Heard over the bar

Heard over the bar

Friday, May 21, 2010
1:32 AM

Hello again everybody! Whats the talk of the bar this week?

Is it the LeBron watch? I dont know about you but this is just starting and Im already near my saturation point. Mindless speculation drives me crazy, and anyone whos telling you that they know, doesnt have a clue. But, like Brett Favres annual retirement drama, people cant help themselves. I honestly do not think hes coming here, but I wear a red bow tie for a living. One thing his coming here would do is make Chicago the second most relevant basketball city in the country. Whether hes the missing piece is another thing. The one thing he has not had is a dominating post presence to play with and that has meant his coming up short in the playoffs every year. If he comes here, who is that guy? Noah? Honestly? Thats why as intriguing as it would be to have him here, I think the best move for the Bulls is to get Chris Bosh and a two-guard that can actually shoot, Joe Johnson if possible, but I would not mind that Ray Allen fellow either.

Is it the plummeting fortunes of the local starting nines? Talk about not playing to expectations. The pre-season Sox talk centered around the rotation and the new DH by committee. Hows that working out? The rotation for the ages has been anything but and I find that very surprising. Floyd I can understand. The reason he was traded here was the fact that despite dominating stuff, he doesnt seem to have the make-up to match. Buehrle and Peavy? 5-7 with a combined ERA of 5.30 is not what was expected of the co-aces. I guess you can feel better that they cant get any worse, can they? But more than that, can this team hit at all? Rios and Andruw Jones have been a pleasant surprise and Paulie is Paulie, but the rest? If this doesnt turn around soon, somebodys gonna have some splainin to do! And the Northsiders? Say this: theyre always interesting. Now that the Z to the bullpen farce has imploded, what next? The logical choice would be Dempster being moved back to the pen, but does that make sense for the rotation? One thing though, he would always do whats good for the team and take the ball every time you give it to him. At this point why not? And who would have thought that watching the Cubs hit would be this frustrating? (LOL!) Everybody, well everybody but two noticeable exceptions, hits fine until theres a man in scoring position, then its back to flailing away. I cant remember a team leaving so many guys on base, well since last year. New Cubs same as the old Cubs. And who is that guy in the Ramirez jersey? He looks absolutely lost. He cant get any wore, can he? Still plenty of time, but both teams seem to be a bunch of pieces that dont fit.

As much fun as all of that is, there is only one real topic at the bar, the continuing march of the Blackhawks. The fever-pitch here at the bar only gets more intense as the games go on. I love playoff hockey! I do miss booing Rebound-o Luongo, but, HE GONE! These guys have really proven to be road-warriors. 7 straight wins away from home in the playoffs is mind boggling and a huge reason why the locals should feel good about how this season is going to end. But they do have to play games at home in these last two series and if they dont play better than in the last 2 rounds, it could but a damper on that whole parade planning thing. My guess is that they will come up huge this weekend and enable themselves to get plenty of rest before the next step. The next step? Well, thanks to one of the coolest things that I have ever rooted for, the Flyers becoming only the 4th team ever, in any sport, to come back from a 3-0 series deficit, it could get a lot more interesting for the guy in a red bow tie. My rooting for the Hawks this year hasnt been a problem, since they only played the Flyers once during the regular season and theres no way that these two would ever meet for the Cup. Is there? Holy..cow! It could be, it might be Everyone at the bar is rooting for it. Me? I am too, but its with a lot of trepidation and realizing both teams still have a lot of work to do.

Still..

A couple of weeks ago Patrick Kane was in for dinner after a playoff game with his folks and he asked me what would happen if both teams made it to the Finals. Thats easy, I told him, My head would explode! Looks like we might need a clean up in aisle 9!

Willson Contreras showing why he belongs as big part of Cubs' plans

Willson Contreras showing why he belongs as big part of Cubs' plans

NEW YORK — Jeurys Familia schooled Willson Contreras, the New York Mets closer blowing the Cubs rookie away in the ninth inning on Thursday night at Citi Field with five pitches clocked between 96 and 98 mph.

Contreras fouled off one pitch in the middle of that at-bat but whiffed three times, striking out swinging with the bases loaded after Familia intentionally walked Anthony Rizzo, trying to protect a one-run lead.

“He learned a lesson,” manager Joe Maddon said of Contreras, replaying the end of that 4-3 loss against a closer who’s 27-for-27 in save chances this season. “Familia didn’t even throw one strike, I don’t think, among all those hitters, but his stuff moves that harshly. It’s really that good. I would like to believe the next time they see him, they might have a different approach.”

[MORE CUBS TALK: Cubs aren’t sweating loss to Mets or NLCS flashbacks]

That’s yet another reason why the Cubs don’t plan to send Contreras back to Triple-A Iowa, understanding how valuable he could become in October and beyond.

“He’s shown that he belongs here,” Maddon said. “He’s definitely shown that he can do this. (He’s saying): ‘I’m staying here. I’m not going anywhere.’”

There are looming roster decisions, with Adam Warren scheduled to make a spot start against the Cincinnati Reds next week at Wrigley Field after getting stretched out at Triple-A Iowa. Tommy La Stella (hamstring) could be activated from the disabled list as soon as this weekend. Dexter Fowler (hamstring) might not return to the lineup until after the All-Star break. The Cubs haven’t really given a timeline on Jorge Soler (hamstring).

But Contreras has already proven his versatility, moving to left field and first base while living up to his catcher-of-the-future label and hitting .325 (13-for-40) with three homers and 10 RBIs through his first 13 games in The Show.

[SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans!]

As long as Contreras continues to absorb the team’s game-planning system — and learn all the different personalities on this pitching staff — his rocket arm might also help the Cubs control the running game better than they did during last year’s National League Championship Series loss to the Mets.

“That was like the floor — to bring him up as a third catcher and get his feet wet, see how it goes,” president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said, “knowing that we could easily send him back down. But we always were transparent about leaving open the possibility that he might take off and hit the ground running. And he certainly has.

“No pun intended, he’s willed himself into this position. No decrees about this formally, but he’s obviously played himself into a position to take on real responsibility and help the team win. He’s earned his spot on the team.”

Blackhawks agree to terms with Spencer Abbott on one-year deal

Blackhawks agree to terms with Spencer Abbott on one-year deal

The Blackhawks have agreed to terms with forward Spencer Abbott on a one-year deal, the team announced Friday.

The 28-year-old winger scored 14 goals and 21 assists in 42 games last season with the Frolunda Indians of the Swedish Hockey League. He also tallied one assist in nine postseason games.

Abbott is familiar with the Blackhawks organization, spending some time during the 2014-15 season with the Rockford IceHogs, where he appeared in 19 games and registered 12 goals and nine assists. He also recorded three goals and three assists in eight playoff games.

Abbott will likely begin the season in Rockford, but gives the Blackhawks some depth up front at a low cost.

Injury Report: Dexter Fowler close to return; Sox lose another while making debut

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USA Today Sports Images

Injury Report: Dexter Fowler close to return; Sox lose another while making debut

Each week, CSNChicago.com takes a look at the injury report from both the Cubs and White Sox, presented by Service King.

CUBS

Dexter Fowler (hamstring) is due to come off the disabled list early next week and the Cubs initially believed he may not even need a rehab stint, so he could make his return atop the Cubs lineup on the upcoming homestand. That is, however, if he's OK after getting drilled by a slugging toddler.

Jorge Soler (hamstring) traveled with the Cubs to New York and there is still no timetable for his return or when he would head out on a rehab assignment. He is participating in batting practice and has been seen taking some grounders in the field.

Tommy La Stella (hamstring) and Clayton Richard (finger) are both currently on rehab assignments with Triple-A Iowa and both guys could be back with the big-league club soon. However, the Cubs may leave Richard in the minors for a little while to figure out his struggles (7.30 in 22 games with Chicago).

WHITE SOX

The White Sox are having terrible luck with players making their debut this season.

Matt Davidson’s first game with the White Sox on Thursday started off great, recording an RBI-single in his second plate appearance. But it didn’t end well. Davidson suffered a broken right foot while rounding the bases trying to advance on a J.B. Shuck double. The White Sox recalled Carlos Sanchez on Friday to replace Davidson.

Melky Cabrera has missed a few games and will miss few more with a right wrist sprain. Cabrera left Saturday’s game after rolling his wrist diving for a fly ball, but X-rays came up negative.

Justin Morneau continues to progress from his elbow surgery he had back in December. If things go as planned, he could begin a rehab assignment next week. The White Sox veteran is traveling with the team this weekend to Houston and will re-evaluate at the end of the series.

Zach Putnam was placed on the 15-day disabled list on June 21 with ulnar neuritis in his right elbow. Putnam has a pair of options: surgery (two types) or rehab. The White Sox reliever is hoping to avoid any sort of surgery, which would effectively end his season. For now, Putnam will continue to rest his arm and let the inflammation decrease. He will travel with the team to Houston and could attempt to play catch soon.