Cubs

World Series hero will start season on the DL?

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World Series hero will start season on the DL?

From Comcast SportsNet
JUPITER, Fla. (AP) -- Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter won't start opening day after a setback in his recovery from a bulging disk in his neck. The right-hander returned to St. Louis on Tuesday for tests. He threw live batting practice Sunday but didn't feel right the next day. "He looked really good and felt good; the next day he just didn't respond like we had hoped," manager Mike Matheny said Wednesday. "His shoulder is just not responding and they're uncertain of the root of it. That's what they're trying to get to with tests on the neck and shoulder and trying to figure out where it's all coming from." Kyle Lohse will start April 4 at Miami in his place. Lohse was 14-8 with a 3.39 ERA last season, leading the Cardinals in wins and ERA. "It's an honor," Lohse said. "But it comes meaning that Carp's not available -- that's the tough part about it. I wish it were under different circumstances, but I'm proud to take the ball on opening day." Righty Lance Lynn, a setup man, will take Carpenter's spot in the rotation. Lynn is 1-0 with a 1.64 ERA in 11 innings this spring. He made his second spring start Monday. The Cardinals now must replace Lynn in the bullpen. Carpenter, who turns 37 in April, has been limited in workouts since being diagnosed with the bulging disk March 3. The Cardinals had initially planned to limit his spring training work after Carpenter pitched 273 1-3 innings last season -- including playoffs -- the most in baseball. He had been scheduled to throw more live batting practice Wednesday. Matheny was guardedly optimistic after watching Carpenter throw Sunday, saying his ace looked great but wanting to be sure he woke up the next morning without any issues. He didn't. "He was the one trying to keep us all in check and not get too far ahead of himself," Matheny said. "As he finished I mentioned to him, I hope you feel as good as you look because you look really good.' That's what all of us saw. You can tell there's a little bit of hesitancy with him just not knowing how he would respond and that's what happened." Carpenter has had nerve-related issues that ended his 2004 and 2008 seasons prematurely and returned in 2010. "He's been fighting different things for a long time," Matheny said. "He's just so tough mentally; he's so tough physically. He just keeps fighting. This is another setback he's going to answer the bell too. He always has in the past."

Javier Báez joins Cubs All-Decade Team at second base, where El Mago was born

Javier Báez joins Cubs All-Decade Team at second base, where El Mago was born

With the 2010s coming to a close, NBC Sports Chicago is unveiling its Cubs All-Decade Team, highlighting the players who made the biggest impacts on the organization from 2010-19.

There may not be a player in baseball more exciting to watch than Javier Báez.

Whether at the plate, in the field or on the bases, Báez is a human highlight real. He’s one of the most powerful hitters in baseball; he has a cannon for an arm, exemplary defensive range and is a tagging maestro. He’s a dynamic baserunner who uses his elite baseball instincts to go station-to-station while magically avoiding tags along the way.

Yeah, there’s a reason Báez is known as “El Mago.” It’s not a matter of if he’ll make an incredible play each game, but a matter of when. Things come easy for the 27-year-old full of flair who makes the most difficult plays seem routine.

Báez is a career .270/.310/.484 hitter who’s hit 110 home runs in parts of six big-league seasons. One of those long balls came in his big-league debut (Aug. 5, 2014), a go-ahead blast against the Rockies in the 12th inning. The legend of El Mago was born.

Báez is the Cubs starting shortstop, though that hasn’t always been the case. Starlin Castro was the starter in 2014; Addison Russell claimed the title from Castro in the second half of 2015, holding it down until late in the 2018 season. Russell hit the injured list that August as the Cubs simultaneously acquired Daniel Murphy in an attempt to jump-start the offense.

By the time Russell returned, Báez was a clear-cut NL MVP candidate. The latter still bounced around the infield from time-to-time, but with Murphy entrenched at second, shortstop became Báez’s primary position. He’s been the starter ever since.

Báez has played 2,646 2/3 career innings at shortstop compared to 1,856 at second base (and 629 1/3 at third). He’s exclusively a shortstop these days, but the El Mago second base days aren’t forgotten.

Báez was the co-recipient of the 2016 NLCS MVP award (along with Jon Lester) and has started back-to-back All-Star Games (2018 at second, 2019 at shortstop). He was the runner-up for the 2018 NL MVP award, posting career highs across the board: .290/.326/.554, 34 homers, 111 RBIs, 129 OPS+.

And yet, it feels like Báez is only getting started. Nevertheless, his career to date has more than earned him a spot on our Cubs All-Decade Team at second base. With that, we'll leave you with this:

Adam Boqvist's entry-level contract with Blackhawks officially kicks in

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AP

Adam Boqvist's entry-level contract with Blackhawks officially kicks in

The youth movement is underway in Chicago and it's happening quicker than expected.

Adam Boqvist played in his 10th NHL game of the season on Sunday, officially triggering the first year of his entry-level contract. That means he will become a restricted free agent at end of the 2021-22 season. If he appeared in nine games or fewer, his contract wouldn't have kicked in until next season, which would've bought the Blackhawks an extra year of Boqvist playing at a cap hit of $894,167.

"Maybe that was a discussion very early on but as far as coach perspective, we like him," head coach Jeremy Colliton said on whether he and GM Stan Bowman had conversations about burning Boqvist's first year. "I think he's played well and it's an opportunity with some injuries to give him some ice time. He's handled it well so far."

Boqvist is the second rookie on the Blackhawks this season to burn their first year, joining No. 3 overall pick Kirby Dach. Whether the decisions were dictated by circumstances or not, the Blackhawks have seen enough of both of them to feel they can have an impact on the team in the short term without hindering their developments in the long term.

The number to watch now is 40. Like Dach, if Boqvist appears in 40 or more games this season, it will count as a full season and bring him one year closer to unrestricted free agency. Any player that's accrued seven full seasons or is at least 27 years old as of June 30 of that respective year can become an unrestricted free agent.

Boqvist appeared in six games for the Blackhawks during the month of November before getting reassigned to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League on Nov. 14 when Connor Murphy was ready to return from his groin injury.

But with Calvin de Haan (shoulder) expected to be out long term and Duncan Keith still out with a groin injury, the Blackhawks called up Boqvist for insurance and because they lacked defensemen with offensive upside. It appears he will remain with the big club for the time being and it serves as a chance for their No. 8 overall pick in 2018 to prove he can handle NHL minutes on a consistent basis during a desperate time for the Blackhawks.

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