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Hawks playing it safe with Crawford

Posted by TimS on Sat, 09/28/2013 - 13:03

The Blackhawks took the safe route with Corey Crawford on Saturday after the goalie complained of stiffness in his lower body.

Rookie Antti Raanta was recalled from Rockford to back up Nikolai Khabibulin, who was to start the final preseason game against Washington at the United Center.

Hawks coach Joel Quenneville expects Crawford to be OK to start Tuesday’s regular season opener against the Capitals.

“It’s more precautionary than anything,” Quenneville said. “Crow should be fine.”

Quenneville isn’t worried that it will be more than a week since Crawford played a game.

“He’s been on the ice every day so he hasn’t missed any time,” Quenneville said. “He’ll be ready.”

Konerko, Hahn look to the future

Posted by scotgreg on Fri, 09/27/2013 - 18:04

Busy day on the South Side.
On Friday afternoon, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn talked about the miserable season that ends Sunday and looked ahead to the future.
Later, Paul Konerko addressed his future.
Let's start with Konerko.
Given his subpar season (.248, 12 home runs, 54 RBI), age (37) and health (he missed a month with a sore lower back), I thought retirement was pretty much a slam-dunk.
But after listening to Konerko lay out his options, I changed my mind a bit. Konekro said he might be open to playing one more season, even though he's had no formal talks with the Sox.

Hossa feels on track for opener

Posted by TimS on Fri, 09/27/2013 - 13:12

Marian Hossa returned to practice Friday at his normal spot at right wing on the second line with Michal Handzus and Patrick Sharp.

Hossa has missed the entire Blackhawks preseason while nursing a sore back but feels like he will play in Tuesday's season opener against Washington.

"I definitely feel much better after the week off," Hossa said. "I took my time and the last few days and I feel much better. I went to the gym and did some stuff there. I skated on my own (Thursday) and woke up today feeling pretty good so it was time to go back with the team.

Sox' miserable season almost over

Posted by scotgreg on Thu, 09/26/2013 - 18:24

The end is near for the White Sox, and that's a good thing.
Only four games are left in the Sox' worst season since 1970, when they lost 100 games. The White Sox need to win one of four against the Royals to avoid 100 losses this year.
In reality, it doesn't really matter.
This season has been spiraling downward since late May, when the Sox lost eight in a row after scratching their way back to the .500 mark.
"It's not the season that you wanted," manager Robin Ventura said in his pregame media session. "At this point you can't go to the playoffs so you're ready to end it and get ready for what you're going to do next year."

Nordstrom gaining attention

Posted by TimS on Wed, 09/25/2013 - 13:15

Joakim Nordstrom doesn't even have a regular stall in the Blackhawks' dressing room at Johnny's Ice House West, but he did have a regular spot on the fourth line at practice on Wednesday.

The 21-year-old Nordstrom, whose versatility and chemistry with fellow Swede Marcus Kruger improves his chances of making the team, wasn't reading anything into his fourth line status.

"Everything is a new experience," said Nordstrom, who finished last season playing 11 games at Rockford after competing in the Swedish Elite League. "I hang out a lot with (Kruger) and he helps me out. He's easy to play with and supports me both on and off the ice. That makes it a lot easier."

Nordstrom enjoys playing a defensive role and killing penalties.

Clock ticks on online horse betting

Posted by Mike Riopell on Wed, 09/25/2013 - 11:59

I followed up on Mike Spellman's interesting story today about how the number of racing days at Arlington International Racecourse this year could depend on lawmakers' further approval of betting on horses online.

The law allowing Internet gambling on horses in Illinois expired at the end of 2012. It's known as advanced deposit wagering. Spellman explains why that affects Arlington:

It wasn't extended this year until the spring, and it cost the (Illinois Racing Board), which is partially funded by ADW, approximately $750,000 in tax revenues.

Rusin continues the audition for 2014

Posted by Bruce on Tue, 09/24/2013 - 18:51

The smell of cigar smoke and champagne still linger in the tiny visitors clubhouse at Wrigley Field after two days of celebration. The Braves celebrated here Sunday after winning the NL East, and the Pirates partied last night after clinching a playoff berth. There’s still a lot to play for as far as Pittsburgh is concerned. The Pirates still want to win the NL Central, and at worst, they want home field for the wild-card play-in game.

The Cubs will send lefty Chris Rusin against Gerrit Cole. Rusin is 2-5 with a 3.52 ERA. Manager Dale Sveum says Rusin looks more self-assured than he did last year, when he came up for a short stint.

Shoulder surgery for Keppinger

Posted by scotgreg on Tue, 09/24/2013 - 16:12

According to reports out of Cleveland, where the White Sox play the first of two games against the Indians tonight at Progressive Field, infielder Jeff Keppinger is scheduled to have shoulder surgery on Thursday.
Keppinger had some shoulder soreness in spring training, and manager Robin Ventura today told reporters the condition affected Keppinger’s throwing but not his swing.
Keppinger, 33, played against the Blue Jays Monday night at U.S. Cellular Field and went 1-for-2 with 2 walks as the designated hitter. He finishes a disappointing season with a .253/.283/.317 hitting line and 4 home runs and 40 RBI.
The Sox signed Keppinger to a three-year, $12 million contract on Dec. 10. Check back later for more details.

Who's backing whom?

Posted by Mike Riopell on Tue, 09/24/2013 - 13:10

Now that primary season has picked up, I'll do this occasionally because it's the time of year when party leaders will back one candidate or another.

Today, we got notice that state Rep. JoAnn Osmond, an Antioch Republican who isn't running for re-election in 2014, said she's backing state Sen. Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale for governor. Dillard is running against state Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington, businessman Bruce Rauner of Chicago and Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford of Chenoa.

And U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren, a Winfield Republican, will support state Rep. Darlene Senger for Congress in the 11th District over Chris Balkema of Channahon and Ian Bayne of Aurora.

The primary is set for March 18.

Another clincher at Wrigley? The Bucs stop here

Posted by Bruce on Mon, 09/23/2013 - 18:34

We begin the final Cubs homestand of the year tonight as the Pittsburgh Pirates come to Wrigley Field to open a three-game series. The Atlanta Braves celebrated their NL East division title yesterday in the visiting clubhouse. No sooner has the smell of champagne and cigar smoke begun to dissipate than we could have the same situation all over again tonight.

A victory tonight by the Pirates (89-67) and a loss in St. Louis by the Washington Nationals (84-72) would assure the Pirates their first postseason berth since 1992. The Pirates currently have one of the wild-card spots along with the Cincinnati Reds. They’re still trying to catch the Cardinals and win the NL Central. The Cubs finish in St. Louis this weekend, and it’s possible they could witness three celebrations.