Blackhawks

Tennessee Remains Smokin' Hot At Jacksonville

Tennessee Remains Smokin' Hot At Jacksonville

Saturday April 23, 2011
Posted: 9:40 p.m.

CUBS Tennessee AA
The Smokies have spent the better part of the seasons first month tearing up the Southern League with an impressive offensive performance. Heading into Saturdays game at Jacksonville, Tennessee was leading the league in hitting and was the only team on the circuit batting higher than .300.

Tennessee put on another show against Suns, banging out 13 hits and charging to a 6-2 lead before holding on for a 7-3 victory at The Baseball Grounds. The middle infield provided the spark this time with shortstop Marwin Gonzalez collecting three hits and second baseman Nate Samson going 2-for-4 with a homer and three RBIs.

First baseman Josh Vitters rounded out the infield assault, adding a homer and two RBIs. Brooks Raley started and struggled again, getting chased after 4 13 innings. The Smokies bullpen was brilliant, though, throwing 4 23 shutout innings Hung-Wen Chen earning his first win of the season.
Peoria A
The Chiefs rallied for a pair of seventh-inning runs Saturday afternoon at OBrien Field to earn a surprising 3-2 victory over Beloit and gain a doubleheader split. The Snappers grabbed the opener, 5-2.

Greg Rohans two-run single not only pushed his team-leading RBI total to 14 it capped the big late comeback. Arismendy Alcantara led off the seventh with a single and went to second on Matt Szczurs bunt single. Rohan followed a Pierre LaPage bunt with a single to center to win it. Rohans RBI double in the sixth had cut Beloits lead to 2-1.

Eduardo Figueroa 1-1 pitched 2 13 perfect innings of relief to earn the victory. Starter Graham Hicks tied a career high with eight strikeouts.

Peoria recorded a season-high four errors in the opener, including an opening-inning miscue that led to a pair of Beloit runs. Cam Greathouse 0-1 started and went 4 13 innings, allowing all five runs though only two were earned. Micah Gibbs went 2-for-3 while Greg Rohan drove in his team-leading 11th run with a sacrifice fly.
Daytona A
The Cubs stretched their winning streak to five games Saturday evening, topping Dunedin, 6-2, at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium to remain in first place in the Florida State Leagues North Division.

Junior Lake and Jake Optiz paced Daytona, combining for seven hits. Optiz had three doubles while Lake had a homer, two stolen bases and three RBIs. Jae-Hoon Ha added a pair of hits and has hit safely in nine of his last 10 games, pushing his average to .375.

Nick Struck 2-1 scattered four hits and fanned seven over 5 13 innings. He retired 10 in a row after Scott Podsednik picked up a leadoff single. Ryan Searle pitched 2 13 scoreless innings and has not allowed a run in his 9 13 innings pitched this season.
Iowa AAA
Brad Snyder and Matt Camp combined for five of Iowas seven hits Saturday night and it proved to be not enough as Memphis picked up a 3-2 victory at AutoZone Park.

Camp had three hits and Snyder drove in a run. Ramon Ortiz took the loss after allowing three runs and striking out five over seven innings. In other news, the Cubs called up Justin Berg and optioned Jeff Stevens to Iowa. Berg was 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA in five appearances for Iowa this year.
WHITE SOXCharlotte AAA
Brandon Hynick made one mistake Saturday night and it cost him. The big right-hander severed up a home run ball to Diory Hernandez in the fourth inning and that was the difference as Gwinnett County squeezed by Charlotte, 3-1, at Knights Stadium.

Hynick 0-2 allowed six hits over seven innings and got into trouble in the fourth by allowing back-to-back singles to lead off the inning before Hernandez deposited the ball over the left-field wall. Jordan Danks had an RBI single in the seventh for the Knights, who lost their second straight game and for the eighth time in 10 games. Gwinnetts Mike Minor took a no-hitter into the sixth inning before Lastings Milledge connected for a two-out double.
Winston-Salem A
Jared Mitchell led off the bottom of the eighth inning with a homer Saturday night to give Winston-Salem a 3-2 victory and a doubleheader split with Wilmington at BB&T Park. It was Mitchells second homer of the season and completed a comeback that saw the Dash rally from a 2-0 deficit.

Ian Gacs two-run homer in the sixth knotted the score at 2-2, setting the stage for Mitchells heroics. It was Gacs sixth homer of the season. Ryan Kussmaul 3-0 earned the win with two perfect innings while Addison Reed also pitched two perfect innings in relief of Joe Serafin.

Wilmington scored nine runs over the final three innings of the opener to earn a 10-2 victory. Cameron Bayne, who hadnt given up a run in 14 innings this season prior to Saturday, allowed a first-inning run and then surrendered six more late before leaving following his five innings. His ERA jumped from 0.00 to 3.32. Dan Wagner had a pair of hits and an RBI.
Birmingham AA
Huntsville exploded for three eighth-inning runs Saturday night and stunned Birmingham, 4-3, at Regions Park. Chuck Caufields two-out, two-run double punctuated the inning.

Nate Jones was charged with all three runs in 23 of an inning to suffer the loss. Dylan Axelrod allowed a run on five hits while striking out seven over seven innings before turning it over to Jones.

Kevin Czerwinski can be reached at ktczerwinski@gmail.com.

Patrick Sharp hitting his stride in Year 2 as broadcaster

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NBC Sports Chicago

Patrick Sharp hitting his stride in Year 2 as broadcaster

The NHL’s best players competing against each other will be a familiar sight for Patrick Sharp, who will work his first All-Star Game as a broadcaster this weekend in St. Louis. 

The three-time Stanley Cup champ with the Blackhawks was the MVP of 2011’s All-Star contest with a goal and two assists. 

Less than two years after hanging up his skates, Sharp's transition from player to television analyst has been as seamless as everyone expected. In addition to the look and the experience, the 2014 Olympic gold medalist has been a student of his new game behind the scenes.

"I feel a little more settled," said Sharp, who can be seen Friday and Saturday on NBC Sports and NBC covering the NHL All-Star festivities. "Just trying to improve and get better at the job. It's just like playing in the NHL, the first year you ask a lot of questions and you learn as much as you can from the people that have done it before you and that are really good at it. Going into Year 2, nothing really changes; you just want to continue to get better. 

"I love following hockey and watching games; it makes the job a little bit easier. I don't think I'll ever get fully comfortable on television, but it's been fun and a good transition for me from playing the game." 

The 38-year-old’s bountiful in-depth insight during game broadcasts has come as no surprise to those who know him.

"Sharpie looks like he's really found a career," said Patrick Kane, who often shoots his former teammate a text after catching him on TV. "He does a really good job and he's easy to listen to. He knows who he's talking about, he has really good information. 

"It almost to me sounds like you're just talking to him, like me just having a conversation with him about hockey. He does a really good job of explaining the information and I think he's done pretty well at it."

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews regularly watches his former alternate captain’s commentary as well.

"I think the way he studied the game, the way he understood the game, he obviously has a lot of passion for it," Toews said of Sharp as a player. "I think it's great that our sport has someone like him with his talent level and his career so soon after his playing days to go out there and talk about it and relate some things to the fans that a lot of people, even myself, wouldn't even recognize.

"He does a great job. I think he's more than poised up there too.”

The fact that the former Hawks forward looks like he’d have no trouble skating in today’s NHL adds to his on-air presentation.

“He's still pretty jacked, I'm assuming,” Alex DeBrincat said. “He hasn't gained any weight. You'd assume after your career you'd let go a little bit, but doesn't look like he has.”

“The thing about Sharpie was he was always one of the top-five guys in fitness testing, he was always in great shape,” Kane said. “He was strong, a powerful skater, had a good shot, was able to shoot it pretty good.

"It felt like he could still play. It was just kind of like the opportunity and if he wanted to travel, move his family; so, I wouldn't have been surprised if he kept playing and was successful too.” 

Some of Sharp’s former teammates knew the transition was inevitable.

“Guys that wanted to chirp and make fun of him said he couldn't get there soon enough, he loves the camera,” Toews said with a chuckle. 

Others saw a different path for No. 10. 

“I don't know if we really expected him to do that to be honest with you,” Kane said. “I thought maybe he'd be trying to get in with the team somewhere whether it was scouting or trying to get into the front office. I could see him doing that even to this day. 

“Maybe that's a stepping stone for him maybe in the future. I wouldn't be surprised to see him in the front office at some point because I think he's pretty good at scouting players and knowing a lot about the league too.” 

For Sharp, nothing can compare to the rush of playing in front of a sold-out United Center crowd, but the feeling right before going live on the air comes close. 

“I love it,” the Winnipeg native said. “It's very similar [to playing]. I love having the earpiece in and hearing our producer tell us that we're on in '10 ... 9 ... 8 . . .' Hearing the countdown kind of gives you that adrenaline feeling, the butterflies that you used to get as a player right before the first shift of a game. 

“I kind of miss that stress and anxiety of being a player and putting pressure on myself. I can't really think of too many other things in the game that bring that to us, so this is maybe a close second.”

Despite another career in the game, the four-time 30-plus goal-scorer with the Hawks still goes through what a lot of players do after they exit the ice. 

“The struggles of hanging up the skates and then trying to figure out what's next, I kind of went through that myself, still going through it,” Sharp said. “I miss the game every day. 

“I love being a part of NBC, but there's nothing that's going to replace being a professional hockey player and that's something that I did my entire adult life. I'm thankful that I've got an opportunity to continue working and be in the game, but at the same time I've had struggles just like every other former player. I want to keep my mind occupied and try to fill that void of playing hockey as best I can.”

Sharp joins NBC Sports’ national broadcast team every other week for a Tuesday or Wednesday game during the regular season. He’s frequently an analyst for Blackhawks games on NBC Sports Chicago and come the postseason he’ll be on the national broadcasts full-time.

Whether he’s on TV in Chicago or nationally, Sharp prepares the same way.

“I think when I do more prep, that's when I struggle on the air,” he said. “I feel like I do enough prep just by being the same hockey guy that I've been my entire life. I watch the games, I stay involved, I talk to some players that are still playing that are friends of mine. 

“I don't look at it as doing research and preparation; I just love the game and love being around it and watching different players and teams play. I feel like when I fill my head with stats and things that I want to say on the air, it never comes out quite the way I want it to. So my approach now is just stay on top of the league as best I can and let's go out there on TV and just have a conversation and talk some hockey.”

Patrick had plenty of opportunities to talk hockey and get in front of the camera while with the Blackhawks, which made the transition that much easier.

“I think playing for the Blackhawks all those years we had so many opportunities to do different things with the media. Whether it was those Winter Classic games, we had the cameras following us around every year it seemed for a month of the season; training camp was always answering questions and making up videos,” Sharp said.

“The preparation that I got with the Blackhawks, being a Blackhawk player, it prepared me for life in the media post-hockey. My last game was on a Saturday and I took the week and I had an opportunity to come in and talk with NBC on the following Monday and I did it and I'm glad I did because it's been a fun experience and I like working with that team at NBC.”

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SportsTalk Live Podcast: Discussing 2020 White Sox expectations

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Discussing 2020 White Sox expectations

SportsTalk Live is on location at McCormick Place to preview SoxFest 2020. Chuck Garfien and David Haugh join David Kaplan on the panel.

0:00 - White Sox manager Rick Renteria joins the guys to talk about the team's big offseason and the expectations for the 2020 season. He also talks about how the team with handle Michael Kopech (4:00) and what Dallas Keuchel brings to the rotation. (6:00) Plus, he explains how guys who turned the corner in 2019 like Lucas Giolito and Yoan Moncada can stay hot in 2020. (15:00)

17:00 - Steve Stone joins the guys to explain how the White Sox rebuild is going according to plan despite not landing one of the top free agents this winter. Plus, he updates his Twitter follower battle with Jason Benetti (23:00) and talks about how he would handle Michael Kopech's return. (25:30)

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below: