MVP favorite might be out for a month

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MVP favorite might be out for a month

From Comcast SportsNet
CINCINNATI (AP) -- Reds first baseman Joey Votto will have surgery to repair torn cartilage in his left knee, leaving the NL Central leaders without their best hitter for the next three to four weeks. The 2010 National League MVP hurt the knee while sliding into third base June 29 in San Francisco, but has continued playing. Votto started for the NL in the All-Star game last Tuesday. A medical exam Monday night detected the tear and Votto will have arthroscopic surgery on Tuesday. General manager Walt Jocketty said Votto didn't have an MRI earlier because the first baseman didn't think he needed one. "He didn't request it until then," Jocketty said. "He said it wasn't a problem until the last couple of days." Votto decided to have the surgery. Jocketty said it's a simple procedure that takes only 20 to 30 minutes. "It is in my best interest and in the best interest of the team to do it now so that I can be healthy during the last two months of the pennant race," Votto said in a statement. Votto is batting .342 with 14 homers and 49 RBIs. He leads the NL in doubles, walks, on-base percentage and extra-base hits. "We'll see what we can do internally, initially," Jocketty said. "But it's going to be difficult to replace Joey Votto." He went hitless in his first two games back from the All-Star game then had a single and an RBI double during a 4-2 win over St. Louis on Sunday night that moved the Reds into sole possession of first place in the NL Central. The Reds didn't immediately make a move to replace him on the roster. Cincinnati has been in first place for 46 days because of its pitching and the NL's top defense. The Reds have used only five starters, a modern franchise record this deep into the season, and their bullpen is the best in the league. The offense has struggled, ranking in the middle of the league, and the loss of Votto costs the team its most consistent hitter. Votto was named MVP after the Reds' run to the NL Central title in 2010, but Cincinnati got swept by Philadelphia in the first round of the playoffs. He received a 10-year contract extension before the start of this season that added 225 million to his deal. Now, the Reds will find out just how much he means to the franchise. They lost their first game without him, 5-3 to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday night. "He's an MVP, a Gold Glover. What more can you ask in a guy?" said Todd Frazier, who filled in at first base. "Injuries are huge in baseball. He's got that presence. Whenever he is out there, he can do damage." Reds starter Bronson Arroyo saw Votto shortly before the game and got the bad news directly. "He looked funny," said Arroyo, who lasted only three innings. "I said, Are you playing?' He said, No, I need surgery.' At this time of year, if we can keep pressure on the other teams in our division and stay in the race -- if we can weather the storm -- he could give us a lift when he comes back." Instead of having a mainstay at first base and the No. 3 spot in the order, manager Dusty Baker will have to get creative. There's no obvious replacement on the roster or in the minors. Baker's first inclination was to have Frazier, who is Scott Rolen's backup at third base, play more at first. "That's a good possibility," Baker said. "He'll play some third, some first. (Miguel Cairo) will play some first. He's an outstanding first baseman. We'll mix and match depending on offensive and defensive matchups." The challenge is to stay in contention until he gets back. "We've got the guys who can do it," right fielder Jay Bruce said. "The pressure's on, but we've got to step up. I'm confident that we have those guys on the team. "Look at the Dodgers. They lost Matt Kemp, but they weathered the storm. It's early enough that we can weather the storm."

White Sox win in walk-off fashion yet again, top Cubs 5-4

White Sox win in walk-off fashion yet again, top Cubs 5-4

The White Sox found yet another way to survive on Monday night.

Shortly after a second straight blown save, Tyler Saladino singled with one out in the ninth inning to lift the White Sox to a 5-4 victory over the Cubs in front of 39,510 at U.S. Cellular Field. Saladino’s heroics sent the White Sox to their third straight walk-off victory and second in a row when the bullpen blew a ninth-inning lead. The White Sox improved to 49-50.

With Nate Jones and David Robertson unavailable and the group only two days removed from a start-by-committee after Chris Sale was scratched, Matt Albers and Dan Jennings allowed two runs and five hits during a ninth-inning rally.

Jones had pitched five times in six days. Robertson threw three times in a span of 18 hours between Saturday and Sunday. So even though he’d already made 12 pitches and pitched three of the previous four games, Albers returned to the mound in the ninth to preserve a two-run lead. The Cubs took advantage as Javy Baez, who earlier homered, doubled, stole third and scored on Dexter Fowler’s RBI single. Fowler went to third as Kris Bryant singled and was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double. Jennings took over and got ahead of Anthony Rizzo, but he singled past a drawn-in infield to tie the score. The left-hander gave up another single but struck out Jason Heyward to strand the winning run at second.

That proved critical as J.B. Shuck led off the ninth inning with a single off Mike Montgomery and moved up on a Dioner Navarro sac bunt. Saladino then singled on 0-2 pitch and Matt Szczur couldn’t handle the ball, allowing Shuck to score the winning run.

Aided by his defense early, Miguel Gonzalez managed to pitch out of several jams throughout the night to keep the Cubs wrapped up. It was yet another strong outing from the right-hander who was signed as a minor-league free agent on the eve of the season after he was waived by the Baltimore Orioles.

Melky Cabrera made a spectacular catch to rob Kris Bryant of a homer in the first inning and he and Tyler Saladino combined to throw out Javy Baez at home plate to end the third.

But Gonzalez did much of the rest on his own, including twice retiring Addison Russell with men in scoring position. Russell batted with two on in the fourth inning after a walk and a Frazier error and grounded out to second. Two innings later, Gonzalez struck out Russell after Jason Heyward doubled Willson Contreras over to third with two outs.

Even though he surrendered a two-run homer to Baez in the seventh, Gonzalez bounced back for two critical outs as he retired Dexter Fowler and Bryant. The strikeout of Bryant matched a season-high for Gonzalez, who also fanned eight on May 21 against Kansas City.

Gonzalez allowed two earned runs and seven hits in 6 2/3 innings with two walks. He threw strikes on 66 of 104 pitches and lowered his July ERA to 3.03 in 32 2/3 innings.

The White Sox offense struck first against Jake Arrieta. Saladino provided the team its first hit with a one-out double to left. Adam Eaton took immediate advantage as he singled off Arrieta to give the White Sox a 1-0 lead.

Arrieta settled in from there and retired nine of the next 10 batters into the sixth inning. But Tim Anderson changed it all with a 10-pitch strikeout to start the sixth inning as the White Sox made Arrieta go to work. Cabrera drew a six-pitch walk with one out and Jose Abreu singled on the 21st pitch of the inning. Arrieta struck out Justin Morneau but Frazier didn’t let him off the hook as he ripped his 29th pitch, a slider, for a three-run homer to center and a 4-0 lead. Arrieta -- who allowed four earned runs in six innings -- threw 37 pitches in the sixth. 

Cubs dig up more late-inning magic, but can't close out White Sox

Cubs dig up more late-inning magic, but can't close out White Sox

For the second day in a row, Anthony Rizzo put the Cubs on his back.

But this time, the result wasn't a win for his team.

The National League MVP frontrunner tied the game in the ninth inning, lifting a two-strike single into left field to score Dexter Fowler.

But Cubs reliever Mike Montgomery couldn't hold on, letting the winning run strut in on a walk-off single from Tyler Saladino in a 5-4 White Sox victory in front of 39,510 fans at U.S. Cellular Field Monday night.

The Cubs trailed all game as the White Sox touched up Jake Arrieta for a run in the third and then Todd Frazier drilled a three-run shot into center field with two outs in the sixth.

[RELATED: Cubs make business decision to look past Chapman's domestic violence suspension]

Javy Baez immediately cut that Sox lead in half with a two-run shot in the top of the seventh after Miguel Montero's double.

Baez later started the rally in the ninth with a double down the right field line before promptly stealing third and then scoring on Dexter Fowler's single off Jose Abreu's glove.

Fowler advanced to third on Kris Bryant's single, but Bryant was thrown out trying to stretch his hit into a double, setting the stage for Rizzo's temporary heroics.

In the bottom of the ninth, Montgomery allowed a leadoff single to J.B. Shuck, who moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. Saladino then came through with a single up the middle, which Matt Szczur bobbled, ensuring there was no play at the plate.

Cubs make business decision to look beyond Aroldis Chapman’s domestic violence suspension

Cubs make business decision to look beyond Aroldis Chapman’s domestic violence suspension

Within three minutes of the press release officially announcing the Aroldis Chapman trade with the New York Yankees on Monday afternoon, the Cubs sent another e-mail to their media distribution list, issuing statements from the superstar closer and chairman Tom Ricketts that didn’t really say much about the business decision to look beyond a domestic violence suspension.

But the Chapman rollout had to address an ugly incident from his personal history, how the Yankees acquired him over the winter from the Cincinnati Reds at such a discount, but didn’t deploy him in a real game until May 9.

That’s why president of baseball operations Theo Epstein answered questions for more than 33 minutes, sitting in U.S. Cellular Field’s visiting dugout before a crosstown game against the White Sox, trying to explain the due diligence, moral calculus and win-now mentality.

“I don’t feel like we compromised integrity in making this move,” Epstein said. “We approached it as thoroughly as we did – and gave it as much careful consideration as we did and had a genuine debate about it for weeks – because we wanted to make sure we preserve our integrity as an organization.”

Chapman released statements in English and Spanish, thanking the Yankees for “trusting and supporting me” and acknowledging the 30-game punishment he served this season after a domestic dispute inside his South Florida home on Oct. 30, 2015, becoming a test case for Major League Baseball’s new policy.

Chapman was accused of choking his girlfriend and reportedly fired eight gunshots inside his garage, though the Broward County State Attorney’s Office ultimately decided to not file criminal charges.

“I regret that I did not exercise better judgment,” Chapman said, “and for that I am truly sorry. Looking back, I feel I have learned from this matter and have grown as a person. My girlfriend and I have worked hard to strengthen our relationship, to raise our daughter together and would appreciate the opportunity to move forward without revisiting an event we consider part of our past.

“Out of respect for my family, I will not comment any further on this matter.”

[MORE: Cubs send win-now message with blockbuster trade for Aroldis Chapman]

Chapman is expected to join the team on Tuesday and face the media on the South Side. MLB allowed Epstein and Ricketts – who had already consulted with commissioner Rob Manfred – to speak with Chapman over the phone on Monday before the Cubs and Yankees formalized the trade.

“I shared with him the high expectations we set for our players and staff both on and off the field,” Ricketts said. “Aroldis indicated he is comfortable with meeting those expectations.”

Of course, Chapman would be on his best behavior in a contract year – and will be highly motivated in his final months before cashing in as a free agent – but he impressed people around the Yankees with his demeanor, dominant performances and ability to handle New York.

“We’re going to welcome him in here with open arms,” said catcher David Ross, who got a glowing scouting report on Chapman from Yankee leader/good friend Brian McCann. “I don’t like to prejudge guys on their past.

“We’re excited to get him and give him a clean slate. Hopefully, he has a phenomenal time here in Chicago.”

[RELATED: How Joe Maddon plans to unleash Chapman on Cubs bullpen]

If the Cubs didn’t acquire Chapman, they feared he might have landed with a contender like the Washington Nationals or San Francisco Giants and blown their hitters away in October with 105-mph fastballs. This became the point in the Wrigleyville rebuild to take the risk – and maybe tone down some of the rhetoric about how the Cubs do things “The Right Way” and are such great neighbors and so family friendly.

“Those of you who have been around us for five years know that character is a major consideration in every transaction we make,” Epstein said. “That’s why we spent so much time investigating and talking to him. In fact, I have never believed more strongly in the character that we have in this clubhouse and at our core as an organization.

“I think that allows us to maybe be that forum for players who’ve been through some things and are looking to grow. He was granted a second chance by Major League Baseball and by the Yankees.

“With our culture – and the guys we have in there – maybe we’re good for him to continue that process. We are not sacrificing our integrity in any way or compromising or completely turning our back on (what we believe). I understand that people are going to see it different ways (and) I respect that.”

This is business, and this transaction will be judged on whether or not the Cubs win the World Series this year.

“I cannot wait to take the mound at Wrigley Field,” Chapman said, “and look forward to helping my teammates deliver a championship to Chicago.”