Soriano, Cubs break losing streak

840945.png

Soriano, Cubs break losing streak

CHICAGO (AP) Alfonso Soriano hit a go-ahead homer in the eighth inning and the Chicago Cubs snapped an eight-game losing streak with a 5-3 win over the slumping Cincinnati Reds on a rain-soaked Thursday night.

With the score tied at 3, Reds reliever Sean Marshall (4-4) walked Anthony Rizzo. Just as the skies cleared up, Soriano cracked a two-run shot to center field off Logan Ondrusek.

Shawn Camp (3-5) pitched a perfect eighth for the win and Carlos Marmol worked the ninth for his 14th save in 16 chances.

Todd Frazier and Zack Cozart homered for Cincinnati after the start was delayed by rain for 1 hour, 20 minutes. The NL Central leaders lost their fifth straight but remained 2 12 games ahead of second-place Pittsburgh.

Complete Recap Box Score

Adam Eaton on clubhouse protests: 'You've got to stick up for yourself'

Adam Eaton on clubhouse protests: 'You've got to stick up for yourself'

Whether you agree with them or not, the White Sox have consistently shown a willingness to fight for their cause all season.

Twice last week, and in March with Adam LaRoche, White Sox players took a stand against management decisions they don’t agree with.

The more recent incident of course occurred Saturday and ultimately led to Chris Sale’s five-game suspension for insubordination and destruction of team property.

White Sox players also made headlines when they declined to tip the Seattle Mariners clubhouse attendant as a form of protest to a new team policy instituted that redirects 60 percent of those tips back to a club account to cover expenses such as postgame meals, etc. Traditionally, all money tipped by players has gone directly to clubhouse personnel without team involvement. Eaton said players merely are standing up for their beliefs.

“You’ve got to stick up for yourself,” Eaton said. “As clich√© as it might sound, it’s just power to the players. The players have a voice in this game and if you don’t feel like something is par for the course or up to standard, we definitely vocalize it. It’s not that we’re spoiled or anything like that.”

“It’s just the way things have been ran and how things have been, with the instance of Adam LaRoche, the kid coming into the clubhouse -- I thought we got a lot of support with all kinds of guys putting pictures up online of them and their kid being in the clubhouse. With the Seattle thing, the other 29 teams are doing it. Sale’s a little bit off the radar -- I kind of like it.

“We feel strongly about something we’ll do something about it.”

[SHOP: Get your White Sox gear right here]

White Sox players met with Seattle assistant general manager Jeff Kingston during the trip to talk about the policy in a story first reported by Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal. Eaton said Monday that White Sox players have an envelope full of checks ready to hand over to Mariners visiting clubhouse manager Jeff Bopp when the situation is resolved. It’s not that they want to hurt Bopp, but they want the policy changed similar to how the San Francisco Giants quickly amended theirs last year. Eaton said the Cleveland Indians also tried to get around Seattle’s policy. He expects it will be an issue that is discussed in upcoming Collective Bargaining Agreement talks.

“More or less we want to give the money to the people that are doing the work in the clubhouse,” Eaton said. “We don’t want the front office taking money from the guy that’s down there working until 1 o’clock in the morning cleaning our uniform and cleaning our spikes. We treat those guys with the utmost respect. They work their butts off. When we made a decision as a team not to pay, it was because we want that clubby to get the money he deserves. The front office, they’re not down there during the day, they’re not doing any work, and they’re receiving the funds. We don’t see that as a productive practice.”

How Joe Maddon plans to unleash Aroldis Chapman in Cubs bullpen

How Joe Maddon plans to unleash Aroldis Chapman in Cubs bullpen

When the Cubs traded for Aroldis Chapman, the dream end result would be the left-hander closing out the final game of the 2016 World Series.

While that is the most likely solution (if the Cubs get that far, of course), Joe Maddon wouldn't lock anything in right now.

The Cubs manager doesn't live by etching relief roles in stone, preferring to employ his best pitchers at the most opportune spots, whether that is in the ninth inning or not.

So with the most dominant closer in the game now in the fold, Maddon wasn't ready to just move the rest of the Cubs pitchers down an inning and leave it at that.

"I do things with leverage moments. It really opens up the sixth, seventh and the eighth [innings]," Maddon said while rattling off the options at his disposal including former Cubs closer Hector Rondon and top setup man Pedro Strop. "It's incredible. It's like a lineup. 

"You throw one more guy in the lineup and what it does with the rest of the group. Same thing happens with the bullpen. You put the anchor at the back side and then it really permits you to do other stuff."

Maddon is one of the top bullpen managers in the game and now has plenty of relief options to work with. 

Beyond Chapman, Rondon and Strop, there's also the emergency of young Carl Edwards Jr., Joe Nathan's comeback tour, new left-hander Mike Montgomery and then bullpen stalwarts Travis Wood and Justin Grimm.

Maddon admitted he stresses more about the Cubs bullpen each day than anything else, but that was prior to acquiring a guy who has saved 165 games over the last five seasons while posting a 1.91 ERA and ridiculous 15.7 strikeout per nine ratio.

[RELATED: Aroldis Chapman trade gives Cubs intimidating closer]

Plus, the emergence of another trustworthy option out of the bullpen alleviates the stress placed upon the rest of the relievers, keeping them fresh down the stretch.

"He's the kind of guy that permits you not to run other people down and then possibly the trickle down effect," Maddon said. "It's not a problem. It's a great situation to be in. 

"My perspective as the manager, being the steward of this group, I have to try to figure this out the best I can."

The Cubs have struggled to find consistency from their group of left-handed relievers all season, but the arrival of Chapman helps ensure there's an option Maddon feels comfortable with in October in case lefties like Bryce Harper come up in a big moment late in the game.

The Cubs also don't have to worry about facing Chapman in the postseason now, flipping the momentum to their side.

"Just think about it: You never want to see him coming into the game when the other team has the lead," Maddon said. "Now, all of a sudden, we have the edge on our side. It's kind of fun to have.

"What we're talking about here right now is theory. It all looks good on paper and I believe it's gonna work out. But you also have to go out there and perform on a daily basis.

"He's good. We're gonna put him in there in the right moments and hopefully it's gonna make everybody else running better. You never want to face him in the ninth inning."

Notre Dame unit preview: Tarean Folston, Josh Adams a strong 1-2 punch at RB

7-25joshadams.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

Notre Dame unit preview: Tarean Folston, Josh Adams a strong 1-2 punch at RB

With the start of Notre Dame preseason camp approaching fast, we’re looking at what to expect from each unit that’ll take the field in primetime Sept. 4 against Texas at Darrell K. Royal Stadium. Today: The running backs. 

Depth Chart

1A. Tarean Folston (Redshirt junior)
1B. Josh Adams (Sophomore)
2. Dexter Williams (Sophomore)
3A. Deon McIntosh (Freshman)
3B. Tony Jones (Freshman)

In Adams and Folston, Notre Dame should have a dynamic 1-2 punch out of its backfield this fall. Adams broke Autry Denson’s freshman rushing record with 838 yards last year. The lightly-recruited Pennsylvania native showed excellent speed, vision and running back instincts — the latter of which were even more apparent in comparison to those of greenhorn back C.J. Prosise, who nonetheless rushed for over 1,000 yards last year. 

Folston suffered a torn ACL on his third carry of the season against Texas, which robbed him on a chance to build on his 889-yard sophomore season. He developed into a well-rounded running back in 2014, answering Brian Kelly’s challenge to improve his pass protection skills and catching 18 passes out of the backfield that year. 

While Adams and Folston are clearly atop the depth chart, Williams impressed coaches during the spring not so much for his burst and agility, but for his ability to grind out an extra yard or two after contact in the trenches. Kelly said Williams could be utilized as a short-yardage back this fall, though the former four-star recruit should have a few opportunities to showcase his explosive playmaking skills, too. 

Biggest question: Can Tarean Folston improve off 2013 and 2014?

Folston was the first offensive player to go down with a serious injury last year (defensive lineman Jarron Jones and defensive back Shaun Crawford both were hurt during preseason camp) and only had three carries for 19 yards. It wasn’t in the least bit the kind of season Folston hoped for.

The Cocoa, Fla. native thought a big 2015 season could vault him into NFL Draft consideration following his junior season. After putting together solid freshman and sophomore campaigns, Folston’s hope was to cement himself as Notre Dame’s feature running back and be a big part of a successful offense. 

Those efforts were delayed a year when Folston blew up his knee trying to bounce outside against Texas. The fact that Folston even participated in spring practice — even though he wore a non-contact jersey during March and April — was a positive sign, and Notre Dame expects him to be 100 percent for the start of preseason camp. If Folston can finally build off his first two seasons, it’ll provide a nice boost to the Irish offense, even if it’s a year behind schedule. 

Youthful impact

Jones and McIntosh were both rated as three-star recruits by Rivals coming from Bradenton and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., respectively. Ideally, Notre Dame won’t have to force either into action with three players ahead of them on the depth chart, but given the attrition that happened at this position last year, Jones and McIntosh aren’t guaranteed to redshirt this fall. 

The most important thing either player can do to get on the field quickly is pick up Notre Dame’s pass protection responsibilities. That’s a big part of why Adams, not the more highly touted Williams, played as a freshman in 2015. 

They said it

“Just going into practice with that appreciation — not saying I never had it, but you know, day in and day out knowing that I’m getting the opportunity to do what I love and not sitting at a table rehabbing just watching or on the sideline, freezing, just watching.” — Tarean Folston on returning to practice during the spring