Chicago Cubs

RG3 will be ready for 2013 ... right?

977247.jpg

RG3 will be ready for 2013 ... right?

From Comcast SportsNetWASHINGTON (AP) -- If Adrian Peterson can do it, maybe Robert Griffin III can, too.Peterson set an incredible standard this season for NFL players returning from major knee surgery, nearly breaking the NFL single-season rushing record. Griffin need look nowhere else for an inspiration as the Washington Redskins quarterback begins the road back from an operation Wednesday on two ligaments in his right knee."I think it gives motivation to everyone," said Russ Paine, a physical therapist in Houston who worked with the Peterson as the Minnesota Vikings running back went through rehab.Griffin had his lateral collateral ligament repaired and his ACL reconstructed for a second time. The surgery was performed in Florida by orthopedist James Andrews, who was optimistic that Griffin would be back on the field this fall."We expect a full recovery, and it is everybody's hope and belief that due to Robert's high motivation, he will be ready for the 2013 season," Andrews said in a statement released by the Redskins. "The goal of his treatment is to give him the best opportunity for a long professional career."But no two athletes -- or knee surgeries, for that matter -- are exactly alike, so pinning down a date for Griffin's return is an inexact science. Complicating matters is that Griffin tore the ACL in the same knee in 2009 while playing for Baylor.University of Maryland head team physician Craig Bennett said football players typically need seven to 11 months to return from a second ACL reconstruction, but that it often takes up to a year for the ligament to be fully healed."Typically your first season back from an ACL reconstruction, there's a tendency to have some struggles from time to time," Bennett said.That's what made Peterson so remarkable. He tore an ACL in late December 2011 and was the league's best back in 2012.Paine said Peterson's focus and intensity in rehab and natural athletic gifts made the quick recovery possible. Many say Griffin has those same qualities, and he was sounding an upbeat tone on Twitter even before the surgery began early Wednesday morning."Thank you for your prayers and support. I love God, my family, my team, the fans, & I love this game. See you guys next season," Griffin tweeted.While Griffin heals, the debate will continue as to whether he should have been on the field when he hurt the knee for a final time in the fourth quarter Sunday's playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks.Griffin reinjured his knee in the first quarter and was obviously hobbled, but he stayed in the game after convincing coach Mike Shanahan that all was OK."People can limp around; people can be hurting," Hall of Fame quarterback and ESPN analyst Steve Young said Wednesday. "Some of the great John Wayne hero things that have ever happened in football happened because people play hurt."The first major injury to Griffin's knee was the torn ACL in the third game of the 2009 season with Baylor, when he was hurt on the opening drive against Northwestern State but kept playing until halftime. Griffin missed the rest of the year but returned in 2010 and won the Heisman Trophy in 2011.Griffin's first notable injury in the pros was a concussion early this season, which led the quarterback to learn to protect his body better while running the ball.But last month, at the end of a 13-yard scramble, he sprained the LCL when he was hit by Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata. Griffin missed one game and returned to play in three more while wearing a bulky knee brace, his mobility clearly hindered.On Sunday, Griffin hurt the knee again as he fell awkwardly while throwing a pass late in the first quarter against the Seahawks. He was mostly ineffective the rest of the game, completing only four passes after that drive.Griffin finally departed with 6:19 to play in the game, after the knee buckled while he was trying to field a bad shotgun snap.The No. 2 overall pick in last year's draft, Griffin was one of several rookie quarterbacks to make an instant impact on the NFL this season. He set the league record for best season passer rating by a rookie QB and led the Redskins to their first NFC East title in 13 years.Griffin's knee has kept the nation's capital on tenterhooks all week. He was hurt Sunday. Then Shanahan announced Monday that a second opinion was needed.Then on Tuesday came word that surgery would be taking place. Wednesday was the actual surgery. While it was taking place, District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray said he will invite Griffin to watch President Barack Obama's inaugural parade on a reviewing stand outside the district government building later this month."I'd love to have him come, but ... he obviously may be unable. His mobility may be impaired somewhat at that point," Gray said. "My focus right now is on having him successfully get through the surgery."

Once again, Javier Baez will be a huge X-factor for Cubs down the stretch

javy_baez.jpg
USA TODAY

Once again, Javier Baez will be a huge X-factor for Cubs down the stretch

Javier Baez flicked his bat and watched the ball rocket in the direction of Waveland Avenue, the last of the back-to-back-to-back homers against Cincinnati Reds starter/Cubs trivia answer Scott Feldman.

That quick strike came during a four-homer fourth inning on Thursday afternoon at Wrigley Field, where the offense looked explosive and the pitching looked combustible in a 13-10 loss that left the Milwaukee Brewers one game out of first place, the St. Louis Cardinals right behind them and the Cubs awaiting a diagnosis on Jon Lester’s lat injury.

“I know the talent we got,” Baez said. “When they come to play a team like us, we know they’re going to come play hard and obviously play good baseball. They’re going to come to compete, and that’s what we got to do.”

Whatever happens from here – the Cubs are 2-2 so far during a 13-game stretch against last-place teams – you know Baez will be in the middle of the action as the No. 8 hitter with 19 homers this season and a power source with Willson Contreras (strained right hamstring) injured.

This is the starting shortstop until Addison Russell (strained right foot/plantar fasciitis) comes off the disabled list and the unique talent you couldn’t take your eyes off during last year’s playoffs.

“He’s not afraid of anything,” manager Joe Maddon said. “So I don’t care how big or small the game is, he’s going to play the same way. He’s going to do everything pretty much full gorilla all the time.

“Sometimes, he’s going to make a mistake. And that’s OK, because with certain people – with all of us – you got to take the bad with the good. Everybody wants perfection. He’s going to make some mistakes. But most of the time, he’s going to pull off events.”

The night before against the Reds, Baez led off the ninth inning with a line-drive double and scored the game-winning run on a wild pitch. Last week, Statcast clocked him at 16.11 seconds for his inside-the-park homer off the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park. Over the weekend, he launched another home-run ball 463 feet against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field.

There are so many different ways Baez can help the Cubs win a game at a time when they don’t have anywhere close to the same margin for error that they did during last season’s joyride into the playoffs.

“I know we often talk about the strikeouts or the big swings,” Maddon said. “But look at his two-strike numbers. Look at his OPS (.808). Look at the run production in general (his 55 RBI match Kris Bryant). It’s been outstanding. And you combine that with first-rate defense.

“Now he’s going to make some mistakes. I’ve talked about that. That’s going to go away with just experience. As he gets older, plays more often, he’s going to make less of those routine mistakes. And the game’s going to get really clean and sharp.”

Until then, Baez will keep taking huge swings, making spectacular plays and trying to cut down on the errors (10 in 334 innings at shortstop, or one less than Russell through 729 innings), because he knows what he means to this team.  

“Javy’s very important,” pitcher Jake Arrieta said. “He’s one of our best defensive players, one of our most athletic players on the team.

“Javy’s got a really big swing, but he’s got a great eye and he handles the bat really well. For as big as his swing is, he still manages to make really good contact. I don’t want him to approach the game any other way than he does right now.”

Should the Cubs pursue Justin Verlander after Jon Lester's injury, and what would they have to give up?

Should the Cubs pursue Justin Verlander after Jon Lester's injury, and what would they have to give up?

The Cubs may be in some trouble, with the injury bug hitting them at an inopportune time.

First it was Addison Russell (strained right foot), then it was Willson Contreras, arguably the best catcher in baseball and one of the hottest hitters on the planet before going down with a hamstring injury, and now it's Jon Lester who may be on his way to the disabled list after suffering a strained left lat muscle in Thursday's 13-10 loss to Cincinnati.

All of this occurring during a time Joe Maddon's club is looking to pull away from the pack in the National League Central and capture their second straight division crown, which appears to be the only way the North Siders can control their own destiny.

So what should the Cubs do if Lester is sidelined for an extended period of time?

One option could be re-opening trade discussions surrounding Justin Verlander, who cleared revocable waivers in early August. But what would it take to get him, and how much salary would they have to take on for it to happen?

The SportsTalk Live panel weighed in on that possibility in the video above.