White Sox

NBA lockout: Everything you need to know

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NBA lockout: Everything you need to know

From Comcast SportsNet
NEW YORK (AP) -- Some questions and answers about the NBA's labor impasse: Q: What's the damage so far? A: NBA Commissioner David Stern canceled the first two weeks of the regular season Monday, with both owners and players estimating losses at hundreds of millions of dollars. Q: What happens next? A: No meetings are currently scheduled, and Stern warned that more games could be lost with each passing day. Q: What were the NBA's revenues last season? A: The league brought in about 4.3 billion, of which 3.8 billion fell into the category of basketball-related income (BRI). BRI is basically all the money made through basketball operations, including gate receipts, broadcast revenues, in-arena sales of novelties and concessions, arena signage revenues, game parking and program revenues, sponsorship revenues, etc. Q: So what's the problem? A: Players were guaranteed 57 percent of BRI, and the league says owners were destined to lose money when they only kept 43 cents of every dollar. Q: How bad was it for owners? A: They say they lost 300 million last season, after losing hundreds of millions in every year of the previous collective bargaining agreement that was ratified in 2005. The league says 22 of its 30 teams lost money, including losses of 20 million or more for 11 of them. Q: Couldn't they avoid those problems if the teams that made money shared more with the others? A: That's what the players say, calling the NBA's revenue-sharing program "insignificant." The league says a more robust revenue-sharing plan is coming, but not until after a new CBA with the players, because right now all it would be doing is sharing losses. Q: What do the owners want? A: The league has two goals in the negotiations: A system that would guarantee owners a chance to make a profit, and a system where all teams would have a chance to compete equally for a championship. Q: How far apart are they financially? A: Each side's last formal proposal was a 53-47 revenue split in its favor. Given each full BRI percentage point was worth nearly 40 million last season, the sides are officially around 240 million apart in the first year of a deal. Q: Why is competitive balance a problem now? A: Because the NBA's "soft" salary cap system allows teams to spend above it by using various exceptions. There is a luxury tax level in which teams have to pay a 1 tax for every 1 they exceed the threshold by, but big-market teams simply absorbed the penalty that smaller-market clubs were unable to. So the league says small-market teams can't compete in the NBA like they do in the NFL, where Green Bay, Indianapolis, New Orleans and Pittsburgh have won recent Super Bowls. Q: What do players think about a hard cap? A: They're completely opposed, to the extent that union executive director Billy Hunter has called it a "blood issue." Players believe a hard cap would eliminate fully guaranteed contracts for all but a handful of top players and set up a system like the NFL, where teams cut even high-performing players for cap reasons and aren't required to pay their full contracts. Q: Is playing overseas a viable option? A: Not as good as players hoped, which is why Stern downplayed it as a bargaining threat from the start. Economic difficulties in Europe mean teams there simply can't pay enough to entice NBA stars, and China essentially removed itself as an option when it ruled its teams couldn't offer contracts with opt-out clauses, meaning players who sign there are required to stay all season. Q: Can they still play a full 82-game season? A: Stern said everything is negotiable, but it will be difficult. Arenas have few dates available and already have been told they can book events on nights games were scheduled for the first two weeks of the season.

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?

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USA TODAY

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.”