Only 24 days until opening day ….
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No pressure, kid
Expectations were already going to be high for Luis Robert in 2020.
But Eloy Jimenez isn’t doing the young Sox phenom any favors when it comes to tempering them. In fact, he’s doing quite the opposite as he doubled down this weekend on comparing Robert to Mike Trout.
Jimenez first made the comparison at SoxFest in January and it made local headlines. But this time, the quote made it all the way to MLB’s official Twitter account, which obviously elevates it to another level.
“He’s really good,” Jimenez told Sox reporters. “He’s been working really hard. Like I’ve said before, he’s going to be the next Mike Trout.
“He knows how to handle (high expectations). I don’t really help him with that; he just comes up with that. That’s why I say he’s a really good player and he can be the next Mike Trout, because he can handle everything.”
Comparing Robert to Trout at this point is insane. If only because Trout has a very real track at becoming the best player in the history of baseball when all is said and done while the 22-year-old Robert has yet to play a big league game.
But it also speaks to just how high anticipation is for Robert’s rookie season and the five tools he’ll bring to the park every day. The six-year deal he signed in the offseason will put him in a Sox uniform for opening day after a 2019 minor-league season that saw him hit 32 home runs across three levels.
Watching Robert in spring training has already been a treat. If you haven’t been keeping up with his highlights, Jim Margalus of Sox Machine put together a must-see post of Robert’s work from just over the past week, a slate that ended with his first homer of the spring during Saturday’s game. It’s a legit highlight reel that might convince Sox fans it’s OK to go out and buy a #88 Robert jersey before the start of the season.
(Random thought: It’s odd that the two best 88s in Chicago history might end up belonging to the Blackhawks and White Sox when it’s considered more of a football number. Sorry, Dez Clark and Marcus Robinson.)
While Jimenez put some big expectations on Robert, he’s not the only one. Reporters asked Robert if he thinks winning both the AL rookie of the year and AL MVP is possible. Only two players in baseball history — Fred Lynn in 1975 and Ichiro in 2001 — have pulled off that double.
“That is the dream of every baseball player who plays at this level,” Robert said through an interpreter in response. “I won’t go out with that in my mind because I don’t want that extra pressure.”
It might already be too late.
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Sounders 2, Fire 1
Jordan Morris scored in the third minute of stoppage time to give the defending MLS Cup champs the win, but it was a good effort to start the season for the Fire
Illinois 67, Indiana 66
A late three-pointer by Ayo Dosunmo helped lift the Illini to their 20th win of the season. Two more regular season games remain and Illinois is currently in position to get a double-bye in the conference tournament.
Northwestern 81, Nebraska 76 (OT)
’Cats end a 12-game losing streak, thanks to 22 missed FTs by the Huskers
Mavericks (-3.5) at Bulls (7 pm, NBC Sports Chicago, O/U 220.5)
Padres at Sox (2:05, MLB.com)
Angels at Cubs (SS) (2:05)
Cubs (SS) at A’s (8:10, MLB Network)
The Hawks are back to being optimistic following a OT win in Florida on Saturday night. Their odds of making the playoffs have only risen to 7 percent, but five of their next six are at home. (Stop me if you’ve heard this before.)
• Brent Seabrook said his progress from three surgeries in five weeks has been slow moving. “I am where I was two months ago,” Seabrook told reporters at his charity bowling event on Sunday.
The Bulls have lost 10 of 11 following Saturday’s loss to the Knicks and are seven games out of a playoff spot in the East. “Something’s got to change,” a dejected Zach LaVine told The Athletic.
(The better quote in Darnell Mayberry’s story might be Thaddeus Young expressing his disbelief on the Bulls entering the season with playoff hopes and it devolving into this mess: “I would have thought you were crazy. But shit has happened over the course of time.”)
• Andy Dolan: Why I’m leaving The Athletic (Desipio)
• Congratulations to the Northwestern women’s basketball team, who clinched at least a share of their first Big Ten title in 30 years with a win over Illinois. (Tribune)
• Good news for those of us who are hoping Marquee comes to YouTubeTV: The service hasn’t yanked any of their existing RSNs — including YES Network — as they continue to negotiate with Sinclair. (Engadget)
• Corey Crawford is playing his best hockey of the season. (NBC Sports)
• Joe Maddon is returning to Sloan Park with the Angels today and Cubs players are ready to welcome him. (670 The Score)
• Anyone know what Luis Robert looks like with a golf club in his hand?
That’s it for today. Thank you for being a #frentofthenewsletter.