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Joe Maddon has a new restaurant in Wrigleyville, but not a new contract

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CHICAGO — Cubs manager Joe Maddon’s fate as the team’s skipper will be decided six or seven floors above where his new business venture is about to open its doors.

Located adjacent to Wrigley Field — and in the same building that houses the Cubs’ front office — the new restaurant, Maddon’s Post, will welcome customers beginning next week, but it’s what could happen months down the road that stands out. The 65-year-old is in the final year of a five-year deal, and the Cubs say they won’t discuss his future until the end of the season.

“I don’t believe the success of that place is dependent on me having to work for the Cubs,” Maddon said recently. “I don’t think that highly of myself.”

Perhaps that’s why Maddon teamed up with local, veteran restaurateurs including executive chef Tony Mantuano from Spiaggia, a Chicago hot spot. Maddon and his business partner, Michael Stewart, expect the restaurant to be a hit with Cubs fans whether Maddon is employed by the team or not.

“Of course, having Joe around is better, that is a given,” Stewart said. “Joe is extremely smart, has great intuition, he thinks outside the box — even with some of our entrees that he creates. Of course, having him here is a bonus.

“Having said that, I firmly believe Joe will be back. But, at some point, he will not. Whether it’s next year or five years, or whenever. We knew that going into this project.”

Stewart and Maddon say they conceived of the eatery at Wrigley Field even before he won the World Series with the Cubs in 2016. It has taken several years to come to fruition, as they’ve made sure it doesn’t require Maddon’s presence to be successful. It’s the same attitude they had with Maddon’s other restaurant, in Tampa, Florida. Ava opened in November 2014, just weeks after Maddon left the Rays for the Cubs.

“We always intended this to be about the food and experience,” Stewart said. “This is not a sports bar. … Right before we opened Ava, Joe took the Chicago job. Back then, people were asking the [same] question, ‘What will we do?’ What we did was built a restaurant around the food, the service, our staff, the location — not around baseball and its ownership.”

Ava has received favorable reviews, and Maddon’s team is hopeful it’ll be the same with his new place. As for the manager’s other team, the Cubs played their way to the top of the National League Central standings after a 2-7 start. But that hasn’t changed anything within the front office. Cubs officials say they’re focused on the field, not what goes on behind kitchen doors. When asked just about the restaurant, general manager Jed Hoyer quipped, “I’m looking forward to the friends/family discount.”

Maddon remains optimistic he’ll be back, especially after taking the team to the playoffs four consecutive seasons. He could be 5-for-5 come October.

“I do anticipate managing the Cubs,” Maddon said.

As much as the front office has a say in Maddon’s future, so does he. He often has said that 2019 is his free-agent year. Asked if he has thought about the prospect of opening Maddon’s Post and then leaving town to work elsewhere in baseball, Maddon responded: “Of course you do. You have to consider that could happen.”

Like his managerial style this year, Maddon has had a hands-on approach with the menu and decor. It has been described as full of Maddon’s childhood “likes and recipes,” with a heavy accent on his Italian and Polish heritage. (If you want to order his favorite dish, try Mama K’s Pappardelle.)

“It’s not about me,” Maddon said. “If we have a good product — as we’re going to — plus Wrigley Field, we think people will come no matter what.”

There is precedent in Chicago for a championship-winning coach to open a restaurant and then abruptly leave town. Mike Ditka won the Super Bowl in 1986, was fired by the Bears in 1993 and opened a restaurant in 1997 — the same year he was hired to coach the New Orleans Saints.

“Nobody was really happy about it, on the business side,” an employee of Ditka’s back then said. “They just started looking for space in New Orleans.”

Ditka’s remains a popular Chicago steakhouse to this day. Maddon’s Post is hopeful for a similar run, knowing the popular personality might not be around to eat there for more than a few more months.

“Ava was thriving after I left there,” Maddon said. “I don’t think that’s the connection. The ballpark, the Cubs, the iconic nature of who we are, sells anywhere. … We have sharp, wonderful people running it. Wherever I am — hopefully it’s here — it will be a great place.”

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Tigers vs. Rays – Game Recap – August 17, 2019

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Mike Brosseau’s pinch-hit RBI single in the 13th inning drove in Eric Sogard to give the Tampa Bay Rays a 1-0 win over the Detroit Tigers on Saturday night.

Sogard doubled off Matt Hall (0-1) with two outs and Tommy Pham was intentionally walked. Brosseau, batting for pitcher Colin Poche, singled to right-center field for the Rays’ first run since Wednesday, ending a streak of 29 scoreless innings.

Rays pitchers struck out a franchise-record 24 batters, including 13 in 20 hitless at bats against relievers. Six Tigers hitters struck out at least three times.

Poche (3-4) got the win after striking out two of the three Tigers he faced in the 13th.

The win kept the Rays one-half game ahead of Oakland for the American League’s second wild-card spot.

Detroit’s final hit was Niko Goodrum‘s one-out double in the seventh off Rays starter Ryan Yarbrough. The next eight Tigers struck out against three different relievers.

Yarbrough, who came one out short of pitching the Rays’ first complete game in three years on Sunday, is 6-0 with a 1.43 ERA over 56 2/3 innings in his last 11 appearances. He gave up three hits while striking out 10 in 6 1/3 innings.

Detroit starter Jordan Zimmermann allowed only one baserunner — on Pham’s double — in five innings, throwing 63 pitches and striking out five.

In nine at bats in the first two games of the series, Miguel Cabrera has struck out seven times and grounded into a double play.

ANDERSON’S K’s

Since allowing a double to Boston’s Andrew Benintendi, the first batter he faced as a Ray, Nick Anderson has retired 21 straight, 17 by strikeout. He struck out the side in the eighth inning Saturday. Anderson was acquired in a trade from Miami on July 31.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Tigers: C Grayson Greiner (lower back strain) moved from Class A Lakeland to Triple-A Toledo for the final step of his rehab process.

Rays: 2B Brandon Lowe, out since July 3 with a bruised right shin bone, will play with Class A Charlotte through Sunday at which time it will be determined if he will join Triple-A Durham. “It will be depended on if everybody feels he’s moving well,” manager Kevin Cash said. “If not we’ll just keep him at Charlotte.”

UP NEXT

Tigers: LHP Matthew Boyd (6-9) will pitch Sunday’s series finale. He has given up 11 earned runs over eight innings in his last two starts.

Rays: RHP Trevor Richards was added to the taxi squad from Triple-A Durham and is lined up to start or follow an opener Sunday. Acquired from Miami on July 31, Richards went 3-12 in 23 games, including 20 starts, for the Marlins.

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Yanks’ Boone, Gardner ejected again for ump tiff

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NEW YORK — Manager Aaron Boone, Brett Gardner and the New York Yankees again hammered away at the umpires Saturday, this time in prolonged rants that brought several members of the team spilling onto the field, while beating the Cleveland Indians 6-5.

For the third time in a month — each time with a minor league call-up umpire behind the plate — the team with the best record in the American League lost its temper in a big way. This episode led to Boone and Gardner as well as pitcher CC Sabathia, who is on the injured list, all being ejected.

The trouble began in the sixth inning after Triple-A ump Ben May called out Cameron Maybin on strikes. The final pitch to Maybin was, according to strike zone charts, a bit outside. He calmly stood and discussed it with May and went back to the bench.

Moments later, things heated up in a hurry.

Boone came rushing from the dugout to confront May, and engaged in an animated argument. When Boone returned to the bench, all seemed calm — for a moment, anyway.

That’s when Boone came back for another go at May, with crew chief Tom Hallion coming in from second base, trying to quell the beef. But at the same time, several Yankees were hollering from the dugout, engaging in a close-up argument with first-base ump Phil Cuzzi.

“Just in that couple innings, obviously we objected to a few calls,” Boone explained after the game. “I start in there not wanting to get one of our guys if I can out of that game, but you know I had some issues where I felt like something might have affected another, might affect [James] Paxton being in that game, so just voiced it.”

Gardner was then ejected after banging his bat against the dugout roof — it’s become his habit when he gets upset — and then he climbed over the railing to continue to the dispute with Cuzzi. Coaches Phil Nevin, Marcus Thames and Josh Paul also were on the field, holding back Gardner, who was also arguing with third-base umpire Todd Tichenor.

“Kinda crazy to be honest,” Gardner said. “Got ejected for hitting the top of the dugout with my bat, making too much noise I guess. I wasn’t happy about it, I didn’t feel like what I did warranted an ejection.”

Boone said he thought the umpires were looking for Gardner to repeat his previous assaults on dugout roofs.

“I think in this case, in kind of talking with Gardy and watching it back, I think it’s clearly something they were probably looking for with us,” the manager said. “I haven’t received any memos or anything saying that’s illegal. Gardy was saying nothing again other than, ‘Hey, this is a spot in the game, we’re fired up, we’re playing for a lot,’ and we get a little passionate in that dugout in spots, and Gardy I don’t think was doing anything more than that.”

Boone added that on the topic of hitting the roof, the Yankees would “work closely with the commissioner’s office and find out what’s acceptable and not and try and certainly be respectful of that, and try and do a better job of staying in the game.”

Gardner said he believes any potential rule limiting players’ expression from the dugout would not be good for the sport.

“I guess if we’re trying to make the game fun again, like a lot of guys say the last few years — I don’t think you want all the guys sitting in the dugout not being able to say anything or make any noise or anything like that,” Gardner said. “That wouldn’t be too much fun. I’m not saying what I did was right…But I probably wouldn’t do it again tomorrow.”

It was Gardner’s sixth ejection of his career and second in little more than a week.

Last Friday, Gardner was tossed after an incident in Toronto in which plate umpire Chris Segal heard some words from the dugout and singled out the outfielder. Gardner had been silent at the time but earlier had been slamming his bat into the roof of the dugout.

On July 18, Boone screamed and hollered at another rookie umpire, Brennan Miller, leading to the expletive-filled rant that prompted the manager to call his hitters “savages” in the batter’s box. That netted him a one-game suspension.

These frustrations have come as the Yankees are running away with the American League East, with an 11-game lead over their nearest rival.

“I think it got taken too far with sending Gardy out of that game again, but look we’re playing for a lot right now,” Boone said. “You can feel that with all our guys right now, we’re in this thing — we’re playing for keeps.”

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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Urias gets 20-game domestic violence suspension

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Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias has been suspended 20 games under Major League Baseball’s Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy, the league announced Saturday.

Urias has said he will not appeal. He has already served five games of the suspension while on administrative leave from May 14 to 21, leaving 15 games remaining to be served.

Urias, 23, was arrested May 13 after an altercation with a woman in a parking lot of a Los Angeles shopping mall. The Los Angeles city attorney’s office announced in June that it would not file charges against Urias as long as he participates in a 52-week domestic counseling program and commits no acts of violence for the next year.

The city attorney said it was deferring prosecution because Urias has no record of criminal behavior and the incident did not result in any physical injury, nor did the woman involved in the altercation indicate to police officers or witnesses that she believed she was a victim.

Urias, in a statement issued through the MLBPA on Saturday, said he’s been “fully cooperating” with law enforcement officials and the MLB since May and that he accepts “full responsibility for what I believe was my inappropriate conduct during the incident.”

“Even in this instance where there was no injury or history of violence, I understand and agree that Major League players should be held to a higher standard,” Urias continued in his statement. “I hold myself to a higher standard as well. I have taken proactive steps to help me grow as a person on and off the field, and in my relationships.”

Urias will be eligible for the postseason, which he said is a reason why he chose not to appeal.

“It is important to me not to create uncertainty for my teammates as we approach the playoffs,” Urias said in the statement. “Accepting the suspension is the best path to achieve that goal.”

The Dodgers issued their own statement, saying they are encouraged Urias will “learn” from this incident.

“While we are disappointed in what occurred and support the decision by the Commissioner’s Office, we are also encouraged that Julio has taken responsibility for his actions and believe he will take the necessary steps to learn from this incident,” the Dodgers’ statement said.

Urias, who has alternated between the rotation and the bullpen for the Dodgers, has a 4-3 record with four saves and a 2.53 ERA. The right-hander has 67 strikeouts in 67 2/3 innings and a 1.09 WHIP.

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