Cubs have Opening Day lineup set, but Mather will keep pushing

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Cubs have Opening Day lineup set, but Mather will keep pushing

MESA, Ariz. Joe Mathers wrist felt good enough to grab the job by the throat.

Thats how Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer described the impression Mather made on the coaching staff and the front office this spring. After multiple surgeries, Mather finally feels healthy, and notices the ball jumping off his bat again.

Mather woke up on Friday hitting .418 with 11 extra-base hits, already knowing that he made the team. He appears to be over a wrist problem similar to the one that has plagued ex-Cub Mark DeRosa, whos been limited to just 73 games combined over the last two seasons and is now in camp with the Washington Nationals.

Its something that they tell you takes six weeks to heal, Mather said. And when you come back, you find out thats not necessarily the case. You lose a lot of the whip in your swing and kind of everything that you taught yourself to do. You have to adjust.

After years of frustration, its gone smooth enough that manager Dale Sveum has talked about riding out Mathers hot bat for as long as possible, and called him a perfect fit for a team that has left-handed corner players.

Sveum said the lineup he wrote out for Fridays game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at HoHoKam Stadium looks like the one you will see on Opening Day at Wrigley Field against the Nationals:

1. David DeJesus, RF (L)
2. Darwin Barney, 2B
3. Starlin Castro, SS
4. Bryan LaHair, 1B (L)
5. Alfonso Soriano, LF
6. Ian Stewart, 3B (L)
7. Marlon Byrd, CF
8. Geovany Soto, C
9. Ryan Dempster, P
Mathers not in there, but it sounds like he can take some at-bats and become much more than the 25th man on the roster. He can play first and third base and in Sveums mind all three outfield spots at an above-average level. He once even pitched two innings for the St. Louis Cardinals during a 20-inning loss to the New York Mets in 2010.

I told him in his meeting: Youre a guy who can do a lot of things, Sveum said. Hes the kind of guy that you just ride out, whatever position it might be (and) hopefully it will last a long time.

Dont ever think youre just a bench player and youre not going to be pushing somebody to play every day.

Mather, 29, has spent time on the Triple-A level in each of the past five seasons. He went to high school in the Phoenix area and lives here in the offseason, which gave him a support system that helped him stay focused and relaxed during camp.

Mather showed enough power for the Cardinals in 2008 eight homers in 133 at-bats that you wonder how much more is in there now that hes back at full strength.

I think if someone would have told me that I (would have) this (kind) of camp, Mather said, I would have been jumping up and down. Its been awesome. They gave me quite a bit of opportunity and I was able to play well. It feels really good to take advantage.

Will Marcus Kruger return to Blackhawks against Lightning?

Will Marcus Kruger return to Blackhawks against Lightning?

Dennis Rasmussen or Marcus Kruger could play Tuesday night and Corey Crawford will start when the Blackhawks host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night.

Rasmussen did not skate Tuesday morning due to illness but coach Joel Quenneville said the center could still play vs. the Lightning. Kruger skated with the Blackhawks on Sunday and figured he was close to coming back from his right hand injury. Quenneville said Kruger is "close" to playing, and his status could depend on how Rasmussen feels.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

The Blackhawks, sitting in second place in the Western Conference, are on a three-game winning streak entering Tuesday's game. The Lightning, the Blackhawks' 2015 Stanley Cup opponent, has struggled with injuries (Steven Stamkos has been out since November) and is last in the Eastern Conference. Despite the Lightning's struggles, Quenneville isn't taking the team lightly.

"Obviously they've had some health issues, significant guys missing big stretches of their year, but they still have guys out there that are skilled and it's an extremely dangerous team and a very competitive East side," Quenneville said. "I'm sure they'll be ready for tonight."

Andrei Vasilevskiy will start Tuesday night for the Lightning. Coach Jon Cooper said J.T. Brown and Jason Garrison are game-time decisions.

BLACKHAWKS VS. TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING

7:30 p.m.
TV: CSN
Live stream: CSNChicago.com or NBC Sports app
Radio: WGN 720 AM

Chicago Blackhawks

Forward lines

Ryan Hartman-Jonathan Toews-Richard Panik
Artemi Panarin-Artem Anisimov-Patrick Kane
Vinnie Hinostroza-Tanner Kero-Marian Hossa
Andrew Desjardins-Dennis Rasmussen-Nick Schmaltz

Defensive pairs

Duncan Keith-Niklas Hjalmarsson
Michal Kempny-Brent Seabrook
Brian Campbell-Trevor van Riemsdyk

Goaltender

Corey Crawford

INJURIES/ILLNESS: Marcus Kruger (right arm), Dennis Rasmussen (ill).

Tampa Bay Lightning (projected; some are game-time decisions)

Forward lines

Ondrej Palat-Vladislav Namestnikov-Nikita Kucherov
Alex Killorn-Tyler Johnson-J.T. Brown
Bryan Boyle-Valtteri Filppula-Jonathan Drouin
Michael Bournival-Cedric Paquette-Gabriel Dumont

Defensive Pairs

Victor Hedman-Anton Stralman
Jason Garrison-Andrej Sustr
Braydon Coburn-Nikita Nesterov

Goaltender

Andrei Vasilvskiy

INJURIES/ILLNESS: Steven Stamkos (knee), Brayden Point (upper body), Ryan Callahan (lower body), Jason Garrison (illness).

CSN set to air nine White Sox Spring Training games

CSN set to air nine White Sox Spring Training games

White Sox fans will get an extended look at the team this spring.

The White Sox released their 2017 spring training broadcast schedule on Tuesday afternoon, highlighting that 10 games will be televised from Arizona (nine on CSN). In addition, there will be 15 radio broadcasts on WLS-AM and 12 webcasts on whitesox.com.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

The broadcast team of Jason Benetti and Steve Stone will work all 10 televised games, Ed Farmer and Darrin Jackson will serve as the radio broadcasters on WLS-AM and Russ Langer will return for his seventh White Sox spring training for all webcasts.

Here are all nine of CSN's White Sox spring training broadcasts:

- Tuesday, March 14 (3:10 p.m.) @ Mariners
- Friday, March 17 (2:05 p.m.) vs. Cubs
- Monday, March 20 (3:05 p.m.) vs. Dodgers
- Thursday, March 23 (3:05 p.m.) vs. Reds
- Friday, March 24 (3:05 p.m.) @ A's
- Sunday, March 26 (3:05 p.m.) vs. Giants
- Monday, March 27 (3:05 p.m.) @ Dodgers
- Wednesday, March 29 (2:05 p.m.) vs. Padres
- Saturday, April 1 (1:05 p.m.) @ Brewers

Check out the complete White Sox spring training schedule below: