Rockford won't be slowed by lockout

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Rockford won't be slowed by lockout

It's been exactly two months since the NHL's collective bargaining agreement expired, and since then, anger, hostility and little hope have surrounded the negotiations between the league and union. But for some fans, this setback wouldn't slow them down and they've discovered a new outlet to experience the hockey they've been missing.
It was a Wednesday night and the BMO Harris Center was far from sold out. But the fans who were in attendance -- whether they were regulars at IceHogs games or Chicagoans searching for a way to reconnect with the Blackhawks during the lockout -- displayed a deep appreciation for the team and for the fact that these games are much for affordable.
Whether it was participating in chuck-a-puck during the intermission or dancing with others sitting around them when Gangnam Style played over the speakers, IceHogs fans seemed to share the in-game experience with not only the people they arrived with, but also those they didn't even know yet.
"The crowd isn't as full as an NHL game would be," said Jessika Hujar, who's been coming to Rockford, in addition to games in Chicago, for many years. "The tickets are a lot cheaper, which is a plus, and the atmosphere is still the same. We're all here to see the same team and whenever the team scores, everyone's up from their seats cheering. You can come here knowing nobody and before you know it, it's like you know everyone by the time you leave here. It's a really great experience.
There are a lot of NHL season ticket holders here, a lot of those people from Chicago now also have season tickets here."
One of those people being Kristin Wolf, a lifelong Blackhawks fan who attended her first IceHogs game at the beginning of this season and has since commuted two hours to see each matchup in Rockford.
"I bought tickets the day before the lockout started. The fans are all very, very dedicated here. At the United Center you have a lot of bandwagon fans. But everyone here is very into the game."
"It's not as loud or as big as a Hawks game would be, but still, the people behind us and around us are funny, everyone's laughing and having a good time," added Laura Menne, who was attending her first IceHogs game that night. "It's the same general experience you would get if you were at a Hawks game."
Now the same question continues that many have wondered since the start of the lockout: Will NHL fans come running back whenever the new collective bargaining agreement is in place?
"Part of me doesn't really mind whether it ends this season," Wolf said. "I can afford these games and I enjoy them. I'm getting really into here and I don't want to stop coming mid-season, so if the lockout ends it wouldn't really affect me that much because I come here now."

White Sox: Jose Quintana pleased with final warmup before Opening Day start

White Sox: Jose Quintana pleased with final warmup before Opening Day start

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Jose Quintana was pleased with his final warmup before Opening Day.

The White Sox Opening Day starter threw 48 pitches (30 strikes) against a Milwaukee Brewers minor league team at Camelback Ranch on Tuesday. Quintana allowed two hits, two runs (one earned), walked one and struck out three in three-plus innings. He next pitches at home on Monday against the Detroit Tigers.

"I finished my preparation on a high note," Quintana said. "I'm heading to the season with good energy and satisfied with all the worked and effort that I put in my preparation.

"I'm absolutely ready for the season to start."

A tweet from USA Today's Bob Nightengale on Tuesday suggested Quintana will start the season as a member of the White Sox despite myriad rumors. Nightengale noted that the Houston Astros refuse budge on what they're willing to pay for the 2016 All-Star. The White Sox have also held firm on their asking price and haven't been motivated by any of the offers they've received to move Quintana.

The team reduced the number of players still in camp to 34 on Tuesday with the trade of Peter Bourjos and by cutting nonroster invitees Cory Luebke and Matt Purke. Luebke, who has been sidelined for six days after he tweaked his hamstring, finished the spring with a 0.96 ERA in 9 1/3 innings. He can opt out of his minor-league deal in May. Purke struck out eight in eight innings and finished with a 2.25 ERA. 

Both had been in the mix for one of two open bullpen spots.

Fellow reliever Jake Petricka looked much calmer on Tuesday than he did after taking a comebacker off his hand Monday. X-rays were negative and Petricka played catch. He hopes to pitch as scheduled this weekend in Milwaukee. 

"This is just one of those you do everything you can do to stay healthy, and its part of the game you can't control," Petricka said. "You never want that to happen, especially this late in camp. "But we dodged a bullet and we're good to go."

The White Sox also had a close call with second baseman Tyler Saladino, who was hit by a pitch in the left wrist in minor league action on Monday. Saladino received treatment and could return to action on Wednesday.

"He's doing good, we're just holding him back today for my well being," Renteria said.

[Buy White Sox tickets right here]

Renteria said reliever Juan Minaya is improving but still likely to start the season on the DL. Minaya suffered an abdominal tear in mid-March. 

"He has been improving solidly and responding to the treatments," Renteria said.

Yolmer Sanchez went 2-for-2 with an RBI and scored a run in a 7-4 loss to the Kansas City Royals at Surprise, Ariz. 

Michael Ynoa allowed an unearned run and a hit in 2 1/3 scoreless innings. 

Zack Burdi struck out three in a scoreless inning.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Cubs wrapping up spring training

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Cubs wrapping up spring training

Today on the Sports Talk Live podcast, David Kaplan, Seth Gruen, Teddy Greenstein, and Mark Grote discussed Addison Russell’s injury, if Szczur or La Stella should get the Cubs final roster spot, if the Bulls would be better off facing the Celtics or Cavs in the first round of the playoffs, and Jay Cutler’s butt all over the internet.