Only player to survive plane crash dies

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Only player to survive plane crash dies

From Comcast SportsNet Monday, September 12, 2011

MOSCOW (AP) -- The only member of a top Russian hockey team to survive a plane crash that killed 44 people died Monday of his injuries in a Moscow hospital, a final bitter blow to all those who mourned the team's loss.

The Vishnevsky hospital said 26-year-old Alexander Galimov died of the severe burns that covered about 90 percent of his body, despite the best efforts of doctors in its burn unit, considered one of the best in Russia.

The crash Wednesday of a chartered Yak-42 jet outside the western city of Yaroslavl took the lives of 28 players, two coaches and seven other staff of the local Lokomotiv Yaroslavl ice hockey club. The only other person to survive, flight crew member Alexander Sizov, remained in intensive care at Moscow's Sklifosovsky hospital.

Unlike many other members of Lokomotiv who were European Union citizens and once played in the NHL, Galimov was a native of Yaroslavl and a product of its youth program. His initial survival had inspired the entire city, where the team was a source of great pride.

At rallies following the crash, fans chanted "Galimov, live for the whole team!" and other slogans dedicated to him.

"All of Yaroslavl, all of the country, all of the world followed the doctors' words, believing, hoping, praying that he would defeat death and remain with us," Yaroslavl Gov. Sergei Vakhrukov said Monday.

The governor described Galimov, a forward, as a fan favorite who remained true to his home club for many years.

"He carried the team spirit of Lokomotiv and through his indomitable character often reversed the course of the most difficult games," Vakhrukov said.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev presided over a meeting Monday to decide the future of Lokomotiv Yaroslav. The team decided to pull out of the Kontinental Hockey League for a year while it rebuilds, but will bring up players from its farm system and compete in a lower league starting in December.

"We can't leave the city without hockey," Vsevolod Kukushkin, an adviser to the KHL, told The Associated Press. "It's a hockey city."

A memorial ceremony Saturday in the Lokomotiv ice arena drew an estimated 100,000 people, including Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

The crash, one of the worst ever aviation disasters in sports, shocked all of Russia and the international hockey community.

The team was heading to Minsk, Belarus, to play its opening game of the Kontinental Hockey League season when the plane crashed into the Volga River bank shortly after takeoff and burst into flames.

Russian aviation experts say they have come to no conclusions yet about the cause of the crash. The plane appeared to have trouble gaining altitude, but investigators say its flight data recorders showed that all three engines were operating up until the moment the plane crashed.

Aviation authorities have ordered safety checks on all the approximately 60 Yak-42 jets still in service in Russia, and grounded at least four of them.

Experts blame Russia's poor aviation safety record on an aging fleet, weak government controls, poor pilot training and a cost-cutting mentality.

Back with White Sox, Carlos Sanchez handled demotion well

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Back with White Sox, Carlos Sanchez handled demotion well

BALTIMORE -- He may have been disappointed when he was sent to Charlotte last month, but Carlos Sanchez hasn’t let it affect his play.

Sanchez’s play at Triple-A has been so good that he’s back with the White Sox, at least temporarily.

The White Sox promoted the middle infielder on Thursday after they placed closer David Robertson on the bereavement list. Sanchez, who appeared in 120 games for the White Sox last season, is hitting .309/.356/.469 with three home runs and nine RBIs in 89 plate appearances at Charlotte.

“It’s never a good feeling for a guy trying to make the team,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “He played well enough in spring training, but you make decisions based on what you need on the roster and it’s a tough one. But he’s always handled that well. Any time he’s gone down there he has gotten his work in.”

Sanchez said he tries to avoid looking at the big picture, which helps him remain focused on a daily basis. After they acquired Brett Lawrie and Todd Frazier in the offseason, the White Sox no longer had an everyday role for Sanchez, who spent most of last season at the starting second baseman. Because he’s only 23, the White Sox told Sanchez they wanted him to play every day and continue to improve. He has taken the message to heart.

“They don’t want to keep me here just to be on the bench,” Sanchez said. “They need me to play every day to keep developing my game, and I took it.

“I feel really good. My game is really good right now, so I’m just going to try to help the team. Whatever they need, I’m going to be there for my team.”

 

Cubs getting precautionary MRI on Kris Bryant's ankle

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Cubs getting precautionary MRI on Kris Bryant's ankle

While the big-picture injury concerns revolved around the pitching staff heading into this World Series-or-bust season, the Cubs have already lost one of their best hitters for the year (Kyle Schwarber) and just placed a two-time All-Star catcher on the disabled list (Miguel Montero). The 162-game schedule is a war of attrition. 

The Cubs framed the MRI on Kris Bryant’s right ankle as a precautionary move after pulling the National League’s reigning Rookie of the Year from Thursday’s 7-2 win over the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field.

Manager Joe Maddon said “I honestly don’t know” if Bryant will miss more time with what the Cubs initially described as a mild sprain. “I don’t even want to create conjecture. Let’s just see what happens. Let’s look at the test.” 

Brewers starter Taylor Jungmann (0-4, 9.15 ERA) drilled Bryant with two pitches that didn't appear to bother him that much. Bryant rolled his ankle while running the bases after a third-inning single and got replaced by Javier Baez in the fifth.

Bryant is hitting .289 and is second on the team in homers (four) and runs scored (17) and tied for second in RBI (15). He played in 151 out of 154 possible games after his Triple-A Iowa service-time detour to begin last season, delaying his free agency by a year. 

Beyond the power, Maddon views Bryant as one of the game’s best baserunners and a versatile defender who can move from third base to anywhere in the outfield. 

White Sox will be without closer David Robertson until Sunday

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White Sox will be without closer David Robertson until Sunday

BALTIMORE -- The White Sox feel like they’re in the best position possible to handle the temporary loss of David Robertson, who they’ll be without until Sunday.

The White Sox closer has been placed on the bereavement list to attend the funeral of his father-in-law, who passed away earlier this week after battling cancer.

Robertson -- who has eight saves in nine tries and a 0.87 ERA with 13 strikeouts in 10 1/3 innings this season -- closed out Wednesday night’s four-run win over the Toronto Blue Jays even though it wasn’t a save opportunity. He joined his family on Thursday, which allowed the White Sox time to promote both Daniel Webb and infielder Carlos Sanchez. Sanchez replaced Robertson on Thursday while Webb joined the team on Wednesday after Miguel Gonzalez was optioned back to Triple-A Charlotte.

“We knew a few days ago, so I thought he handled it great,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “As tough as the news is, he knew he was going to need three days. He was with us for a couple of days after he got the news. He pitched in a game and gave us the opportunity to kind of maneuver a little bit. For him to get through this, all the way around it was the best you could hope for.”

The White Sox have utilized a 13-man pitching staff for a big chunk of their current stretch, which includes 19 games in 19 days. But with an off day around the corner, the White Sox chose to go back to a 12-man staff and call upon Sanchez, who could be necessary if any of their four games against the Baltimore Orioles are rained out.

Though Nate Jones is a likely option at closer, Ventura didn’t commit to how he’d manage his ‘pen in Robertson’s absence. He also listed Matt Albers and Zach Duke as potential options. And, Zach Putnam and Jake Petricka have experience in the role dating back to the 2014 season.

Jones picked up his first career save during the team’s last homestand.

“We just talked about treating it just like any other inning, no matter who it is,” Jones said. “We have to close out the sixth, we have to close out the seventh. Even though it’s the final three outs of the game, it’s a little bit different. A lot of people put emphasis on it. But that’s what we’re going to try and do -- just treat it like it’s the whatever inning.”

The White Sox bullpen has been outstanding this season. The group leads the major leagues with a 1.32 ERA. Over the past nine games, White Sox relievers have only allowed two earned runs in 24 2/3 innings (0.73 ERA).

“Those guys have handled it as well as you can,” Ventura said. “They feel for Robby. In a lot of ways they want to help him out as well. Robby is a good teammate and part of this is being able to flow with it. I think these guys are going to step up. That’s what you do.”