Fire

Garza pushing to return this season

828375.png

Garza pushing to return this season

Matt Garza compared pitching to breathing on his Twitter account, so theres no doubt that hes going to push to return this season, even with his team so far out of contention.

But the Cubs are going to be cautious with Garza, whos sidelined indefinitely with a stress reaction in the back of his right elbow.

It sucks, man, theyre not letting me throw a ball, Garza said Thursday at Wrigley Field. Its not fun to come here and sit down. Yeah, I get to work out and ride a bike and watch a ballgame. But its still not what I like doing. I like being out there taking control of my game and being able to do what I get paid to do.

Garza almost guaranteed that hed return to the rotation after cutting loose during a bullpen session at Dodger Stadium last weekend. But he still felt stiff and further tests in Chicago convinced the Cubs to shut him down.

I just feel out of it, Garza said. I dont like not playing. Im not here to just watch. This is the toughest thing for me to face, not being able to do anything, like holding back from going out there and wanting to throw. Thats why I fought so long with them.

They just said theyve had enough and lets see what else is in there. Its nothing bad. Its just the doc said a little rest and (lets) just get it over with.

As a comparison, the Cubs have used reliever Blake Parker, who went on the disabled list with a similar injury on June 6 and just began his minor-league rehab assignment this week.

Garza last pitched on July 21 in St. Louis, which effectively killed his trade market before the deadline. General manager Jed Hoyer said Garza will likely be a Cub in 2013, the final year of club control after contract extension talks earlier this season gained no momentum.

Garza proving hes healthy again this season would appear to help his state of mind, and give the Cubs something to think about over the winter.

If somebody keeps wanting me to play, Im all for it, Garza said. Im not looking ahead to anything. Im just trying to get to where I can get back on the field and start playing. Hopefully, its soon, sooner than later, and Im going to be working my tail off to get it that way.

Bastian Schweinsteiger finally sees the field in Fire preseason

schwein-221.jpg
USA TODAY

Bastian Schweinsteiger finally sees the field in Fire preseason

Coach Veljko Paunovic still went with a second-choice lineup to start the Fire's preseason match against USL expansion team Nashville SC on Wednesday, but the second half featured the first preseason action for Bastian Schweinsteiger.

Schweinsteiger came on for the second half, along with Nemanja Nikolic, Johan Kappelhof and a few other Fire regulars. The German sat out the first four preseason games, but looked sharp in his 45 minutes.

One of the highlights was this smooth move between two defenders:

Schweinsteiger also had an impressive switch pass to set up a shot for second-round pick Diego Campos in the final minutes of the game. Campos drilled the shot on target, but was unable to beat the goalkeeper.

The team did not say Schweinsteiger was injured despite the repeated absences in matches. The Fire have dealt with injuries to Matt Polster, Luis Solignac, Daniel Johnson and rookie Grant Lillard this preseason. None of those four, along with Dax McCarty, played in the 0-0 draw.

The Fire next play Saturday at Orlando in a final match in Florida before returning to Chicago. The Fire also play Tulsa, the team's USL affiliate, at Toyota Park on March 3 before taking on Sporting Kansas City in the season opener on March 10.

There are 600,000 reasons you won't hear Gar, Pax or Hoiberg discuss losing

cuban.png
AP

There are 600,000 reasons you won't hear Gar, Pax or Hoiberg discuss losing

The Bulls made headlines on Tuesday when VP John Paxson announced that David Nwaba, Cristiano Felicio and Cameron Payne would be entering the rotation, thus continuing the youth movement in Chicago.

On the surface the moves make sense. The 24-year-old Nwaba, the 25-year-old Felicio and the 23-year-old Cameron Payne will be replacing 28-year-old Justin Holiday, 29-year-old Robin Lopez and 25-year-old Jerian Grant. The Bulls want to see what they have in these younger players who haven't played much; they already know what they have in Lopez and Holiday, and Grant (like the other two) is under contract through next year.

OK, got that? Here's why they're making the move: they're sitting 8th in the NBA Lottery standings and really want to move into the top-5 to give themselves a chance at what should be a loaded front-end of the draft class. It's pretty obvious, and anyone who tells you otherwise is either named Gar Forman, John Paxson or Fred Hoiberg.

And here's why: On Wednesday Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was fined a whopping $600,000 by the NBA for comments he made on a podcast regarding tanking. The Mavericks are currently 18-40, the third worst record in the NBA. This comes a season after they finished 33-49, netting them the No. 9 pick that turned into talented point guard Dennis Smith Jr.

So when Cuban was asked about the best interests of his Dallas team, which touts young talent but clearly isn't headed for the postseason in 2018, he said this on the House Call with Dr. J Podcast:

"I'm probably not supposed to say this, but, like, I just had dinner with a bunch of our guys the other night, and here we are, you know, we weren't competing for the playoffs. I was like, 'Look, losing is our best option. [Commissioner] Adam [Silver] would hate hearing that, but I at least sat down and I explained it to them. And I explained what our plans were going to be this summer, that we're not going to tank again. This was, like, a year-and-a-half tanking, and that was too brutal for me. But being transparent, I think that's the key to being kind of a players owner and having stability."

Cuban isn't wrong, and the Mavericks sure as hell aren't the only team tanking. But to come right now and admit that losing is the team's best option wasn't, as Cuban predicted, going to sit well with the league office.

Commissioner Adam Silver sent out a memo with the fine that said Cuban's comments "which concerned his perspective on the team's competitive success this season" were "detrimental to the NBA."

So while the Bulls are going about their business in trying to lose as many games down the stretch as possible, don't expect anyone to admit it's the reason behind their personnel moves. There are 600,000 reasons why.