For now, Soriano and Garza are sticking with Cubs


For now, Soriano and Garza are sticking with Cubs

Alfonso Soriano and Matt Garza are the two big names still left on the board, and the Cubs left little doubt that they are still very much available.

Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer arent necessarily done dealing, and theres a good chance the two Cubs executives banked some background information during all those phone calls before Tuesdays non-waiver trade deadline.

Soriano threw his hands up in the air before running to the outfield during batting practice at Wrigley Field, saying that it was all just rumors. He indicated that he was not presented with offers from the San Francisco Giants or Detroit Tigers to accept or reject.

We had some interest, Hoyer said. We had talked to him about places he might go. Im not going to characterize how far it went, but certainly we did have some of those conversations. He should have interest. Hes having a hell of a year.

Soriano began the day hitting .274 with 19 homers and 61 RBI. He hit his first home run on May 15 and had posted a .945 OPS since then. Dave McKay has coached him up in left field and he brings energy and optimism to the clubhouse every day.

This had to be considered a softer deadline for Soriano, who has no-trade rights and is owed almost 43 million through the rest of this season and the next two years combined. That price tag makes him a virtual lock to clear waivers in August.

Ryan Dempsters 10-and-5 rights were an obstacle in dealing with the Atlanta Braves, but Hoyer felt like those discussions helped lay the groundwork for trading left-hander Paul Maholm and outfielder Reed Johnson for two pitching prospects.

This winter the Cubs can circle back and talk to teams about Garza (triceps), who hasnt pitched in a game since July 21 and isnt expected to start again until Aug. 7 in San Diego.

We did have some dialogue about him, Hoyer said. Some teams were still interested despite the fact that he hasnt pitched. But its hard teams ultimately shied away (after) not seeing a guy on the mound. So it certainly hurt his market. It hurt the number of phone calls we got on him because he wasnt going to pitch until after the deadline.

The Cubs said the MRI on Garzas right elbow was clean except for a trace of fluid. He threw a bullpen on Monday and when healthy will again become a unique asset. Hes 28 years old, under club control through 2013 and proven in the American League East.

The timing was unfortunate, because he is likely to pitch here pretty soon, Hoyer said. The timing didnt allow teams to feel like they could see him out on the mound and I understand that. Teams are making trades this time of year to try to win the World Series.

The Cubs arent all-in for this year or next, which makes Garza trade bait.

Throughout all the speculation, Garza was understandably preoccupied with other things, like his pregnant wife. On Tuesday he went on his Twitter account to announce: God has blessed my family with a beautiful baby girl...Welcome to the world my beautiful Summer.

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


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.