White Sox

'Linsanity' leads Knicks to 7th straight win

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'Linsanity' leads Knicks to 7th straight win

From Comcast SportsNet
NEW YORK (AP) -- Instead of saving the Knicks, Jeremy Lin got to save his energy. Lin played only 26 minutes Wednesday night, 10 fewer than in any game since joining the rotation. With the Knicks blowing out the Sacramento Kings, he checked out for good in the third quarter, grabbing a spot on the bench next to Carmelo Anthony and sharing a laugh with the injured All-Star. "We were just having fun and kind of talking about how we're both excited for when he comes back," Lin said. Hey Melo, no need to rush. Lin and the Knicks just keep on winning. Lin put aside his record-setting scoring to hand out a career-best 13 assists, and New York got back to .500 with its seventh straight victory, 100-85 on Wednesday night. Lin added 10 points, focusing more on his role as a distributor while others torched the Kings for 51 percent shooting. Landry Fields had 15 points and 10 rebounds, while Bill Walker and Steve Novak each chipped in 14 points as the Knicks put seven players in double figures for the first time since April 5, 2009, at Toronto. "As a point guard, my field goal attempts have been really high and I don't think that's necessarily good," Lin said. "I think it's more of my job to distribute and get people in rhythm." Lin scored 136 points in his first five starts, most by any NBA player since the NBA merged with the ABA in 1976. His 3-pointer with 0.5 seconds left Tuesday allowed the Knicks to pull out a 90-87 victory in a game they trailed nearly the whole way. The Knicks (15-15) led this one almost throughout, evening their record for the first time since they were 6-6 after a loss to Oklahoma City on Jan. 14. They host hapless New Orleans on Friday, hoping Anthony will return from a strained right groin. "We wanted to be aggressive, make it hard for (Lin), but he still ran the team and got assists," Sacramento's Tyreke Evans said. "They made shots. It seemed like they were making everything tonight." Evans scored 19 points for the Kings, who had won four in a row in New York. DeMarcus Cousins added 15 but shot only 7 of 18 and grabbed just four rebounds. Already the NBA's biggest story, Linsanity had peaked about 24 hours earlier with the former Harvard guard's winner in Toronto. The shot was replayed on the overhead video board at the Garden, triggering a huge ovation as if it had just happened live. But Lin, the reigning Eastern Conference player of the week, would have few other scoring highlights, taking only six shots. Fans, quite a few wearing Lin's jerseys or holding masks of his face, loved it anyway. They chanted "MVP! MVP!" as he was interviewed on the court after the game and held up signs such as "Lin Your Face," "Linderella," and -- of course -- "Marry Me Jeremy." "It's crazy. Thank you for the energy as always," he said to the crowd. Then he was peppered with an array of questions usually reserved for superstars, from his thoughts about President Barack Obama watching him, to whether it was time to get a new haircut. But for Lin, the only focus is basketball. "I knew him before he was Linmania. He's still the same humble guy," Kings coach Keith Smart said. "The guy has not changed a bit, which is real special for a young man." Lin played last season in Golden State for Smart, who praised Lin's work ethic and attitude, but never imagined "the perfect storm" that would lead to these results. "It's good Monday morning quarterbacks are here now, but no one could have predicted this guy being this big in this place here," Smart said before the game. Lin opened the game with a three-point play, giving him nine straight points dating to late Tuesday, but passed more than shot as the Knicks scored easily in the first half. Lin beat the defense with penetration and dishes to shooters, or by throwing lob passes over the top. The Knicks led 25-17 after one quarter, then blew it open late in the second. Novak converted a four-point play, Lin hooked up with Fields for an alley-oop dunk, then made a free throw to cap a run of seven straight points and make it an 18-point game. The Knicks closed the scoring when Lin drove and threw a wraparound pass to Tyson Chandler for a dunk with 1.7 seconds left, extending it to 54-36. "I just thought we played really exceptionally well the first quarter," Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni said. "Just the ball was moving, every time we drew up a play they ran it perfectly. Every time I think there was an opportunity to make a great pass, they did it." Lin had six points and nine assists in the first half. He found Fields for a layup that made it a 25-point game early in the third, and the Knicks coasted from there. Notes: Kings rookie guard Isaiah Thomas was booed when his name was announced after checking in late in the first quarter. The names are pronounced the same, but he's not related to former Knicks coach and president Isiah Thomas. "I knew it was going to happen here," Thomas said. "I was expecting something. Spike Lee told me next time you come to New York, you better change your name." ... The Knicks last won seven in a row near the end of last season. ... Former vice president Al Gore and ex-heavyweight champion Mike Tyson were at the game.

White Sox prospect Micker Adolfo sidelined with elbow injuries

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USA TODAY

White Sox prospect Micker Adolfo sidelined with elbow injuries

PHOENIX, Ariz. — One of the White Sox prized prospects will be on the shelf for a little while.

Outfielder Micker Adolfo has a sprained UCL in his right elbow and a strained flexor tendon that could require surgery. He could avoid surgery, though he could be sidelined for at least six weeks.

Though he hasn’t received the same high rankings and media attention as fellow outfield prospects Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert, Adolfo is considered a part of the White Sox promising future. He’s said to have the best outfield arm in the White Sox system.

Adolfo had a breakout season in 2017, slashing .264/.331/.453 with 16 homers and 68 RBIs in 112 games with Class A Kannapolis.

Adolfo, along with Jimenez and Robert, has been generating buzz at White Sox camp in Glendale, with a crowd forming whenever the trio takes batting practice. Earlier this week, the three described their conversation dreaming about playing together in the same outfield for a contending White Sox team in the future.

Javy Baez can do anything defensively, but what's next for him at the plate?

Javy Baez can do anything defensively, but what's next for him at the plate?

MESA, Ariz. — You don’t need to spend long searching the highlight reels to figure out why Javy Baez goes by “El Mago.”

Spanish for “The Magician,” that moniker is a fitting one considering what Baez can do with his glove and his arm up the middle of the infield. The king of tags, Baez also dazzles with his throwing arm and his range. He looks like a Gold Glove kind of player when you watch him do these amazing things. And it’s no surprise that in his first media session of the spring, he was talking about winning that award.

“Just to play hard and see what I can do. Obviously, try to be healthy the whole year again. And try to get that Gold Glove that I want because a lot of people know me for my defense,” he said Friday at Cubs camp. “Just try to get a Gold Glove and stay healthy the whole year.”

Those high expectations — in this case, being the best defensive second baseman in the National League — fall in line with everything the rest of the team is saying about their own high expectations. It’s been “World Series or bust” from pretty much everyone over the past couple weeks in Mesa.

Baez might not be all the way there just yet. Joe Maddon talked earlier this week about his reminders that Baez needs to keep focusing on making the easy plays while staying a master of the magnificent.

“What I talked to him about was, when he had to play shortstop, please make the routine play routinely and permit your athleticism to play. Because when the play requires crazinesss, you’re there, you can do that,” Maddon said. “But this straight up ground ball three-hopper to shortstop, come get the ball, play it through and make an accurate throw in a routine manner. Apparently that stuck. Because he told me once he thought in those terms, it really did slow it down for him. And he did do a better job at doing that.”

But the biggest question for Cubs fans when it comes to Baez is when the offense will catch up to his defense. Baez hit a game-winning homer run in his first major league game and smacked 23 of them last season, good for fifth on a team full of power bats. But arguably just as famous as Baez’s defensive magic is his tendency to chase pitches outside of the strike zone. He had 144 strikeouts last season and reached base at a .317 clip. Seven Cubs — including notable struggling hitters Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist — had higher on-base percentages in 2017.

Baez, for one, is staying focused on what he does best, saying he doesn’t really have any specific offensive goals for the upcoming season.

“I’m not worrying about too much about it,” he said. “I’m just trying to play defense, and just let the offense — see what happens.”

Maddon, unsurprisingly, talked much more about what Baez needs to do to become a better all-around player, and unsurprisingly that included being more selective at the plate.

“One of the best base runners in the game, one of the finest arms, most acrobatic, greatest range on defense, power. The biggest thing for me for him is to organize the strike zone,” Maddon said. “Once he does that, heads up. He’s at that point now, at-bat wise, if you want to get those 500, 600 plate appearances, part of that is to organize your zone, accept your walks, utilize the whole field, that kind of stuff. So that would be the level that I think’s the next level for him.”

Will Baez have a season’s worth of at-bats to get that done? The versatile Cubs roster includes a couple guys who split time between the infield and outfield in Zobrist and Ian Happ. Getting their more consistent bats in the lineup might mean sacrificing Baez’s defense on certain days. Baez, of course, also has the ability to slide over to shortstop to spell Addison Russell, like he did when Russell was on the disabled list last season.

Until Baez learns how to navigate that strike zone a bit better, it might make Maddon more likely to mix and match other options, rather than considering him an everyday lock like Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant.

But like Russell, Albert Almora Jr. and Willson Contreras, Baez is one of the young players who despite key roles on a championship contender the last few years still have big league growth to come. And Maddon thinks that growth is right around the corner.

“I want to believe you’re going to see that this year,” Maddon said. “They’ve had enough major league at-bats now, they should start making some significant improvements that are easy to recognize. The biggest thing normally is pitch selection, I think that’s where it really shows up. When you have talented players like that, that are very strong, quick, all that other stuff, if they’re swinging at strikes and taking balls, they’re going to do really well. And so it’s no secret with Javy. It’s no secret with Addy. Addy’s been more swing mode as opposed to accepting his walks. That’s part of the maturation process with those two guys. Albert I thought did a great job the last month, two months of getting better against righties. I thought Jason looked really good in the cage today. And Willson’s Willson.

“The natural assumption is these guys have played enough major league at-bats that you should see something different this year in a positive way.”