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Eduardo Escobar showing signs of heating up; Brandon Nimmo dodges an injury

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Eduardo Escobar showing signs of heating up; Brandon Nimmo dodges an injury

Eduardo Escobar watched a Steven Matz changeup sail into the center of the zone on Tuesday at Citi Field. His bat remained frozen just above his shoulder. Escobar was behind 0-1 in the count, but he didn’t waste time attacking the next pitch. Another changeup from Matz, but this time it moved outside. Escobar got to it before the catcher could, and he watched the ball glide past the infield dirt, then beyond the outfielders, before it finally landed in the opposing bullpen.

Escobar lifted his right arm in the air as the ball touched down. It was only Escobar’s second home run of the season, but his arm was raised because the monkey was off his back. Escobar went 3-for-7 with a home run, an RBI and a walk across both games of Tuesday’s doubleheader with the St. Louis Cardinals.

“I felt good just because I’ve been working a lot with the hitting coaches,” Escobar said of what was going through his mind after that homer. “To have that moment after the tough times that I’ve been having this season, it really felt good. I’m just trying to go out there every day to improve and try to help the team win and that’s what I’m going to try to do every single day.”

Maybe all Escobar needed to heat up at the plate was to face Matz. The third baseman is 5-for-10 with two home runs in his career against the former Mets southpaw. But Escobar is hoping the adjustments he’s made at the plate will make a long term impact against the rest of the league.

Escobar has been working with hitting coaches Eric Chavez and Jeremy Barnes in an effort to return to the approach that worked for him earlier in the season. In his first 20 games of 2022, Escobar hit .268 with a .839 OPS and an impressive 14 walks. The free passes Escobar received in those first 20 games were a product of his patience, which was a different, more successful approach than what we’ve seen from him lately. Entering Tuesday, Escobar posted an abysmal .118/.196/.177 slashline with only five walks in 13 games in May.

He has been chasing pitches out of the zone instead of doing what he knew would work, getting out in front of pitches like he did for Tuesday’s home run. Even Matz, who hardly shows any emotion on the mound, scrunched up his nose and stared into the opposing bullpen, looking completely baffled as to how his outside changeup traveled 391 feet to center for a home run.

Escobar is at his best when he’s baffling opposing pitchers, something he did very well for the Diamondbacks and Brewers last season, when cranked 28 home runs in 146 games. In 2019, Escobar had 35 homers with 10 triples, the best in the major leagues.

His teammates and skipper are anxiously waiting for that Escobar to show up, the one fans saw a glimpse of in April during his hot start. Those that know Escobar best on this team are not concerned about his May slump. His work, attention to detail and passion for his craft have all led Buck Showalter to believe it’s just a matter of time before he goes on a tear.

“He’s been working so hard,” the Mets manager said of Escobar. “That’s why it’s tough. Everybody’s got a little spot, just about everybody’s got an area where they can pitch to. And you go through periods where they’re getting the ball there in the right sequences. I think he is first or second in incorrect calls against, in baseball. Balls and strikes. That’s a lot. Do you feel like he’s been arguing a lot of balls and strikes? It’s been tough on him. He’s wore it. It makes you want to support him even more.”

SIGH OF RELIEF

Brandon Nimmo returned to the Mets lineup on Wednesday against the Cardinals, leading off and playing center as usual, and with the quad contusion he sustained in Game 2 of Tuesday’s doubleheader mostly behind him. The center fielder tested out his quad hours before first pitch on Wednesday and said he was surprised with how good he felt, given how much pain he was in just the night before.

“If you’re not sure how that feels, go home tonight, take a hammer and hit it off your quad,” Showalter said of Nimmo’s contusion.

Nimmo fouled a ball off his quad during a seventh-inning at-bat on Tuesday, and immediately he hopped out from the box in obvious pain. Nimmo returned to the at-bat, though, and sprinted down the line on a routine grounder to shortstop. Once he reached the base, Nimmo limped off the bag and hunched over with his hands on his knees. He did not return to the field, but evidently the rest and ice he applied after the game helped him bounce back to the starting lineup on Wednesday.

MARTE COMING BACK

Starling Marte (bereavement list) is expected to rejoin the Mets on Thursday, but it’s unclear if he will be activated for their series finale against the Cardinals at Citi Field. It’s possible the Mets will wait until Friday, for their opener at Denver, to activate Marte and make a roster move.

Marte’s grandmother died, suddenly, earlier this week and he flew back to Dominican Republic to be with his family. His grandmother raised Marte after his mom died when he was just 10 years old. Wednesday was also the two-year anniversary of the death of his wife, who died from an unexpected heart attack in 2020.

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Sept. 1 trial status hearing scheduled for teen in killing of Chippewa Falls girl, 10

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Iliana (Lily) Peters family photo

MADISON, Wis. — A Wisconsin teenager accused of killing a 10-year-old girl will find out in September whether he will stand trial.

Chippewa County Circuit Judge Benjamin Lane on Friday scheduled a Sept. 1 preliminary hearing for the 14-year-old boy, identified in court documents as C.T.P.-B. That’s the step in the criminal justice process where a judge determines if enough evidence exists to bind a defendant over for trial.

The body of Iliana (Lily) Peters, 10, was found in the woods near her aunt’s house in Chippewa Falls, Wis., on April 25, 2022, the day after her father reported her missing. (Courtesy of the Chippewa Falls Police Department)

The boy was charged in adult court on April 27 with first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree sexual assault and first-degree sexual assault of a child under age 13 in connection with the killing of Iliana Peters, who was known as Lily. Anyone who is at least 10 years old and is accused of first- or second-degree homicide is considered an adult in Wisconsin’s court system.

Lily disappeared on the night of April 24 as she was riding her bike home from her aunt’s house in Chippewa Falls, according to the criminal complaint. Searchers found her body in the woods the next morning.

The boy told investigators that he was riding his hoverboard alongside Lily on a trail and he intended to sexually assault and kill her, according to the complaint.

He asked Lily to leave the trail and explore the woods with him. According to the complaint, he told investigators that once they were off the trail, he punched her, hit her with a stick and strangled her before he sexually assaulted her body.

The boy’s attorney, Michael Cohen, told Lane on Friday that he was upset that someone posted a video online that included recordings of police communications in the moments Lily’s body was found and that characterized the boy as a “little monster.” Cohen alleged that someone in law enforcement leaked confidential information to the poster and demanded the judge issue a gag order. He didn’t specify against whom, though.

Lane asked Cohen for the link to the video and stated that anyone with access to investigatory materials should keep them confidential and their release could jeopardize the boy’s right to a fair trial.

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Sainted & Tainted: Half of my summer is gone because you didn’t yield

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Sainted & Tainted: Half of my summer is gone because you didn’t yield

Tainted & Sainted

Tainted: June 3, between 8 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. at Johnson Parkway and Sixth Street. The male driver in a black pickup didn’t yield to me and crossed into the bike path where I fell under the bike to avoid hitting your truck. All you did was sit in the truck and say you’re sorry. You left as soon as I got off the street. Half of my summer is gone because of this.

Tainted: Whoever designed this bike path. Hardly anyone stops at the stop sign. Just stop at the corner. Many close calls to me and I’ve told all to stop. Maybe put a yield sign or stop signs on the west side of Johnson. They don’t know how to yield.

Sainted: To the one driver who asked if I was OK. Much appreciated. Felt fine at the time but did break my elbow.

Barb Anderson, St. Paul

 

Tainted

I think It would be desirable if those responsible for the St. Paul skyway system could maintain uniform hours for the operation of the system.

They have posted operating hours indicating a close of 11 p.m., but this is contradicted by one posting indicating a 12 p.m. closing. The reality is that neither apply as I discovered this past Saturday when returning to my apartment from a downtown restaurant.

The location in the general vicinity (east) of the Subway operation was closed at 10 p.m. This is not the first time this has happened to me. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect uniform operating hours to be observed.

Roger A. Godin, St. Paul

 

Sainted

An incredible Sainted to Lakeview Hospital in Stillwater. I had surgery this past Tuesday and had never been there before. The care I received was phenomenal. The staff was incredible and compassionate.

I was on the first floor and it was like a party when they came in for vitals, etc. Kelly always referred me to as The Boss. Thank you for such kindness and for helping me through such a painful surgery. And an even bigger shout out to my personal paramedics Shawna S. and Mary F.  Thank you both so much for everything. I’d be lost without you.

Laura McGinn, St. Paul

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ASK IRA: Could another Heat run at Kevin Durant be in the cards?

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ASK IRA: Could another Heat run at Kevin Durant be in the cards?

Q: Ira, we’ve been burned by Kevin Durant before. We can’t be fooled into fool’s gold again. – Ian.

A: Look, this whole Brooklyn Nets-will-implode storyline is so bizarre, so speculative, so seemingly preposterous that perspective needs to be toned down all around on the possibilities of both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant departing. But to your question, this also is an opportunity to address the notion of the Heat being “burned” when coming up short in free agency, including when Pat Riley and Micky Arison traveled to the Hamptons in an attempt to woo Kevin Durant during 2016 free agency. It was the same narrative when the Heat “came up short” with Gordon Hayward (and even to a degree the supposed previous “failure” to nab Kyrie). Being mentioned in such speculation means your franchise has earned the respect of players and agents. That is a good thing. The Heat get into the room (unless it’s LeBron’s Las Vegas suite). And if Kevin Durant does attempt to work his way elsewhere, they likely will be back in the room.

Q: Nikola Jovic seems a bit slow footed when I watch his clips. I’d like to see him get serious playing time in Sioux Falls, so he can adjust to the NBA speed. – James.

A: But I’m not sure the G League game, which can be helter skelter at times, is the preferred tempo, either. This could be more along the lines of Omer Yurtseven’s rookie season with the Heat, where it will be mostly developmental, with some as-needed time as warranted/merited. Remember, Nikola Jovic will become the youngest Heat player ever to appear in a game in the franchise’s 35 seasons. That has to be about patience, for more than just foot speed.

Q: Ira, you listed players the Heat passed on to get Nikola Jovic. Who would you have preferred? – Anthony.

A: So basically you’re asking me to trump my preference in the moment at the 2020 draft for Desmond Bane? I’m not sure there is anyone in that category this year. But of those selected after Nikola Jovic (who I think can turn into an inspired choice), I do believe that Patrick Baldwin’s skillset could still yield something special and was curious about E.J. Liddell as a Heat fit. But I don’t believe there is a reason for second guessing when you’re talking about No. 27.

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