Tag Archive | "Lou Pinella"

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Former Cubs Skipper Lou Pinella Takes Job as Giants’ Special Assistant — Wrigley Field 2/3/11

Posted on 03 February 2011 by Lou

Former Cubs Manager Lou Pinella has announced that he is now going to serve as a special assistant for the World Series Champion San Francisco Giants.  Pinella will report to Giants General Manager Brian Sabean with whom he is good friends.  Pinella had this to say about jumping back into the “work force” despite quitting his Cubs gig early last August because he said he wanted to spend more time with his family: “I took a little consulting job with the Giants.  It’s a done deal.  I look forward to it.  Brian and I are good friends. Whatever Brian needs me to do.”  Pinella will likely scout American League teams during Grapefruit League spring training games and attend Tampa Bay Rays games at Tropicana Field near his home.  Not having to be on the go year-round was appealing to Pinella – “It gives me a chance to stay involved in baseball and not have to travel.  I worked with Brian a lot of years in New York.  He’s a good man.  They have several former Yankees working for the club.  They won a world championship — we won a world championship.  I’m joining a world-class organization.”

Sabean had this to say about the Pinella hiring: “He’s certainly a great addition because of the baseball acumen he has but also his personality.  We’ll have a lot of fun working together, plus he knows a lot of guys in the organization… There’s a need to be home but a lot of baseball is played in Florida, and spring training is right in his backyard.  We’ll use him as much as we can and take whatever time he can give us.”

Interesting move for Pinella.  I figured he would take at least a year off after the way his time with the Cubs ended.  But I guess he got the itch and it seems like a pretty flexible gig for the legendary skipper….

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Ryne Sandberg Will Not Be on Mike Quade’s Coaching Staff – Wrigley Field 10/29/10

Posted on 29 October 2010 by Lou

It’s official – or at least as official as we can make it – Ryne Sandberg will not be a part of new Cubs Manager Mike Quade’s coaching staff.  While neither Quade nor Sandberg have come out and said it, sources close to the situation have indicated that Sandberg will not be a coach on Quade’s staff.

This “official rumor” comes as no surprise at all. Sandberg was devastated that Tom Ricketts and Jim Hendry did not name him the new Cubs manager.  To be subjected to the inferior bench coach job underneath Quade would be way too much to swallow for the Cubs legend and Hall of Famer.  Further, if the team did get off to a rough start for the 1st half of the season, there would be way too much chatter about Sandberg taking over the reigns as the manager.  Throw in the fact that you’d hate to have factions with some guys supporting Quade and some guys supporting Sandberg, this makes all the sense in the world.

We’ll support Quade while he is in charge for 2 years.  If he doesn’t get the job done, Quade and most likely, Hendry will both be gone after the 2012 MLB season.  And then maybe the Cubs can revisit bringing Sandberg back as the manager.

I wish 2011 would get here soon – can’t wait to see if things get worse on the north side or if they just stay the same under Quade.

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Quade Quotes & His Thoughts on Ryne Sandberg – Mike Quade Wrigley Field 10/21/10

Posted on 21 October 2010 by Lou

Just a few days after the Cubs hiring of Mike Quade as their new manager, I’m learning more and more about the guy that I like.  I like that he’s down to earth.  I like that he expects accountability, from himself AND his players.  I like that the players respect him and have come out to support the hire.  I like that he will rely upon the numbers and statistics, but will also manage with his gut and instincts.  An example – he told a story of how they were looking at Sean Marshall’s numbers against a particular batter late in the season.  The overall numbers were bad, but Quade decided to look deeper into the numbers and he found that Marshall had retired the batter each of the last 9 times he faced him and that most of the bad numbers occurred years ago when Marshall was used as a starting pitcher every so often.  So Quade went with his gut, used Marshall in the situation and he got the guy out again.  It’s stories like that that make you think he’s going to lead the 2011 Cubs team in a way that we haven’t seen a manager do since Lou Pinella did back during the 2nd half of 2007 and in all of 2008.  Pinella essentially gave up after that – during the Milton Bradley fiasco of a year in 2009 and when he decided to leave the team in August 2010 after an atrocious 2010 MLB season.  Something tells me that this Mike Quade guy won’t quit on the job like that – he can’t afford to if he expects to make the most of this golden opportunity.

Here are a few other quotes from Quade — “I’d loved the game and wanted to manage at this level, yeah. But when you get done playing and you’re young and you’re fired up and you’re going, ‘OK, three years, four years. I’ll start moving up the ladder and I’ll be there.’ And then, five years go by. You’re still staying after it. You love what you do. You’re teaching, working and then 10 years go by. You change your goals. All of a sudden, you’re going, ‘Wow, this is a tough gig,’ but all the while getting to do what I love to do… I talk so much about the process with the ballclub and it’s probably the same for me. If it ever get to a point where I said, ‘Gosh, am I going to get it?’ I probably would have walked away.”

Asked how he felt about the negative Cubs history — “But I’ve lived here and I was raised here. I get it. You’re totally aware of it. But it’s not going to do us any good at all as a ballclub or me as a manager or me as a person, to have that anywhere near my thoughts on a daily basis.”  That is the perfect response – let’s just hope he means it and can implement it.

As for his feelings about Ryne Sandberg potentially joining his staff at the major league level – “Having Sandberg join the staff is not impossible, that’s for sure… That would be a unique circumstance, but I’m telling you, everybody is on the table.  I would never say anybody is not available…  That would be a unique situation that Ryne and I would have to talk about. And look, by the way, he’s got other opportunities from what I understand. It’s not only what I want, necessarily, he’s got a lot of things to deal with as well. But we’ll have to see.”  That was a polite and professional way of saying, “not a chance in hell and I hope he goes elsewhere”, but what else was he supposed to say given how badly Sandberg campaigned for the job the last 4 season as he toiled and earned his stripes in the minor leagues.

However, you cut it, Quade has his work cut out for him.  The team really isn’t all that good and with payroll concerns in mind, it will be hard for GM Jim Hendry to add more valuable pieces to the puzzle from the outside.  The Cubs should still be able to draw a free agent or too into the mix (Adam Dunn at 1st base, maybe a starting pitcher or maybe a seasoned veteran reliever), but they will primarily place high expectations on some of the young players that will get considerable playing time in 2011 – Starlin Castro, Tyler Colvin, Andrew Cashner, James Russell, Jeff Samardzija, Blake DeWitt and a few others.  If they put the pieces together, and the players continue to buy into the Quade magic, who knows, maybe we’ll see a team still in contention at the end of the summer.  It’s unlikely, but stranger things have happened…

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Tyler Colvin Update — Recovery from Collapsed Lung

Posted on 18 October 2010 by Lou

Tyler Colvin’s stellar 2010 campaign abruptly ended when he suffered a chest laceration and collapsed lung courtesy of a splintered bat at the end of September.  Colvin’s recovery has been smooth and he is getting ready for his wedding and honeymoon in November.  He does not expect any setbacks when he begins “Colvin Camp” after his return from his honeymoon – strength and conditioning coach Tim Buss will lead the camp in Mesa, Arizona once again.  The Cubs have no plans to make Colvin play winter ball given his productive season and the need for him to continue building strength after his freak injury.

When Manager Lou Pinella finally gave Tyler Colvin the opportunity to play just about every day, he truly blossomed as a player.  A late season slump hurt his overall numbers, but you can’t complain with the rookie’s final 2010 numbers — 135 games, 358 at-bats, .254 batting average, .316 on-base percentage, 20 HR’s, 5 triples, 56 RBI’s and 60 runs scored.  He’ll have to work on his eye during the winter and in Spring Training 2011 so that he can improve that on-base percentage which is a little low – 3.16 because of 30 walks and a hefty 100 K’s.  Colvin just turned 25 in September, however, so he still has plenty of time to continue to mature and grow and get more and more comfortable at the plate each and every season. You also have to love the 6 steals in 7 attempts – it gives a glimpse of what is possible once he irons out the art of hitting.

Let’s hope GM Jim Hendry can find a way to move either Kosuke Fukudome or Alfonso Soriano at some point during the off-season.  Fukudome will be the easier one to move because he only has 1 year left on his contract, but the Cubs will likely have to eat a good chunk of either player’s salary in any trade.  The Cubs will need Colvin to get at least 500 at-bats playing the outfield everyday if they expect for him to continue his development at the major league level at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field.

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Does Anyone Really Want to Manage the 2011 Cubs?

Posted on 05 October 2010 by Lou

Does anyone really want to manage the 2011 version of the Cubs?  Most of the players that put together a 75-87 record in 2010 will be back on the squad for the 2011 MLB season.  That really doesn’t bode well for the next manager of the Chicago Cubs.  Tom Ricketts has already indicated that the 2011 payroll will be less than the $140+ million payroll that the Cubs had in 2010 (the highest in the National League).  With $103 million already on the books for 2011 and with arbitration-eligible players like Carlos Marmol, Sean Marshall, Geovany Soto and Koyie Hill who are likely to earn raises this off-season, there clearly isn’t a lot of room for GM Jim Hendry to add from outside of the organization.  Maybe a new skipper could help the team manage a handful more wins, but that really doesn’t equate to being in contention in the National League – 80 wins just doesn’t cut it these days…

So who will the Cubs try to hire this off-season?  The last 3 Cubs managerial hires have been high profile managers — Don Baylor, Dusty Baker and Lou Pinella.  Does that mean a relatively unknown like Mike Quade has a leg up on the competition?

The Cubs could also pull from within.  Ryne Sandberg – while clearly not an unknown – has never managed at the Major League level.  Would he be the right fit for the Cubs?

Or will the Cubs go with a man with major league experience but who has not reached the level of the previous 3 managers – an Eric Wedge-type manager?

Lastly, could the Cubs go with another high profile guy – Joe Torre, Tony LaRussa, Bobby Cox and Joe Girardi – are all free agent managers potentially looking for work in 2011.  If the Cubs want to try to land Girardi, they will have to wait until the Yankees are eliminated from the playoffs this October.  Odds are that he stays in the Big Apple.  But you never know and a call has to be made to cover all bases.

All this being sad, Mike Quade has indicated that he would love to continue to be the Cubs manager for the foreseeable future.  “I’m an optimist.  You see this club play well the at the end, and if they continue to play well and they play this thing out in the nest two weeks in good fashion, I’d go home, and whoever gets the job next year should be excited about this job.  That’s the way I feel.  It has no bearing on what happens this winter with Jim and what moves he makes.  A lot of guys have finished up well…  I’ve always believed in myself.  You can believe all you want, but you have to get here and do it and then self-evaluate the whole thing.  Things went well.  I’m proud of all the work I did in 30 years to have me ready to do something like this.  I don’t like to talk about it much, but yeah, it’s been fun and I’m proud of all the work we’ve done.”

Kudos to Quade.  He managed to get control of the team after Lou departed mid-season and he showed that he does have the ability to manage well at the major league level.  More importantly, the players responded well to Quade and he seemed to earn their respect.  While I don’t see the Ricketts Family and Hendry sticking with Quade as the manager long-term, I really hope they find a way to keep Quade within the Cubs organization.  He is that good at what he does…

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Manager Lou Pinella Anounces Retirement from Cubs after 2010 MLB Schedule – 7/20/10

Posted on 20 July 2010 by Lou

Manager Lou Pinella made it official today – he will retire from being a MLB manager after the 2010 MLB schedule.  This is Pinella’s 4th and final year as the Cubs manager.  Pinella led the Cubs to 2 straight NL Central division wins in 2007 and 2008, but each year the squad was swept out of the playoffs without winning a single game.  The team finished with a winning record in 2009 too – the 1st time that the Cubs had 3 consecutive winning seasons in over 50 years.  The 97 wins in 2008 were also the most franchise wins in a single season since 1945.

Pinella is 66 years old.  He has appeared in 5 World Series battles as a player and a coach and he has 3 rings to show for it (2 as a player and 1 as a coach).

Look for some prominent names to top the list of prospective candidates for the new Cubs Manager’s position.  Ryne Sandberg, Joe Torre, Bobby Cox, Joe Girardi, Tony LaRussa and current bench coach Alan Trammell will all be mentioned at one point or another.

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Cubs Blow Perfect Opportunity to Pick up Ground on Reds & Cards – Cubs 2, Dodgers 3 – 7/8/10

Posted on 09 July 2010 by Lou

The Cubs blew a perfect opportunity to pick up ground on the Reds & Cards, but lost to the Dodgers 3-2.  Instead of moving up to “just” 9.5 games behind the Reds and 6.5 games, behind the Cards (who had both lost already), the Cubs stayed put in the standings.  This game – like so many others – have summed up how frustrating a year it has been for the club and Cubs fans alike.

Cubs starter pitches a great 6 or 7 innings, but because of a “weak” bullpen, Manager Lou Pinella opts to keep him in a batter or 2 too long.  Wells had dominated the Dodgers for 6 innings, giving up just 4 hits and 1 run.  He gave up a lead off single to Russell Martin and while Pinella might have mad a move then with a deeper staff, he had to let Wells finish it out.  Wells did get the next 2 batters out, but Rafael Furcal hit a 2-run home run that gave the Dodgers the 3-2 lead.  It was only Furcal’s 6th homer of the season.  And as so often has happened this season, a close Cubs lead of 1 or 2 runs turned into another frustrating nightmare as the opposition rallied for a late run or 2.

The Cubs were stymied for most of the night by Clay Kershaw, but they got 7 hits off of him.  They scored on an Alfonso Soriano solo home run and a Geovany Soto RBI single, but that was it.  In a game that the Cubs knew would be close, the 3rd inning was particularly frustrating.  With 1 out, Ryan Theriot singled to right field, but then got picked off of 1st base by Kershaw.  The man at the plate – Marlon Byrd – then singled, but his aggressive base-running forced him to get thrown out at 2nd base.  So even though the Cubs got 2 hits in the inning, they didn’t really threaten because of their base-running mistakes.  With a team like this that is struggling to score runs (and that has typically struggled to score runs in Los Angeles), you cannot make those mistakes and expect to win.

As I wrote yesterday, the Cubs really needed to win 3 of 4 against the Dodgers to finish off a 6-1 road trip before the All-Star Break.  That means they now need to win the final 3 games of this series – which is not going to happen.  Let’s just hope that Ted Lilly and Carlos Silva both pitch well to help increase their trade value over the next few weeks….

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Pinella-O-Meter – How Long will the Skipper Last in 2010 — Cubs 1, Pirates 2 6/28/10

Posted on 29 June 2010 by Lou

It’s finally time for the Pinella-O-Meter – which will measure how much longer the “elderly” Lou Pinella can take with this awful Cubs team that he is trying to “manage”.  This is truly hysterical.  Just when you think it cannot get any worse, it does.  The Cubs continue to lose games in unimaginable ways.  After last night’s 2-1 loss to the Pirates – their 8th loss to the Pirates in 10 games in 2010 – the Cubs are now 7-18 in 1-run games.  How bad can a team play in close games? Clearly, this team freezes up like no other when they are involved in a close struggle.

The dramatic fall of the Cubs is clearly shown when you look at how they have fared against the Pirates in 2010.  Entering last night’s game, the Pirates had lost 17 straight games on the road – 17!!!  Coming to Wrigley Field for a series against the Cubs was just what the doctor ordered for the struggling Pirates.  They were 25-50 coming into the game, and they had won just 4 games in the entire month of June alone (1 of those was against the Cubs).  At one point during the month, the Pirates had lost 12 straight games and they were on a 6-game losing streak heading into last night’s game.  8 of their 26 wins have come against the Cubs in 2010 – that means they are just 18-48 in their other 66 games?!  One more great stat – the Pirates have been outscored by their opponents by 180 runs!!!  That’s right 180 runs.  They have scored only 247 runs (worst in the major leagues) while their opponents have scored 427 runs.  How bad is this Pirates ball club?  Very very bad — the Pirates have the worst record in the National League and and only the Baltimore Orioles have a worse record than the Pirates in all of baseball.    Losing this many games to the Pirates has gotta be killing Pinella.

No matter what Pinella does – lineup changes, bullpen changes, seances – nothing seems to work.

On top of the poor play, Pinella has to deal with all of the side stories that have infected this team the last 2 seasons.  Last year it was hot-head Milton Bradley and this year it is Carlos Zambrano. A 5-week stint in the bullpen didn’t seem to help Big Z at all, so once back in the rotation, still performed at a low level.  It all came to a head last Friday when Big Z blew his head off when he felt that Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez didn’t try hard enough to field ground balls that set up a big inning for the White Sox in the bottom of the 1st.  This all from the guy who has admitted that he has had trouble staying in shape and wasn’t always prepared for games.  Now Zambrano has been suspended indefinitely from the team, he is required to undergo anger management treatment, and assuming that he completes the treatment successfully, he will back in the Cubs locker room sometime after the All-Star Break and back in the bullpen.  Pinella must be wondering when he agreed to partake in a season of All My Children instead of manage a major league baseball team.

Pinella isn’t getting any younger and having to deal with the Cubs struggles on a daily basis has gotta be taking its toll on the big man.

Last night’s game was no different – The Cubs scored their only run of the game on a Pirates fielding error.  Ryan Theriot didn’t come through with a clutch hit with runners on 2nd and 3rd with 2 outs in the 2nd inning.   The Cubs didn’t get 2 runners on base in the same inning again until the 7th inning.  After a one-out Starlin Castro double and Jeff Bajer shallow single, it was Theriot who failed to come through in the clutch again as he hit into an inning-ending doubel play.  And in the 9th inning, so-so closer Octavio Dotel opened the door for the Cubs by hitting Aramis Ramirez with a pitch to lead-off the inning.  But then Dotel whipped through the “heart” of the Cubs lineup by striking out the next 3 batters – Alfonso Soriano, Geovany Soto and Xavier Nady – to end the threat.  Good job guys.

Randy Wells did not have the best control – 1ER on 3 hits and 4 walks with 6 K’s in 6 innings – but he did enough to keep the Cubs in the game.  Then it was Andrew Cashner who suffered his 2nd loss in 3 games.  Cashner worked out of a self-imposed 2-on jam in the 8th inning, but struggled again when he gave up a single and a walk to start the 9th.  Pinella went with Carlos Marmol to quell the threat, but he served up the game-winning RBI double to Jose Taba, and just like that the Cubs would lose another close one to the lowly Pirates.

You have to think the Cubs & Ted Lilly will find a way to beat the Pirates tonight at Wrigley Field.  But something tells me it’s going to be another long night for the north siders.  Come on, Lou — try to hang on a little longer…

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Big Z Explosion Heard Round the World – Bye Bye Carlos – We Wish You Well! 6/25/10 6/26/10 6/27/10

Posted on 27 June 2010 by Lou

WOW – what a great way to kick of the weekend in the Cubs-Sox south side series.  Carlos Zambrano blowing a gasket, getting in Derrek Lee’s face.  D-Lee not backing down.  Manager Lou Pinella and coaches Larry Rothschild and Alan Trammell having to get in the middle of the near-brawl.  It was classic WWE Raw Madness – all right in your face in a baseball park on a beautiful Friday afternoon.  You couldn’t have asked for anything more.

As for the game, it was a typical Cubs loss – 6-0.  Bad pitching.  Even worse hitting – just 3 hits off of Jake Peavy and another number in the “L” column.  Yippee!  Let the sell-off begin…

The Cubs kept up their losing ways on Saturday – 3-2.  Carlos Silva pitched well — 2 ER on 3 hits and 1 walk.  But the Cubs bats didn’t get it done.  They only scored 2 runs off of Fast Freddy Garcia (a Derrek Lee single and an Aramis Ramirez opposite field home run that tied the game at 2 – did you even realize that those 2 guys were still in the Cubs lineup?!).  And Paul Konerko’s solo home run off of Andrew Cashner (who had been pitching so well) proved to be the game-winner in the 8th inning.

The Cubs managed to avoid the sweep with an 8-6 win on Sunday.  Ryan Dempster picked up the win – 3 ER on 9 hits and 1 walk in 7 innings.  Tyler Colvin batted lead-off for the 1st time in his major league career and he came through with 3 hits, 4 RBI’s and 2 runs scored, including a 3-run bomb that gave the Cubs the lead for good at 3-2 in the 3rd inning.  Derrek Lee also had 2 hits and 2 RBI’s.  Geovany Soto had 3 hits, 1 RBI and 1 run scored.  Alfonso Soriano clubbed his 11th homer of the season.  And Starlin Castro got back on track with 2 hits and 2 runs scored.

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Cubs Petition MLB to Forfeit Opening Games of Series for Rest of 2010 MLB Schedule?! — Cubs 3, Mariners 2, 13 INN – 6/24/10

Posted on 25 June 2010 by Lou

In an unprecedented move, the Cubs have petitioned MLB Commissioner Bud Selig to be able to forfeit all of their series openers for the rest of the 2010 MLB schedule.  The infallible Elias Sports Bureau (confirmed by our crack staff of researchers all things bizarre) has confirmed that no other major league baseball team in the modern baseball era has made such a petition before.

The reason behind the request is simple.  The Cubs have not won an opening game of a series since they defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-0 back on May 25th.  Since then, the Cubs have lost the series opener of 8 straight series and it looks like they are doing their best to make that 9 in a row (they trail the White Sox 6-0 in the 7th inning of today’s Crosstown Classic on the south side).  During that stretch, the Cubs have gone just 9-14 and they have fallen out of contention in both the NL Central race (they trail the St. Louis Cardinals by 8 games) and the NL Wild Card race (they trail the New York Mets by 9 games).  GM Jim Hendry and Manager Lou Pinella figure that since the Cubs can’t win the opening game of any series anyway, they may as well forfeit the game to give their players some extra rest during the dog days of summer.  Then they can focus their attention on winning the final 2 games of 3-game series in an effort to actually win more games during the final 3 months of the season.  They’ll be able to watch more tape of opposing pitchers and hitters, and they’ll have more time to work with the coaching staff on hitting, pitching and fielding.  Pinella has also hinted that the Cubs will play a lot more simulated games on the “forfeit” days in an attempt to keep the players “fresh”.

I must say that this is an interesting move for the north siders.  All the tweaking of batting orders and bullpen moves hasn’t really paid off, so this may be the next best thing.  I really hope Selig gives the Cubs a fair shot at being able to forfeit these games.  It could go a long for this struggling Cubs squad – wouldn’t it be great if this is all it takes for the Cubs to get back on track.  It could set a new trend for teams all across the country.

Oh yeah – by the way – the Cubs hung tough against the Mariners in the series finale on Thursday afternoon in Seattle.  Ted Lilly (6 INN, 1 ER on 5 hits and no walks, with 6 K’s) got another tough luck no decision as the Cubs didn’t give him any support at all.  The Cubs managed just 6 hits against Felix Hernandez and 4 Mariners’ relievers.  Derrek Lee had 2 of the hits but is still just hitting .233 for the season.  Mike Fontenot didn’t have a hit but he drove in the Cubs first run with a sacrifice fly in the 2nd inning.  Chad Tracy drove in the Cubs 2nd run with an RBI single in the 7th inning that gave the Cubs a short-lived 2-1 lead.  Marlon Byrd drove in the game-winning run in the top of the 13th inning with his only hit of the game.

On a “down” note, Andrew Cashner gave up his 1st run in 8 major league starts, blowing the 2-1 lead in the process. It was also his 1st major league blown save.

As for today’s game, we’ll have more on this later, but Carlos Zambrano served up 4 easy runs for the White Sox in the 1st inning (RBI double by Alex Rios and 3-run HR by Carlos Quentin) and then promptly started yelling at Derrek Lee in the dugout after the end of the inning.  It’s not exactly clear what Big Z was pissed off about, but he clearly still has a lot of anger issues to deal with.  Add Big Z’s name to the list of Cubs that will be traded before the July 31 trading deadline.  The only problem with moving Zambrano is working out how much of the $18+ million owed to him over each of the next 2 years the Cubs will have to eat in order to get some team to take him.  Good job Jim!!!

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