Blackhawks

Sale puts velocity concerns to rest

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Sale puts velocity concerns to rest

Chris Sale hadn't pitched in nine days and everybody was glued to the radar guns as he took the mound Monday evening at U.S. Cellular Field.

He did not disappoint.

After hovering around 90 mph July 27 in Texas, concerns about Sale's drop in velocity evaporated as the 23-year-old was consistently hurtling his fastball in the 93-95 mph range Monday.

"You watch him and you look for maybe signs of velocity down or not being as sharp," manager Robin Ventura said. "But it looks like it was enough that he had what he needed to go out there and pitch well and feel confident."

Sale threw 101 pitches on the night, touching 93 mph with pitch No. 100.

"It felt good, it felt loose," he said. "I tried not to do too much. Sometimes, when you feel a little bit too loose, you try to rear back and do a little bit too much and that was the thing I was trying not to do."

The third-year left-hander allowed two home runs, but both were solo shots, as he didn't walk a batter all night. He allowed eight hits in eight innings.

"I liked him," Ventura said. "They got him a couple times, but just the way he pitched, he battled. He was sharp and felt fine."

Sale got into a bit of a jam in the eighth inning as back-to-back hits to open up the Royals half put runners on first and third with nobody out. But the youngster induced a soft lineout to shortstop Alexei Ramirez before nabbing Tony Abreu at the plate on a nifty defensive play.

Sale then whiffed Lorenzo Cain for his seventh and final strikeout.

Before the game, the White Sox officially went back to a five-man rotation, moving Philip Humber to the bullpen. Sale has already blown past his professional high in innings pitched (132 this year compared to 71 last season), but doesn't anticipate any more bumps in the road in the final two months of the season.

After Monday's outing, Sale said he felt ready to go back to the regular rotation of four days rest.

"That's what you gotta do," he said. "That's normal, so I'll just take it day-by-day. I'll get my work in and make sure I'm ready every fifth day.

"These last two months, we're going to have to make a push, so I don't see any extended rest in my future."

A sneak peek at Cam Ward's new Blackhawks goalie mask

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USA TODAY

A sneak peek at Cam Ward's new Blackhawks goalie mask

It's a new year, new team for Cam Ward, who spent his first 13 NHL seasons with the Carolina Hurricanes before signing in Chicago on a one-year deal this summer. That means a newly-designed goalie mask is required to match up with his new team's colors, uniform and Blackhawks logo.

The designer of Ward's goalie masks Steve Nash, whose clients include 2017-18 Vezina Trophy finalist Connor Hellebuyck, two-time Stanley Cup champion Jonathan Quick and three-time 30-win netminder Martin Jones, shared a teaser on Twitter of Ward's new Blackhawks-themed mask for the upcoming season and it's sweet.

Check it out:

Bears confirm OLB Leonard Floyd underwent surgery to repair fracture in right hand

Bears confirm OLB Leonard Floyd underwent surgery to repair fracture in right hand

Bears head coach Matt Nagy confirmed to reporters on Monday that OLB Leonard Floyd underwent surgery to repair a fracture in his right hand he sustained in the first quarter of Saturday's 24-23 preseason win over the Denver Broncos.

The good news is, the Bears are optimistic that Floyd will be available to play in Week 1 against the Green Bay Packers. The bad news is, he'll likely have to play with a cast on until his injury fully heals.

"I don't think it's going to be healed, I think he's going to have to end up playing through it," Nagy said. "It might require something in regards to having a cast or a club-type deal. There's been evidence of guys that have had that and been productive, so that's what we're hoping." 

TE Adam Shaheen, who suffered a right ankle sprain on the first drive of the game, is still being evaluated and it's unclear whether or not he'll be ready by Week 1.

"We're not sure there yet," Nagy said. "We're hoping. We'll probably know more later today after the tests come back."