Cubs

Word on the Street: Hawks sign prospect Olsen

Word on the Street: Hawks sign prospect Olsen

Saturday, Jan. 1, 2011
CSNChicago.com
Blackhawks ink prospect

The Blackhawks signed defenseman Dylan Olsen to a three-year, two-way contract on Saturday.

Olsen was the No. 28 pick of the 2009 draft for the Blackhawks. Olsen is currently a sophomore at University of Minnesota-Duluth. He has 12 assists in 17 games this season.

Olsen is playing for Canada in the 2011 World Junior Championships. (CSNChicago.com)

Weis to be named Florida's offensive coordinator

Reports came out Saturday that former Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis has agreed to become the new offensive coordinator at the University of Florida.

Someone, who spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because the move hasn't been formally announced, says it will be made public Monday.

Weis is expected to stay with the Kansas City Chiefs throughout the AFC playoffs. (Chicago Tribune)

Vikings sign Juaquin Iglesias off Bears' practice squad

According to an NFL source, the Vikings have signed WR Juaquin Iglesias off of the Bears' practice squad and on to their 53-man roster.

Today was the final day for teams to make a move and Iglesias will be on the Vikings' roster for their season finale in Detroit.

Iglesias was the 99th overall draft pick for the Bears in 2009 and spent the entire season on the practice squad.

With the loss of Iglesias, the Bears have now lost their top two picks of '09 draft. Second round pick Jarron Gilbert was released in August. (Chicago Tribune)
Bulls players hate day games?

Bulls players have complained that they don't like day games, and proved it on New Year's Eve by shooting 39 percent against the New Jersey Nets.

"We didn't start playing hard, really, until the end, guard Derrick Rose said after the contest. Usually, you're taking naps right now or getting ready, putting your clothes on, heading to the game. That's why it's the NBA. It's going to be a challenge.

Kurt Thomas added, "I've never been a morning person and I know that, You've just got to find a way to get yourself up and ready to go. Definitely for myself, it's tough getting a little bit older, but you just find a way."

The Bulls still survived the game, due in large part to Carlos Boozer's double-double. (Daily Herald)

White Sox eyeing Soriano

The White Sox seem to have interest in reliever Rafael Soriano, but they might not have enough cash left to pursue him.

Soriano is looking for Mariano Rivera type money. (30MM)

After losing closer Bobby Jenks to the Red Sox, the White Sox will need to free up some more cash if they want to be considered a legit suitor for the top closer on the market. (mlbtraderumors.com)

Why what Mike Montgomery did against LA could go a long way toward keeping him in the Cubs' rotation

6-19mikemontgomery.jpg
USA Today

Why what Mike Montgomery did against LA could go a long way toward keeping him in the Cubs' rotation

Joe Maddon needed Mike Montgomery to get through at least six innings given the circumstances presenting the Cubs' manager before Game 2 of Tuesday’s day-night doubleheader against the Los Angeles Dodgers. 

Not only were the Cubs short a man in the bullpen (thanks to Brandon Morrow’s pants-related back injury), but Maddon had to use four relievers — including Pedro Strop for two innings — after Tyler Chatwood managed only five innings in Game 1 earlier in the afternoon. 

So when Montgomery — who had only thrown over 100 pitches once in the last two and a half seasons before Tuesday — saw his pitch count sit at 40 after two innings, and then 63 after three, he knew he needed to regroup to avoid creating a mess for the Cubs’ bullpen. 

What followed was a start that, statistically, wasn’t the most impressive of the five Montgomery’s made since re-joining the Cubs’ rotation earlier this year. But it was an important start in that the 28-year-old left-hander didn’t have his best stuff, yet didn’t give in to a good Dodgers lineup. And holding that bunch to one run over six innings was exactly what the Cubs needed in what turned out to be a 2-1 extra-inning win. 

“Especially when you don’t have have your best stuff, you always gotta — that’s when you really learn how to pitch,” Montgomery said. 

It’s also the kind of start that could be a major point in Montgomery’s favor when Maddon is presented with a decision to make on his starting rotation whenever Yu Darvish comes off the disabled list. Knowing that Montgomery can grind his way through six innings when his team needs it the most without his best stuff only can add to the confidence the Cubs have in him. 

Montgomery didn’t have his best stuff on Tuesday, issuing more walks (four) than he had in his previous four starts (three). He threw 48 pitches between the second and third innings, and only 25 of those pitches were strikes. Of the nine times the Dodgers reached base against Montgomery, six were the result of fastballs either leading to a walk or a hit. 

Even though the Dodgers were able to bother Montgomery a bit on his fastball, Maddon said that’s the pitch of his that’s impressed him the most over the last few weeks. 

“He never got rushed,” Maddon said. “In the past he would seem to get rushed when things weren’t going well, when he spot-started. Overall, fastball command is better — even though he was off a little bit tonight, the fastball command still exceeds what I’ve seen in the past couple of years on a more consistent basis. The changeup, really, good pitch. He got out of some jams but I think the fact that he knows where his fastball is going now is the difference-maker for him.”

Darvish will throw a simulated game on Wednesday after throwing two bullpen sessions last week. Maddon still doesn’t have a timetable for the $126 million right-hander’s return, and said he’s not entertaining what to do with his rotation until Darvish comes off the disabled list. But Maddon did mention Montgomery’s relative lack of an innings load — the most he’s thrown in a season in 130 2/3, which he did in 2017 — as a reason to perhaps not rush him into a permanent starting role the rest of the season. Going to a six-man rotation is a possibility, too, Maddon said. 

But the over-arching point is this: Montgomery will remain in the Cubs’ rotation as long as he keeps earning it. That can be the product of strong outings in which he has good stuff, or games like Tuesday in which he shows the Cubs the kind of resiliency most starters need to get through a full season. 

“I pitch well, good things happen,” Montgomery said. “I’ve always thought that. Opportunities, you just gotta make the most of them.”

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 28th + 29th homers in 1998

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 28th + 29th homers in 1998

It's the 20th anniversary of the Summer of Sammy, when Sosa and Mark McGwire went toe-to-toe in one of the most exciting seasons in American sports history chasing after Roger Maris' home run record. All year, we're going to go homer-by-homer on Sosa's 66 longballs, with highlights and info about each. Enjoy.

For the second time in 1998, Sosa went back-to-back games with multiple home runs. After going yard twice on June 19 of that season, Slammin' Sammy again sent two balls into the bleachers on June 20.

He singlehandedly beat the Phillies that night, driving in 5 runs in a 9-4 Cubs victory.

But that wasn't the most impressive feat of the day from Sosa. His second homer was actually measured at a whopping 500 feet! It was the longest of the season, but not the longest of his career. On June 24, 2003, Sosa hit a homer at Wrigley measured at 511 feet.

The back-to-back big games raised Sosa's season OPS to 1.083 with a ridiculous .685 slugging percentage. He began June 1998 with a .608 slugging percentage.

Fun fact: Kerry Wood struck out 11 batters in 7.1 innings on June 20, 1998 to pick up his 7th big-league victory. As Wood marched to the National League Rookie of the Year that season, he finished with a 13-6 record and 233 strikeouts in only 166.2 innings for a career-high 12.6 K/9 rate.