Sveum focused on Cubs, not White Sox

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Sveum focused on Cubs, not White Sox

MESA, Ariz. On some level, Lou Piniella and Ozzie Guillen were entertainers. They made great copy and played to the cameras.

Dale Sveum and Robin Ventura wont be looking for the red light. These managers seem to be far more reserved, not nearly as explosive. But that doesnt mean they wont be compared to each other for as long as they keep their jobs.

The Cubs will bus to Camelback Ranch on Friday to play the White Sox, and two former teammates will be at the center of the rivalry, even if it doesnt count yet.

I dont even think about it, to tell you the truth. It hasnt really crossed my mind, Sveum said Thursday. Obviously, it will be a heck of a lot different when the season starts. But spring training is kind of another game right now. I know its not another game to people back in Chicago. (But) our schedule is based more on: Golly, lineup? Oh yeah, were playing the Mariners today or the White Sox.

Were not like caught up in who were playing right now. Its just more getting people at-bats and that kind of thing.

The 44-year-old Ventura essentially had no coaching experience when White Sox general manager Kenny Williams made him the surprise pick to replace Guillen last October. No one saw that coming.

No one can dispute Venturas playing credentials two All-Star selections, six Gold Gloves or dismiss the fact that he lasted 16 years in the games three biggest markets (New York, Chicago, Los Angeles).

Sveum emerged as an obvious candidate from the moment new president Theo Epstein flew down to Florida and fired Mike Quade. Sveum had ties to the Boston Red Sox as the third-base coach on that 2004 championship team, a deep understanding of video and statistical analysis and a no-nonsense approach.

Combined, Ventura and Sveum have managed 12 games in the majors (plus Sveums playoff series loss as the Milwaukee Brewers interim manager in 2008). But together they have played in almost 3,000 games in the big leagues, and that brings instant credibility.

Sveum played briefly with Ventura after being traded to the White Sox from the Philadelphia Phillies late in the 1992 season. They spoke at the winter meetings in Dallas, and are scheduled to do a promotional shoot before Fridays game.

Hopefully, (Ill) get over there early enough to be able to talk to him and see how things have been going, Sveum said. Im sure hell have the same questions for me.

[PHOTO] Joe Maddon, Miguel Montero patch things up over a drink

[PHOTO] Joe Maddon, Miguel Montero patch things up over a drink

Despite the Cubs ending their 108-year World Series drought, Miguel Montero made offseason headlines for all the wrong reasons when he complained about his role in the Cubs' 2017 championship campaign.

Montero criticized Maddon's communication skills, catching rotation and bullpen decision-making after the team's Grant Park celebration. Maddon brushed off the criticism, and last week at spring training Montero said he hadn't spoke with the Cubs' skipper.

That tension appears to be all but a thing of the past, as Montero posted this picture of him and his manager sharing a drink together sporting nothing but smiles.

It's safe to say Montero would describe his relationship with Maddon now as: #WeAreGood.

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks clash with Wild tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks clash with Wild tonight on CSN

Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Minnesota Wild tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Blackhawks Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live streaming coverage of the Blackhawks.

Five Things to Watch:

1. Road warriors.

The Blackhawks have won six straight games away from the United Center, and are looking to make it a seventh in Minnesota tonight. They've scored the game's first goal in four of those wins, and in the other two, overcame 1-0 deficits to beat Dallas 5-3 and Edmonton 5-1, the latter of which they scored five unanswered goals.

2. Corey Crawford vs. Devan Dubnyk.

Crawford hasn't quite been the same since undergoing an emergency appendectomy on Dec. 3, but he turned in probably his best outing since then in the Blackhawks' last meeting against Minnesota on Feb. 8 when he stopped 35 of 38 shots in a 4-3 overtime win. He essentially stole two points, and prevented the Wild from picking up the extra one. Across from him tonight will be Dubnyk, who leads the league in wins (32), goals against average (1.97) and save percentage (.934).

3. Jonathan Toews on fire.

After a tough offensive drought earlier in the season that lasted longer than expected, the Blackhawks captain has six goals and 10 assists in his last 12 games, and upped his point total to 37, which now ranks fifth on the team. In the last meeting against Minnesota two weeks ago, Toews had a three-point night and scored the game winner in overtime. 

4. Mikael Granlund among league's most underrated players.

File Granlund under the category of players who don't get enough attention. He has 17 goals and 36 assists in 58 games this season, and his 53 points is tied with Jeff Carter and Artemi Panarin for 13th in the NHL's scoring race. The next highest point total on the Wild is Eric Staal with 45, an eight-point gap between him and Granlund. The 24-year-old forward registered his first career hat trick earlier this month, and also had a 12-game point streak just two weeks ago.

5. Ryan Hartman's closing in on 15 goals.

In Saturday's 3-1 loss to Edmonton, Hartman defended his teammate by fighting an Oilers defenseman that was practically twice his size. He called it a "no-brainer" to stick up for Tanner Kero and did well in the scrap, but it led to an Oilers power play and 10-minute misconduct which didn't do the Blackhawks any favors. He responded in a great way Sunday by scoring the game's first goal that helped his team win 5-1 in Buffalo. The next goal he scores will be No. 15, which would give the Blackhawks six 15-plus goal scorers on the year. They had only four a season ago.

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