Kane comfortable with switch to center

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Kane comfortable with switch to center

Patrick Kane said he enjoyed playing center this season, felt comfortable with it and played some of his best games there.

Thats good, because it sounds like the Blackhawks are figuring hes their No. 2 center moving forward.

The question of the Blackhawks needing a No. 2 center was asked quite a bit this season. But general manager Stan Bowman believes the team already has that in Kane. And he said that Kanes play there, either at No. 2 or at No. 1 when Jonathan Toews was absent, was a big reason why the Blackhawks got into the playoffs this season.

He carried our team the last month of the season, put us on his back and got us into the playoffs, Bowman said of Kane. We had tough times, we had gone through prolonged losing streak, the pressure was on and he stepped up to be our No. 1 center. The notion he cant play center or isnt good there has been dispelled. Not only did our team play well, he played well.

Coach Joel Quenneville announced it during a preseason game in Detroit that they would try Kane at center entering this season, and it was a surprise to hear. But theres no doubt that Kane handled the pressure of the position well. He and Marian Hossa built up good chemistry on a line together, and Kane had 24 points in his first 25 games at center.

So if hes back there again next season, and it certainly sounds like he will be, hes fine with that.

I come up the ice with a lot of speed in the middle, and its natural for me to do that anyway, Kane said today. When I was at wing I played like a center anyway, come back to get the puck and get up ice. Sometimes its exciting to play new positions, so it doesnt matter to me. When you look at this year, when the team was successful, I was at center.

So Kane will probably prepare for center, which will be a bit different than all the seasons he prepped for wing. Faceoffs were an issue Kane was around 42 percent this season. And Kane said he needs to get stronger overall.

Yeah, playing center obviously youre down low more, so I want to get stronger there. But it doesnt change much, Kane said. The biggest thing for me is, Im healthy going into this offseason. There are no problems; Im going right in and working on my body. Last summer I had surgery (on my wrist) and other problems. Now Im excited about just being healthy.

And the Blackhawks are apparently set in moving forward with Kane at center. Hes proven he can do it. Whether or not hes the full-time answer there is still the question.

White Sox instructor Luis Sierra to coach in 2017 World Baseball Classic

White Sox instructor Luis Sierra to coach in 2017 World Baseball Classic

Luis Sierra hopes to take another step next spring toward achieving his dream of being a major league manager when he coaches in the World Baseball Classic.

Sierra — who spent eight of 10 minor league seasons in the White Sox farm system — will return as a coach for Colombia after participating in the WBC qualifier last spring.

Colombia, which plays in Pool D in Miami along with the United States, Canada and Dominican Republic, is managed by Luis Urueta, a short-season field coordinator in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ farm system. Sierra, a pregame instructor in his second year for the White Sox, is Colombia’s first-base coach. The 29-year-old said the transition from player to coach hasn’t been too difficult.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

“It didn’t take too long and that’s what I do now and that’s my focus, just to help the guys and get better as a coach and as a person,” Sierra said. “It’s been a great experience so far. Still learning. Hopefully one day I’ll be a big league manager.”

Sierra, who was a catcher and an infielder in his professional career, hails from Barranquilla, which is also the home of White Sox pitcher Jose Quintana. The two live near each other and work out in the offseason. Quintana has expressed interest in pitching for Colombia during the 2017 WBC.

Cubs-Pirates game ends in a 1-1 tie

Cubs-Pirates game ends in a 1-1 tie

PITTSBURGH – This definitely felt like something out of spring training, with Thursday night’s game between the Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates suspended as rain kept pouring down on PNC Park, ending after five innings in a 1-1 tie.

Major League Baseball considered this an official game – its first tie since it happened to the Cincinnati Reds and Houston Astros on June 30, 2005 – and stats will still count after an 83-minute rain delay. But there is no need to make it up with the Cubs having already clinched the National League’s No. 1 seed and the Pirates eliminated from wild-card contention.

The last time the Cubs finished in a tie: a 2-2 five-inning draw with the Montreal Expos on May 28, 1993 at Wrigley Field.