Williams: Pitching will help White Sox contend

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Williams: Pitching will help White Sox contend

Kenny Williams believes the White Sox can contend in 2013.
With starters Jake Peavy, Gavin Floyd and John Danks back in the mix, along with new reliever Matt Lindstrom, whose signing is expected to be announced this weekend at Sox Fest, Williams thinks the club has enough pitching to stay in contention in the American League playoff race.
The White Sox won 85 games last season with a similar pitching staff and led their division for 117 days until they eventually succumbed to American League pennant winner Detroit.
If you've got pitching, you've got a chance, Williams said. And no matter, we could be talking about 2013, or 1913 or 1930, that's still going to be the determining factor in baseball, so what we need to do is expect some of the same performances from some of our guys last year and some growth in some other guys, and I think we'll be in the mix. Because you have pitching, it automatically puts you in the mix.
Williams also believes the White Sox can challenge even though they wont have A.J. Pierzynski behind the plate for the first time since 2004. The teams decisio- makers are high on Tyler Flowers, who is in line to take over as the clubs starting catcher.
A.J. got a lot of big hits for us over the years, and we're gonna miss his left-handed presence in our lineup, and his fight, Williams said. When (Flowers) is on, you'll see an approach where he drives the ball to right center field, and it took him a while to get back to that because he has power to all fields. But he also has the ability to have a good solid at-bat.
"In a short spurt last year when you saw A.J. go down, you saw him get a little bit more consistent with the bat and have those better at-bats, so I think that he's going to continue to improve offensively to where he can be something special. And defensively, all you have to do is just talk to our pitchers for five minutes and they'll tell you how enjoyable it is for them to throw to him, and the job he does behind home plate.

89 Days to Kickoff: Vernon Hills

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89 Days to Kickoff: Vernon Hills

CSNChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting Jul. 31, we’ll unveil the @CSNPreps Top 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 25.

School: Vernon Hills

Head coach: Bill Bellecomo

Assistant coaches: Corey Atwell, Greg Stilling, Tim Dydo, Jason Czarnecki, Avelino Cortez, Brian Palmer, Mike Larsen, Dave Schroetter

How they fared in 2016: 10-4 (3-2 Central Suburban North), lost to Peoria in the IHSA Class 5A state title game.

[MORE: 90 Days to Kickoff - Morris]

2017 regular season schedule:

Aug. 25 – Grayslake North

Sept. 1 – @ Zion-Benton

Sept. 8 – Rolling Meadows

Sept. 15 - @ Hoffman Estates

Sept. 22 - Highland Park

Sept. 28 – @ Deerfield

Oct. 6 - Maine West

Oct. 13 - @ Maine East

Oct. 20 - Glenbrook North

Biggest storyline: Can the Cougars make another deep run in Class 5A?

Names to watch this season: Senior WR/DB Max Lyle, senior OL/DL Danny Lester and senior LB Kyle Fasbinder

Biggest holes to fill: The Cougars will need to reload in particular on the offensive side of the football with just three starters back from a season ago.

EDGY's early take: The Cougars had a great run in 2016 and while several key starters have graduated, Vernon Hills still has some gas left in the tank. Getting off to a strong early start could be a big key in 2017 as the Cougars schedule is tough especially early on in 2017.

With Ben Zobrist sidelined by sore wrist, Cubs move Ian Happ to second base

With Ben Zobrist sidelined by sore wrist, Cubs move Ian Happ to second base

LOS ANGELES – The Cubs drafted and developed Ian Happ with the idea of turning him into a Ben Zobrist-type player who would move quickly through the farm system and surface as a versatile big-league contributor and/or legitimate trade chip.

With Zobrist sidelined because of a sore left wrist, the Cubs got their first look at Happ playing second base in The Show during Saturday’s 5-0 loss at Dodger Stadium. That kind of depth – plugging in a 2015 first-round pick while a World Series MVP rests – should ultimately propel the Cubs over the course of a 162-game season.

Even as the Cubs stutter-step through a 25-23 start, there are enough choices for the best defensive second baseman on the team and a National League Championship Series co-MVP (Javier Baez) to sit on the bench.

“We know that the talent’s there,” Zobrist said. “It’s not like having any one or two guys out of the lineup is a big drop-off for us because of the talent that’s there. And we know that just because we have a lot of young players doesn’t mean that they’re not extremely capable of doing the job as well.”

Zobrist – who’s reached base in 23 straight games and emerged as a new leadoff option with Kyle Schwarber struggling – felt something on an awkward swing in the first inning of Friday’s 4-0 loss to the Dodgers. Zobrist played through it that night and called it a “day-to-day thing” that didn’t require an MRI.

[MORE: Is Joe Maddon turning Kyle Schwarber into a platoon player?

Facing Clayton Kershaw on Sunday after back-to-back shutouts will be a game-time decision.

“It’s tough,” Zobrist said. “We just haven’t strung together enough quality at-bats to score runs the last two games. It’s not just because of us. They’ve pitched well. Their pitchers are pretty hot right now. They’ve spotted up. They’ve gotten early strikes where they needed to and then gone to work pretty well on us.

“The task doesn’t get any easier tomorrow with Kershaw. We just got to keep trying to chip away.”