Cubs

Guillen apologizes for Castro comments, still suspended

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Guillen apologizes for Castro comments, still suspended

From Comcast SportsNet
MIAMI (AP) -- Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen was suspended for five games Tuesday because of his comments about Fidel Castro, and he again apologized and said he'll do whatever he can to repair relations with Cuban-Americans angered by the remarks. The suspension by the team takes effect immediately. It was announced shortly before Guillen held a news conference to explain what he said. The 48-year-old Venezuelan told Time magazine he loves Castro and respects the retired Cuban leader for staying in power so long. In response, at least two local officials said Guillen should lose his job. At the news conference, Guillen said his comments were misinterpreted by the reporter, and he doesn't love or admire the dictator. "I was saying I cannot believe somebody who hurt so many people over the years is still alive," Guillen told the news conference. But Guillen took responsibility for the uproar, and said it left him sad and embarrassed. He also said he accepted the team's punishment. "I'm very sorry about the problem, what happened," said Guillen, who is only five games into his tenure with the Marlins. "I will do everything in my power to make it better. ... I know it's going to be a very bumpy ride." Outside an entrance to the Marlins' new ballpark, about 100 demonstrators wanting Guillen's ouster shouted and chanted during the news conference. The team didn't consider firing Guillen or asking him to resign, Marlins President David Samson said. "We believe in him," Samson said. "We believe in his apology. We believe everybody deserves a second chance." With reaction to Guillen's praise of Castro escalating in South Florida, he left his team in Philadelphia and flew to Miami in an attempt at damage control. The Marlins and Phillies had the day off and resume their series in Philadelphia on Wednesday. Guillen said he'll be there to apologize to his players -- but he won't be in the dugout. Bench coach Joey Cora will be the interim manager. "The Marlins acknowledge the seriousness of the comments attributed to Guillen," read a statement from the team. "The pain and suffering caused by Fidel Castro cannot be minimized, especially in a community filled with victims of the dictatorship." Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said he supported the decision to suspend Guillen. He called Guillen's remarks "offensive to an important part of the Miami community and others throughout the world" and "have no place in our game." "As I have often said, baseball is a social institution with important social responsibilities," Selig added in a statement. "All of our 30 clubs play significant roles within their local communities, and I expect those who represent Major League Baseball to act with the kind of respect and sensitivity that the game's many cultures deserve." Samson said he expected no further punishment by Major League Baseball. The suspension recalled the punishment given to Marge Schott, the late owner of the Cincinnati Reds. Schott so embarrassed baseball in the 1990s with her inflammatory racial remarks and fond recollections of Adolf Hitler that she was suspended from ownership duties for a season. About 100 reporters, photographers and cameramen attended the news conference. Guillen sat alone at the podium and began in Spanish, speaking without notes for several minutes before taking questions. Shortly after he started, his voice wavered in the middle of a sentence, and he paused to take a sip of water and clear his throat. "This is the biggest mistake I've made so far in my life," Guillen said. "When you make a mistake like this, you can't sleep. ... When you're a sportsman, you shouldn't be involved with politics." The news conference lasted nearly an hour, with about 80 percent of it in Spanish. Guillen said he was suspended without pay, but Samson later said the manager will be paid and will donate the money to Miami human-rights causes. The firestorm came shortly after the Marlins opened their ballpark last week in the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami. The team is trying to rebuild its fan base with the help of South Florida's large Cuban-American population. Guillen apologized over the weekend after the story broke, but some Cuban-Americans remained upset. One group planned a demonstration Tuesday before Guillen said he would fly to Miami. Francis Suarez, chairman of the Miami city commission, said Guillen should be fired. Joe Martinez, chairman of the Miami-Dade County board of commissioners, said Guillen should resign. Polarizing comments are nothing new for Guillen, who once used a gay slur referring to a reporter, defended illegal immigrants and just last week he said he drinks to excess after road games and has done so for years. Guillen twice appeared on a radio show hosted by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in October 2005, when Guillen led the Chicago White Sox to the World Series title. At the time, Guillen said: "Not too many people like the president. I do." Chavez is unpopular with many Venezuelans, especially those living in the United States.

Javy Baez can see the future

Javy Baez can see the future

Javy Baez doesn't have the words to describe Javy Baez.

But then again, that's not what he does.

Analytical breakdowns aren't his game — incredible, heart-stopping physical feats on the baseball diamond are.

On a night at Wrigley Field that felt like one of the October battles of the past between the Cubs and Dodgers, Baez once again wowed and awed.

It wasn't just that ridiculous juke move at first base, though that will undoubtedly go down as one of the top MLB highlights of the year — if not THE top highlight. 

During Tuesday night's 7-2 Cubs win, Baez turned five different ground balls into outs...from the outfield grass. One such play nabbed Cody Bellinger by a split second at first base to end a bases-loaded threat in the eighth inning. 

And there was his seventh homer of the season — his first at home, surprisingly — to give the Cubs some more breathing room as he continues to hit the ball with authority the other way. He now has 15 hits in his last 33 at-bats and 9 of those knocks have gone for extra bases (5 doubles, 3 homers and a triple). 

But back to that play at first base — how did he do it?

After pausing for a few seconds, Baez shrugged and said, "I don't know," before trying to find the words to explain what was going through his head in those few seconds as he was hurtling down the basepath:

"I just saw him really close to the line," Baez said. "Usually on that play, you go around [the base] like it's a base hit. I think if I would've kept going, he was going to run me over because he's a big dude. 

"I saw a play — Billy Hamilton did it like 3 or 4 years ago. I saw it and that was the first thing that came to my mind — to stop or see a reaction and he couldn't stop. I know I didn't leave the line. It was everything good."

It's the last part that's most amazing. 

Here's the play Baez was referencing, from July 11, 2014:

So as he's running down to first base, he has the wherewithal to dip into his encyclopedic cache, pluck out the perfect play from his memory and execute it in glorious fashion...all in a matter of maybe a second-and-a-half.

"I think we all feel his energy all around the place — not only on the field, but in the clubhouse," catcher Willson Contreras said. "We call him The Mago for a reason. I love this guy. To me, he has the best instincts in the game. What he did today was just awesome. That's one of the best base hits ever."

Joe Maddon said he and the Cubs coaches were comparing Baez to legendary Bears running back Gale Sayers in the dugout for that juke move.

"That's him playing on a playground in Puerto Rico somewhere," Maddon said. "That's what I love about him. There's no fear in his game. His game is a game and he sees things in advance and he's fearless. He could strike out three or four times in a row and that is not going to impact his fifth at-bat."

Just about every week throughout the season, Baez shows the baseball world something it's never seen before. 

From his lightning quick tags to his swim move slides to hitting bombs left-handed during batting practice to his rocket arm that has been clocked as high as 98 mph on the infield — even he has to surprise himself every now and then, right? Especially like this play Tuesday night?

"Nah, not really," he said, smirking. "I think if it's in your mind, it's possible. I see a lot of things that people can do and they don't realize it. I realize everything I can do and everything I can't do."

If you ever want to know what makes Baez "El Mago," read that last sentence again:

"I realize everything I can do and everything I can't do."

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Jose Quintana continued his strong run in a dominant 7-inning performance against the Dodgers

Jose Quintana continued his strong run in a dominant 7-inning performance against the Dodgers

During the 4th inning of the Cubs’ 7-2 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night, LA right fielder Cody Bellinger took a 92 mile per hour fastball from Jose Quintana and sent it right back his way at 96: 

After a quick (maybe unintentional?) grab, Quintana calmly tossed the ball in his glove a few times before walking off the mound without even a grimace.

It was just that kind of night for Quintana, who pitched 7 strong innings while allowing only two runs on four hits and striking out seven. He’s now gone seven innings in three straight starts, all Cubs wins - two of which were against teams that currently sit in 1st place.

“We needed that kind of performance tonight,” Manager Joe Maddon said after the game. “They have a very difficult lineup to navigate and he was once again on top of his game. Great focus - he kept coming back with good pitches. Really the curveball was very pertinent tonight and then he had some good changeups to go with the fastball. He’s pitching.”

Quintana flashed an impressive amount of control while working through one of baseball’s toughest lineups. After walking six batters through his first two starts, Quintana has now only walked three since. 71 of his 114 pitches -- the most thrown by any Cubs pitcher this season, per team notes -- went for strikes. 

“I feel great,” he said after the game. “I know I’ve been throwing the ball really well the last couple of starts. All my stuff’s worked really good.”

“This year he’s been really good,” Willson Contreras added. “He’s using all his pitches which he didn’t do last year very often. I think he has his mind in the right place right now, and we’re in a good place.”

Quintana’s offspeed repertoire was firmly on display all night. Per Statcast, after throwing two changeups to Dodgers leadoff hitter Enrique Hernandez, he didn’t show the pitch again until the 4th. On the night, he threw the change up 12 times; the Dodgers failed to put a single one in play. 

“We’ve been in these types of situations and conversations since Spring Training,” Contreras added. “I saw him working out his change up in [there], which is good. He was a little harder than 84, but today I think was one of the best games he threw with the change up.”

Through 28 innings pitched this season, the lefty now sports a sub-3 FIP (2.89) and is striking out over 11 batters per nine innings. Some pitchers that have a higher FIP include David Price, Jacob deGrom and Stephen Strasburg. 

“He’s absolutely pitching right now,” Maddon added. “Where in the past I thought he would just pretty much rely on his fastball. He’s becoming a pitch maker.”