Chicago Cubs

CSN to carry two-straight hours of live "2017 Cubs Convention" opening night coverage on Friday, January 13 beginning at 5p

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CSN to carry two-straight hours of live "2017 Cubs Convention" opening night coverage on Friday, January 13 beginning at 5p

5:00 PM on CSN & CSN+ -- Special edition of “SportsTalk Live” from Cubs Convention - hosted by David Kaplan, featuring a panel of Cubs experts, and specials guests!

5:30 PM on CSN+ & CSNChicago.com -- 90-minute LIVE Cubs Convention “Opening Ceremonies” coverage - hosted by David Kaplan, featuring CSN Cubs beat reporter Kelly Crull and CSNChicago.com Cubs “Insider” Patrick Mooney, along with live interviews with numerous Cubs players, coaches, and front office execs!

Complete Convention coverage throughout the weekend on CSNChicago.com’s ‘CubsTalk’ section via reports from Kaplan, Crull, Mooney, and Cubs digital reporter Tony Andracki, which will include even more player/coaches/front office interviews, along with panel discussion highlights and much more!

Social media highlights on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat to include the latest Convention news, live streaming segments, and special CSN prize giveaway details! 

Chicago, IL (January 10, 2017) – CSN Chicago (CSN), the television home for the most games and the most comprehensive coverage of the 2016 WORLD SERIES CHAMPION CHICAGO CUBS, is ready to start up the highly-anticipated 2017 season in a big way with TWO-STRAIGHT HOURS of live Opening Night coverage from the “2017 Cubs Convention,” which is being held downtown this weekend (January 13-15) at the Sheraton Grand Chicago.

On Friday, January 13 beginning at 5:00 PM CT on CSN & CSN+, the network’s live coverage of the 2017 Cubs Convention begins with a special remote edition of SportsTalk Live presented by The Chevy Silverado, which will take place on the floor of the convention center.  This special edition of SportsTalk Live will feature host David Kaplan and a panel of Cubs baseball experts discussing the team’s historic 2016 World Series Championship season, all the off-season moves and acquisitions, along with the key factors needed for a championship repeat in 2017.  In addition, special guest interviews are also scheduled during the show.

Then, starting at 5:30 PM on CSN+ & CSNChicago.com, viewers can look forward to every thrill-packed moment of the convention’s Opening Ceremonies featuring introductions of Cubs players/coaches/front office executives, World Series celebratory video montages, and much more.  CSN’s 2017 Cubs Convention Opening Ceremonies coverage will be hosted by Cubs Pre/Post Game Live host David Kaplan, featuring reports from CSN Cubs beat reporter Kelly Crull and CSNChicago.com Cubs “Insider” Patrick Mooney, along with live interviews with Cubs players, coaches, and team VIPs.

NOTES: CSN+ is available in high-definition on Comcast/Xfinity ch. 201 in the Chicago area/South Bend, IN & on Comcast/Xfinity ch. 285 in the Peoria, Springfield, Rockford and Champaign markets, along with being made available in DIRECTV, DISH Network, AT&T U-verse, RCN, and WOW! homes among others; viewers are urged to visit CSNChicago.com’s CHANNEL FINDER for complete channel location details…In addition, the Opening Ceremonies special will also re-air on the main CSN channel location immediately following “Blackhawks Postgame Live” at approx. 9:00 PM).

Throughout the weekend, fans can look forward to even more comprehensive Cubs Convention coverage on CSNChicago.com’s CubsTalk section (csnchicago.com/cubs) featuring additional players/coaches/front office executive interviews, feature stories, fan reaction, photos, videos and much more to be provided via Kaplan, Crull, Mooney, CSNChicago.com Cubs digital baseball reporter Tony Andracki, along the CSN’s team of behind-the-scenes Cubs experts. 

From a social media standpoint, fans can follow Cubs Convention updates all weekend long via Twitter from Kaplan (@thekapman), Crull (@Kelly_Crull), Mooney (@CSNMooney), and Andracki/CubsTalk (@CSNCubs). Twitter and Facebook followers will also be able to gain access to the latest Convention news, live streaming, and information on special prizes to be given away at CSN’s Cubs Convention booth.

In addition, fans are urged to follow @CSNChicago on Instagram & Snapchat for enhanced, exclusive content featuring real-time sights and sounds to experience all the exciting weekend festivities.  Plus, fans can also get interactive with CSN’s Cubs Convention coverage throughout the weekend by utilizing the social media hashtag #CubsTalk.

Fans are also urged to stop by CSN’s Cubs Convention booth throughout the weekend for autograph signings featuring scheduled appearances by CSN Cubs announcers Len Kasper & Jim Deshaies on Saturday, along with entertaining social media activities to win Cubs tickets starting Friday, plus - fans can even pick up special CSN Cubs-themed giveaways throughout the weekend (while supplies last).  CSN’s Cubs Twitter handle (@CSNCubs) will provide up-to-the-minute CSN booth activities during Cubs Convention weekend as well. The Xfinity booth onsite will feature the latest Xfinity tech, special offers and free prizes, including a custom Cubs 2016 World Series decal cover for the Xfinity X1 voice remote.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Which Cub will make biggest impact down the stretch?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Which Cub will make biggest impact down the stretch?

Ben Finfer (ESPN 1000), Chris Hine (Chicago Tribune) and Jordan Bernfield join David Kaplan on the panel. Jon Lester, Addison Russell and Willson Contreras all work out with the Cubs before their game. Which player’s return with have the biggest impact down the stretch?

Plus, the guys discuss how many snaps Mitch Trubisky should take with the first team, debate who won the big Cavs/Celtics deal and Scott Paddock drops by with the latest NASCAR news.

Listen to the SportsTalk Live Podcast below. 

Mike Montgomery will gladly aid Cubs as spot starter, but could this be a mini audition for 2018 rotation?

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USA TODAY

Mike Montgomery will gladly aid Cubs as spot starter, but could this be a mini audition for 2018 rotation?

Jon Lester isn’t expected to be on the disabled list for long, which of course is great news for the Cubs.

But while he’s there, it’s once again time for Mike Montgomery to audition for a spot in the team’s 2018 starting rotation.

The Cubs are facing the possibility of losing two members of that starting staff this offseason, when both Jake Arrieta and John Lackey will be free agents. Montgomery seems like a logical replacement, but he’ll need to be better than he’s been as a starter this season. He’s put up a 5.13 ERA in eight starts.

He’ll get another opportunity to show his stuff over the next week or so, as he makes one or two spot starts with Lester on the shelf resting up his left lat tightness and general shoulder fatigue.

“I don’t want to see anybody get hurt, especially our ace. But it’s a challenge. I’m looking forward to going out there and helping the team win,” Montgomery said over the weekend. “I’m going to go out there and prepare and be ready to help this team get to the playoffs.”

Montgomery doesn’t have to worry about instilling confidence in his bosses. Joe Maddon and Theo Epstein both lauded Montgomery’s efforts since he was acquired about a year ago, in the middle of the 2016 team’s march to that curse-smashing World Series win. It was Montgomery who earned the save in Game 7.

And again this season Montgomery has given plenty of reason for those guys to have confidence in him. He’s turned in a strong 2.57 ERA in 27 relief appearances, one of the more reliable arms out of what is becoming an increasingly shaky bullpen. This past Thursday, he relieved the early-to-depart Lester, pitching 4.1 shutout innings and allowing just three hits and a walk against the Cincinnati Reds.

Throw in the versatility of being able to effectively switch between starting and relieving, and that’s a recipe for sticking on a big league roster.

“He’s good about bouncing back and forth,” Maddon said. “He’s been invaluable to us the last couple years. He’s still learning his craft. Every time I talk to him it’s kind of like the little lightbulb constantly goes off for him regarding his stuff and how to utilize it. That’s what I’ve been talking about with him the last couple years. This guy’s got all kinds of tools in the toolbox but he doesn’t really know how to utilize them all, and I think he’s finally understanding the cutter, the curve, the changeup to go with the fastball. He’s one of those guys that he should never get wild with his fastball because his pitches are so good and he can throw them for a strike.”

Montgomery’s reliability has been enough that Epstein said there’s no plan for the Cubs to add another starting pitcher before this month’s waiver trade deadline. Of course, the fact that Lester’s injury isn’t as bad as initially feared and the July acquisition of Jose Quintana factors into that, as well.

“We’ve expended a lot of prospect capital trying to make this team better. We think it’s just a start or two (that Lester will miss), and Mike Montgomery is more than capable of filling in,” Epstein said. “He’s thrown the ball really well, like what we saw from him (Thursday). So we’re going to fill that vacancy internally with Mike and go from there.”

While every start made by any pitcher this season seems important — the Cubs entered Monday’s day off with just a two-game lead on the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Central standings, with a playoff spot hardly guaranteed — Montgomery’s efforts could have just as great an effect on next season. If Arrieta and Lackey both end up departing via free agency, the Cubs will need some replacements. Montgomery figures to be among the first options, especially if this midseason audition goes well.

Of course, Montgomery is happy to do whatever he needs to to help his team. He’s not complaining about a bullpen role or one that has him shuttling between the relief corps and the rotation. But he admitted that starting is his goal, meaning the importance of this moment likely hasn't been lost on him.

“Yeah, absolutely, I wanted to start. But also I wanted to be a guy who could fill another role and hopes that makes our team better,” he said. “If me starting makes us better in their mind, then that’s what I want ideally. But I’ve realized I can’t always control that, I can go out there and pitch well. If I pitch well, they’re probably going to give me more opportunities, which is probably going to lead to starting.

“I think it’s because I spent five years in Triple-A from the time I was 21 and I had a bigger ego. And then you realize that you just want to be in the big leagues and that Triple-A kind of stinks. I think it’s just how I’ve gotten to this point. And coming here last year from a team that was trying to get in the playoffs to a team that was clearly going to win the division, you realize that your role isn’t to come here and start making demands, it’s to come here and just do your job.”

Right now, the Cubs need Montgomery to fill the void while Lester rests up. And if he can make his starts look a little more like his bullpen outings, he’ll do just that. And if that’s what happens, maybe they’ll call on him next season to do a whole lot more.