We Got To Talk to Tiger! Pictures And More From Aronimink

We Got To Talk to Tiger! Pictures And More From Aronimink

Alert: Tiger Woods is sort of, maybe, kind of trying to grow a beard. And members of the media could be overheard scoffing at it. No respect, I tell ya', no respect...

During his Tuesday afternoon press conference from inside the AT&T National Media Center, the fourteen-time Major Champion expressed that while his recovery from injury is going well, he remains unwilling to set any form of a timetable in regard to a return to golf.  Woods was quick to admit that he knew there existed a 50-50 chance of further damaging his still-healing knee and Achilles tendon when he chose to participate in the Players Championship in May. After re-injuring both areas during his first nine holes, Woods was forced to withdraw from The Players. He has played neither a competitive nor practice round since. Still, he was nice enough to drop into Newtown Square and help promote this week's tournament.

What we asked Tiger, practice round anecdotes and pictures from inside the Aronimink Golf Club after the jump…
Believing his own stubbornness has cost him valuable time and health, Tiger insisted that he will not make the same mistake of "rushing back too soon" during this particular rehabilitation. As such, Woods' participation in next month's British Open remains a mystery even to him.

As for his progress, Woods traversed the grounds yesterday without crutches or a walking boot, and claimed he is no longer using either at any point in the day. Instead, he's been in the gym working on regaining the strength and "explosiveness" he needs to play golf at the level to which he's accustomed.

"We're in the gym every day, most of the time two times, sometimes three times a day, and it's the whole chain. It's not just the leg, it's the whole body," said Woods. "We're testing [the leg] every day to see what it feels like...And each day it's gotten better. We haven't had any setbacks, which has been good, but still, it's not as explosive or as strong as I'd like it to be."

In terms of practice, Tiger clarified that the only golf balls he has hit since May have been those struck with his putter. As such, we hopped in to ask him about the state of his game prior to the injury and where he thinks it will be moving forward.

The700Level: "Tiger, prior to the injury, the talk was mostly about you implementing new swing changes. At the time, you kept saying you were 'close' to putting it all together. How close were you prior to the injury and how much has this set you back for when you are ready to hit balls again?"

Tiger Woods: "Well, I was close to putting it all together, but I didn't have the reps. That's going on now. I haven't had the reps. The only thing I've been able to do is work on it mentally, which as people have already proven, and scientifically has been proven is how you get better anyways, but then I also need the physical reps. [Swing coach Sean Foley] and I, we've worked on a game plan of what I need to do when I come back and progression I need to make, and I just can't wait to be able to do it, to try and actually implement all those changes and put it together and then come out there and do it. That's the fun part. I just need to get to that point."

Unfortunately, due to time and demand, we were unable to ask him a follow-up, as it's still sort of puzzling me as to how one works on their golf swing "mentally." Oh well, I guess that's why he has fourteen majors and I spend time blaming my clubs.

As for those actually playing in the tournament, practice rounds on the PGA Tour are shockingly awesome, at least for the gallery. Since the bulk of the crowds won't be pouring in until the tournament's official start on Thursday, fans can walk nearly anywhere unencumbered and even interact with the pros during their work on the course. For example, Chris DiMarco, a veteran and three-time winner on the tour, told us he hit a four-iron of the 218-yard, par-3 14th tee.

We asked, he told. Say what you want about golf, but it's rare to have that kind of access to professional athletes and have them be so overwhelmingly cordial toward those in attendance. The signing of autographs is actually quite the big deal on the tour, and a responsibility enough the pros take seriously. So next time a frustrated power forward spits on your kid, think about getting them interested in golf.

Plus, you should see the gear these guys fool around with. The practice green is surrounded by dozens of every model putter currently manufactured (picture below), and the driving range is stocked with different golf balls from different manufacturers. Now, that might not sound like a big deal, but these aren't your ordinary range balls we're talking about here with a Titleist logo stamped on the side. No, these guys are pounding brand new Pro-V1s right off the range, while the rest of us slapping around decade-old scraped and scratched yellow rocks off artificial mats in need of repair. Yes, yes, I'm blaming the equipment again.

Anyway, for those of you planning on making your way to Aronimink this weekend, the Smucker's "Uncrustable" appears your cheapest option in terms of food ($2.50), while the Morton's Steak sandwich remains the most alluring (if you have to ask, you can't afford it). On the beverage front, unless you can find shade, beer remains a dicey proposition ($6.50 and up).

If you keep scrolling, you'll see were able to snag some pretty cool pictures of the grounds at Aronimink. Thanks to Jonathan Burns for being handy with the camera.

We'll be out at the AT&T National all week and checking in with reports. The tournament officially begins Thursday morning. The gates will open at 6:30 a.m. and the first tee shot is scheduled for 7:10 a.m. This will be the last PGA Tour stop in the Philadelphia area until the playing of the 113th United States Open at Merion in 2013. Enjoy yourselves.

Best of MLB: Indians rally off Papelbon, stun Nationals, 7-6

Best of MLB: Indians rally off Papelbon, stun Nationals, 7-6

CLEVELAND -- Francisco Lindor pushed an RBI single through Washington's drawn-in infield with one out in the ninth inning, and the Cleveland Indians rallied for three runs in their final at-bat to stun the Washington Nationals 7-6 on Tuesday night in a matchup of two first-place teams with sights on October.

Down two runs and three outs from their losing streak reaching a season-high four games, the Indians rallied against Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon (2-4), who did not get an out before he was pulled by manager Dusty Baker.

With the bases loaded, Lindor fisted his base hit into right field and danced his way up the first-base line as the Indians celebrated an improbable victory.

Bryan Shaw (2-4) got two outs in the ninth and picked up the win as Cleveland won its first home game since July 10 (see full recap).

Cardinals take first game of doubleheader with Mets, 3-2
NEW YORK -- Jedd Gyorko homered again, hitting a two-run drive off Noah Syndergaard that sent the St. Louis Cardinals over the New York Mets 3-2 Tuesday in the first game of a doubleheader.

Gyorko connected for the sixth time in eight games, giving him 13 this season. The Cardinals lead the NL in home runs with 137, matching last year's total.

The Mets played at home for the first time since the All-Star break and lost in a matchup of NL wild-card contenders. Citi Field was nearly empty at the start, a day after a rainout forced the twinbill.

Carlos Martinez (10-6) gave up a two-run homer to Rene Rivera and left after the fifth inning with a 3-2 lead. Three relievers finished, with Seung Hwan Oh getting his fifth save in six chances.

Syndergaard (9-5) has won only one of his last five starts (see full recap).

Colon, Mets top Cards, 3-1, for doubleheader split
NEW YORK -- Bartolo Colon pitched three-hit ball for seven sharp innings and the New York Mets overcame another home run by Jedd Gyorko to beat the St. Louis Cardinals 3-1 Tuesday night for a doubleheader split.

Gyorko homered in both ends and has connected seven times in nine games. His two-run shot helped St. Louis win the opener 3-2.

Colon (9-5) struck out eight and walked none. After Gyorko homered in the second and Alberto Rosario doubled in the third, Colon set down 14 of his final 15 batters.

Addison Reed worked the eighth and Jeurys Familia closed for his 36th save this year and 52nd in a row during the regular season.

White Sox avoid Chapman, down Cubs 3-0 behind Shields
CHICAGO -- James Shields allowed four singles in 7 2/3 innings, Adam Eaton homered and the White Sox stayed unbeaten since Chris Sale's suspension by beating the Cubs 3-0 Tuesday night in Chicago's crosstown rivalry.

The Cubs lost their second straight and never got to use new closer Aroldis Chapman hours after he joined the team and struggled answering questions related to an altercation last year with his girlfriend.

Shields (5-12) struck out five and continued an impressive turnaround from a terrible first three starts after being acquired from San Diego last month. Nate Jones finished the eighth and David Robertson worked the ninth for his 24th save in the White Sox's fourth straight win since their ace was sent home for destroying throwback jerseys.

Jose Abreu had two hits, including an RBI single in the first off Kyle Hendricks (9-7) that ended his streak of 22 2/3 innings without allowing an earned run (see full story).

Jerad Eickhoff's 'outstanding' start wasted by Phillies in shutout loss to Marlins

Jerad Eickhoff's 'outstanding' start wasted by Phillies in shutout loss to Marlins

BOX SCORE

MIAMI — The Phillies enjoyed a three-week stretch before the All-Star break when they were the best hitting team in baseball.

In the final 19 games before the break, they hit .308 with a .871 OPS. Both marks were tops in the majors over that span. They averaged 5.63 runs per game in that stretch.

The run of sturdy offense created some excitement and anticipation heading into the second half of the season. But that excitement and anticipation has now dissipated. Since coming back from the break, the Phillies’ offense has retreated back to invisibility.

The Phils were blanked, 5-0, by the Miami Marlins on Tuesday night, wasting a terrific start from Jerad Eickhoff (see Instant Replay).

After the game, manager Pete Mackanin was peeved.

“The only thing positive I can say about this game is Eickhoff,” Mackanin said. “He was outstanding. He had a great curveball, hit his spots, pitched well. It was a pitchers' duel up until the end. I’m real happy about that. 

"But that’s about all I’m happy about.”

Marlins starter Tom Koehler and a trio of relievers held the Phillies to just four singles.

Phillies hitters struck out 10 times. They have averaged 9.5 strikeouts in 12 games since coming back from the break and hit just .208. They are averaging just 2.75 runs in the 12 games since the break and carrying a 4-8 record.

“Poor plate discipline,” Mackanin said. “Poor plate discipline. Swinging at too many bad pitches. We get ourselves out too often. That’s about all I can think of.

“Koehler pitched well. But we helped him out a lot. We didn’t give him a chance to walk us. We swung at too many bad pitches. That’s our problem. We just get ourselves out too often. That’s what it boils down to.

“If you’re a free swinger who’s going to hit 30-plus home runs and drive in 100 runs, that’s acceptable to me. But if you’re not a power hitter, it’s unacceptable. You’ve got to make adjustments. You’ve got improve on it. You’ve got to work on it.”

Peter Bourjos offered his thoughts on the Phillies’ offensive struggles since the All-Star break.

“It's almost like it was probably bad timing for that break,” he said. “Everything was rolling. We were swinging the bats really well. Everyone looked comfortable in the box and feeling good and it's tough right now. You can see what there was with the offense. I think it's going to come back. We just need to get back into the rhythm that we had and everything's going to be all right.”

Eickhoff scattered five hits and a run over seven innings. He walked one and struck out eight, a big improvement over his previous start when these same Marlins tagged him for nine hits and six runs in five innings.

“I was more aggressive,” Eickhoff said. “It’s amazing what being aggressive will do for your game and how hitters will react. I threw my fastball inside and that set up my curveball so much more.”

The poor run support was nothing new for Eickhoff. He entered the game receiving an average of just 3.53 runs per game, 10th worst in the majors.

It was a scoreless game until there were two outs in the sixth. That’s when Giancarlo Stanton swatted a two-out RBI single to right, scoring Martin Prado from second. Stanton’s hit rolled untouched through the second base area because the Phillies’ defense was shifted to the pull side.

“We’ve got to play a shift on him,” Mackanin said of baseball's most fearsome power bat.

The game got out of hand when the bullpen was tagged for four runs in the eighth. Ichiro Suzuki stroked career hit No. 2,997 to get the Marlins’ late rally started.

In the first inning, Suzuki launched a long drive to the gap in right-center. Rightfielder Bourjos ran the ball down and made a terrific catch while crashing into the wall. He left the game with a jammed right shoulder and could miss some time (see story).

Instant Replay: Marlins 5, Phillies 0

Instant Replay: Marlins 5, Phillies 0

BOX SCORE

MIAMI — Jerad Eickhoff pitched seven innings of one-run ball, but still came away with a loss as the Phillies were shut out, 5-0, by the Miami Marlins on Tuesday night.

Giancarlo Stanton drove in the Marlins’ first two runs with a single and a double.

Stanton gave the Marlins a 1-0 lead with a two-out base hit to right field against Eickhoff in the sixth inning. Stanton’s groundball hit rolled through the second base area, which had been vacated by the shift.

The Marlins blew the game open with four runs against the Phillies’ bullpen in the eighth.

The Phillies are 4-8 since the All-Star break and 46-56 overall.

Starting pithing report
Eickhoff scattered five hits and a run over seven innings. He walked one and struck out eight.

Miami manager Don Mattingly pulled Tom Koehler after the right-hander pitched six shutout innings and had allowed just three hits. Koehler walked one, struck out five and threw just 73 pitches. He exited with a 1-0 lead.

Koehler pitched eight innings of two-run ball in a win over the Phillies last week.

Bullpen report 
Andrew Bailey was charged with three runs in the eighth.

Mike Dunn, David Phelps and Nick Wittgren completed the shutout for the Marlins. 

At the plate
The Phillies had just four hits, all singles, and struck out 10 times. They were 0 for 4 with runners in scoring position and are 1 for 13 the last two nights.

Stanton had been just 3 for 35 against the Phils this season before his shift-beating RBI hit in the sixth. He hit the ball much harder in the eighth inning when he clouted an RBI double to right-center against Bailey.

Adeiny Hechavarria padded the Marlins’ lead with a two-run single in their four-run eighth inning.

Ichiro Suzuki’s eighth-inning single left him three hits shy of 3,000 in his big-league career.

Health check
Rightfielder Peter Bourjos injured his right shoulder making a catch against the wall in the first inning and left the game (see story).

Minor matters
Ranger Suarez, a 20-year-old left-hander from Venezuela, pitched a seven-inning no-hitter for the Phillies’ Single A Williamsport club on Tuesday night.

Up next
The series concludes on Wednesday afternoon. Zach Eflin (3-3, 3.40) pitches against Miami lefty Adam Conley (6-5, 3.58).