White Sox

Joe Buck calls a Cubs World Series?

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Joe Buck calls a Cubs World Series?

Remember the PS3 commercial depicting the Cubs winning the World Series?

FOXSports announcer Joe Buck took it a step further Thursday night at a Red Cross fundraising event.

Buck calls a fictional Cubs World Series from roughly 30 years in the future, joking about Starlin Castro's at-bat in the bottom of the ninth inning at Wrigley Field facing the Boston Red Sox.

Not sure how I feel about this coming from a guy who was raised in St. Louis and acted as the play-by-play announcer for the Cardinals for almost two decades.

I mean, whatever it takes to get the Cubs a World Series right? I just hope it doesn't take another 30 years.

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Reports: Tim Anderson to receive suspension for role in benches-clearing incident that stemmed from bat flip

Reports: Tim Anderson to receive suspension for role in benches-clearing incident that stemmed from bat flip

According to multiple reports, White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson will receive a suspension from Major League Baseball for his role in Wednesday's benches-clearing incident with the Kansas City Royals.

The entire brouhaha was sparked by Anderson's celebration of his home run earlier in the game, a monster shot that he "pimped" by launching his bat toward the White Sox dugout and yelling at his teammates in an effort to energize them.

The Royals didn't see it that way, and pitcher Brad Keller fired a pitch at Anderson's behind during his next at-bat. Anderson and the Royals exchanged plenty of words as he circuitously made his way toward first base. The benches cleared, and though Anderson was quickly sequestered away from the on-field get together by Jose Abreu and Joe McEwing, he was among those ejected, along with Keller, White Sox manager Rick Renteria and Royals coach Dale Sveum.

After the game, Renteria — who, reportedly, will also receive a suspension — and Anderson both said they didn't know why Anderson was ejected by umpire Joe West.

The incident has once again brought the never-ending argument over the old-school and new-school approaches to on-field celebrations and the game's "unwritten rules" to the fore. Major League Baseball's social-media accounts have continued the use of their marketing slogan "let the kids play" in apparent defense of Anderson, a curious approach if the league intends to hand down a suspension. Of course, no one is suggesting that the same folks sending out tweets are the ones making disciplinary decisions.

Certainly bat flips aren't against the rules. Anderson wasn't involved in any physical altercation with anyone from the Royals during Wednesday's on-field antics. So the only thing he could possibly be suspended for is what he said after he was hit by Keller's pitch.

That is the reasoning, according to a report from ESPN's Jeff Passan.

We'll find out if that's the case if and when Major League Baseball announces a suspension.

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The Cubs are mixing up their rotation as Jon Lester nears return

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USA TODAY

The Cubs are mixing up their rotation as Jon Lester nears return

The Cubs don't actually need a fifth starter until April 27, but they're going with one anyway, handing Tyler Chatwood the ball for the finale with the Diamondbacks Easter Sunday.

Thanks to an off-day Thursday and another one on Monday, the Cubs could've gotten through until next Saturday with only a four-man rotation and everybody still working on regular rest. Thanks to last Sunday's snowout at Wrigley Field (when Chatwood was slated to start), that may have allowed them to weather the storm without needing anybody to take Jon Lester's place in the rotation after he injured his hamstring during the Cubs' home opener on April 8.

Speaking of Lester, he's doing "really well," manager Joe Maddon said Friday and the rotation's ace is close to throwing a simulated game. 

However, the Cubs are going to play matchups and roll Chatwood out on Sunday and push back Jose Quintana to face the Dodgers in the first game of that series Tuesday night at Wrigley Field.

Maddon said the Cubs wanted to keep Chatwood involved and there's the added bonus of giving Quintana, Cole Hamels, Kyle Hendricks and Yu Darvish an extra day (or two) off to help keep them fresh throughout a long season.

But there's also a matchup advantage, in that the Diamondbacks struggle more vs. righties than lefties and the Dodgers — while still a prolific offense no matter who's pitching — are a bit worse against lefties. So tossing Chatwood Sunday means the Cubs throw a trio of righties against the Diamondbacks and now line up two lefties against the Dodgers (Quintana-Hamels-Hendricks).

The Diamondbacks lead the National League in many offensive categories off lefties — including runs, homers, total bases and batting average — and are slashing .304/.349/.532 (.881 OPS) off southpaws. They're hitting only .248/.322/.436 (.758 OPS) against righties. 

The Dodgers' disparity isn't as large — .825 OPS vs. LHP, .884 OPS vs. RHP — but many of their top hitters (Cody Bellinger, Corey Seager, Joc Pederson) are left-handed and struggle against southpaws. 

As for Chatwood, he hasn't pitched since April 10, when he threw an inning of relief against the Pirates in a loss. He has walked 5 batters in 6 innings this season and his outings have never gone longer than 36 pitches, so it's fair to wonder how long he'll be able to throw in Sunday's game. 

However, he got some work in the bullpen before going out to the mound for that April 10 appearance and he threw a lot in Miami earlier this week, Maddon said. 

"He really believes he can throw 75-plus pitches, which I don't doubt," Maddon said. "It's just a matter of how tough the outs are — if the outs are tough and he has to work too hard, it can be different.

"But if he keeps throwing like he has been throwing, it's reasonable to expect at least 80 pitches. We'll just watch it and let him go and he'll let us know just by observation."

Even if Chatwood can't give the Cubs much length, this lines up well in that the bullpen had Thursday to rest and another off-day Monday to recover if they're needed to pick up the slack on Sunday.

Chatwood has not started a game since Aug. 18 last year, when he lasted just 2 innings and allowed 3 runs on 3 walks and 2 hits. 

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