Cubs

Mariano Rivera has a torn ACL ... and another issue

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Mariano Rivera has a torn ACL ... and another issue

From Comcast SportsNet
NEW YORK (AP) -- Mariano Rivera hobbled up to the podium on a pair of crutches he's quickly grown tired of, ready to reveal more news about his health. This time, it was something more serious than a torn knee ligament. Rivera has a blood clot in his right calf, the latest medical problem for the longtime New York Yankees closer who injured his knee last week while shagging fly balls during batting practice. Rivera is on blood-thinning medication intended to dissolve the clot and said Wednesday he is OK, though he was scared when he received the diagnosis. He needs to spend at least a week or two strengthening his right knee before he has surgery to repair his torn anterior cruciate ligament -- but he said that would have been the case regardless of the blood clot. Strengthening the knee now will help when he begins his rehabilitation program after the operation. He must stop taking the blood thinners 24 hours before surgery, he said. The 42-year-old Rivera, baseball's career saves leader with 608, said he can guarantee he will work hard and do "whatever it takes" to return next season. But if his leg doesn't come back strong enough, then he will take it as a sign that it's time to retire. "If it's my call, I don't want to leave the game the way it happened. ... My will and my desire is to stay," Rivera said, adding that he was leaning toward pitching in 2013 even before the injury. "The traveling, I hate it. And the game, I love it." Rivera was injured last Thursday in Kansas City, tearing his ACL and damaging the meniscus in his right knee, when he stumbled and fell while chasing a fly ball during batting practice, a regular part of his pregame routine. He is expected to miss the rest of the season. The following day he announced he was determined to get back on the mound next season and he was examined Monday by three doctors at two New York hospitals as he prepared to decide where to have knee surgery. While he was being examined, Rivera mentioned to the doctor that his right calf was "sore and painful." He was diagnosed with a blood clot and spent Monday night in the hospital, beginning treatment right away. That was the complication Yankees general manager Brian Cashman and Rivera's agent, Fernando Cuza, referred to this week when discussing Rivera's schedule and prognosis. Cashman would not elaborate Tuesday at Yankee Stadium. "I was more concerned with the blood clot than the knee. For a minute I was like, what else is going to happen?" Rivera said. "I was scared because I never hear good things about blood clots. ... I take it like, OK, what do we have to do?" In the worst cases, blood clots can be life-threatening if they travel to the lungs. Rivera said he's not sure what caused the clot, and he didn't even ask. "I know that I've got to deal with it," he said. "They don't know if it happened before or after the trauma of the injury." Rivera planned to speak to his doctor later Wednesday and he will soon go back for a check-up. He hasn't decided on a doctor to perform the knee surgery yet, but he said the clot will not affect the date of the operation. "I really believe if Mo wants to continue to play, he'll play," manager Joe Girardi said. "I mean, obviously he's got to go through a process of rehab here, but I don't see any reason why that's not going to happen and he's not going to get through that, so I look forward to seeing him back in a Yankee uniform." Rivera appeared in good spirits at a 25-minute news conference before the Yankees played the Tampa Bay Rays. Wearing a long-sleeve shirt and jeans, he sat down carefully at a table with a microphone and managed a familiar smile as he faced a room full of reporters. "I just feel old. Walking with these crutches is not fun at all," he said. Later, he joked that would begin running again in 5 or 10 minutes. "I didn't even have chance enough to taste the season," Rivera said. "It will be hard to just put it down and walk away." Rivera said he'll be at the ballpark as much as possible to help his teammates however he can this season, but for the first time in his life he thinks he needs to be a bit "selfish" and focus on his rehab. He said he watched nervously from his couch at home as fill-in closer David Robertson loaded the bases Tuesday night before saving New York's 5-3 victory over the Rays. "It's still tough, though, mentally. These games don't help me. He did a good job," Rivera said. "I was sweating and screaming. It was difficult, but I was screaming at Robby on the TV." And when he returns, Rivera said he'll resume shagging flies during batting practice. "Oh, no doubt about it," he said. "I don't know what the Yankees will do. They might need to tie me up."

Cubs refuse to push the panic button on inconsistent offense

Cubs refuse to push the panic button on inconsistent offense

Any time the Cubs offense scuffles, there's always a dichotomy between the fanbase and the clubhouse.

Many fans believe the sky is falling while inside the home clubhouse at Wrigley Field, the Cubs continue to stay the course and try with all their might not to ride the roller coaster of the season.

That's especially true right now, with the wounds from last season's second-half offensive breakdown still fresh. 

It's easy to sweep a slump under the rug after a four-game series against the Dodgers in L.A., but the lineup issues came to a head Tuesday night at Wrigley Field when the Cubs faced the pitcher with the second-worst qualified ERA in baseball (Ivan Nova) and managed just 1 run — on the first pitch of the game, no less. 

Yet the Cubs insisted there was no panic inside the clubhouse about the cold bats and to a man, they talked about simply riding the wave and waiting for things to break their way.

So naturally, the Cubs came out Wednesday night and battered around the American League ERA leader Lucas Giolito thanks to a barrage of homers — including Willson Contreras' first-inning grand slam. Contreras' second homer of the night made him the fifth different Cub to reach 15 dingers this season (no other MLB team had more than three players eclipse the 15-homer threshold).

Still, the Cubs know they need to get the offense on a more consistent trajectory and find ways to score beyond just the longball.

"We have to be able to somehow find enough runs to win a game like [Tuesday]," Joe Maddon said. "That's where the run [of wins] is. We have to win some games where your pitching isn't as good that night and we have to score one more. And then when our pitching is that good, we have to score two or three. We just have to be able to do that in order to get on that run."

Wednesday's Contreras-led offensive explosion marked the first time in a week that the Cubs had scored more than 3 runs, but again, much of that was due to facing the Dodgers, owners of the best pitching staff in the NL.

After Tuesday night's loss, Maddon and the Cubs took solace in the fact that they didn't expand the zone too much or get themselves out. They only struck out 5 times against Nova and the White Sox bullpen.

"It's a long season," said David Bote, who homered Wednesday night after not starting Tuesday's game. "It's hard to not be caught up in a couple game stretch where it's not falling. But a lot of hard hits; we're not chasing out of the zone. 

"[We know we can't] push a panic button and stress. If you do that, then all of a sudden you start spiraling even more. You trust it and if there's nothing crazy wrong with what our approach is or anything like that, you just find a way to get runs in and get on a nice little hot streak and roll with it."

The Cubs began the season firing on all cylinders offensively, but cracks have started to show in the foundation over the last few weeks as their season record fell to 39-33 after Tuesday's loss.

They're not going to the opposite field with enough authority and situational hitting (or "opportunity hitting," as coach Anthony Iapoce calls it) is still a problem area — the Cubs woke up Wednesday morning with the worst batting average with runners in scoring position (.243) in the NL.

Maddon talked at length about the Cubs' situational hitting before Wednesday's game and was blunt in his assessment:

"We gotta start figuring those moments out," he said. "We were good coming out of the shoot, I thought, and then we've gotten away from it. We've just gotta get back to that moment. There's still time to be able to do that. But that also speaks to why our record is as pedestrian as it is."

But why has the offense taken a turn for the worse after such a hot start? Much like the "broken' stretch in the last couple months of 2018, the Cubs can't really put a finger on it.

"I don't have a strong answer to that," Maddon said. "It's guys in the moment in the game situation and we just have to continually remind them to stay [in the middle of the field and not try to pull the ball.] That's it. It's one of those things to remind. Our guys are definitely capable of readjusting back to that. ... We just have to go out there and get 'er done."

Baseball Night in Chicago Podcast: Cubs look to even the Crosstown series with a win

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USA TODAY

Baseball Night in Chicago Podcast: Cubs look to even the Crosstown series with a win

Ozzie Guillén and Doug Glanville join Leila Rahimi on a special Crosstown edition of Baseball Night in Chicago.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below: