The Rundown: Manny Ramirez Hired As Hitting Consultant, Sammy Sosa Discussed, Single-Game Tickets On Sale March 6

Last night was a rough one for me as a Chicago sports fan.

First the Blackhawks’ Patrick Kane took an awkward hit and left last night’s game in obvious pain. Then later in the night, news surfaced — pretty much out of nowhere — that the Bulls’ Derrek Rose would need knee surgery and could miss the remainder of the season.

At least we have baseball to look forward to. And as far as I know, no Cubs suffered a catastrophic injury yesterday. Well, I’m pretty sure.

It really puts things in perspective though. This has been a great offseason for the Cubs, with the acquisitions of Jon Lester, Miguel Montero and Dexter Fowler.

But a season-ending injury to one of them, or one of the Cubs’ exciting young players, would seriously put a damper on things. Injuries happen, and it’s likely a key member of the Cubs will suffer one this year.

Hopefully any injuries are kept to a minimum and are minor. Luckily, we shouldn’t have to worry about one of the biggest offseason acquisitions getting injured: Joe Maddon.

I’m pretty sure we can assume that, right? After last night, I’m not so sure.

Manny is back

Now on to the good, happy news, shall we? The Cubs yesterday announced Manny Ramirez has been hired as a hitting consultant.

Originally brought in to the organization last year as a Triple-A player/coach, Ramirez was a hit. “Manny got rave reviews from everybody,” Theo Epstein told Patrick Mooney. “He just did a great job of fitting in, sharing his wisdom and experience and being a good influence. [It’s] being very open and honest with the guys about what not to do from his past and lessons that he learned along the way.”

Although he hasn’t officially retired yet, Ramirez likely won’t play in Triple-A again this year, Epstein said.

I’ll admit, I thought last year’s hire of Ramirez was odd when it was announced — possibly just Theo helping out a former Red Sox player. But the move is looking pretty shrewd at this point, and I’m glad that he’ll be sticking around.

Another former Red Sox player, Kevin Youkilis, who was announced last week as a special assistant, will be serving as Scouting and Player Development Consultant. He’ll be scouting amateur and pro hitters in Northern California and work with hitters in the minors.

What about Sosa?

Epstein said yesterday that he would be open to having Sammy Sosa around the Cubs in some capacity, but that it would ultimately be ownership’s call, writes Bruce Levine.

Sosa has been on the outs with the Cubs organization since he walked out on the team during his final game in 2004. I think it’s time for the Cubs and Sosa to mend fences already. I think fans would welcome him back for the most part.

Again, like Manny Ramirez, if Sosa could in any way help the Cubs get closer to a championship, I say bring him in.

Other notes

* The Cubs have established a new mental skills program for players. The program will feature sports psychologist Dr. Ken Ravizza, who has worked with manager Joe Maddon since the 1980s, according to Carrie Muskat. Former Cub Darnell McDonald also will be part of the program, serving as coordinator. I think is a good move, especially for such a young team. When a guy like Javier Baez or Mike Olt is having difficulties making any sort of contact, I can only imagine how frustrating that can be. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of an effect a program like this can have in those kinds of situations.

* Cubs single-game tickets will go on sale Friday, March 6, at 10 a.m. Central. Tickets will be available at or 800-THE-CUBS. Have to think there will be a lot more interest this year than in the past few.

* Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright has been experiencing abdominal pain and will see a specialist in St. Louis. Cardinals GM John Mozeliak said he’d label the level of concern as “medium,” according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Hate to see any injuries, but this is one that would help level the playing field in the division if it’s something that ends up being serious. I’m really looking forward to seeing an Opening Night match-up of Jon Lester and Wainwright, however.

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