Blackhawks

Word on the Street: Baker fears Cubs in Central

Word on the Street: Baker fears Cubs in Central

Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2011CSNChicago.com
Baker fears Cubs in NL Central

After a disappointing 2010 campaign many people remain skeptical about the team's chances in 2011, even with the aquisition of a top-of-the-rotation pitcher in Matt Garza. Reds manager Dusty Baker is not one of those people.

Baker believes that the Cubs will be right in the thick of what he predicts to be a wide-open NL Central race this year.

"Our division is tougher. The Cubs are better, they have picked up some pitching, and they've got some healthy pitching coming back, and they have some new players," Baker said. "Our division is going to be one of the tougher divisions. Seems like whoever was trading somebody was trading to our division. It's going to be a tough fight; it's going to be a tough division. But, hey, that's what it's all about." (ChicagoBreakingSports)

Hawks punished at practice

If there was any question as to how Blackhawks' coach Joel Quennenville felt about his team's level of play on Monday night in Calgary, it was erased at Tuesday's practice. Quennenville put his team through an intense 45-minute practice today - "punishment" for their poor effort in Monday's 3-1 loss to the Flames.

Last nights a good example. You get what you deserve, coach Joel Quenneville said of the missing competitive level. Youve got to play hard every night. With Vancouver, the way you play, even though you lost, you still have to come out again like that. (Monday night) was one of the biggest (games) of the year, the importance of it all and it was disappointing. We didnt handle it the way we shouldve. (CSNChicago)
LakersNuggets in talks for Anthony

As the NBA trade deadline creeps closer and closer, another potential suitor for Nuggets star Carmelo Anthony has come to out of the woodwork. The Los Angeles Lakers are now reported to have begun "preliminary" talks into a deal involving Anthony.

It has been speculated that the deal would revolve around the often-injured Lakers center Andrew Bynum. However, there were also some reports indicating that the Lakers would be unwilling to trade Bynum. (All Headline News)

Pujols deadline is Feb. 16

It was reported last month that Albert Pujols gave the Cardinals a spring training deadline to work out a contract extension. It was assumed that Pujols meant Feb. 19, the day he was expected to report to the Cardinals' spring training facility. As it turns out, though, he will be reporting three days earlier than was originally thought - Feb. 16.

However minor, this three day jump in his deadline is interesting because the Cardinals have still yet to make Pujols a contract offer, and now they have three fewer days than they might have previously assumed. (MSNBC)

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Reacting to Round 1 of NHL Draft

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Reacting to Round 1 of NHL Draft

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle and Charlie Roumeliotis recap Round 1 of the 2018 NHL Draft.

They discuss the pair of puck-carrying defensemen that the Blackhawks selected on Friday, Adam Boqvist and Nicolas Beaudin. When can we expect to see these first-round picks play in the NHL?

Boyle also goes 1-on-1 with Boqvist and Beaudin. The guys spoke with Stan Bowman and Joel Quenneville on Friday.

The guys also share their biggest takeaways from those interviews, which includes your daily Corey Crawford update and Quenneville appeared excited that the team has plenty of cap space to spend in free agency.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

It's only one start, but that's the Lucas Giolito that White Sox fans expected to see this season

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USA TODAY

It's only one start, but that's the Lucas Giolito that White Sox fans expected to see this season

The preseason expectations and the results have been drastically different for Lucas Giolito.

Expected to be the best pitcher on the White Sox starting staff, Giolito hasn’t come too close to that title, instead heading into Friday’s doubleheader with the most earned runs allowed of any pitcher in baseball. His walk total has been among the highest in the game all year long, too. And the calls from social media to send him down to Triple-A haven’t been at all infrequent.

But Friday, White Sox fans got a glimpse at what they expected, a look at the guy who earned so much hype with a strong September last season and a dominant spring training.

It wasn’t a performance that would make any reasonable baseball person’s jaw drop. But it was the best Giolito has looked this season. He still allowed four runs on seven hits — as mentioned, not a Cy Young type outing — but he struck out a season-high eight batters. Prior to giving up the back-to-back singles to start the eighth inning that brought an end to his evening, he’d surrendered just two runs.

Most importantly he walked just two guys and didn’t seem to struggle with his command at all. That’s a big deal for a pitcher who had 45 walks to his name prior to Friday.

“You know it was a tough eighth inning, but throughout the whole game, I felt in sync,” Giolito said. “(Catcher Omar Narvaez) and I were working really well, finally commanding the fastball the way I should. Definitely the best I felt out there this year, for sure. Velocity was up a tick. Just felt right, felt in sync. Just competed from there.”

Confidence has never left Giolito throughout the poor results, and he’s talked after every start about getting back on the horse and giving it another try. Consistently working in between starts, things finally seemed to click Friday night.

“It all worked today,” manager Rick Renteria said. “(Pitching coach Don Cooper) says that every bullpen has gotten better, from the beginning to this point. He sees progress. The velocity that he showed today was something that Coop was seeing in his work. You can see that his delivery is continuing to improve. He was trusting himself, really attacking the strike zone, trusted his breaking ball today when he need to and just tried to command as much as he could. Did a nice job.”

Giolito went through this kind of thing last year, when he started off poorly at Triple-A Charlotte with a 5.40 ERA through his first 16 starts. But then things got better, with Giolito posting a 2.78 ERA over his final eight starts with the Knights before getting called up to the big leagues.

This was just one start, of course, but perhaps he can follow a similar formula this year, too, going from a rough beginning to figuring things out.

“I’m not trying to tinker or think about mechanics anymore,” he said. “It’s about flow, getting out there and making pitches. We were able to do that for the most part.

“I’ll watch video and see certain things, and I have little cues here and there. But I’m not going to go and overanalyze things and nitpick at certain stuff anymore. It’s about going there and having fun and competing.”

Maybe that’s the secret. Or maybe this is simply a brief flash of brilliance in the middle of a tough first full season in the bigs.

Whatever it was, it was the best we’ve seen of Giolito during the 2018 campaign. And it was far more like what was expected back before that campaign got going.