who the suspect is but Borg declined to provide a name at this point. Borg said security footage has been particularly helpful. He said there was one gunman and no exchange of gunfire. "I'm very confident we are going to make an arrest very soon," Toronto Mayor Rob Ford said. Police removed Hassan's body early Sunday morning. Lawrie was one of the first to break the news on Twitter on Saturday evening. He had gone to the mall with a friend shortly after the Blue Jays lost to the Boston Red Sox in a Saturday afternoon game. "Pretty sure someone just let off a round bullets in eaton center mall ... Wow just sprinted out of the mall ... through traffic," Lawrie tweeted. "People sprinting up the stairs right from where we just were ... Wow wow wow." He later tweeted that he was "Rattled right now." On Sunday, Lawrie said he felt lucky because he left the food court 10 seconds before the shooting. "It was instant panic," Lawrie said before Sunday's game against the Red Sox. "It was as if you stepped on an ant hill and then everyone just flooded out of the place. ... I just got out of there as fast as possible. I was the first person out of there." Lawrie said he wanted to get the news out fast. "I just thought I'd give it out there just to anybody that could have been in the mall or anybody that needed to get there ASAP, I thought I could give them a good piece of information," he said. Lawrie, a Canadian, said he never thought something like that could happen at the Eaton Centre, a Toronto landmark that is popular with tourists. Toronto prides itself on being one of the safest cities in North America. Many Canadians have long taken comfort in the peacefulness of their communities and are nervous about anything that might indicate they are moving closer to their American counterparts. Marcus Neves-Polonio, 19, was working in the food court when he saw a man pull out a gun and start firing. At least two people were on the ground, he said. Erica Solmes, who manages the McDonald's in the mall's food court, said she heard about 15 shots ring out before a stampede of people made a dash for the exits. "Any place for discharging a firearm in Toronto is dangerous. In the food court of the Eaton Centre on a Saturday evening, it's not only dangerous, it's outrageous," Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair said. "I believe every Torontonian is shocked and appalled by this crime." In 2005, a 15-year-old girl was killed during the Christmas holidays just north of the mall in a shooting that shocked the city during a year of record gun deaths in Toronto. In that case, Toronto teen Jane Creba was shopping with family on busy Yonge Street when she was caught in the crossfire of a shootout between rival gangs. "Today harkens back to that terrible moment," Blair said. "I am very sadly reminded of that. That was one of the most tragic and shocking events that ever took place in Toronto." The major and acting Deputy Police Chief Jeff McGuire called it an isolated incident. "One idiot with a gun on a Saturday afternoon in downtown Toronto does not speak to the state of affairs of the city of Toronto," he said. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a statement that "such depraved and monstrous acts will be met with the full force of the law" and expressed confidence police will make an arrest. Officials said the mall and its parking garages will remain closed Sunday while police continue the investigation. Rachel Kennedy was two hours into her shift at The Gap on Saturday when someone ran into the store and reported hearing gun shots, said she remains on edge. "It's a little bit nerve-racking," Kennedy said.

James Shields is having a stellar May and making comeback wins possible for the White Sox

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USA TODAY

James Shields is having a stellar May and making comeback wins possible for the White Sox

If you haven’t checked in with what James Shields is doing in a while, your opinion of the veteran pitcher’s performance might need some updating.

Shields didn’t exactly win the confidence of White Sox fans during his first two seasons on the South Side. After arriving in a midseason trade with the San Diego Padres in 2016, he posted a 6.77 ERA in 22 starts, during which he allowed 31 home runs. He followed that up with a 5.23 ERA and 27 home runs allowed in 2017.

And the 2018 season didn’t start out great, either, with a 6.17 ERA over his first five outings.

But the month of May has brought a dramatic turn in the vet’s production. In five May starts, he’s got a 3.27 ERA in five starts, all of which have seen him go at least six innings (he’s got six straight outings of at least six innings, dating back to his last start in April).

And his two most recent starts have probably been his two best ones of the season. After allowing just one run on three hits in 7.1 innings last Thursday against the Texas Rangers, he gave up just two runs on five hits Tuesday night against the Baltimore Orioles.

The White Sox, by the way, won both of those games in comeback fashion. They scored four runs in the eighth against Texas and three in the eighth against Baltimore for a pair of “Ricky’s boys don’t quit” victories made possible by Shields’ great work on the mound.

“That’s what it’s all about,” he said after Tuesday’s game. “It’s our job as starters to keep us in the game as long as we possibly can, no matter how we are hitting in a game. At the end of the game, you can always score one or two runs and possibly win a ballgame like we did tonight.”

The White Sox offense was indeed having trouble much of Tuesday’s game, kept off the scoreboard by Orioles starter Kevin Gausman. Particularly upsetting for White Sox Twitter was the sixth inning, when the South Siders put two runners in scoring position with nobody out and then struck out three straight times to end the inning.

But Shields went out and pitched a shut-down seventh, keeping the score at 2-0. Bruce Rondon did much the same thing in the eighth, and the offense finally sparked to life in the bottom of the inning when coincidentally presented with a similar situation to the one in the sixth. This time, though, the inning stayed alive and resulted in scoring, with Welington Castillo, Yoan Moncada and Yolmer Sanchez driving in the three runs.

“I’m out there doing my job,” Shields said. “My job is to try to keep us in the game. And we had some good starters against us that have been throwing well. If I can keep them close, we are going to get some wins and get some wins throughout the rest of the year like that. That’s the name of the game.”

Shields’ value in this rebuilding effort has been discussed often. His veteran presence is of great value in the clubhouse, particularly when it comes to mentoring young pitchers like Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, among others. Shields can act as an example of how to go about one’s business regardless of the outcomes of his starts. But when he can lead by example with strong outings, that’s even more valuable.

“I’m trying to eat as many innings as possible,” he said. “We kind of gave our bullpen — we taxed them a little bit the first month of the season. We are kind of getting back on track. Our goal as a starting staff is to go as deep as possible, and in order to do that, you’ve got to throw strikes and get ahead of hitters.

“Not too many playoff teams, a starting staff goes five and dive every single game. My whole career I’ve always wanted to go as deep as possible. I wanted to take the ball all the way to the end of the game. And we’ve done a pretty good job of it of late.”

It’s a long time between now and the trade deadline, and consistency has at times escaped even the brightest spots on this rebuilding White Sox roster. But Shields has strung together a nice bunch of starts here of late, and if that kind of performance can continue, the White Sox front office might find that it has a potential trade piece on its hands. That, too, is of value to this rebuild.

Until that possibility occurs, though, the team will take more solid outings that give these young players an opportunity to learn how to come back and learn how to win.

Cubs still searching for answers for Tyler Chatwood's puzzling control issues

Cubs still searching for answers for Tyler Chatwood's puzzling control issues

Tyler Chatwood looked to be turning the corner with his control issues, but alas, he and the Cubs aren't so lucky.

After walking only two batters in a solid start in Atlanta last week, Chatwood had taken a big step in the right direction. It was, after all, only the third time he'd walked fewer than 5 batters in an outing this season.

Those control woes reared their ugly heads once again Tuesday night at Wrigley Field in a 10-1 loss to the Indians. Chatwood walked 6 batters and managed to net only 8 outs, getting hammered for 4 runs in the third inning.

"Ugh, it was tough," Maddon said. "The stuff was so good, we just couldn't get a strike."

"It's definitely frustrating," Chatwood said, "because one at-bat, I'll feel really good and the next one, I feel like I'm fighting myself.

"Last time [out], I was able to stay in the rhythm. Tonight, I was kinda battling, rushing rather than staying back, so it's just keeping that feeling and maintaining that."

His season ERA is only 3.74, which looks good until you consider his WHIP is 1.62 and he's walked 40 batters in 45.2 innings with only 41 strikeouts in the process. He now leads baseball in walks per 9 innings.

Chatwood said earlier this month in St. Louis that he's figured out what has led to the startling lack of control and while he didn't elaborate on the mechanical issue, he was working hard at correcting the problem in bullpens.

He's also used the term "fighting myself" at least a dozen times this month alone and it's become a common refrain for his explanation of what's going on. 

"He's got a busy delivery when he throws the baseball," Maddon said. "He's kinda busy what he does with his hands. It's not like he can just change it easily because that's how his arm works, how his body works.

"Sometimes, like you see him the other day, everything's on time and how good it can be and when it's out of sorts a bit, then all of the sudden it becomes shotgun. Ah man, you can see the movement [on his pitches] from the side, how good it is. 

"We gotta harness it somehow. I spoke to him briefly on the bench; I reassured him it's gonna be fine, it's gonna be really good by the end of the year. We gotta figure it out and he knows that. But man, that's good stuff. We just gotta get it in the zone."

Chatwood also admitted part of the problem is mental in that he's trying to force pitches rather than trusting his stuff. He's also gotten into the bad habit of drifting down the mound, though he's not sure when or where he picked up that hitch in his delivery.

Chatwood and Cubs pitching coach Jim Hickey are working on slowing his delivery down to get his arm in the same spot on a more consistent basis.

When the Cubs signed Chatwood over the winter, it was easy to see why.

He just turned 28 in December, his peripherals and a move from hitter-friendly Coors Field foretold a potential leap in performance and his stuff is nasty. Plus, he signed a three-year deal at a relative bargain of $38 million.

Once the Cubs signed Yu Darvish in spring training, you could make the case that Chatwood could be among the best No. 5 starters in baseball.

Nine starts later, the honeymoon period is well over with Chatwood, as he threw only 30 of his 74 pitches for strikes Tuesday night and sent catcher Willson Contreras sailing all around home plate for pitches way out of the zone.

Still, it's clear to see there is some intriguing talent there and the season there is roughly 70 percent of the season remaining before the Cubs make what they hope is another run at the World Series.

"I have a lot of faith," Maddon said. "I know we're gonna reap the rewards, the benefits as he figures this thing out."