It’s back at Wrigley Field, where the wind is blowing in hard and cold from the north. That should benefit the starting pitchers today, the Cubs’ Jeff Samardzija and the Reds’ Alfredo Simon. We talked in Friday’s paper about the Cubs and Reds having trouble getting on base in certain situations. The Cubs enter today ranked 14th in on-base percentage, 15th in slugging, 13th in walks and 14th in runs scored. With runners in scoring position, the Cubs are batting .195 (22-for-113).
They’re coming off a 1-4 road trip, including being shut out in both games of a day-night doubleheader at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday.
Through the first weeks of the season, Paul Konerko has kept a very low profile.
That’s understandable, considering the White Sox only faced two left-handed starting pitchers through their first 15 games. Konerko started only one of those games, but he’s in the lineup tonight vs. Boston lefty Jon Lester.
Konerko is actually starting at first base in place of the slumping Jose Abreu, who has 1 hit in his last 20 at-bats.
The Sox’ captain seemed to talk before just about every game when he was a regular player, and he held court again on Thursday.
Here are some highlights:
On the difficultly of going from full-time to part-time play:
Only two of the eight first-round NBA playoff matchups are settled heading into the final night of the regular season. But the league did announce some of the starting times for Game 1.
The Bulls will host either Brooklyn or Washington on Sunday at 6 p.m., on TNT and Comcast Sports Net.
The full Sunday lineup is at San Antonio at noon (TNT), at Miami at 2:30 (ABC), with Portland at Houston the nightcap at 8:30 (TNT).
The Saturday lineup will include Atlanta at Indiana; along with games at Toronto, Oklahoma City and the L.A. Clippers.
More details will be available later tonight.
Brooklyn had a chance to clinch the No. 5 seed on Tuesday at home against New York, but missed badly. Despite starting most of their regulars, the Nets lost 109-98 in a game that wasn’t very close in the second half.
The Bulls’ first-round playoff opponent remains in doubt heading into Wednesday’s final night of the regular season, but a scenario where the Bulls are No. 4 and Washington moves up to No. 5 has become more realistic.
If Brooklyn loses on Wednesday at Cleveland and the Wizards win at Boston, then Washington
will be No. 5, while the Nets drop to No. 6. There’s a good chance Brooklyn rests many of its regulars against the Cavs and coach Jason Kidd didn’t place much importance on the outcome when speaking to reporters after Tuesday’s game.
It's cold, 37 degrees about an hour from first pitch, but there's no rain (or snow), so the White Sox and Red Sox are going to play ball tonight at U.S. Cellular Field.
Lot of stuff happening:
-It's Jackie Robinson Day, marking the 67th anniversary of the former Brooklyn Dodgers great breaking baseball's color barrier. Players on both teams will wear Robinson's No. 42 tonight.
-Two familiar faces are in Boston's clubhouse.
Former White Sox starter Jake Peavy gets the start for the Red Sox tonight, and popular catcher A.J. Pierzynski will be behind the plate for Boston.
This video of Joakim Noah learning about the snowfall after Monday's win over Orlando is getting a lot of play nationally. Some strange reporter comments put a little bit of a damper on the moment. I astutely kept my mouth shut while this was going on. Sometimes, you should just sit back and let things happen.
Some quick notes before the White Sox try for their third straight win over the Indians:
-This is a big start for Felipe Paulino, who is running out of time.
Yes, he is coming back from Tommy John surgery, and Paulino understandably has some rust after being away from the majors for almost two years.
But the 30-year-old right-hander has to start throwing strikes, and making it through 6 innings would also be nice.
In his first two starts, Paulino has worked a combined 9.2 innings and thrown 208 pitches.
"I'd like to see him in better hitters counts," manager Robin Ventura said. "I think he falls behind and starts picking. Early on you're just going to have to throw strikes and hopefully get through a little quicker than he's been in the past."
A few hours after the White Sox announced right fielder Avisail Garcia is out for the season with a torn labrum in his left shoulder, general manager Rick Hahn didn't mince words when he met the media at U.S. Cellular Field.
"Obviously, it's lousy," Hahn said. "It stings for the kid, who is crushed right now, who is very disappointed. He was hoping this was going to be a temporary thing but obviously understands the medical situation and the realities in front of us and what they are. He's taking it very hard.
"It stinks for White Sox fans who are going to be deprived of the opportunity of seeing this kid on a daily basis this year. It's really just one of the crueler realties of sports and the business we're in."
The good news?
The Cubs finish the homestand this afternoon as Travis Wood takes on Gerrit Cole and the Pirates at Wrigley Field. After today, the Cubs head to St. Louis for three and then on to the Bronx for two against the Yankees next Tuesday and Wednesday.
Fans who have been clamoring for manager Rick Renteria to play Mike Olt and Junior Lake more get their wish this afternoon. Both are in the starting lineup against the right-hander.
The wind is blowing out during batting practice at Wrigley Field, and so far, it looks to be a comfortable evening for Game 2 of the Cubs and Pirates. Jason Hammel pitches for the Cubs against lefty Wandy Rodriguez. Cubs manager Rick Renteria will go with a right-handed hitting lineup against Rodriguez.
One change from the last couple of games is moving Starlin Castro up from the sixth spot to the second spot. Emilio Bonifacio remains the leadoff hitter. He is 17-for-33 (.515) on the season and has a hitting line of .515/.556/.576.