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Green awaits June 19 court date

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Green awaits June 19 court date

It has been almost 17 years since her son was sent to prison for a crime that the key witness in the case has since testified he didn't commit. But Helen Boatner remains cheerful and optimistic as she awaits the latest court date that could trigger his release.

Yarmo Green was an outstanding football player at Mather High School. A running back, he had the size, speed, talent and potential to earn a scholarship to a major college. He was an All-Chicago Public League selection as a junior in 1994. He led his team to an 11-3 record and second place in the city playoff. He dreamed of playing at Notre Dame and the NFL.

In 1995, he was convicted of attempted first-degree murder of one person and aggravated battery of another. He was sentenced to 40 years in prison.

On June 19, a judge will rule on Green's latest appeal based on recent testimony by a key witness in the case, a married woman with five children who currently is in jail for retail theft, who recanted her original testimony and now insists that Green wasn't present when the beatings took place and that a Chicago policeman had paid her 2,200 to lie about the matter.

The judge could order Green's immediate release. His scheduled release day is 2014. This is his 10th appeal. He currently is imprisoned in Logan Correctional Center in Lincoln, Illinois, after serving previously in Pontiac, Danville and Pinckneyville. He still signs his letters as No. 42, his football uniform number. But he answers to B71883.

"He is doing fine. We hope and pray that his last court day is June 19," his mother said. "They put (the key witness) on the stand a few weeks ago and she told everything. She was reluctant. But she said a policeman had paid her to tell lies about Yarmo. I have a feeling that the judge will let him go."

Green, now 35, calls his mother every week. He earned his General Equivalency Degree (GED), was taking a culinary arts class to learn to become a cook and was involved in a ceramics class. However, because of budget cutbacks over the last five years, he hasn't been able to sign up for any more classes. At Logan, he does participate in basketball tournaments.

"I don't know what he wants to do when he comes back," his mother said. "I told him I would like for him to get involved with neighborhood kids and teach them football. Kids in the city don't have anywhere to go. They have no money. Yarmo could be a mentor to them."

Mrs. Boatner remains busy. She will be 65 in August. For seven hours every day, she babysits for two one-year-old boys. One is a neighbor's grandson. The other is her granddaughter's cousin. "They were born 12 days apart. They are in their terrible ones," she said.

While she no longer can make the long trips Downstate to visit her son, she attends every one of his court dates in Chicago. She is so appreciative and grateful for the work of attorney Liz Wang, who has spearheaded a group called the Exoneration Project that is working on Green's release.

"It is such shame, a waste," said Ed Miller, Green's coach at Mather. "I believe he is a good kid. We did everything we could to help him. But you can't be with a kid for 24 hours a day. He just couldn't get away from the gangs."

Green wasn't an angel. He was a member of the Maniac Latin Disciples street gang. Police perceived him as a neighborhood bully. He admits he once hit a kid who was spray-painting a wall.

But he always has insisted that he didn't hit the victim, whom he claimed was laying on the ground after being attacked by others. Forty-eight hours later, after the key witness told police that Green was the attacker, he was arrested at his home.

The key witness originally recanted in a signed affidavit on May 14, 2008, but the appeal was turned down. She said she did what the police told her to do because she was a runaway from the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), a ward of the state. She said she didn't want to be locked up and lose her children.

In her recent testimony, she said she could no longer live with her original accusation that sent Green to jail. "I basically wanted everyone to know it was a lie, that he didn't do it," she said.

Now, in the wake of her recantation in court, Yarmo Green hopes to become a free man on June 19. His mother is counting the hours.

Carlos Rodón has something to prove: 'It feels like I'm kind of brand new'

Carlos Rodón has something to prove: 'It feels like I'm kind of brand new'

Carlos Rodón hasn't felt like this in years. And that's a good thing.

"It feels normal," he said Sunday. "It feels like when I first got here, that's the way it feels. It feels like I'm kind of brand new."

Bedeviled by arm injuries in recent seasons, Rodón was hit with the big one last May, requiring Tommy John surgery that knocked him out for more than a year. Not how the No. 3 pick in the 2014 draft drew things up.

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But if baseball's months-long layoff due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic had any silver lining for Rodón and the White Sox, it's that the recovering pitcher, believed in March to be a potential mid-season addition to a pitching staff in need of some depth, can now be a full-season addition with the 2020 campaign squeezed down to a 60-game sprint to the postseason.

"I was fortunate enough to have this little layoff. No one wants this pandemic to happen, but it gave me time to catch up," Rodón said. "Obviously, having arm trouble as a pitcher is a pretty big issue. The best way to put it, I would say, is when there's a little hesitation between pitches, 'Is this going to hurt? Is this one going to hurt when I throw it?' That's not there anymore. Being able to just pick up a ball and say, 'Hey, I don't feel anything. I can just throw the ball like a kid again.'

"Durability's a big part for pitchers or any player in this game, and luckily, hopefully, I've found it again."

That will be the key for Rodón, not just being here but showing he can stay healthy and showing he can turn the flashes of brilliance he's shown in his big league career into consistent performance. Rodón's bouts with arm injuries turned him from a future ace into a huge question mark for a White Sox team on the rise.

The White Sox appear positioned for long-term success with team-friendly contracts and recent free-agent signings keeping a vast majority of the team's promising collection of talent under control for years to come. Rodón doesn't quite fall into that category. He's slated to hit the free-agent market following the 2021 season, meaning he's got a short time to show he deserves to edge out the other young hurlers on this White Sox team for a starring role in the rotation.

Rodón was the team's Opening Day starter just last season. But after Lucas Giolito's All-Star campaign in 2019, the addition of a Cy Young winner in Dallas Keuchel, the flamethrowing potential of Michael Kopech and the young promise of Dylan Cease, Reynaldo López and Dane Dunning — with even this year's first-round draft pick Garrett Crochet needing to be accounted for — how does Rodón fit?

He's hoping to show the White Sox exactly how this year.

"I feel like there's some stuff I need to prove," Rodon said. "The last few years have not gone the way I wanted them to, obviously. It's kind of unfortunate, injuries and underperforming. This 60-game season, I feel like it will do a lot for guys. Not just me, but other guys around the league — or on this team — wherever, can prove themselves in those 60 games, and I think it will do a lot."

RELATED: José Abreu: White Sox expectations still high, but 'it's on us' to meet them

Of course, these unusual circumstances mean the pieces could fit together in a much different way in 2020. Rick Renteria hasn't given anything away when it comes to how he'll handle his pitching staff, and it's likely he needs some more time during "Summer Camp" to figure out what roles every pitcher is capable of playing. But the skipper left all the options on the table last week, when he mentioned the possibilities of using openers, expanding the rotation or "piggybacking" multiple starters in the same game. It wouldn't be outlandish to guess that some starters could find their way into bullpen roles of any number of descriptions.

Rodón gets that. In fact, the numbers make it pretty obvious. Unless Renteria is planning an eight-man rotation, he's going to have to find different ways to use the likes of Rodón, Kopech, Dunning, Jimmy Lambert and Gio González — not to mention all his relievers.

"This season's pretty unique, obviously, with a 60-game schedule," Rodón said. "I think a lot of us are going to have to encompass different roles. Plus, we have a surplus of arms that we'll get to use, and I think there's some creative ways we could go about using them. I think all of us are pretty willing to step into any role we can to help this team win. We have a chance just as much as anyone."

That expanded pitching depth is a big reason why the White Sox look capable of competing right alongside the Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Indians for AL Central supremacy. At the very least, it makes the July version of the White Sox look better than the March version.

While Rodón's fellow starting pitcher Keuchel opted to shine the spotlight on the team's revamped lineup Saturday, Rodón likes what he sees from the arms. And that even includes the newest of newcomers, a guy who's not even in camp right now but is looking to make a quick leap to the major leagues.

"Well on paper, of course, let's start there, we look pretty good," Rodón said. "We have a surplus of arms, a lot of young arms that are hard-throwers. New draftee lefty (Crochet) that can throw the crap out of it, obviously, as we know. I think a lot of people are excited to watch him. Hopefully we get to watch him this year a little bit, see how he throws.

"We've got a lot of young arms, man. A lot of young arms that we need to develop, and I think, hopefully, they get a shot to pitch this year."

RELATED: White Sox trust MLB protocol as positive COVID-19 tests, player concerns grow

But even with so much swirling around him — his returned health, proving he's the pitcher he knows he can be, helping the White Sox reach the playoffs for the first time in more than a decade — Rodón's emotions have been pretty simple these last few days. The guy who hasn't pitched in a big league game in 14 months was back on a big league mound Sunday, throwing live batting practice at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Home.

"First day coming back, it's a good feeling. It feels like home, right?" Rodón said. "You see the stadium off 90/94 and pulling in, turning on 35th. I was just happy to walk on a field that's an actual stadium instead of being in Arizona on the backfields. It's like we're actually playing Major League Baseball.

"It's a good feeling to step back on the mound today here because it feels like home."


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Cubs' Tommy Hottovy quips how good Yu Darvish's Twitter game is

Cubs' Tommy Hottovy quips how good Yu Darvish's Twitter game is

Yu Darvish is one of the most active Cubs on Twitter. He frequently updates his fans on his budding YouTube channel, his training and pitching outings. He's been outspoken on his concerns over COVID-19.

Darvish obviously stayed in touch with the Cubs during baseball's shutdown, but pitching coach Tommy Hottovy joked Sunday how the club could have kept up with the right-hander by checking his Twitter timeline alone.

“You can communicate with Darvish and get good updates but if you follow him on Twitter, it’s just as good," Hottovy said, laughing. "Just getting his updates on new pitches he’s coming up with and the new "Supreme" that he [added]."

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Last month, Darvish posted a video debuting his latest pitch, "The Supreme," a two-seam/splitter hybrid. If you count the various versions of his pitches, he has upwards of 11-12 available in his arsenal.

If you're looking for a Cub to keep an eye on on Twitter, Hottovy's endorsement (joke or not) shows Darvish is a great choice.

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