Cubs

Dwight wants out, but will the Magic comply?

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Dwight wants out, but will the Magic comply?

From Comcast SportsNet
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- The Magic say they haven't committed to honoring Dwight Howard's latest trade demand that he be dealt to the Brooklyn Nets. New Orlando general manager Rob Hennigan said Monday that Howard told him in a meeting last week that he would like to be traded, but Hennigan said he has not committed to honoring that demand. He said will keep communication lines open between both the All-Star and his agent. It's exactly the scenario the Magic wanted to avoid -- for a second time. Howard listed several teams last season that he wanted to be traded to, but on the day of the trading deadline he committed to the Magic for the 2012-13 season. Magic CEO Alex Martins has said previously that the organization will not enter next season with Howard's situation unresolved. Orlando was looking to sign Howard to a long-term deal, however, now that Howard has had his first, face-to-face sit down with the Magic's new general manager, the All-Star center made it clear he still very much wants out of Orlando. Hennigan said that having Howard single out one team as a desired destination does complicate any potential trade scenarios, but for now, there is no immediate move the Magic to make following the sit down. "As I told Dwight, I said I don't know. I have to think about what you're telling me.' I want to take some time to process everything," Hennigan said of the meeting. "And the answer is we want to map out what's in the best interest of our team. And any decision that at decide going forward with will be one that we feel puts our team in a position to be successful and move forward." Howard told Yahoo Sports Monday that he won't sign long-term with another team if the Magic decide to trade him to somewhere other than Brooklyn. "There's only one team on my list and if I don't get traded there, I'll play the season out and explore my free agency after that," Howard said. Howard also vigorously denied an ESPN report that he was claiming that the Magic blackmailed him at the trade deadline to give up the opt-out provision in his contract that would have allowed him to become a free-agent this summer. Howard asked to be traded last season, and then opted-in for 2012-2013 -- forgoing becoming a free agent this summer. "I never used the word blackmail in reference to any of my dealings with the Magic," Howard said. "I never said that. It's defamatory and it's inaccurate. I know what blackmail means and any report that I used the term incorrectly is inaccurate." Hennigan also said the charge was never levied by Howard. "In terms of his health, I think what I can tell you is that Dwight's rehabilitation process is progressing in the right direction," he said. "I do not believe his health will be an issue going forward." Hennigan reiterated that beyond sharing Dwight's request, he wants the discussions beyond that to remain private at this time in order as a matter of trust between himself and Howard. "That's my plan with Dwight and with whoever we talk to on our roster...I would leave it to Dwight to share with Dwight any details he wants to share about the conversation," Hennigan said. "But again, out of respect for the trust and privacy I'm trying to build I'm not really going to talk about what else we discussed." Aside from Howard, the Magic are facing other lingering free agency questions surrounding career-long Magic players Jameer Nelson and J.J. Redick, and reigning league most improved player Ryan Anderson. Nelson told the Magic last week that he would opt out of the final year and nearly 8 million of his contract and test free agency. Redick is due 6.1 million next year in the final season of his deal, but the team can get out of that if they waive him by July 7. Anderson is a restricted free agent, though the Magic extended a qualifying offer to the third-year forward last week. It allows the team to match any offer he receives on the open market this summer. Hennigan said that they will take their time this week making a decision on Redick and still hope to keep Nelson next year. "My hope is that he remains in Orlando and in a Magic uniform," he said of Nelson. "But there needs to be a mutual desire for that to happen."

Jake Arrieta full of appreciation in return to Wrigley mound: ‘I’ll never forget this city’

Jake Arrieta full of appreciation in return to Wrigley mound: ‘I’ll never forget this city’

The last time Jake Arrieta pitched at Wrigley Field, his night ended with Cubs fans giving him a rousing standing ovation. The former Cubs right hander tossed 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball, leading the Cubs to victory in Game 4 of the 2017 NLCS—their only win against the Los Angeles Dodgers that series.

Arrieta returned to Wrigley Field as a visitor on Monday night, making his first start against the Cubs since joining the Philadelphia Phillies last season. Ironically, Arrieta’s counterpart for the night was Yu Darvish, who ultimately replaced Arrieta in the Cubs starting rotation.

Despite now donning Phillies red, Cubs fans once again showed their love for Arrieta, giving him a lengthy standing ovation ahead of his first plate appearance. Darvish even stepped off the mound in respect for the moment.

“I loved it, absolutely loved it,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said to reporters postgame. “[I’m] very happy that our fans would acknowledge him like that. Yu stepped away from the mound nicely. Jake deserved it.”

Arrieta tipped his helmet in appreciation for the crowd, taking in the moment for more than 30 seconds before stepping into the batter’s box. After the game, he told reporters that moment brought back memories of his time with the Cubs.

“That was something that really brought back great memories of getting that same sort of ovation pretty much on a nightly basis,” Arrieta said. “[I’m] very appreciative of that. I can’t say thank you enough to the city of Chicago, I really can’t.”

Arrieta took fans back to his Cubs tenure on Monday, throwing six innings of one run ball in the Phillies’ 5-4 10-inning win. Although the 33-year-old didn’t pick up the victory, he matched Darvish—who threw six innings of three-run ball—pitch by-pitch.

Phillies manager Gabe Kapler noted how well Arrieta handled his emotions throughout the night.

“I thought he handled the emotions really well. I thought he was in control of the game even when we were down,” Kapler said to reporters. “He always maintained his poise and he just got stronger as the outing went on and that’s why we were able to have him take down the sixth inning for us.”

It’s well-documented how Arrieta’s career improved for the better after the Cubs acquired him in a trade with the Baltimore Orioles in July 2013. When the Cubs acquired him, Arrieta held a career 5.46 ERA in 69 games (63 starts). He finished his Cubs career with a 2.73 ERA in 128 regular season starts. He also won five postseason games with the Cubs, including Games 2 and 6 of the 2016 World Series.

Despite moving on in free agency, Arrieta spoke highly of his time with the Cubs, their fans and the city of Chicago.

“Cubs fans all across the country, all across the world, they really respect and appreciate what guys are able to do here for them,” he said. “It means a lot, it really does.

"I’ll never forget this city, the fan base, the organization, everything that they did for me. It was 4 1/2 incredible years of my career.”

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Yu Darvish crashed Jake Arrieta's party, but Cubs bullpen falters

Yu Darvish crashed Jake Arrieta's party, but Cubs bullpen falters

Yu Darvish was one pitch away.

Holding onto a 1-0 lead with two outs in the sixth inning, Darvish threw Phillies catcher JT Realmuto a 2-2 cutter. It made sense - Darvish had been spotting that pitch well all night, and the Phillies were averaging a paltry 79.8 mph exit velocity against it.

With one strike standing between Darvish and a 6-inning shutout, Realmuto took Darvish’s cutter and sent it back up the middle for a game-tying RBI single. A 2-RBI triple from César Hernández followed. In the blink of an eye, what was shaping up to be one of Darvish’s finest moments in Chicago was instead reduced to yet another start spent searching for silver linings.

“Really good. He was outstanding tonight,” Joe Maddon said. “He pitched really well.

“He had really good stuff. He had command of his stuff, he had command of himself. I thought he was outstanding - even better than what he looked like in Cincinnati. I thought that was probably his best game for us to date.”

Darvish has continued to lean heavily on his cutter this season, more so than any year prior. After throwing it 13 percent of the time last season, he’s going to that pitch almost 25 percent of the time now. If that holds, it’d beat his previous career-high, set in 2013, by six percentage points.

All things considered, that pitch has actually been good for him this season. It’s his go-to offering when he needs to induce weak contact, and batters are hitting .125 against it so far. He gets batters to chase cutters 29.5 percent of the time, the most of any pitch he throws. While he has admitted in games past that he relies too heavily on his fastball, Maddon sees no issues with the new trend.

“I have no concerns with that whatsoever,” he said. “There’s different ways for pitchers to attack hitters, and if it's successful, I really would not change a whole lot.”

Though the night was dedicated to celebrating one of the franchises most beloved pitchers, it was one of their most maligned that continued to show signs of figuring it out. He’s put together back-to-back starts with three or less walks for the first time this season, and has allowed two or less runs in three of the last five.

The pitcher even stepped off the mound during Arrieta’s first at-bat, in order to let the standing ovation continue on.

“He’s is a legend in Chicago,” Darvish said after the game. “And I pitched against him and pitched pretty good, so it makes me confident.”

The bullpen again struggled on Monday night, as the trio of Mike Montgomery, Brad Brach, and Kyle Ryan allowed two runs on five hits, including the game-winning solo home run from Realmuto in the 10th. For a moment it looked like the Cubs had a win wrapped up when Brach got outfielder Andrew McCutchen to bite on a two-strike slider, but was (probably incorrectly) called a checked swing.  He would eventually draw a walk, leading to Jean Segura’s game-tying single.

“On the field, I thought for sure [that McCutchen swung],” Brach said. “Looking at the first base umpire, I was a little taken aback. That’s why I went off the mound - just to regather myself, because I didn’t want to let the emotion get to me there.

“It’s a 50-50 call, and unfortunately it didn’t go my way.”

 

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