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.
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.
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.
Cubs manager Dale Sveum talked about a couple of the young players on the team this morning: Anthony Rizzo and Junior Lake. Rizzo is completing his first full year in the big leagues after coming up in June 2012 and having success. This year, it’s been a mixed bag.
“I think you have to analyze it in a way that we know how the game works and it’s his first time ever playing every single day in the big leagues,” Sveum said. “It’s his first time with the pressure of hitting third every single day, for the most part anyway. The 22 homers, 75, possibly 75 RBI for a second-year player isn’t the end of the world.
Can we have some peace and quiet around here, already? That was the feeling here at Wrigley at the end of what’s been a long week of trial and tribulation. As we reported this morning, the Cubs and closer Kevin Gregg have decided to let bygones be bygones, and Gregg will not be released after yesterday’s postgame session.
Gregg said he didn’t appreciate being told youngster Pedro Strop would close games the rest of the season, or at least that’s how he heard it. After some airing of words (some choice, no doubt) between team president Theo Epstein and Gregg, the pitcher apologized and cooler heads prevailed.
Theo said he would “sleep on” a decision about Gregg overnight, but Gregg said this morning Epstein called him last night and things were fine.
It’s always an eventful day on the Cubs beat, and today is no exception. We had both Theo Esptein and minor-league chief Jason McLeod talk to us on the field today. We’ll get to a few things here on the blog and flesh more out for the paper tomorrow (online tonight).
The one major news item is that catcher Welington Castillo had an MRI on his right knee this morning and that it revealed a partial tear in the meniscus and that he’ll have arthroscopic surgery. Theo said that, conservatively, the rehab is a 4-6-week process, so Castillo should easily be good to go by spring training barring any setbacks.
A Slam Magazine cover story on Derrick Rose is titled, “My only goal is to win a championship.”
Maybe Rose should open up next week’s media day interviews by asking, “Why can’t I rain on LeBron’s parade?” considering his MVP question in 2010 turned out to be prophetic.
Anyway, Rose spoke to Slam in late August in Los Angeles, while working with trainer Rob McLanaghan. As everyone is sick of being reminded, Rose hasn’t played in an NBA game since April 28, 2012.
MILWUAKEE -- After a promising start to this 11-game road trip, the Cubs are trying to avoid a four-game sweep at the hands of the Brewers. The trip began with the Cubs taking two of three in Cincinnati before they lost three of four in Pittsburgh and the first three here.
“Going to Cincinnati and winning two out of three there, obviously, it hasn’t been real good at scoring runs and solidifying innings,” said manager Dale Sveum. “The bottom line is Pittsburgh, their pitching is going to hold you down. They were all close games, in every game. And here, once again, we just haven’t played very good.”
We’ll delve more into the offense for our take in tomorrow’s paper. But for this road trip, the numbers have not been good. Let’s take a look:
It was another busy, eventful and strange night at Miller Park last night, when the Cubs fell 4-3 in the bottom of the ninth inning on Logan Schafer’s bases-loaded suicide squeeze bunt. We’ll talk about that play in a sec, and we’ll also let Cubs president Theo Epstein go unfiltered on a number of topics. We can do that here in the blog because of the time-space continuum doesn’t hamper us here. And the readers seem to like it.
MILWAUKEE -- We’ll get to a few things today in advance to Game 2 of the Cubs-Brewers series here at Miller Park. We had a chance to meet with team president Theo Epstein for about a half-hour. We’ll flesh it out in the paper tomorrow, but here are a few tidbits and highlights:
--Theo said he believes manager Dale Sveum has done a “remarkable” job in keeping the clubhouse together through two difficult season. Epstein did not say Sveum is on the hot seat, but he said the manager is being evaluated.