Rudy Jaramillo visualizes The Cubs Way

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Rudy Jaramillo visualizes The Cubs Way

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. Alfonso Soriano is back, watching his shots ricochet off HoHoKam Stadiums scoreboard in left field, and one explanation is how he has shortened his leg kick.

Rudy Jaramillo didnt completely dismiss the idea, but the Cubs hitting coach also doesnt like to view things one-dimensionally.

Thats something that weve been working on, really, for the last couple years, making a really good pivot, Jaramillo said Tuesday. But basically it comes down to trusting yourself, slowing your mind down.

The day before, Soriano had blasted his fourth home run in his fifth game this spring. Jaramillo credited team psychologist Marc Strickland.

We had a visualization session, Jaramillo said. It has to be part of your preparation. I ask these guys every night to visualize for five minutes their swing, the feel and seeing the pitchers release point and seeing yourself having success.

When Cubs fans look at Soriano, all they see are dollar signs. They will be skeptical of numbers seven extra-base hits in 17 at-bats that look like one of his hot streaks.

But Jaramillo who stands up straight and makes direct eye contact when he speaks is relentlessly positive.

The Cubs Way wont be about 136 million designated hitters. But the abstract idea is that when Soriano yells Hey, babe! on the way to the batting cage, hell be walking into the same program written for some teenage prospect in Boise, Idaho.

It came into focus at the organizational meetings Theo Epstein ran last month at a hotel in Mesa, where front-office personnel, scouts and coaches gathered to hash it out.

Epstein doesnt believe players are robots. The president of baseball operations wants athletes with the emotional intelligence to handle failure.

Epstein has made significant investments in statistical analysis, advanced scouting and video technology, which is in Jaramillos wheelhouse.

(Its) kind of like Vegas, Jaramillo said, putting the odds in your favor at (a) certain count or certain situation. Its a great thing and Im really a believer in it. Theres a mechanical part that coincides with the mental part of it.

No doubt, thats going to be done from the Dominican all the way up to the big leagues. Thats going to help us get more kids to the big leagues quicker and everybodys going to be on the same page.

Thats The Cubs Way. These people came in here and organized and established a plan. Thats what it takes for us to go to the next level.

To be clear, Jaramillo felt like the Cubs were making progress implementing his program throughout the minor-league system. It just wasnt to this level of detail, where the hitting coaches at each affiliate will be using the same vocabulary.

Jaramillo developed his reputation as a great teacher what Epstein might call an impact coach with the Texas Rangers. When Jaramillo signed a three-year deal in October 2009, it was heralded like a free-agent acquisition. Hes now working for his third manager in the past three seasons.

I dont even think about that, Jaramillo said. I got a job to do. I dont look back. I just look to the future. I look at today: What can we do to win a ballgame? How can we get better today?

Aramis Ramirez once declared I am my own hitting coach. But overall the clubhouse swears by Jaramillo, pointing not just to the All-Stars he worked with in Texas, but guys like Mark DeRosa, who turned his career around there.

After being traded from the Colorado Rockies this winter, Ian Stewart made a point to get Jaramillos phone number and traveled to Arizona for a minicamp, hoping to rediscover the hitter Baseball America fell in love with and the swing that generated 25 homers in 2009.

Hes not big into trying to come in and change me or put his stamp on me, Stewart said. He just wanted to give me the best chance.

The Cubs let Ramirez and Carlos Pena walk as free agents, putting their faith in Stewart and Bryan LaHair, and gearing up for when polished prospects Brett Jackson and Anthony Rizzo are ready to play Clark and Addison.

Epstein envisions a lineup that will grind out at-bats like the Boston Red Sox. Jaramillo played down that comparison the American League has the designated hitter but even if the Cubs dont have four-hour games, they are supposed to become more patient.

Jaramillo likes the tone set in camp by new manager Dale Sveum, who used to be the hitting coach for Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun and the Milwaukee Brewers. So much has changed around the Cubs, but their hitting coach only knows one way.

I came here to make a difference, Jaramillo said. Im going to continue working hard and being positive with these kids (every day and become) their support system. The more you encourage somebodythe more they believe in you. (Its) winning their respect and thats a big key in (our relationships). You go at different times with different guys to get to that point, but (theres) no doubt that I will.

CSN to carry expanded, live SoxFest 2017 opening night coverage

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CSN to carry expanded, live SoxFest 2017 opening night coverage

4:00 PM on CSN & CSNChicago.com -- LIVE SoxFest 2017 “Opening Ceremonies” coverage - hosted by Chuck Garfien & CSNChicago.com White Sox “Insider” Dan Hayes,

featuring live interviews with numerous White Sox players, coaches, and front office execs!

5:00 PM on CSN -- Special SoxFest 2017 edition of “SportsTalk Live” - hosted by David Kaplan featuring special White Sox guests!

Complete SoxFest coverage throughout the weekend on CSNChicago.com’s ‘WhiteSoxTalk’ section via reports from Garfien, Hayes, CSN White Sox beat reporter Siera Santos, and White Sox digital reporters JJ Stankevitz & Paul Roumeliotis, 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 24, 2017) – CSN Chicago (CSN), the television home for the most games and the most comprehensive coverage of the Chicago White Sox, is ready to start up the 2017 MLB season in a big way with expanded, live Opening Night coverage from “SoxFest 2017,” which will be held downtown this weekend (January 27-29) at the Hilton Chicago.

On Friday, January 27 beginning at 4:00 PM CT on CSN & CSNChicago.com, viewers can look forward to every thrill-packed moment of “SoxFest 2017’s” Opening Ceremonies featuring introductions of White Sox players/coaches/broadcasters/front office executives, plus video montages, and much more.  CSN’s “SoxFest 2017” Opening Ceremonies coverage will be hosted by White Sox Pre/Post Game Live host Chuck Garfien and CSNChicago.com White Sox “Insider” Dan Hayes, which will feature live interviews with White Sox players, coaches, and team VIP’s.

Immediately following the Opening Ceremonies coverage at 5:00 PM, CSN’s “SoxFest” coverage continues with live player/coaches/team exec interviews from the annual fan convention, along with detailed 2017 White Sox discussion, on SportsTalk Live presented by The Chevy Silverado (hosted by David Kaplan).

Throughout the weekend, fans can look forward to even more comprehensive SoxFest coverage on CSNChicago.com’s WhiteSoxTalk section (csnchicago.com/white-sox) featuring additional players/coaches/front office executive interviews, feature stories, fan reaction, photos, videos and much more to be provided via Garfien, Hayes, CSN White Sox beat reporter Siera Santos, CSNChicago.com White Sox digital baseball reporters JJ Stankevitz & Paul Roumeliotis, along the CSN’s team of behind-the-scenes White Sox experts. 

From a social media standpoint, fans can follow “SoxFest” updates all weekend long via Twitter from Garfien (@ChuckGarfien), Hayes (@CSNHayes), Santos (@SieraSantos), and Stankevitz-Roumeliotis/WhiteSoxTalk (@CSNWhiteSox). Twitter and Facebook followers will also be able to gain access to the latest fan convention news, live streaming, and information on special prizes to be given away at CSN’s “SoxFest” 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 “SoxFest” coverage throughout the weekend by utilizing the social media hashtag #WhiteSoxTalk.

Fans are also urged to stop by CSN’s “SoxFest” booth this weekend for autograph signings featuring scheduled appearances by CSN White Sox announcers Ken “Hawk” Harrelson, Steve Stone, and Jason Benetti, along with special, exclusive “player experiences,” where fans can meet White Sox stars for autographs, take selfies, and much more!  Fans in attendance need to follow CSN’s White Sox Twitter handle (@CSNWhiteSox) for full details about the player experience opportunities. In addition, fans can even pick up special CSN White Sox-themed giveaways throughout “SoxFest” weekend (while supplies last). 

Marcus Kruger activated off IR ahead of Blackhawks-Lightning

Marcus Kruger activated off IR ahead of Blackhawks-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. Quenneville said Kruger is "close" to playing — he was activated off injured reserve on Tuesday afternoon — 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).