Garza: Cubs fans should show Soriano some respect

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Garza: Cubs fans should show Soriano some respect

The television cameras were peeling away from Matt Garzas locker late Monday night when he was asked a question about Alfonso Soriano.

Garza spit out almost 200 words in 68 seconds while defending his teammate. That shows you what they think of the 136 million man inside that clubhouse.

Some 48 hours after the boos rang out at Wrigley Field, there was no doubt about this one. Soriano hammered a ball 440 feet to straightaway center on the South Side.

The Cubs exploded for a 12-3 victory over the White Sox, and Garza got the win at U.S Cellular Field. But the hyperactive pitcher would much rather talk about Soriano, whos hit all 13 of his homers since May 15, while hobbling around on a bad left knee at the age of 36.

Hes played his tail off and that doesnt get as much respect as it deserves, Garza said. Hes a guy who freaking day in and day out, no matter whats going on with him, hes asking to be in that lineup. When hes not, hes pissed. Thats something the young guys need to look to. The guys a workhorse, man.

Hes going to give it all every time out. I get pissed off when the fans treat him the way they do. Thats ridiculous. The guys doing everything he can.

I love the guy to death, so Ill back him to the end. Hes a great dude (and) I love having him in the lineup. He cares so much about what he does and takes a lot of pride in his craft, and thats a lot of respect right there. He deserves a lot more respect from the fans than what hes getting.

Sorianos eight-year contract a win one for Tribune Co. indulgence that wasnt all on former general manager Jim Hendry remains a lightning rod for a 23-42 team.

All the anger and frustration came pouring out on Saturday night, when Soriano blasted a rocket line drive at Boston Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks.

Soriano stood at home plate with the bat in his hands while Middlebrooks dropped the ball and barely moved out of the box before the throw to first.

When you give somebody the amount of money they give him, fans expect him to be 28 forever, Garza said. Im sorry, but time catches up, and for this guy to still be doing what he does, thats amazing. Its outstanding.

Not a lot of guys deserve trying to keep doing what he does. Theres very few, and the few that do it, theyre well-respected, and this guy catches grief.

They need to stop seeing what they see and just look at the man himself.

For the record, Sorianos boss had no problem with that split-second reaction. Like a smooth politician, Cubs president Theo Epstein triangulated his position.

Its one of those things in baseball where its hard from the stands to see exactly what happened on a certain play, Epstein said. I like that our fans hold our players accountable, to play hard and play the game the right way. But I also think its going to be hard to sort of be on the right side of the line every time.

Our fans know, because theyve watched Sori play all year, that hes been hustling from Opening Day on, giving a great effort. So it was an unfortunate break, an unfortunate sort of natural reaction. I think if you asked our fans to grade out Soris hustle on a whole this year, he would get very high marks, as he would from us.

But theres little doubt that Epstein wouldnt mind chipping in to unload Sorianos contract, which runs through 2014 and still has more than 45 million remaining.

Soriano stretched and rode the bike to keep his body warm, again showing that he could be an intriguing designated hitter, the spot where hes batting .387 with seven homers in 23 career games.

Covered in sweat, Soriano was still wearing weightlifting gloves when he walked back toward his locker, the end of another day in the big leagues.

I feel great, Soriano said. Big win tonight for us. Im happy.

Recruiting news and notes: Jeff Thomas in no rush

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Recruiting news and notes: Jeff Thomas in no rush

East St. Louis senior four-star ranked wide receiver Jeff Thomas (5-foot-11, 170 pounds) put on a show in the Flyers' 34-3 win over Providence Catholic in New Lenox.

Thomas, who hauled in 5 catches for 170 yards and two touchdowns while also playing defensive back, is still uncommitted and doesn't seem to be in any hurry to make a college choice.

"Everything is the same," Thomas said. "It's all about my team and the season for right now."

Earlier this summer, Thomas listed his top schools as Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, Miami (Fla.), Michigan State and Missouri. Missouri just added a recent verbal commitment from East St Louis QB Rey Estes and the Tigers many feel could have an advantage in landing Thomas. Missouri has four former East St. Louis Flyers on its current roster.

Deerfield senior three-star ranked defensive end Joshua Maize (6-foot-4, 230 pounds) recently released his list of favorites schools which includes Toledo, UConn, Indiana, Central Michigan, Miami of Ohio and Ball State. Maize however has also been drawing heavy recruiting looks from several other BCS level schools including Purdue, Syracuse, Rutgers, Illinois and Penn State and those schools plan to re-evaluate Maize early this fall. Maize plans to make official visits before making a final college choice and recently said, "my recruiting process is still very open at this time."

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One position that is having rough recruiting ride in the Class of 2017? Quarterback. So far just three in-state Class of 2017 signal callers have given BCS level schools a verbal commitments including Jacob's Chris Katernick (Bowling Green), Marian Catholic's Cameron Thomas (Illinois) and Estes (Missouri). So far, the only FCS level in-state known verbal pledge comes from Hinsdale Central's Josh Bean (Columbia). 

This Thursday (Sept. 1st) is a big day in football recruiting circles for the Class of 2018. Thursday is the first day that prospects are allowed per the NCAA to receive recruiting materials (mail) along with unlimited electronic transmissions (text/instant/direct messages) from college coaches. 

"I've stayed in touch with a handful of college coaches and they all said that I would be hearing from them on Thursday," Lake Zurich junior inside linebacker Jack Sanborn said. "It's exciting to hear from those coaches along with hopefully some new schools as well."

Need proof that the recruiting process calendar is getting pushed up earlier and earlier? From my recently-released State of Illinois Class of 2017 Top 60 recruit rankings, 49 out of the 60 recruits have already given schools a verbal commitment. Out of the 11 uncommitted players, I would say nearly half of those players are being held up from giving a verbal commitment because of various academic questions/issues.

Injuries figure into Bears most recent roster cuts

Injuries figure into Bears most recent roster cuts

Health issues ran through the Bears’ most recent roster cuts that brought the player total to its required 75 by Tuesday.

Center Hroniss Grasu (knee) and quarterback Connor Shaw (leg) were played on injured reserve. Linebacker Roy Robertson-Harris, ill for much of training camp and forced to leave practice early Monday with sickness, was placed on the reserve/non-football injury list; and linebacker Lamin Barrow was waived/injured.

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Notre Dame linebacker Jarrett Grace also was waived.

The Bears must cut down to 53 players by Sunday night.

Notre Dame will approach Texas game thinking four arrested players will play

Notre Dame will approach Texas game thinking four arrested players will play

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Notre Dame will prepare for its season opener Sunday with the thought it’ll have linebacker Te’von Coney, running back Dexter Williams, cornerback Ashton White and receiver Kevin Stepherson available against Texas. 

Those four players were all formally charged with possession of marijuana in Fulton County on Monday, and Coney and Stepherson appeared in court and entered not guilty pleas on Tuesday. Safety Max Redfield, who was dismissed from the program two days after his arrest, was formally charged with possession of a handgun without a license and possession of marijuana, and pleaded not guilty to both charges. 

Senior cornerback Devin Butler, who was charged with resisting arrest and battery to a police officer last week, remains indefinitely suspended, coach Brian Kelly said. 

Coney, Williams, White and Stepherson have all been practicing with the team and Coney, Williams, and Stepherson are all listed on Notre Dame’s two-deep depth chart released Tuesday. Kelly said he has never suspended a player for a first-time marijuana offense, but noted that all four players still have to go through Notre Dame’s Office of Community Standards and could be subject to discipline from that process.

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"We're going to work as if they're going to play," Kelly said.

Kelly said the Office of Community Standards received reports on Tuesday and expects the process to begin soon, though doesn’t know if and when those players will be cleared. 

As for Redfield, Kelly said he was dismissed from the team because he was in possession of the handgun when those five players were pulled over on U.S. about 35 miles south of South Bend Aug. 19. 

“It was the handgun that was the gamechanger,” Kelly said.