Good morning, frents!
100 percent capacity at Wrigley Field, which will be followed by 100 percent capacity at Sox Park, Wintrust Arena, SeatGeek Stadium, Soldier Field and the United Center.
I almost can't believe I'm typing this, but ... We made it, everyone!
Sox 5, Blue Jays 2
Cards at Cubs (1:20, Marquee)
Sox at Tigers (6:10, NBCSCH)
Sky at Fever (Noon, CW 26, Prime)
Sox at Tigers (3:10, NBCSCH)
Cards at Cubs (6:15, Fox)
Sox at Tigers (12:10, NBCSCH)
Cards at Cubs (6:08, Marquee)
Any team with title hopes will face its share of injuries and setbacks.
But this is getting ridiculous.
Nick Madrigal was placed on the 60-day IL Thursday afternoon with a proximal tear in his right hamstring suffered a night before against the Blue Jays. The Sox say they'll know by next week if Madrigal will return for a playoff run or if he'll require season-ending surgery.
Whatever the case, Tony La Russa is facing at least two months of plugging a sizable hole left at second base by the diminutive 24-year-old.
And, well, unless Rick Hahn can hop into a time machine and bring back Ray Durham in his prime, that's going to be tough to do.
“You are not going to just carelessly say, ‘Hey we will bring somebody in and plug him in and be OK,’" Tony La Russa told reporters on Thursdays. "That disrespects who Nick is and what he’s done."
Madrigal had fought though some early bumps to become a consistent presence in a Sox lineup that needed one. He's already compiled 1.3 WAR just 54 games into his rookie season and posted a slash line of .305/.349/.425 with an OPS+ of 118.
Though he started a majority of games (33) hitting ninth, Madrigal had slotted atop the order on Tim Anderson's off-days and made appearances in six of the nine spots.
While Madrigal may not be the type of generational talent the Sox lost in teammates Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert, his versatility and approach may be hard to duplicate.
Jimenez's absence since the end of spring training with a ruptured left pectoral has been softened somewhat by Yermin Mercedes taking advantage of the opportunity given him.
Robert's absence since injuring his hip flexor has been a little harder to deal with from a power and production standpoint, even if Adam Engel has returned and Billy Hamilton had a nice run before getting hurt himself.
Madrigal's misfortune probably falls somewhere in between with the Sox needing either Leury Garcia or Danny Mendick to swing above their weight for the time being. (Mendick got Thursday's start and went 0-for-3 from the No. 9 spot. He's hitting .190/.288/.293 on the season.)
But let's not fool ourselves here: Hahn needs to hit the trade market to get the clubhouse the healthy contributors it needs.
While second base wasn't anywhere on the to-do list before Madrigal came up hurt, it's now at the top with a name-brand outfielder and an extra arm for the bullpen.
Who would work at second base? MLB Trade Rumors mentions Pittsburgh's Adam Frazier, Washington's Josh Harrison or Detroit's Jonathan Schoop as potential trade targets.
The Sox have done well playing through adversity and injury to this point, compiling a 38-24 overall record and opening a 4.5-game lead over Cleveland in the AL Central.
But they're going to need help at some point and let's hope that misfortune doesn't cause Hahn's to-do list to grow any longer than it is already.
The Sox rolled with the punches dealt by Madrigal's bad news, earning a series win behind Yasmani Grandal's 10th homer of the season, a solid start from Dallas Keuchel and three scoreless innings from the bullpen after a rough night on Wednesday.
Next: Lucas Giolito (5-5, 3.88) kicks off the weekend trip to Motor City with a Friday night date against Tarik Skubal (3-7, 4.33). The Sox have beat the Tigers in 14 of their last 16 games.
Justin Fields and Bears agree to four-year deal
No drama here. Fields and the team agreed to a fully guaranteed four-year deal worth $18.8 million, which includes an $11 million signing bonus. Here's hoping there's no drama surrounding his fifth-year option in a few years
Coby White out four months after shoulder surgery
Ouch. The Bulls guard suffered a shoulder injury while "engaged in basketball activities away from the team." He underwent surgery at Rush on Thursday and will be re-evaluated in four months, just before the start of the next season. White's long-term future with the Bulls was already a big question mark and this certainly isn't going to help him work to erase any doubts.
The Return of the Pink Hat Guy!
Jim Anixter told me two weeks ago that he'd return to his familiar spot behind the plate at Wrigley Field once the park returned to 100 percent capacity. When I texted him on Thursday to ask if that was still the case, he simply texted back "Yes!!!"
- Preview: The Cubs haven't named a starter yet against the Cardinals' Johan Oviedo (0-2, 5.25). But they have named a Seventh Inning Stretch singer for the first full capacity game since 2019. (It's Bill Murray.) The 35-27 Cubs are tied with the Brewers for first place and are three games ahead of St. Louis, which has two wins in its last 10.
- Kyle Long's comeback with Kansas City hit a serious speed bump after he suffered a knee injury. Sun-Times
- Jon Greenberg's story on Ethan Katz's long road to being an overnight success story. The Athletic
- Brendan Miller dives deep on Patrick Wisdom's homers to find he's hitting literally every kind of pitch over the wall. Cubs Insider
- Larry Hawley on the 30th anniversary of the Bulls' first championship, which is somehow tomorrow. WGN-TV
- Dave Hoekstra remembers a night with Sly Stone in suburban Stickney. Dave Hoekstra
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