Cubs

Coaches 'picking on' McClellin and he likes it

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Coaches 'picking on' McClellin and he likes it

Special-teams work generally is placed in the middle of practice. The vast majority of players leave their position groups and go under the direction of coordinator Dave Toub for punt and punt return, and kickoff and kickoff returns.

Quarterbacks, most wide receivers and running backs, and various veterans like a Lance Briggs or Brian Urlacher are excused if they are not on any of the phases.

Rookies are pretty much all in. Except one.

Shea McClellin.

Normally a 260-pound rookie defensive end, particularly one with speed, finds himself covering kicks. Its how Israel Idonije first distinguished himself.

But McClellin was taken down instead to spend some one-on-one time with coordinator Rod Marinelli. He might have preferred running gassers as part of kick coverage.

Marinelli donned long blue arm pads, the kinds of things you put on if youre dealing with the business end of a Doberman, and stood facing McClellin in a form of speed-reaction drill.

Marinelli raises an arm, McClellin knocks it down. Marinelli reaches with an arm, McClellin parries it.

Then Marinelli went illegal, throwing in arms to the face, pushing McCellin in the facemask, and delivering an occasional roundhouse swing.

McClellin started getting mad. That was part of the idea.

He was getting me a little bit, McClellin said, laughing. He was trying to upset me. I wasnt sure what he was doing. He was hitting me in the face and I wasnt sure what I was doing exactly. A couple of times I was stepping backwards and he really got me bad.

He was trying to get my confidence down with some of those things but it was all good. He was honing in on my technique and youre a little tired, a little frustrated, and thats when your technique is most important and also when it can slip.

Marinelli was seeing what he wanted to see.

Good solid work, a lot of the movement we felt that he had, Marinelli said. His work habits are very good, so just learn a little of what were doing, the tempos good. Good solid work.

Joe Maddon goes after Sean Doolittle's delivery: ‘That's exactly what I was told Carl can't do’

Joe Maddon goes after Sean Doolittle's delivery: ‘That's exactly what I was told Carl can't do’

The Cubs finished Saturday's loss at the Nationals under protest after Joe Maddon saw what he believed to be an inconsistency in how illegal pitches are being called.

Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle came in to close the game out in the ninth with the Nats up 5-2. After one pitch, Maddon went to the umpires to complain. This dragged on throughout the inning.

Maddon didn't like that Doolittle's delivery involved him pausing and potentially even touching the ground in the middle of his wind up before coming home with the pitch. To Maddon, it was clearly an illegal pitch and he was fired up because that's something Carl Edwards Jr. got called for earlier in the season. By comparison, Edwards' version may be more deliberate, but Maddon thinks it is the same thing.

"That's exactly what I was told Carl can't do," Maddon said postgame in a video posted by ESPN's Jesse Rogers. "There's no judgment. If he taps the ground, it's an illegal pitch, period. There's nothing to judge. You can judge whether he did or not. It's obvious that he did, or if you can't tell that then there's something absolutely wrong."

Maddon and the Cubs protested the game as a result. If they win the protest, the game would be restarted with one out in the ninth, when Maddon notified the umpires of the protest.

Doolittle was less than amused by Maddon's protest.

"I have no qualms against Doolittle," Maddon said. "He's great, but they took it away from our guy so for me to sit in the dugout and permit that to happen while they stripped us of that ability earlier this year with Carl, how could I do that? You can't do that. I got to say something."

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Jon Lester's hot streak comes to an end at Nationals

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USA TODAY

Jon Lester's hot streak comes to an end at Nationals

Jon Lester was on a heck of a run since coming off the IL in late April, but it came to a screeching halt on Saturday.

Lester had by far his worst start of the season at the Nationals in a 5-2 Cubs loss. He labored through his start, giving up five runs in 4 1/3 innings.

Lester gave up 10 hits, which matches the most he has given up since joining the Cubs. He gave up a fair number of hits in his last two starts, but was able to avoid trouble on the scoreboard. Lester gave up nine hits in 6 2/3 innings against the Brewers last time out, but only gave up an unearned run. On May 7, Lester gave up eight hits to the Marlins, but only allowed two unearned runs in six innings of work.

This time, Lester couldn’t stay out of trouble. Brian Dozier got the Nats on the board with a solo shot in the second and then the wheels came off in the third.

To open the third inning Lester gave up six straight hits. The Nats got three runs that inning and then added another in the fifth, when Lester departed the game.

Since Lester came off the IL on April 25, he had allowed just one earned run (four runs in total) in 24 2/3 innings. During that stretch, he had 25 strikeouts against just two walks. His ERA fell to 1.16, which would have led all of baseball if he had enough innings to qualify. It’s at 2.09 after Saturday’s loss.

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