Meet the newest member of the Mets' Hall of Fame

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Meet the newest member of the Mets' Hall of Fame

From Comcast SportsNet
NEW YORK (AP) -- There's always been something about John Franco that made him the quintessential New Yorker. Now, the feisty little lefty from Brooklyn is a member of the Mets' Hall of Fame. Once an All-Star closer and New York Mets captain, Franco was inducted during a 35-minute ceremony at Citi Field before Sunday night's game against St. Louis. Wiping tears from his eyes at the podium behind second base, he thanked just about everyone he could think of and said pitching for his boyhood team was a dream come true. "For those 14 years that I played here, I gave it my best," a smiling Franco told fans who arrived early for the festivities. "It wasn't always easy, and I'm sure I kept a lot of you on the edge of your seats. But I had it under control all the time." Franco's family, friends and several former teammates from the Mets and nearby St. John's University were on hand for his big night. Dressed in a sharp suit and orange tie, he walked in from the right-field bullpen to the song "Johnny Be Good" and waved to the crowd. He was presented with his Hall of Fame plaque, to be displayed alongside the others inside Citi Field's main entrance. The ceremony started with New York City Department of Sanitation bagpipers playing in left-center field. Franco's dad was a sanitation worker for nearly two decades and a union shop steward in Brooklyn. In a touching tribute, the reliever wore his late father's orange Department of Sanitation T-shirt under his uniform when he pitched for the Mets, and he got choked up Sunday night when talking about his parents. "The sanitation department was like my second family," Franco said. His salute featured a 2-minute video tribute and concluded with Franco throwing out the first pitch to son J.J., who wore his father's No. 45 Mets jersey. J.J. Franco was drafted by the Mets out of high school and just completed his sophomore season as a college infielder at Brown. "Second-team all-Ivy," his dad said proudly. Franco is the Mets' career leader in saves (276) and games pitched (695). He joined the team in 1990 after a trade from Cincinnati and stayed in New York until 2004, making him the second-longest tenured player in team history, behind Ed Kranepool. The four-time All-Star finished with 424 major league saves, fourth on the career list and the most by a left-hander. "Great changeup," said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, who faced Franco during their playing days. "Great competitor." Highlights of Franco's stint with the Mets include a World Series win and a 1.88 ERA in 15 postseason appearances. Twice he struck out home run king Barry Bonds in crucial situations during the 2000 NL playoffs, helping the Mets advance to a Subway Series won by the New York Yankees in five games. One of only three captains in Mets history, Franco became the 26th member of the team's Hall of Fame, joining such luminaries as Casey Stengel, Gil Hodges, Ralph Kiner, Tom Seaver, Gary Carter and Tug McGraw -- another lefty reliever with a bubbly personality who was Franco's favorite player as a kid. "To be on the wall with those guys, it means an awful lot to me," said Franco, now a club ambassador with the Mets. "It's humbling. I'm very honored." Some of those Hall of Famers were on the field for the ceremony, including ex-teammates Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry. "You deserve this as much as anybody," former Mets lefty Al Leiter told Franco, who pitched at the same Brooklyn high school (Lafayette) as Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax and team owner Fred Wilpon. Small for a pitcher at 5-foot-10, Franco was drafted in the fifth round by the Los Angeles Dodgers and beat the baseball odds to last 21 seasons in the majors. He did it with a crafty circle change and a fearless, fiery mindset on the mound. "You can't judge a person by his size, but you could judge em by the heart he has. And I have always had a big heart. Every time I went out there I gave 150 percent. It wasn't pretty at times," Franco said, "but I was under control and I knew what I was doing. And I enjoyed every minute of it, through the good times and the bad times." The surprising Mets are enjoying good times right now. Franco was in attendance with his son Friday night when Johan Santana pitched the franchise's first no-hitter and said it was "very, very satisfying" to see that. "I think the fans are starting to believe a little bit," Franco said before the ceremony. "It seems like there's something special going on here." When he stepped to the podium about two hours later, he told the crowd the same thing. "The 2012 Mets, they remind me of the 2000 Mets. Nobody gave us a chance at the beginning of the season," Franco said. "This team right now, with the leadership of David Wright and (manager) Terry Collins, watch out for those guys."

White Sox VP Kenny Williams: Hahn, Ventura handled Sale situation in 'excellent fashion'

White Sox VP Kenny Williams: Hahn, Ventura handled Sale situation in 'excellent fashion'

Kenny Williams doesn’t want the fallout from Chris Sale’s latest incident to drag out any longer.

The White Sox executive vice president said Tuesday he’d like to move on and thought going into detail on Sale’s comments about Robin Ventura or any other aspect of the incident that led to the pitcher’s suspension would be counterproductive.

Sale is in the third day of a five-game suspension imposed by the club for insubordination and destruction of team property after he destroyed the throwback jerseys they were set to wear on Saturday and was sent home early. On Monday, Sale told MLB.com that Ventura needed to stand up for his players when they objected to the 1976 unis.

“The one thing I can say is the way that Rick and Robin I think handled the situation, it was a difficult situation, certainly a unique situation, but one in which I think they handled in an excellent fashion,” said Williams, who was at an out-of-town event Saturday.

Sale defended his decision to destroy the uniforms, an act the Associated Press reported cost him $12,700 in fines as well as the suspension. Some players objected to last year’s throwback uniforms and the team altered them to make them more comfortable.

But Sale made it clear in spring training and again on Friday he didn’t wear them. He said wearing the throwbacks could hinder performance and thought it was a promotional stunt where the club put business in front of winning. Sale also disagreed with how Ventura, who sent him home early and scratched him from making a start, handled the situation.

[RELATED: Suspended Chris Sale will start Thursday against Cubs]

Robin is the one who has to fight for us in that department,” Sale said. “If the players don't feel comfortable 100 percent about what we are doing to win the game, and we have an easy fix -- it was as easy as hanging up another jersey and everyone was fine. For them to put business first over winning, that's when I lost it.”

Ventura didn’t directly address Sale’s comments on Tuesday in an effort to move on from the incident. Asked if he believed he and Sale can co-exist, Ventura said yes. He also said he didn’t think he would have handled the situation any different.

Sale previously ripped Williams endlessly in a 14-minute media session in March after Adam LaRoche abruptly retired over a dispute with management about how often his son Drake could be around the team. The White Sox declined to suspend Sale at that point, but didn’t hesitate to do so on Sunday. Hahn said Sale’s actions warranted the punishment.

Williams was asked if the organization would try to keep Sale on a tighter leash in the future. But rather than launch into a diatribe of his own, Williams suggested its better for all parties if they work through the scenario internally than have it play out in the media.

“You know me and I’m never one to shy away from a direct question,” Williams said. “But I’m more interested in moving on. Any further comment beyond what I said is counterproductive to all of that. At one point in my career, you probably would have gotten me to comment in a very different way.”

White Sox LHP Carlos Rodon ‘back on track’ after rehab start Monday

White Sox LHP Carlos Rodon ‘back on track’ after rehab start Monday

Carlos Rodon threw 58 pitches in a rehab start for Triple-A Charlotte on Monday and is optimistic he’ll return to the White Sox starting rotation soon. 

The 23-year-old left-hander was placed on the 15-day disabled list July 9 (retroactive to July 6) with a sprained left wrist, a bizarre injury he suffered when he slipped coming out of the White Sox dugout at U.S. Cellular Field before a game July 8 against the Atlanta Braves. He threw 3 2/3 innings yesterday in Louisville against the Cincinnati Reds’ Triple-A affiliate, allowing three runs (two earned) on five hits with two walks, three strikeouts and one home run.

More important than the results to Rodon, though, was how he felt in his first game in nearly three weeks. 

“I felt good,” Rodon said. “Back on track.”

The plan for Rodon is to throw again with the White Sox before returning to the team’s rotation, though. Manager Robin Ventura didn’t set a timetable but said the 2014 No. 3 overall pick is “headed in the right direction.”

[MORE: Suspended Chris Sale will start Thursday against Cubs]

The N.C. State product hit the disabled list earlier this month with a 4.50 ERA, 4.42 FIP and 91 strikeouts, 32 walks and 15 home runs over 92 innings. Once he returns, he’ll hope to hit the reset button on what’s been an up-and-down second year in the major leagues. 

Rodon said his goal was to throw 60 pitches on Monday, so he was only two pitches off from that mark. And when he returned to U.S. Cellular Field Tuesday, he remained encouraged with his recovery process. 

“Everything responded well,” Rodon said. “Just looking forward to this next start here.”

John Fox, Bears coaches balancing workload with injury risk as training camp convenes

John Fox, Bears coaches balancing workload with injury risk as training camp convenes

Bears players and coaches have been preparing for 2016 intermittently for the past several months. That said, the 2016 “season” effectively begins on Thursday with the Bears holding their first practice of training camp, one that will be open to the public even though players will work the first two days without pads.

From now until early next year, the Bears will have no more than one day off at a time, save the off-week leading up to no game on Nov. 6, and other than perhaps a bonus day off here and there, such as after the Thursday, Oct. 20 night game at Green Bay, after which coach John Fox may grant his team a couple added days off, depending on the performance in Green Bay.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

Pads come on for the first time since last Jan. 3 against the Detroit Lions as of Saturday’s practice. Thus begins the ongoing balancing act for coaches to maximize the amount of productive time within the parameters allowed under the collective bargaining agreement, all in the context of heat and conditions of contact.

“You’ve got to get your team ready for battle and you’ve got to make sure you’ve got guys ready to go to battle with,” Fox said. “So it’s a fine line, getting ready for football.”

The Bears already have had offseason injuries to guard Ted Larsen and wide receiver Marquess Wilson, in addition to a strained hamstring for rookie running back Jordan Howard and veterans like Pernell McPhee (knee) coming off surgery.

“It’s a combative game and injuries are part of it,” Fox said. “You’ve got to have some good fortune, and some good practice habits. That way you’re getting better and more physical, yet not to the point where you’re losing guys. Obviously with the reduction of our offseason and the things we used to do as coaches, I don’t think doing less of that is the right idea.”

[RELATED: Going to Bears Training Camp ’16 in Bourbonnais? Remember these four tips]

Training camp this year includes one of the shortest off-site stretches ever, with 10 sessions at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais and one at Soldier Field on Sat. Aug. 6.

Day, Date, Practice Time (CT)

Wednesday, July 27: Report day

Thursday, July 28: 9:35 a.m. practice (no pads)

Friday, July 29: 11:15 a.m. practice (no pads)

Saturday, July 30: 9:35 a.m. practice

Sunday, July 31: 11:15 a.m. practice

AUGUST

Day, Date, Practice Time (CT)

Monday, Aug. 1: 9:35 a.m. practice

Tuesday, Aug. 2: Off day

Wednesday, Aug. 3: 11:15 a.m. practice

Thursday, Aug. 4: 9:35 a.m. practice

Friday, Aug. 5: 11:15 a.m. practice

Saturday, Aug. 6: 12:30 p.m. Meijer Chicago Bears Family Fest (Soldier Field)

Sunday, Aug.7: Off day

Monday, Aug. 8: 11:15 a.m. practice

Tuesday, Aug. 9: 9:35 a.m. practice/final open practice

Wednesday, Aug. 10: Off day

Preseason Schedule:

Thursday, Aug. 11: Bears vs. Denver Broncos, 7 p.m.

Thursday,  Aug. 18: Bears at New England Patriots, 7 p.m.

Saturday, Aug. 27: Bears vs. Kansas City Chiefs, 12 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 1: Bears at Cleveland Browns, 7 p.m.