Joe Maddon's 2018 coaching staff came into focus Tuesday, with the Cubs officially announcing three moves.
The Cubs made Jim Hickey the team's pitching coach, making official what has been assumed for a while, that Maddon's former pitching coach with the Tampa Bay Rays would take over for Chris Bosio on the North Side.
Additionally, Brandon Hyde was moved from his role as the team's first base coach to become Maddon's bench coach, taking over for Dave Martinez, who is the new manager of the Washington Nationals.
And the Cubs announced that Will Venable will be the new first base coach after he was recently named a special assistant to president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer.
Hickey, a Chicago native, spent the past 11 seasons as the Rays' pitching coach, presiding over a litany of young arms during and after Maddon's tenure as the manager there, including James Shields, Matt Garza, David Price, Chris Archer and Alex Cobb. Hickey was the pitching coach for a pair of World Series teams: the 2005 Houston Astros and the 2008 Rays.
Hickey's relationship with Cobb could be of particular interest this offseason, as the free-agent pitcher could be a target for the Cubs' front office.
Hyde has served as the Cubs' bench coach before, filling the role on Rick Renteria's staff in 2014. He spent the past three seasons as Maddon's first base coach, part of a staff that appeared in three straight National League Championship Series and won the 2016 World Series.
Venable spent nine seasons in the major leagues, wrapping up his playing career in 2016 after playing for the San Diego Padres, Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Dodgers.
In addition to these moves to lock in Maddon's coaching staff, the Cubs also announced the addition of Jim Benedict as a special assistant. Benedict was most recently the vice president of pitching development for the Miami Marlins and has also worked for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees.
The Bulls will be keeping a close eye on the best young talent the loaded 2018 NBA Draft will have to offer. But they likely won't be seeing much of Missouri's Michael Porter Jr.
The school announced Tuesday that their freshman forward, the top recruit in the country, will miss the remainder of his freshman season.
Statement from #Mizzou:— Mizzou Basketball (@MizzouHoops) November 21, 2017
Michael Porter, Jr. will undergo surgery on Tuesday, Nov. 21, in Dallas, Texas. The procedure, a microdiscectomy of the L3-L4 spinal discs, has a projected recovery time of three-four months and will likely cause him to miss the remainder of the season.
Michael is expected to make a complete recovery, and the Mizzou Men’s Basketball program wishes Michael the best during this process.— Mizzou Basketball (@MizzouHoops) November 21, 2017
Statement from @CuonzoMartin:— Mizzou Basketball (@MizzouHoops) November 21, 2017
“Our top priority as a program is the well-being of our student-athletes, so Michael beginning this process to be 100% healthy is important to all of us. Our focus has been on Michael’s well-being, just like every other player in our locker room."
Cont. from @CuonzoMartin:— Mizzou Basketball (@MizzouHoops) November 21, 2017
"We will continue to work every day to build Mizzou Basketball into a program to be proud of. We’re preparing now for a trip that is a tremendous opportunity. I’m excited to get after it in Orlando.”
Statement from #MPJr:— Mizzou Basketball (@MizzouHoops) November 21, 2017
“I really appreciate the support of my family & program as I begin this process. I’m thankful for the kind words & messages I’ve received from fans. Those mean a lot to me. I cannot wait to be completely healthy and playing the game I love, once again.”
Porter played all of 100 minutes for the Tigers, amassing 2 pioints and 2 rebounds in the Tigers' win over Iowa State.
The injury isn't to say Porter won't declare for the 2018 NBA Draft, or that it will affect his stock at all. He's still considered a legitimate franchise player and certainly someone all teams drafting in the top 5 will have their eye on.
But there will be competition. Players like Luka Doncic, Marvin Bagley, DeAndre Ayton and Mo Bamba make up what could be one of the best draft classes in recent memory.
For now the Bulls will have to wait until the spring or summer to see Porter Jr. work out, while doing due diligence on the rest of the class.