Sveum weighs in on Mariano Rivera

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Sveum weighs in on Mariano Rivera

While the Cubs are making a move with their closer's role, the Yankees were dealt a severe blow Thursday when stopper Mariano Rivera went down for the season with a torn ACL.

The 42-year-old right-hander caught his foot in the grass in Kansas City while shagging balls during batting practice.

Dale Sveum played with Rivera in 1998. The Cubs manager only appeared in 30 games for the Yankees that season and was released in August, but stayed on as a bullpen catcher as the team went on to win the World Series.

"He's the ultimate professional and teammate that anybody could ever have," Sveum said.

The injury could very well be the final chapter on Rivera's storied career, though the intense competitor vows he will return.

Rivera has more saves than anybody else in Major League Baseball history (608) and boasts a career 2.21 ERA and near-unreal 0.99 WHIP. As if that wasn't good enough, he carries a 0.70 ERA and 0.76 WHIP in postseason play with 42 saves.

"His stats talk for themselves," Sveum said. "He's the best closer and relief pitcher that's ever put on a uniform. In postseason play, regular season play. There's never been somebody that dominant for such a long period of time, even at the age he's been at."

Fans, players and coaches around the country were saddened by Rivera's freak injury, but Sveum said this one instance shouldn't shape the way Cubs pitchers shag balls in batting practice.

"You don't want to see people going crazy or jumping over walls or doing those things. But I don't think you worry about injuries like that," Sveum said. "The game's been going on for 100 years. Every once in a while, you do see something happen like that, but part of some of the pitchers' condititiong is shagging fly balls and doing things like that.

"Sometimes, those things are unfortunate, but people could get hurt walking to the ballpark, too."

Jonathan Marchessault's hat trick leads Panthers rout of Blackhawks

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AP

Jonathan Marchessault's hat trick leads Panthers rout of Blackhawks

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) -- Jonathan Marchessault scored his first career hat trick, James Reimer stopped 25 shots for his first shutout of the season and the Florida Panthers routed the Chicago Blackhawks 7-0 on Saturday night.

Jonathan Huberdeau had a goal and three assists, and Aleksander Barkov added a goal and two assists for Florida. Reilly Smith and Nick Bjugstad also scored to give the Panthers their largest margin of victory since an 8-0 win over Toronto on Feb. 5, 2008.

Marchessault had two goals in a 3-1 win over Arizona on Thursday. He has nine goals over his last nine games and leads the Panthers with 28.

Corey Crawford stopped 21 shots for the Blackhawks before being lifted at 4:59 of the third for Scott Darling, who allowed three goals on six shots.

Already leading 3-0, the Panthers poured in four goals in the third.

Brett Anderson’s personality mixing well with Cubs: ‘I don’t hate anybody yet’

Brett Anderson’s personality mixing well with Cubs: ‘I don’t hate anybody yet’

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Joe Maddon's T-shirt slogans can get a little old at times, but the Cubs manager found a new audience in Brett Anderson, who liked the idea of "Be Uncomfortable" after signing a one-year, prove-it deal with the defending champs.

"It's been awesome so far," Anderson said. "That's my running joke – we're a month into it now or whatever it is – and I don't hate anybody yet.

"That's a testament to the group as a whole – and maybe me evolving as a person."

Yes, Anderson's sarcasm, social-media presence and groundball style fits in with a team built around short-term pitching and Gold Glove defense. The if-healthy lefty finished his Cactus League tour on Saturday afternoon by throwing four innings (one unearned run) during a 7-4 loss to the Colorado Rockies in front of 13,565 at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.

Anderson will open the season as the No. 4 starter after a camp that has been remarkably low-key and drama-free.

"I'm kind of cynical by nature, but it's a fun group to be a part of," Anderson said, "(with) young guys that are exciting and happy to be here. And then obviously the mix of veterans, too, that are here with intentions of winning another World Series."

To make that happen, the pitching staff will have to again stay unbelievably healthy. Anderson rolled with a general question about how he physically feels now compared to where he's usually at by this time of year.

"Obviously better than last year, because I was walking with a gimp and all that stuff," said Anderson, who underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair a bulging disk in his lower back last March. "No, my body feels good, my arm feels good and you're getting into the dog days of spring training where you're itching to get to the real thing."