Bulls

Kap: Rizzo to debut Tuesday?

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Kap: Rizzo to debut Tuesday?

The arrival of heralded prospect Anthony Rizzo is imminent with Tuesday expected to be the day that he begins his Cubs career and as the long-term answer as the first baseman in Chicago.

Rizzo has dominated AAA pitching for the better part of the last two seasons and he will arrive in Chicago with the weight of a struggling franchise on his shoulders no matter how much Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer may try to tamper the enthusiasm of the longest suffering fan base in professional sports.

While speculation centered on Rizzos arrival coming while the Cubs were playing this weekend in Arizona or during interleague play, it makes sense to bring him up to the big league club on Tuesday or Wednesday when the Cubs will play the New York Mets.

Monday the Mets will start one of the toughest left-handers in baseball in veteran Johan Santana who dominates hitters with a variety of off-speed pitches including a devastating changeup that even the best hitters in the game can look foolish on.

The Cubs front office wants to put Rizzo in the best possible position to succeed and having him make his debut on Tuesday or Wednesday is a much better scenario than having him face Santana in addition to all of the hoopla that will coincide with his arrival at Wrigley Field.

Fans need to temper their expectations regarding Rizzo because he arrives in an impossible situation, on a last place team and expected to automatically become an All-Star caliber player. He is a solid offensive player and a very good defender but he needs time to learn the major league game and he needs to experience failure before he can truly achieve the heights that many are predicting for him.

Dont look for him in the lineup at Wrigley Field on Monday night but if you can clear your schedule for Tuesday night, that might be a great opportunity to watch one of the best prospects the organization has had in a long time make his Cubs debut.

They have only been looking for a left-handed difference maker since Rafael Palmeiro was traded away before the 1989 season and with the exception of Mark Grace, who never drove in 100 runs but was a solid hitter, the Cubs have been almost devoid of left-handed run production in the past 20 years.

Rizzo should be an important core piece as Epstein and Hoyer continue their overhaul of the worst team in baseball and if he is what they expect him to be, it would be cool to say you saw his first game ever in a Cubs uniform.

That opportunity should come early this week at Wrigley Field.

Jimmy Butler's injury produced memories for Zach LaVine, Fred Hoiberg

Jimmy Butler's injury produced memories for Zach LaVine, Fred Hoiberg

MINNEAPOLIS — That feeling of having your knee buckle out of nowhere, Zach LaVine is all-too familiar with it.

That feeling of being on the sidelines and watching Jimmy Butler’s knee give out, Fred Hoiberg has been there, too.

Different perspectives, and different reactions but Butler’s knee injury produced a sick feeling to many who watched it Friday night. Butler turned to pivot in the Timberwolves’ game against the Houston Rockets and immediately collapsed on the floor, having to be carried off.

LaVine tore his ACL in Detroit over a year ago, while it was revealed Butler suffered a right meniscus injury. But it looked all the same and LaVine understood the uncertainty Butler must’ve been feeling before the MRI revealed it wasn’t an ACL injury.

“It’s scary,” LaVine said following morning shootaround at the Target Center Saturday afternoon. “I wish him the best. You don’t want to see that happen to anybody. Especially a player of his caliber and what he’s done for the team.”

When LaVine injured his ACL, he actually played a few more minutes before being removed and going to the locker room. The time between being evaluated by doctors and them coming back feels like a lifetime.

“It’s scary. You know you hurt yourself, you don’t know how bad,” LaVine said. “You think you’re good, you’re a tough minded person trying to get through it.”

“I saw him on the ground trying to get up, (Rockets guard) Chris Paul made him sit down. Jimmy’s a tough dude. Thoughts and prayers going out to him.”

Butler and LaVine were the centerpieces of the draft day trade involving the Bulls and Timberwolves. With Butler suffering the injury the night before playing his former team a second time, the timing produced a bunch of memories.

In Hoiberg’s first year with the Bulls, Butler went down in a somewhat similar manner in Denver, a non-contact injury. It looked just as bad, and Butler was taken off the floor in a wheelchair.

Thankfully it was a right knee strain that cost him several weeks but it wasn’t as bad as it looked. Considering the minutes he’s played over the last few years, Hoiberg was asked if Butler pushes himself too hard to be on the floor.

“Jimmy he wants to be out there,” Hoiberg said. “I remember the first year in Denver, he went down with what looked to be a serious injury. Thankfully he was back on the floor after 15-16 games.”

Actually, Butler missed 11 consecutive games before coming back for a nationally-televised game against the Rockets, playing 34 minutes in a Bulls win and missing the next three games for recovery.

“We really worried when he went down but it wasn’t something that ended his season,” Hoiberg said. “Jimmy’s a worker. He’s one of the hardest working guys I’ve seen. It’s a huge reason for the type of player he is, that work ethic to make him one of the elite players in the league.”

With Bulls-Timberwolves looming, Jimmy Butler is diagnosed with meniscus injury

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USA TODAY

With Bulls-Timberwolves looming, Jimmy Butler is diagnosed with meniscus injury

Jimmy Butler won't be facing the Bulls a second time this season.

Butler suffered a non-contact knee injury on Friday night in Houston. The initial X-ray only revealed he didn't have any broken bones, but the MRI had to wait until Saturday.

The Timberwolves announced that the MRI revealed a meniscus injury in Butler's right knee. There is not yet word on how long the All-Star guard will be out of action, but if it wasn't already assumed that he wouldn't play against the Bulls, it's now certain.

Avoiding the ACL tear means avoiding the worse case scenario, but this is likely still going to cause Butler to miss a significant amount of time with about a quarter of the regular season remaining. An update from Shams Charania of The Vertical said Butler could return for the postseason.

The Bulls take on the Timberwolves on Saturday night. Butler dropped 38 points at the United Center in his return to Chicago exactly two weeks ago, but the Bulls won 114-113.

Butler posted on Instagram a reaction to the injury.

Saturday's game will be the returns of Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn to Minnesota after they went the other direction in the Butler trade on draft night last June.