Chicago Cubs

Cubs might look to repair 'awkward' relationship with Sosa

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Cubs might look to repair 'awkward' relationship with Sosa

There could be a thaw coming in the icy relationship between the Cubs and Sammy Sosa.

Cubs players always get taken care of in this city, but Sosa has become the invisible man. No media gigs, local commercials, spring training guest spots or doing the seventh-inning stretch.

The organization invited more than 75 guests to its downtown convention players, alumni, prospects but not Sosa, the franchises all-time leaders in home runs (545) and the star attraction for so many years at Wrigley Field.

With Sammy, its awkward, chairman Tom Ricketts said Saturday at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers. I think over time there will be a good solution for all this stuff. But obviously we saw what happened with the Hall of Fame voting this year. I dont know. It would be nice to put this chapter to rest and just welcome back all the guys who were from that era who were suspected of doing whatever.

The cloud of performance-enhancing drugs hung over Sosas case for Cooperstown. He appeared on only 71 of the 569 ballots cast by the Baseball Writers Association of America. After getting only 12.5 percent of the vote, its almost impossible to see him getting elected to the Hall of Fame, even if this was only his first year of eligibility.

Since Sosa walked out at the end of the 2004 season, the Cubs have changed ownership, shaken up the front office, burned through three managers and completely turned over their clubhouse. There arent many direct connections left.

Ricketts didnt know if keeping Sosa at a distance was because of the PEDs or the way the relationship ended, with a smashed boombox becoming the perfect metaphor. But the chairman seemed open to the idea of considering inviting Sosa to the convention, or at least opening a line of communication with his camp.

Its a great question, maybe we should revisit that, Ricketts said. When we got here, there wasnt much communication and we just really havent focused on it. But maybe its an issue we pick up this year and see what we can do about it.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Cubs and Sox gear up for the decisive Game 4 in the Crosstown Cup

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Cubs and Sox gear up for the decisive Game 4 in the Crosstown Cup

Sports Talk Live is on location at Guaranteed Rate Field to preview the decisive Game 4 of the Crosstown Cup. 

Kap is joined by David Haugh (Chicago Tribune), Sahadev Sharma (The Athletic), David DeJesus and Scott Podsednik. 

Plus new Cubs outfielder Jon Jay talks about his first season with the Northsiders .

Listen here. 

Even as they find their offensive groove, Cubs know there's more left in the tank

Even as they find their offensive groove, Cubs know there's more left in the tank

221.

That's how many pitches the Cubs saw during Wednesday night's 8-3 win over the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field.

11.

That's the amount of runners the Cubs left on base Wednesday.

To Joe Maddon, those numbers don't quite add up.

The Cubs had 20 baserunners on 10 hits, eight walks and a pair of errors committed by Sox fielders. Yet they only plated eight, going 4-for-13 with runners in scoring position. Over the last two games, the Cubs have seen 412 pitches and scored 15 runs, but they've also left 24 guys on base and and gone just 9-for-33 with runners in scoring position.

"The proverbial grinding of the at-bats has been there," Maddon said after Wednesday's game. "[221 pitches], you'd think we'd score — I'm not talking about being greedy — we need to capitalize more.

"Eleven runners left on base. Again, I'm not complaining. Just the fact that we have to be more efficient as we move further along. Keep working those at-bats and I think if we do, at some point, it's gotta catch up to us in a positive way where it comes back to us and the ball's gotta fall in better moments, too."

The Cubs have gotten out to a 10-2 start to the season's second half, averaging six runs a game during that stretch and forcing the opposition to throw 154.5 pitches per game.

The Cubs have rapped out 124 hits in those 12 games as opposing pitchers have only recorded four quality starts.

And for all the issues with runners in scoring position in the first half, Anthony Rizzo and Co. are hitting .293 (37-for-126) with guys in scoring position since the All-Star Break. (Even with that, they're still only 27th in baseball with a .238 average with RISP, showing just how much the team underperformend in that area in the first half.)

The Cubs are starting to look more and more like the 2016 version of themselves as a host of other players — led by Willson Contreras, Addison Russell and Ben Zobrist — have joined Bryzzo in consistently contributing offensively.

"It's very rare when you have a game where everybody hits to their full potential," said Rizzo, who had three hits and drove in four runs Wednesday. "It's guys carrying the load one day and some other guys doing it the next day."

That's been a different script than the one the Cubs were playing off of in the first three months of the season, when only Kris Bryant and Rizzo were reaching their offensive potential.

As the Cubs hit their stride and gear up for the stretch run, they're finally starting to click offensively.

And what's scary is there's still more left in the tank.

"We don't wanna leave guys on, but we want to keep putting guys on to give ourselves opportunity," Rizzo said. "As long as we come away with the win, it doesn't matter.

"We're putting together good at-bats as a unit. [Seeing a lot of pitches] is a good formula for us. We know that if we grind at-bats, good things will happen."