Cubs

Leaning toward retirement, Dan Haren will make playoff push for Cubs

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Leaning toward retirement, Dan Haren will make playoff push for Cubs

MILWAUKEE — Dan Haren is leaning toward retirement after making these 11 high-pressure starts for the Cubs.

“I would say right now the chances are that this will probably be it,” Haren said Sunday morning inside Miller Park’s visiting clubhouse. “But I don’t want to say this is it and then pull a Brett Favre.”

The fact that Haren is still pitching — as a hired gun for the Cubs in a pennant race — is sort of crazy. Considering that Theo Epstein’s front office let the Carlos Marmol deal with the Los Angeles Angels collapse over concerns about Haren’s medical background after the 2012 season. 

The Cubs probably would have flipped Haren for prospects during the middle of a 96-loss season, which saw Marmol lose the closer’s job in early April 2013.

[MORE: Joe Maddon: Cubs in no rush to promote Javier Baez]

Now the Cubs are banking on Haren to stabilize their rotation, acquiring the battle-tested veteran from the Miami Marlins during the final hours before the July 31 trade deadline.

Haren — a bright, easy-going guy who stood in front of his locker chatting with reporters — hasn’t spoken to any Cubs officials about why they killed that trade with the Angels.  

“I exchanged some texts with Theo the last few days,” Haren said. “He expressed how excited he was to have me. But, no, I never really revisited that. I still don’t know the particulars of what went down.

“I don’t know if my medical reports were bad. But I’ve always taken pride in making all my starts. I’ve made a lot of starts for a lot of years in a row. I’ve had a knack throughout my career for pitching every five days, no matter what.”

Haren — who will turn 35 in September — is now on track to hit 30 starts and double-digit victories for the 11th consecutive season. Three years ago, the Cubs had reservations about how his hip and back would hold up (conditions that might be traced back to when he pitched at Pepperdine University).

[RELATED: Montero's future unclear with Schwarber in mix for Cubs

“I’ve had issues, but nothing that’s kept me off the field,” Haren said. “When you have as many innings as I’ve had, and as much wear and tear, the medical report’s going to be pretty long when you get to this point in my career.

“It might scare some people. But at this point, I’m here for two months, and I plan on making all my starts. I’ll make the most of the time here, for sure.”

Haren went 7-7 with a 3.42 ERA in 21 starts for the Marlins, getting by with guts, experience and the diminished velocity reflected on his Twitter handle: @ithrow88.

“I know I’m not the flamethrower I once was,” Haren said, “but I’ve gotten a lot smarter as a pitcher. I’ve gotten a lot better at putting together scouting reports and sticking to them and being able to locate pitches.

[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans

“I expect to do the same thing I’ve pretty much been doing all year, which is (keeping) the team in the game almost every time I’m out there. We got a young, exciting offense. It will be fun to get out there.”

Haren, a three-time All-Star, will make his first start in a Cubs uniform on Wednesday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park. There were bigger names, longer-term assets and harder throwers out there, but the Cubs needed someone with that bulldog mentality.

“The Marlins weren’t really going anywhere,” Haren said, “so I’m definitely thankful for the Cubs grabbing me and putting me in a pennant race.”

Kyle Hendricks takes in a Blackhawks game with... Bastian Schweinsteiger?

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NBC Sports Chicago

Kyle Hendricks takes in a Blackhawks game with... Bastian Schweinsteiger?

A Cubs pitcher taking in a Blackhawks game in a suite is nothing special, but doing so with a World Cup winner is... different.

Kyle Hendricks was spotted by the cameras of Thursday's Blackhawks-Coyotes broadcast on NBC Sports Chicago. The guy he was standing next to was none other than Chicago Fire midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger, a World Cup with Germany and Champions League winner with Bayern Munich.

Hendricks is known for being reserved on the mound and in his interviews with the media. Meanwhile, Schweinsteiger was filmed yelling "Bear Down" in the hallway of Toyota Park after a Fire practice earlier in the day.

There's no telling what inspired Schweinsteiger to do this, but he has definitely embraced Chicago sports teams since joining the Fire in March of 2017.

Makes you wonder what Hendricks and Schweinsteiger were talking about. Best places to get brats in Chicago?

Ben Zobrist provides a hilarious glimpse into how he's spending a free October

Ben Zobrist provides a hilarious glimpse into how he's spending a free October

Ben Zobrist won't win the Comeback Player of the Year award this winter, but maybe he can take home a Grammy for Best New Artist?

The Cubs veteran infielder/outfielder posted a hilarious video on his Instagram Wednesday night showcasing how he's been spending October after the Cubs were unceremoniously ousted from the playoffs after on the third day of the month.

It's a fantastic music video of Zobrist lip-syncing to Mumford & Sons' "I Will Wait" while he nearly knocks the TV off the wall of his home by swinging the bat indoors pretending to hit off Clayton Kershaw and frolicking around a field that looks shockingly similar to Hershel's farm from the second season of "The Walking Dead":

View this post on Instagram

It always takes me a few weeks to process the season and begin the offseason. Here are my thoughts.....along with a unique way of making light of the postseason that should have been......... (special thanks to @dimtillard for help with Video) Maybe you feel the way I do. It was a very quick and abrupt ending to a good season for us. It leaves a sour taste in my mouth. But let’s not forget all the good that happened. This game and this team gives us something to pass the time, to express our love and passion, to feel the joy of the wins and the pains of the losses, and it calls us to unity when we so easily can be divided about so many other things. Each game is a microcosm of life. The game itself is not Life, but it helps us deal with life in a way. I’m thankful for even the painful losses at the end. The game can be a great teacher. I felt privileged to play with this team and play for our fans all year. We were stretched and we grew in new ways as individuals and as a group and that is always a good thing. We strive to win championships, but more often the process is the goal. We will be stronger because of all that we went through this year. What will I do now? I will travel and watch my wife crush her book tour. I will be in and out of Chi-town. I just got back home to Franklin, TN. I will find joy in raising and watching my kids grow and continue becoming their own person. I will rest and begin preparing for next season. I will work hard in mind, body, and spirit. I will help other players with @patriotforward and @showandgo. I will focus on personal growth and charitable endeavors and become a better man, teammate, friend, and player. To Baseball and Fans: For the next 5 months until I play next year.... I will wait for you....

A post shared by Ben Zobrist (@benzobrist18) on

Zobrist also posted a lengthy caption on his perspective on the Cubs' disappointing end to the season:

It always takes me a few weeks to process the season and begin the offseason. Here are my thoughts.....along with a unique way of making light of the postseason that should have been......... (special thanks to @dimtillard for help with Video) 
Maybe you feel the way I do. It was a very quick and abrupt ending to a good season for us. It leaves a sour taste in my mouth. But let’s not forget all the good that happened. This game and this team gives us something to pass the time, to express our love and passion, to feel the joy of the wins and the pains of the losses, and it calls us to unity when we so easily can be divided about so many other things. Each game is a microcosm of life. The game itself is not
Life, but it helps us deal with life in a way. I’m thankful for even the painful losses at the end. The game can be a great teacher. 
I felt privileged to play with this team and play for our fans all year. We were stretched and we grew in new ways as individuals and as a group and that is always a good thing. We strive to win championships, but more often the process is the goal. We will be stronger because of all that we went through this year. 
What will I do now? I will travel and watch my wife crush her book tour. I will be in and out of Chi-town. I just got back home to Franklin, TN. I will find joy in raising and watching my kids grow and continue becoming their own person. I will rest and begin preparing for next season. I will work hard in mind, body, and spirit. I will help other players with @patriotforward and @showandgo. I will focus on personal growth and charitable endeavors and become a better man, teammate, friend, and player. 
To Baseball and Fans: For the next 5 months until I play next year....
I will wait for you....

Come for the Zobrist lip sync, but stay for the 37-year-old using a bat as a guitar while wearing a sleeveless shirt and rocking an old-timey top hat.

A year ago, Zobrist completely reshaped his offseason workout plan after three straight years of playing deep into October. It appears he's added another new trick to his winter workout — hopping over fences even though there is a clear opening just a foot away.

Hey, whatever works...