Cubs

Toews returns as Blackhawks battle Kings

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Toews returns as Blackhawks battle Kings

Monday, Jan. 3, 2011
Posted: 1:04 p.m. Updated: 1:42 p.m.By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

Tonight's game can be seen on Versus starting at 8:00 p.m.
LOS ANGELES Jonathan Toews started to feel better the day after his sustained his right shoulder injury in St. Louis. Now, six days later, hes ready to play again.

Toews will start tonight when the Blackhawks play the Los Angeles Kings. The captain said this morning that hes not rushing back at all and has been happy with his healing since Tuesday.

From the first day until today, we saw progress every day, Toews said. Theres always that side of things that you want to push it to get back as fast as you can but I can honestly say that I dont feel like theres any risk coming back tonight. It feels really good. I hit the ice a couple times and I dont think I lost much. Hopefully Ill pick up where I left off.

His return not only gives the team a healthy lineup again, but it could also provide the boost during this three-game losing streak.

Its one of those big pieces youre missing in the lineup, said right wing Marian Hossa. Hes a leader so its a huge confidence boost when you get a player like that in the lineup. Everyones looking forward to having the captain back. But we cant expect him to win the game by himself. Everybody has to be better.

One area where Toews helps the Blackhawks immediately is in the faceoff circle. The team has struggled there and will welcome back his winning percentage of 59.6 is fifth best in the NHL.

Obviously hes good on faceoffs, and play all starts with winning the faceoff, getting the puck instead of us losing the draw and chasing right off the bat, defenseman Duncan Keith said. Obviously hes great at controlling the puck, so its great to have him back in the lineup.

Toews didnt foresee his injury hampering his faceoffs.

Most of that is mentality, he said. If you can find a way to forget about it, it shouldnt be a big deal. Itll be about being prepared tonight and hopefully getting off to a good start for faceoffs. We didnt do that well last night so as a team we want to do better tonight.

Corey Crawford will get his second consecutive start tonight in goal.

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.

Why Cubs might not lose again and other musings in strange, short season

Why Cubs might not lose again and other musings in strange, short season

As if things weren’t already going well enough for the Cubs during this strange, short season of baseball in a pandemic, now the baseball gods are dropping gifts into their laps.

The Cardinals’ lengthy shutdown because of a coronavirus outbreak has the Cubs’ arch rivals restarting their season Saturday in Chicago with a patched-up roster and eight games over the next five days, including five games against the Cubs.

And although that means the relative hardship of two doubleheaders for the Cubs in three days, all five of those games Monday through Wednesday are against a decimated Cards roster that won’t have the front end of its rotation for any of the games.

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They catch the Cardinals at their weakest point of the early season a week after catching an otherwise formidable Cleveland team at a moment of clubhouse crisis involving protocol perps Zach Plesac and Mike Clevinger.

That one resulted in a two-game sweep by a combined score of 14-3.

This one already has resulted in all 10 games against the Cardinals now being scheduled for Wrigley Field.

Combine that with the three road games against the White Sox next month, and it means that the team with baseball’s best record on the field, the perfect record in player COVID-19 testing and no significant injuries to key players so far will play 60 percent of its games within its Chicago bubble if the Cubs and MLB pull off the full 60-game season.

If the Cubs were positioned any better to make the playoffs, they’d already be there.

“You can look at it that way if you want,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “We’re just doing our thing.”

No other way to look at it from here. Have you seen the rest of the schedule?

The Cubs have 43 games left, including 29 within a National League Central Division that doesn’t include another .500 team three weeks into a nine-week season. Nine more games are against the Tigers and White Sox.

The best team on the schedule is the Twins, and all three of those games are at home and not until the second-to-last weekend of the season.

With all due respect to Ross and his fear of “bad juju,” the Cubs can’t lose.

“It’s still early on,” the manager said.

Nothing’s early in a 60-game season. And the Cubs already have matched the hot starts of their 2016 and 1908 World Series champions.

“We’ve still got a long ways to go in the season,” Ross said.

The Cubs did have to scratch Tyler Chatwood from his scheduled start Friday night because of back tightness. And Kris Bryant has missed the last two games because of a sore finger after rolling his wrist trying to make a diving catch in left field in Cleveland Wednesday.

But Alec Mills looked good in short-notice replacement duty Friday until a rough four-pitch (and three-run) sequence in the sixth. And Chatwood might be ready for one of Monday’s games — or possibly one of Wednesday’s.

“Things falling in our favor?” Ross said. “We’re playing good baseball, and that should be the focus for me and not the other stuff.”

Granted, they still have to play the games. Granted, Bryant wasn’t available off the bench with the bases loaded in the eighth Friday, and Josh Phegley struck out instead.

And, yes, they actually lost a game to the Brewers Friday night.

But if you still don’t believe the baseball gods are stirring the Cubs’ pot so far this season, you weren’t paying attention in the ninth inning when Craig Kimbrel struck out Avisail Garcia swinging at a 98-mph fastball to start the scoreless inning and Manny Piña swinging at a 96-mph fastball to end it.

What closer problem? Bring on the Cardinals, right?

These guys might not lose another game.

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Cubs' Colin Rea to start on Saturday, Tyler Chatwood possibly Monday

Cubs' Colin Rea to start on Saturday, Tyler Chatwood possibly Monday

The Cubs plan to start swingman Colin Rea on Saturday against the Brewers, manager David Ross said after Friday's game.

Alec Mills was originally slated to pitch Saturday but was bumped up to Friday because Tyler Chatwood was scratched with mid-back tightness. The Cubs will evaluate Chatwood to see if he's an option to pitch on Monday, when they're scheduled to play a doubleheader against the Cardinals.

Rea, 30, has made two appearances this season, allowing no runs and one hit while striking out three in three innings. He was named the 2019 Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Year, sporting a 3.95 ERA in 26 starts.

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Rea's last big league start was July 30, 2016 with the Marlins. He allowed one hit in 3 1/3 scoreless innings, striking out four with no walks.

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