Preps Talk

Soriano will welcome Rizzo with open arms

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Soriano will welcome Rizzo with open arms

Years from now, well all be telling our grandchildren where we were the moment we found out the Cubs gained an extra year of club control on Anthony Rizzo.

Yes, the hype surrounding Rizzo has been the big story, with his promotion from Triple-A Iowa now viewed as a matter of days after months of anticipation. Suddenly, everyone in town has become an expert on the collective bargaining agreement.

If Rizzo is the new symbol for the Theo Epstein administration, Alfonso Soriano represents everything about the old way of doing business. Soriano will, of course, welcome Rizzo with open arms, no doubt saying Whats up, papi? or Hey, babe!

He wants to learn, Soriano said. He has a lot of talent, and I hope he can show it here in the big leagues.

Thats what the next several weeks and months will be about, integrating young players, shipping out veterans and figuring out what theyve got. You saw it moving in that direction during Tuesdays 2-1 win over the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field.

Travis Wood the 25-year-old left-hander acquired from the Cincinnati Reds in the Sean Marshall trade last winter allowed one run across six innings and notched his first win in a Cubs uniform.

You always understand the pressures of coming to a new team, manager Dale Sveum said afterward, especially when youre traded for one of the best relievers in baseball. You want to impress. It sure seems like hes relaxed out there.

David DeJesus the first free agent signed by Epsteins front office drove in both runs and spent another night in center field, part of the realignment thats clearing the path for Rizzo.

Carlos Marmol whos trying to show he can be a dominant closer again, whether its here or somewhere else got strike one on each of the four batters he faced and worked a scoreless ninth inning to notch the save.

Starlin Castro the building block up the middle made an unbelievable running catch over his shoulder in the fifth inning to rob Alejandro De Aza. The ball jumped out of Castros glove and he grabbed it out of the air with his bare hand, showing the athleticism you need to be an All-Star shortstop.

Castro has pushed his average back above .300 and seems to make big plays in this crosstown series.

Yeah, I enjoy it big-time, because this is the other team in the city, Castro said. Thats why everybody plays hard, because you want to win. You dont want to lose to the White Sox in this city. (Theyd) say the same (thing).

Castro is always hanging around Soriano, who sets an example in his own way. Just ask one of the many teammates whove come to his defense after hearing all the boos at Wrigley Field.

Im happy because they know how hard I work, Soriano said. They know my mentality, that I want to win so bad. Thats why theyre disappointed, because they know who I am.

The Cubs are 24-42, and no ones planning routes for the parade down Michigan Avenue they envisioned after that huge spending spree in response to a last-place finish in 2006.

The 136 million man leads the Cubs in homers (13 along with Bryan LaHair) and RBI (43) and could wind up being the teams All-Star representative next month in Kansas City.

I dont get frustrated, because I love what I do, Soriano said. Sometimes its very hard, losing like this, but we got to keep coming every day to the ballpark and try to do a better job to turn the team around.

At some point, the fans and the media will almost certainly turn on Rizzo, who may never be more popular than he is now. But good or bad, you cant take it personally. Soriano says it beats the alternative.

The fans, they always support the team no matter what, Soriano said. I played on different teams and when the teams doing bad, the fans dont go to the ballpark. But here, no matter what, they go to the ballpark.

76 Days to Kickoff: Eisenhower

76 Days to Kickoff: Eisenhower

NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting Aug. 5, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 30.

School: Eisenhower

Head coach: Sheamus Murphy

Assistant coaches: Defensive Coordinator Ron Rivera, ST Coordinator Billy Viero, assistant Darren Bryant, assistant Charles Edwards, assistant Jesse Gonzalez, assistant Ryan Gorney, assistant Will Johnson, assistant Marty McNamara, assistant Tim McNamara, assistant Anthony Munoz, assistant TJ Murphy,  assistant Jeremy Rodrigues, assistant Dan Russell, assistant Terrence Streater and assistant Ron Zychowski

How they fared in 2018: 4-5 (2-4 South Suburban Red Conference). Eisenhower failed to qualify for the IHSA football playoff field. 

2019 regular season schedule:

Aug. 30 @ Oak Forest

Sept. 6 vs St. Laurence

Sept. 13 vs Argo

Sept. 20 @ Reavis

Sept. 27 vs Shepard

Oct. 4 @ T.F. North

Oct. 11 @ Evergreen Park

Oct. 18 @ Oak Lawn

Oct. 25 vs Richards

Biggest storyline: It centers on new head coach Sheamus Murphy. Can he get the Cardinals back on the winning track?

Names to watch this season: QB Daniel McLaurin (Sr.), RB/LB Cristian Tellez (Sr.)

Biggest holes to fill: The Cardinals will need to replace 15 graduated starter from last season. 

EDGY's Early Take: The Cardinals’ now-former head coach Travis Moore decided to head to the college level. He became the defensive line coach at NIU. New head coach Sheamus Murphy, who built the Back of the Yards program from scratch, takes over and brings a ton of energy and excitement to the Island starting in 2019.

2019 NHL Draft Profile: RW Kaapo Kakko

2019 NHL Draft Profile: RW Kaapo Kakko

From June 10-20, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile one top prospect per day — 11 total — leading up to the 2019 NHL Draft as the Blackhawks prepare to pick third overall.

Kaapo Kakko

Position: Right wing
Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 194 pounds
Shoots: Left

Scouting report from The Draft Analyst's Steve Kournianos:

"Multi-tooled winger with size and coordination who incorporates his impressive puck skills with a desirable physical package that consistently exhausts opponents. Blessed with incredibly soft hands and tight-quarter quickness, Kakko is a reliable stickhandler who uses timing plays to either get open or create space for his linemates.”

NHL player comparable: Mikko Rantanen

Fit for Blackhawks:

Alright, let’s get this out of the way with: Kakko isn’t going to be on the board when the Blackhawks pick at No. 3. He’s expected to be taken second overall by the New York Rangers.

But, hypothetically, if he did slip, Kakko is probably one of two players in this draft class who could step onto an NHL roster today and make an immediate impact. He’s that good, and we saw it at the 2019 IIHF World Championship when he scored six goals to lead Finland to a gold medal. 

Kakko would give the Blackhawks a dynamic winger on the right side to go along with Patrick Kane, meaning they wouldn't have to worry about their top-six right wingers for many years to come. You shouldn't draft a winger this high unless he's as close to a sure-fire prospect as they come, and Kakko would qualify.

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