Blackhawks

Marshall creating more than just separation or catches

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Marshall creating more than just separation or catches

Brandon Marshall is doing things hes never done before, and the effect is bringing an almost palpable change in the chemistry within the Bears wide-receiver group. (Put another way, Roy Williams is gone, in more ways than one.)

Indeed, the first thing you notice isnt Marshall catching passes in drills or 7-on-7s or team sessions. Its what he was doing in warmups.

Marshall is treating the casual throw-and-catch prelim of organized team activity sessions with the same kind of spirit that is typically reserved for those drills when theyre run before a game.

Without degenerating into wanton rah-rah, Marshall is giving a high-five or back slap to each teammate coming in after making his catch. He runs even his warmup routes like they matter.

If hes seeming like a teacher or role model, its because he is, and thats exactly how he sees himself.

I guess its in me, in a way, Marshall said. It took seven years to harness it and put it in a positive direction, and Im excited about it.

This is the first year that Ive actually felt pressure as far as, Ive got to work because theres some young guys and Im getting older, but also, Im recognizing how important it is to bring those guys along. This is a first for me, but Im embracing the opportunity.

The contrast is nothing less than stark between this situation and last years with Williams, signed post-lockout to reprise the kind of season he had once under Mike Martz in Detroit, being anything but a role model for the Bears group of young wideouts.

Williams reported admittedly out of football shape, compromising his effectiveness with unfamiliar quarterbacks who were throwing to a receiver who was sub-standard out of breaks and achieving separation.

His suspect effort grated on some in his group, particularly when he was installed over Johnny Knox as one of the starting wideouts.

That is gone now. Instead of a receiver who fell well short of greatness, the Bears this year have brought in one who is at a point in his career when that has to be the absolute goal.

We strive for greatness, Marshall said. Even in warm-ups and in route running, we get upset when we drop balls or miss throws or call the wrong plays. We know what we expect out of each other, and we know what we expect of guys around us. So were excited.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Reacting to Round 1 of NHL Draft

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Reacting to Round 1 of NHL Draft

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle and Charlie Roumeliotis recap Round 1 of the 2018 NHL Draft.

They discuss the pair of puck-carrying defensemen that the Blackhawks selected on Friday, Adam Boqvist and Nicolas Beaudin. When can we expect to see these first-round picks play in the NHL?

Boyle also goes 1-on-1 with Boqvist and Beaudin. The guys spoke with Stan Bowman and Joel Quenneville on Friday.

The guys also share their biggest takeaways from those interviews, which includes your daily Corey Crawford update and Quenneville appeared excited that the team has plenty of cap space to spend in free agency.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

It's only one start, but that's the Lucas Giolito that White Sox fans expected to see this season

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USA TODAY

It's only one start, but that's the Lucas Giolito that White Sox fans expected to see this season

The preseason expectations and the results have been drastically different for Lucas Giolito.

Expected to be the best pitcher on the White Sox starting staff, Giolito hasn’t come too close to that title, instead heading into Friday’s doubleheader with the most earned runs allowed of any pitcher in baseball. His walk total has been among the highest in the game all year long, too. And the calls from social media to send him down to Triple-A haven’t been at all infrequent.

But Friday, White Sox fans got a glimpse at what they expected, a look at the guy who earned so much hype with a strong September last season and a dominant spring training.

It wasn’t a performance that would make any reasonable baseball person’s jaw drop. But it was the best Giolito has looked this season. He still allowed four runs on seven hits — as mentioned, not a Cy Young type outing — but he struck out a season-high eight batters. Prior to giving up the back-to-back singles to start the eighth inning that brought an end to his evening, he’d surrendered just two runs.

Most importantly he walked just two guys and didn’t seem to struggle with his command at all. That’s a big deal for a pitcher who had 45 walks to his name prior to Friday.

“You know it was a tough eighth inning, but throughout the whole game, I felt in sync,” Giolito said. “(Catcher Omar Narvaez) and I were working really well, finally commanding the fastball the way I should. Definitely the best I felt out there this year, for sure. Velocity was up a tick. Just felt right, felt in sync. Just competed from there.”

Confidence has never left Giolito throughout the poor results, and he’s talked after every start about getting back on the horse and giving it another try. Consistently working in between starts, things finally seemed to click Friday night.

“It all worked today,” manager Rick Renteria said. “(Pitching coach Don Cooper) says that every bullpen has gotten better, from the beginning to this point. He sees progress. The velocity that he showed today was something that Coop was seeing in his work. You can see that his delivery is continuing to improve. He was trusting himself, really attacking the strike zone, trusted his breaking ball today when he need to and just tried to command as much as he could. Did a nice job.”

Giolito went through this kind of thing last year, when he started off poorly at Triple-A Charlotte with a 5.40 ERA through his first 16 starts. But then things got better, with Giolito posting a 2.78 ERA over his final eight starts with the Knights before getting called up to the big leagues.

This was just one start, of course, but perhaps he can follow a similar formula this year, too, going from a rough beginning to figuring things out.

“I’m not trying to tinker or think about mechanics anymore,” he said. “It’s about flow, getting out there and making pitches. We were able to do that for the most part.

“I’ll watch video and see certain things, and I have little cues here and there. But I’m not going to go and overanalyze things and nitpick at certain stuff anymore. It’s about going there and having fun and competing.”

Maybe that’s the secret. Or maybe this is simply a brief flash of brilliance in the middle of a tough first full season in the bigs.

Whatever it was, it was the best we’ve seen of Giolito during the 2018 campaign. And it was far more like what was expected back before that campaign got going.