Cubs

Konerko, Beckham power White Sox to Crosstown victory

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Konerko, Beckham power White Sox to Crosstown victory

Gordon Beckham hit a tie-breaking home run in the eighth inning Friday and the Chicago White Sox overcame the loss of star Paul Konerko to beat the Chicago Cubs 3-2 in what was the final major league game for Cubs reliever Kerry Wood.Beckham's solo shot and a two-run blast from Konerko in the first were the only runs allowed by Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija (4-2).Konerko suffered a laceration above his left eye and swelling when he was hit by a Samardizja pitch in the third inning and had to leave the game. He was to have more tests to determine the extent of the injury.Wood's retirement dominated the pre-game conversations as the right-hander shagged batting practice balls in the outfield with his son. After struggling with injuries over the better part of a decade and again early this season, Wood was expected to retire after one more appearance with the Cubs and he made that in the eighth after Samardzija walked Adam Dunn.Wood, who began his major league career with the Cubs in 1998 and struck out 20 Houston Astros batters in his fifth major league start, took the mound to rousing cheers. When Wood struck out Dayan Viciedo with three pitches - the only batter he faced - he was taken out as teammates congratulated him on the mound and Dunn doffed his batting helmet and clapped from first base.Wood left to a rousing standing ovation and was hugged by his son as he reached the dugout. Moments later, Wood emerged for a curtain call, waving his cap to the fans at Wrigley Field as James Russell threw warmup pitches. He played slightly more than 13 seasons, most of them in Chicago."It's time," Wood said afterward. "We all get to this point.'Konerko's 19th career homer in 66 games against the Cubs came one out after a first-inning single by Beckham and made it 2-0.

But the Cubs responded right away against Phil Humber. David DeJesus led off with a fly ball double into the ivy in left field and Tony Campana had a bunt single when Humber slipped down trying to field it. Campana then stole second before Starlin Castro's long sacrifice fly made it 2-1 and sent Campana to third. Humber then struck out Bryan LaHair and got Alfonso Soriano to fly out.Samardizja hit Konerko with a high tight pitch in the third, sending him sprawling into the dirt and eventually out of the game holding a towel to his face. The next inning, Humber threw a pitch high and behind Cubs cleanup hitter Bryan LaHair in the fourth and home plate umpire Tim Timmons issued a warning to both teams.The Cubs tied the game in the seventh when Ian Stewart led off with a single and one out later Darwin Barney doubled into the left field corner to finish Humber after just 66 pitches. Matt Thornton (2-3) came in and Samardzija promptly bounced his first pitch through the left side for an RBI single to tie the game and put runners at first and third. DeJesus popped out and so did Campana on a bunt attempt, ending the inning.Samardzija allowed six hits and three runs in 7 1-3 innings with two walks and eight strikeouts.Humber allowed five hits and the two runs in 6 1-3 innings and is now 0-2 with three no-decisions since pitching a perfect game against Seattle on April 21. Addison Reed got his fourth save in as many chances with a scoreless ninth that included a double by Barney when White Sox right fielder Alex Rios lost his two-out fly ball in the sun.Cubs manager Dale Sveum was ejected in the fifth inning after arguing a call at second base with umpire Marty Foster, who was covering second on the play. DeJesus had hit a ball to left center and appeared to be safe at second but when Beckham went to make a tag he knocked DeJesus off the bag and Foster called him out.Notes: White Sox 3B Brent Morel was a late scratch with a sore back that has bothered him off and on this season. He was replaced by Eduardo Escobar ... Cubs C Geovany Soto will have surgery on a torn meniscus in his left knee and will miss three to four weeks ... The Cubs called up catcher Blake Lalli and optioned out struggling right-hander Chris Volstad, who had an 0-6 record.
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Why Cubs, rest of baseball sweat as MLB battles coronavirus testing issues

Why Cubs, rest of baseball sweat as MLB battles coronavirus testing issues

It was never going to be perfect.

But Major League Baseball’s coronavirus testing system needs to be good enough.

That may not seem like an especially high bar to set.

But so far it has been a difficult one for baseball to clear.

In fact, the latest example of baseball's biggest challenge in pulling off a 60-game season played out at Wrigley Field on Monday. That's when the team that by all indications has done the best job of establishing and following safe practices had its manager and five other “Tier 1” members of the organization sit out activities “out of an abundance of caution” because their latest COVID-19 tests, from Saturday, remained “pending.”

Tier 1, by the way, comprises the 80-something members of the organization with the highest access, including players and coaches.

The results had been analyzed. But as pitching coach Tommy Hottovy explained, they appeared to be in a batch of samples that included at least one positive test, the batch involving multiple teams. So they were retested. Five of those retested samples, including manager David Ross’, were negative, the team said late Monday, with the sixth considered “compromised” and another test done.

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The sixth did not belong to a player.

Give the Cubs another gold star for getting through yet another round of tests — and yet another glitch in that process — without having a player test positive.

But give MLB another kick in the ass. The testing issues don’t seem to be as bad as they were throughout the league that first holiday weekend of processing. But it hasn’t fixed this thing yet, either.

Whether it’s a lab-capacity issue, a quality issue or a shipping issue, it’s not even close to good enough.

Not for 30 teams barely a week from leaving their individual training-site bubbles to start playing each other for two months. Not when more than one-third of those teams play in locales considered hot spots for the pandemic. Not in the world’s most infected country.

“We do feel comfortable in this bubble that we’ve kind of created here,” said Hottovy, who was hit hard by the virus for a month before camp started. “When the season starts though and we start traveling and we start putting ourselves in some different circumstances, we just don’t know what to expect with that.

“We’re still taking this day-to-day for sure.”

Players across baseball, including Cubs star Kris Bryant, said they were upset and surprised at how unprepared MLB’s testing system appeared to be when camps opened. Two weeks of testing later, and just enough issues persist to make the league’s entire 2020 undertaking look more tenuous than ever.

The season starts July 23. That’s not much time to get it “good enough” — never mind to get it right. But, again, we're not asking for perfection.

The league protocols require testing thousands of players and other team personnel every other day through the end of the season.

Imagine sitting a manager and three or four players from a single team on a game day because of “pending” or “compromised” test results. Imagine that happening two or three times a week to various teams. Or worse — imagine a given team doesn’t exercise “an abundance of caution” and puts the players or staff in question on the field or in the dugout and clubhouse anyway.

“The only concern that I have right now is how long the test will take to get the results back,” Cubs catcher Willson Contreras said on Thursday. “Other than that, I don’t think I am at risk inside of the ballpark because the Cubs have been doing the best they can to keep us safe in here."

“I don’t have any concerns about my teammates, because I trust them. I know we all are doing our best to keep [each other] safe, and that way we can have a season this year.”

Contreras expressed tolerance with the system so far and was reluctant to point a finger at MLB or anyone else.

“But how can that get better?” he said. “I have no answer for that.”

It doesn’t matter whose fault it is as much as it matters that an answer is found quickly.

Players, staff and their families already have taken on the daily stress and anxiety of this health risk and the every-other-day process of holding your breath until the next result comes in.

“You get that test day coming up when you might get results, and it’s a little bit of that unknown, a little bit of anxiety of, ‘Have I done everything right?’ “ Ross said. “You start running back the day since you’ve been tested and what you’ve done, where you’ve gone, who you’ve been in contact with, just in case something bad may come back on your test. It’s real.”

Thirteen players, including Giants star Buster Posey, already have declined to play this season, all but one without a pre-existing condition that would qualify as “high risk” under the agreement between players and management.

Angels superstar Mike Trout heads a list of several more who have talked openly about opting out at some point, depending on how things look as we get closer to games.

That includes Cubs starter Yu Darvish, who said Sunday, “I still have concerns” and that he has not ruled out heading home if he doesn’t feel it’s safe anymore for him or his family to keep playing.

Maybe Trout, Darvish, Posey and the rest of those players have the right idea.

In fact, maybe we’d all be better off if baseball rededicated its testing capacity to a general public that suddenly is facing shortages again in a growing number of hot spots.

But if baseball is going to stick to its plan and try to pull off this season, then it needs to get this right. Right now.

Nobody’s expecting anything great at this point. Maybe not even especially good. But good enough? In the next week or so?

Would that be too much to ask?

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Blackhawks' Andrew Shaw announces he plans to return for 2020-21 season

Blackhawks' Andrew Shaw announces he plans to return for 2020-21 season

Andrew Shaw issued a statement on Instagram late Monday night, announcing he will not join the Blackhawks for the 2019-20 restart as he continues to work his way back from a concussion.

But the 28-year-old winger also revealed he plans on returning for the 2020-21 season and looks forward to coming back "better and stronger than ever!" 

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Here's the full statement, which has been lightly edited for clarity:

I just wanted to let all Blackhawks fans and hockey fans know that I am doing well and getting better every day! I feel healthy and am close to fully being healed from not just my last concussion but from others I have had over the years.

I've learned a lot about concussions and head injuries over the past few years thanks to the Blackhawks medical staff of Dr. Mike Terry, Mike Gapski, Jeff Thomas and Patrick Becker. They have helped me in more ways than I can thank them. I love them dearly for doing so because I am the type of person who would play through anything for my teammates.

With all that being said, along with my family who has shown me so much support, we have come to the difficult decision that these extra five months until next season would be great for my health and recovery. I look forward to being back next season, better and stronger than ever! There's nothing I would love more than to be back out on the ice with the boys battling for Lord Stanley.

I'll be cheering my teammates on and supporting the Blackhawks through this run! Love you boys and miss you like crazy!

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Go Blackhawks Go! Hey fans!

A post shared by Andrew Shaw (@shawz65) on

Shaw, who has two years left on his contract after this season, has a history of head injuries and last appeared in a game on Nov. 30. The NHL's tentative plan is to start next season on Dec. 1.