Cubs

Morgan Park's Blackshear dislocates shoulder

429315.jpg

Morgan Park's Blackshear dislocates shoulder

Monday, March 28, 2011
Posted 11:22 p.m.

By Scott Phillips
YourSeason.com

The biggest individual honor for an elite high school basketball player is to be selected for the McDonald's All-American Game. For area players Wayne Blackshear, Anthony Davis and Ariel Massengale, that dream is being played out in front of a hometown crowd.

While Perspectives-MSA's Davis and Bolingbrook's Massengale will continue to go through the practices leading up to Wednesdays game at the United Center, Blackshear will be out for the remainder of the festivities and the game as he suffered a dislocated shoulder during Monday mornings practice session at Attack Athletics.

"I don't even really remember what happened," Blackshear said. "I was coming off of a screen and I got bumped the wrong way and I felt a pop in my shoulder."

The Morgan Park star was still present for the Powerade Jam Fest on Monday night at Chicago State, dressed in his game-issued warmups with a sling on his left arm.

Blackshear was scheduled to compete in the dunk contest but watched the action from the sidelines. He also said there is no time frame on how long he will be sidelined.

"I went to the hospital as soon as it happened," Blackshear said. "My sports doctor was there and he said it was a dislocated shoulder and that I should sit out."

Massengale and Davis, meanwhile, each competed in the three-point shootout but didnt make the cut for the final round.

Connecticut signee Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (Anaheim, CA) and Kentucky recruit Kyle Wiltjer (Jesuit, OR) won the three-point shootouts while Oklahoma State commit LeBryan Nash (Dallas, TX) took home the championship in the dunk contest.

Syracuse commit Michael Carter-Williams (South Hamilton, MA) and USC recruit Ariya Crook-Williams (Los Angeles, CA) won the skills competition.

Cubs' 'unbelievable' defense is bringing back 2016 vibes early on

Cubs' 'unbelievable' defense is bringing back 2016 vibes early on

The Cubs’ 9-2 start is their best through 11 games since 2016 (also 9-2). It’s probably not fair to compare anything about this team in this surreal set of circumstances to that team. But one element of this group that reminds the Cubs of that fateful season is the stellar defense they’ve played so far.

“Yeah, that’s certainly what it feels like right now,” said Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks Tuesday of whether the defense compares to 2016.

The 2016 Cubs lapped the league in advanced fielding metrics, finishing first in Defensive Runs Saved (91) and Ultimate Zone Rating (47.1). DRS rates how far or below average (0) a team is defensively, while UZR quantifies how many runs a team saves or gives up through their fielding.

Through 11 games, the 2020 Cubs are first in DRS (15; the Dodgers are second at 14) and fifth in UZR (2.8).

Click to download the MyTeams App for the latest Cubs news and analysis.

“The defense has just been unbelievable right now,” Hendricks said. “It gives all the pitchers more confidence in the world to go right at guys.”

Hendricks is well equipped to make that evaluation because his game is all about inducing soft contact. That’s also the case for Alec Mills, who benefited in his start Monday from several excellent plays by David Bote at third base.

In the fourth inning, Bote, positioned near shortstop in a shift, ranged to his right, picked a grounder on a short hop and made a strong off-balance throw to retire Alex Gordon. In the seventh, he charged a bunt barehanded and threw out Adalberto Mondesi.

“Obviously, when that happens it’s a big energizer for the whole team,” Mills said Monday. “Bote made two really good plays. It does nothing but fire you up.”

Those are only a few examples of strong showings by Cubs fielders in recent days. Kyle Schwarber threw out Jacob Stallings at the plate on a single to leadoff the 10th inning against the Pirates Sunday. Javier Báez executed another magical tag on a Mondesi stolen base attempt Monday.

Kris Bryant made two diving plays at third on Tuesday, including a game-saver in the ninth. Cubs manager David Ross said Bryant looks as good as he’s seen him defensively, highlighting the work Bryant put in with bench coach Andy Green in spring training.

RELATED: Cubs' Kris Bryant's diving grab starts triple play vs. Reds — kind of

“I think KB’s played phenomenal defense this year for us, especially at third base, and that’s not easy to do as much as I’ve moved him around,” Ross said Tuesday. “He’s really athletic over there, moving well, the glove’s working. It’s fun to watch our defense right now. We’ve got some really slick gloves out there."

“All around, guys have been making all the plays, even making the great ones,” Hendricks said. “Everybody's in a really good spot right now.”

SUBSCRIBE TO THE CUBS TALK PODCAST FOR FREE.

Inside the bullpen: What Cubs' Craig Kimbrel is working on behind the scenes

Inside the bullpen: What Cubs' Craig Kimbrel is working on behind the scenes

Craig Kimbrel’s brief appearance in the Cubs’ 5-4 victory over the Royals on Tuesday offered a glimpse into what he’s working on in bullpen sessions behind the scenes.

“I've been working a lot,” the seven-time All-Star closer said Wednesday. “I felt like last night I did some things a little better, but when it comes down to it, you still have to execute a certain pitch at a certain location at certain times. And I wasn’t able to do that.”

Tuesday was the least troubling of Kimbrel’s three outings this season, which isn’t much of a vote of confidence after four walks in his first and back-to-back home runs in his second. On Tuesday, Kimbrel recorded one strikeout and put two runners in scoring position before Cubs manager David Ross replaced him with Kyle Ryan. Both runners scored.

Click to download the MyTeams App for the latest Cubs news and analysis.

Cubs pitching coach Tommy Hottovy said the focus for Kimbrel, as he works through mechanical issues, is consistency.

“I think that's the key to pitching in general,” Hottovy said, “consistency in mechanics, consistency in delivery, consistency in where your release points are. All those things add up to better stuff, better velo, better spin, but also better command.”

Hottovy has identified inconsistency in Kimbrel’s arm path and release point. Kimbrel’s control issues stem from that. Those control issues have shown up in different ways for his two pitches.

First, the fastball: Hottovy used two different at-bats in Kimbrel’s appearance Tuesday night as an example.

Against Royals pinch hitter Franchy Cordero, Kimbrel located a 97-mph fastball at the top of the zone for a swing-and-miss strike three. Against Adalberto Mondesi, that same pitch crept into the middle of the zone, and Mondesi scorched a line drive off the right field wall.

“What you see from Craig, the stuff is still trending in the right direction,” Hottovy said. “The breaking ball was better yesterday. The fastball life is coming back. But in the end, in this game, we're facing professional hitters.”

Professional Hitters who can make a pitcher pay for a mistake.

That becomes especially easy when teams can gear up for one pitch and ignore the rest.

“You have to get them to honor it,” Hottovy said of Kimbrel’s curve ball, “and to get them to honor it, you have to consistently be able to throw that pitch in the strike zone, and then be able to attack (with the) fastball.”

Kimbrel has faced three different teams: The Reds, Pirates and Royals. None of them have swung at his curve ball.

“I think at times it's one of two things,” Kimbrel said, “Either I'm showing it too early or it's not starting as a strike, or they've already had that game plan to eliminate the curve ball.”

In the Reds’ case, it was the latter. Cincinnati rookie Tyler Stephenson told reporters as much after the game. He laid off three curve balls in his at-bat against Kimbrel. Stephenson walked.

According to Hottovy, Kimbrel is working on slowing down his lower body – “staying taller, sitting more on his back side” – to consistently give his arm time to get to the right release point.

 “I'm still going out there trying to compete,” Kimbrel said. “I'm not going out there and saying, 'I think I'm going to get beat today, I don't want to be out here.' By no means am I anywhere close to that. I think if anything, it’s just more frustration towards myself (for) putting myself in I'm spot I'm in, … having to ask guys to get up and throw more, based on my performance.”

 

SUBSCRIBE TO THE CUBS TALK PODCAST FOR FREE.