Cutler enjoying post-Martz breath of fresh air

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Cutler enjoying post-Martz breath of fresh air

Their relationship was upbeat to start with in 2010. But by the time Jay Cutlers 2011 season was over, he and coordinator Mike Martz were having more scratchy moments than quarterback-coordinator should have been having.

Now Martz is gone and Jeremy Bates, a coach in Denver when Cutler was a Bronco, is handling the quarterback. And its a welcome change from the dogmatic Martz, apparently.

I think Jeremy has a really good feel of what I like to do and what I dont like to do, Cutler said Wednesday in the second days practice of organized team activities. Theres plays out here today that I told him, I dont like them. Lets think about getting rid of them. Hes fine with that.

Its a give and take. Thats a breath of fresh air around here, being able to give ideas and everyone giving ideas and lets pick the best ones that work for everybody.

Cutler had similar chafings with Ron Turner when the latter was the coordinator in 2009. Insiders said Turner took an active hand in nearly all position-group meetings and by the end of that season, the two were not in a good shared space.

Cutler is on his fourth different coordinator in five years, but this is the first repeater.

Were doing a little bit different stuff, Cutler said. Were carrying over some stuff from last year. So its kind of a mix between last year and Coach Tice and Jeremy just putting their heads together and finding the best answer for this football team.

Promotion affords White Sox Tommy Kahnle refresher course

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Promotion affords White Sox Tommy Kahnle refresher course

BALTIMORE -- It may only be a brief stopover, but Tommy Kahnle hopes to get the most out of his current tour with the White Sox.

Called up Thursday, the White Sox reliever could be sent back to Triple-A Charlotte as early as Sunday morning as closer David Robertson is expected to come off the bereavement list.

But Kahnle -- acquired from the Colorado Rockies in November -- not only has had a chance to show the White Sox what he has, he also is getting a quick refresher course from pitching coach Don Cooper. Cooper has worked with Kahnle to stand more upright in his delivery in hopes it will help him throw more strikes.

“It’s just stay tall on my backside because I tend to collapse a little bit and get a little erratic,” Kahnle said. “But overall, make a few adjustments and should be back on track.

“I had a few hiccups in spring and early in the season down in Triple-A. But overall I’ve been throwing well and just got to work on a few things and get better.

“Just get better and try to throw strikes. That’s always been my downfall.”

Kahnle made his 91st career appearance on Friday night. He walked two in a scoreless inning in a 6-3 loss to the Baltimore Orioles. Kahnle has always had a big arm, striking out 102 in 103 innings. But he also has walked 61 batters.

Cooper likes the chance to get some in-season maintenance with any of his pitchers.

“Sure it is because you get a look at what’s going on up here,” Cooper said. “We’re trying to get him to stay tall … that’s a work in progress. It looks like he’s a little better with the slide step.”

Kahnle would like to help out a deep bullpen again before the season is out.

Robertson left the team after he pitched a scoreless inning to close out Wednesday’s victory in Toronto to attend his father-in-law’s funeral. Daniel Webb joined the team on Wednesday and struck out three in a scoreless inning on Thursday. But Webb went on the 15-day disabled list with right elbow flexor inflammation and Kahnle got the call.

“Even if it’s just a few days, it’s good to be back up here and show them what I’ve got and if they need me again I’ll be ready,” Kahnle said.

After another draw, Fire head into difficult road trip

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After another draw, Fire head into difficult road trip

Saturday's 1-1 draw against D.C. United marked the end of the first part of the Chicago Fire's schedule.

The Fire had five of the first seven matches of the season at home. They went 1-2-2 in those matches. Throw in two draws in two road matches and the Fire have seven points through seven matches.

That start for a new coach and a rebuilding team isn't damning without full context. The Fire are only two points behind the playoff line in the Eastern Conference and entered the weekend having played fewer matches than every other team in the league. However, failing to win matches at home is a concern for the team's prospects ahead.

"We’ll take the point, but at the same time we’re at home," midfielder Arturo Alvarez said after the match. "We want to start winning games at home. We need to.”

Things will get much more difficult ahead. The next match at home will be on May 21 and the number of road games will soon even out.

After yet another off weekend upcoming, the Fire will play at Vancouver (May 11), at New England (May 14) and at the New York Red Bulls (May 18). Three straight road games in eight days and including cross country travel will be a stiff test for the team.

“Now that we’re going on the road and we haven’t gotten points at home, we have to win on the road or else we’re going to be (in trouble) here so we need to get the wins and we need to win a game on the road now,” midfielder Michael Stephens said.

Coach Veljko Paunovic called the draw a fair result. Campbell's goal was the only shot on target for the Fire. D.C. had only three shots on goal.

Paunovic preached patience while still wanting more from the team's results.

“No doubt that we wanted to win this game more than anything," Paunovic said. "We had the opportunity. It was there, but still we have to understand that we are a young team, a team in the process, which requires a lot of effort to win games. I’m happy with one point. Of course they also had good opportunities to win the game and I think that’s where we are at this point."

There's nothing wrong with a team with so many new parts taking time to develop and MLS playoff spots are not lost in May. However, the upcoming road trip could put the Fire in an early hole unless things get better quickly.

White Sox Avisail Garcia out but maybe not for long

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White Sox Avisail Garcia out but maybe not for long

BALTIMORE -- Early indications are that Avisail Garcia has avoided serious injury.

The White Sox outfielder may not play again until Tuesday with a right hamstring strain, but as of now he isn’t headed for the disabled list.

Garcia is out of action for Saturday’s game against the Baltimore Orioles and likely Sunday as well to rest a hamstring he tweaked on the final play of Friday’s loss. The White Sox also are off Monday, which would give Garcia three days to rest before he could potentially return at home against the Boston Red Sox. Jerry Sands is starting in Garcia’s place as the team’s designated hitter.

“It’s a little tight,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “I don’t think it’s a DL situation there, but he definitely did something going down the line there. Get Sandsy in there and stay away from Avi tonight and reassess it tomorrow. He seems confident it’s not going to linger too long.”

This is the second time Garcia has injured his hamstring in his career. He also suffered one in 2012 while at High-A Lakeland. Garcia tested his hamstring Saturday and determined he’d be out of action, though he feels better with early treatment.

“When I started running, I tried to put 100 percent, and then I started feeling it,” Garcia said. “When I jumped, that’s when I feel it the most. But it’s nothing serious. I feel a little bit pain, a little bit tight, but I can move my leg. I don’t want it to get worse. I just want to get the treatment today and tomorrow and we have a day off on Monday. So let’s see how I feel on Tuesday, hopefully ready though.”

The timing couldn’t be worse for Garcia, who had begun to find his stroke. Garcia has displayed more confidence on this trip than he has all season and had gone 8-for-18 with a double, triple, homer and four RBIs and two walks. The spurt has helped Garcia raise his average by 79 points to .214.

Ventura said he’s just glad the injury doesn’t seem too serious after three White Sox players hit the DL earlier in the week.

“You can’t plan for that stuff,” Ventura said. “It’s a good sign to see he’s swinging the bat and doing that. You just take care of him, get him healthy and keep back at it. You can’t ever plan, no matter what you just keep playing. For him it’s more confidence that he has of what he’s doing right now that he can keep.”