Defense saves Sox, costs Tigers


Defense saves Sox, costs Tigers

The AL Central-favorite Tigers' greatest weakness was on display to the sellout crowd of 38,676 at U.S. Cellular Field Friday, with Miguel Cabrera and Delmon Young doing nothing to dispel the notion that they're both defensive liabilities.

Young botched a pair of balls hit his direction, the second of which led to the White Sox adding an insurance run in the eighth. And Cabrera whiffed on a barehanded attempt at a grounder in the second that nearly cost the Tigers an early run.

Meanwhile, the Sox saved their fourth win of the season thanks to a pair of outstanding defensive plays -- one from an unexpected source, and the other from someone who should've won a Gold Glove by now.

In the top of the seventh, Detroit had runners on second and third with two out and Andy Dirks up at the plate. Dirks laced a line drive into left off Addison Reed, but Dayan Viciedo got a good read on the ball and made a spectacular diving catch, saving a pair of runs from scoring that would've put the Tigers up by a run.

"My first reaction was to definitely make sure I caught the ball," Viciedo said. "Fortunately for me, Alejandro De Aza told me to move over for that play, and fortunately, I was in the right position. So I just had to make sure that I caught the ball."

While the catch may have been surprising given Viciedo's previous defensive struggles in left, one of his teammates wasn't shocked.

"He's very athletic, so what he did out there doesn't surprise me," said Alexei Ramirez through a translator. "He can do great things out on the field."

Despite Viciedo's play, Robin Ventura still went ahead and used Brent Lillibridge as a defensive replacement the following inning. Although the latter party joked he was a little confused by the move.

"After that play, I was like 'you guys really need me to go out there, because I think we're good,'" laughed Lillibridge.

An inning later, Cabrera stepped in with runners at the corners and one out against Matt Thornton. But Cabrera's ground ball up the middle was stopped on a diving effort by Alexei Ramirez, who shoveled the ball to Gordon Beckham, who made a quick pivot to turn a run-and-lead-saving double play.

"A good day for the Cubans today," smiled Jake Peavy. "We're liking the Cubans on our side of town. These guys were awesome today. The plays that Alexei and Dayan made saved the game, ultimately."

While it bears repeating that Ramirez should've been awarded a Gold Glove by now, Viciedo's a long ways off from that point. Switching positions twice certainly hasn't helped, but both changes were necessary for his own career and the White Sox.

"You gotta tip your hat to Dayan Viciedo. The kid's worked his rear end off," Peavy said. "He's been moved all around the field and he's never complained about it one time. It's not like he's going to win a Gold Glove this year, but the effort you see him give, the way he goes about his business, the way he works in between starts, I think that's indicative of our team and indicative of our staff in the way we're going to go about things."

Viciedo's comfort level has slowly been rising in left, which also could explain his solid offensive performance to start the season.

"During spring training when he was struggling offensively, it carried out in the field and compounded things," Lillibridge said. "He wanted to do well in spring training to prove he should be out there every day. Once he started swinging at the end of spring training, which is obviously a perfect time to do it, it just came back. Confidence kind of leads into everything. It's hard not to take it on the field one way or another"

While Viciedo may be a work in progress defensively, a diving catch like he made can only help the 23-year-old's confidence. And he certainly seemed confident after the game, speaking about his long-term defensive outlook.

"I definitely feel I will be good defensively," Viciedo said. "Its a matter of continuing to practice every day. The more I get accustomed to it, the more comfortable Ill be."

MLB, MLBPA 'increasingly focused' on plan to start 2020 season in May — in Arizona


MLB, MLBPA 'increasingly focused' on plan to start 2020 season in May — in Arizona

The MLB season has been delayed two weeks due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but baseball could return sometime next month.

Late Monday, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported Major League Baseball and the Players Association are “increasingly focused” on a plan which could allow the 2020 season to start in May. 

According to Passan, the plan would dictate all 30 teams playing at games in the Phoenix area without fans. Potential sites include the area’s 10 spring training ballparks, as well as Chase Field — home of the Arizona Diamondbacks. 

Players, coaches and other essential personnel would live in “relative isolation” in local hotels, only traveling to the stadium and back. Per Passan, officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are supportive of a plan for MLB’s return that follows social distancing and self-isolation protocols.

The plan depends on if the country sees a significant increase in the number of available coronavirus tests, ones with quick turnaround times. Some officials believe this may make June more realistic for baseball’s return, Passan said.

The plan would necessitate the approval of the players, who would be agreeing to leave their families for upward of four-and-a-half months. Passan said there’s hope among union and league leadership that players will be convinced to play, citing the paychecks they’d receive, and the distraction baseball could provide the nation.

If the players and league agree to a deal, teams would head to Arizona in May — assuming the necessary housing, transportation and security are in place. 

Adam Silver gives inside look at conference call with President Trump

Adam Silver gives inside look at conference call with President Trump

On Monday evening, NBA commissioner Adam Silver spoke on Twitter Live in an extended interview with TNT broadcaster Ernie Johnson.

In the discussion, Silver was asked about a possible timetable for the NBA resuming play and also the phone call he and the other professional sports commissioners had with President Donald Trump on Saturday, April 4.

"It was an old-school conference call," Silver said. "No video. I was notified, and the league, I think all the leagues were notified earlier in the week that it was something the President wanted to do. The specific time wasn't set until Friday afternoon. We were notified it was going to take place at noon on Saturday.

"It lasted about 45 minutes. And it was more like a conventional conference call. You were given a call-in number and a participant number that was specific to you, I assume, for security purposes. I don't know who was on the line with the President from his office because only the President spoke, but he made some introductory remarks again just in terms of the fact that he is a passionate sports fan and the fact that he missed seeing live sports on television. He mentioned he'd been watching some classic telecasts of games in all sports and he went on to say, 'I'd love to hear from all of you,' and I think we all just took turns."

From there, Silver said each commissioner offered updates on the status of their leagues. WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert provided a rundown on the W's virtual draft scheduled for April 17 and the recent postponement of their season. Silver discussed the aforementioned "NBA Together" intiative, which strives to circulate best practices for mitigating the spread of COVID-19 — from social distancing and hand washing and sheltering at home protocols.

"Early on I think there was particular concern from the government that young people in particular, who are known to feel a little invulnerable in life," Silver said of the demographic he hopes the league's messaging will resonate with. "I think at this point we've had roughly 30 public service announcements including from players like Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert that were some of the initial well-known people to test positive in this country. So it gave them a chance also to remind young people in particular — even to the extent that the data is showing young people, while at risk, are not as at-risk as older people or people with preexisting conditions — that they owe it to their fellow citizens to sacrifice and to stay at home and observe those protocols."

Moreover, Silver said the commissioners and President Trump discussed the economic and societal good that sports returning might have on a country that is in for a long relief and recovery process as a result of the pandemic.

"I know all the leagues share this view that we'd love to be part of the movement to restart the economy," Silver said. "Of course that can't come in a way that would compromise safety. But I think we also have to recognize that it's a public health matter to shut down the economy and leave tens of millions of Americans unemployed. It's a public health matter to isolate people."

But of course, that is a secondary priority to solving the problem in the first place. Silver understands that point.

"Again, all done for good reason right now. Health and safety have to come before any commercial interests. It's a balance but even in terms of psychological impacts of isolating people.  I think there's no doubt at this point that as a country we are following the right course."

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