Fire

Rose discusses slow road to recovery

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Rose discusses slow road to recovery

Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau gave the expected response when asked about the health status of his backcourt both Derrick Rose and Rip Hamilton are game-time decisions for Monday nights game against Denver at the United Center but one of his starting guards shed some light into his rehabilitation.

Its day by day. Its getting better every day. Im able to move a little bit more. Im getting treatment twice a day, so hopefully Ill be out there soon, Rose said after Monday mornings shootaround at the Berto Center. Im trying to rush back as quick as possible, but my groin, this is my first time ever injuring that and it takes a little time, and every day its getting better.

Ive missed a lot of games, man, so hopefully when Im out there you see someone with fresh legs and a lot of energy. I know my conditioning will be a concern, but hopefully the more games I play and get ready for the playoffs, I should be all right, continued the reigning league MVP, whos embarked on a rigorous recovery process that includes electronic muscle stimulation, massages pool work and running on a treadmill. Right when I feel that Im ready, Im going to go out there and play, no matter who says whatever. The call is up to me and right when I feel like Im 100 percent or close to it, Im going to go out there and play.

Thibodeau added about Rose, who was shooting the ball after practice and casually retrieved his rebounds he didnt attempt a full gait, but looked more comfortable trotting than he did even walking just a week prior who the Bulls have posted a 12-4 record without: Hes doing more and more. Hes coming along, so both guys are coming along pretty well.

Although the Bulls have been playing well with their homegrown superstar going on seven consecutive games now, it's something that hasnt gone unnoticed by Rose.

Theyre playing great without me. Theyre rebounding the ball great. I think thats the reason why were winning these games, he said. Weve been playing good. Were playing with a lot of confidence. Theyve been finding ways to win at the end of the games and our energy is the biggest concern now.

Its definitely hurting me right now to be missing these games, but my health is the biggest thing right now. Im trying to get healthy, just trying to stay positive, cheer on my teammates and just try to do the right thing, the 23-year-old added, before discussing Saturdays buzzer-beating overtime win over the Raptors. A win is a win in this league. Every team in this league is a good team. They can beat you any given night and Lu hit a great shot.

Rose knows that in his fourth season, hes no longer the invincible kid who can simply play through anything without thinking of his long-term health, meaning this injury-riddled campaign has been a bit of a wake-up call.

A little bit. Things just happen. Thats the way I look at it. God does everything for a reason and thats the way Im looking at it. Im just trying to stay positive, not be around here just groaning and moaning all day people dont want to hear that and try to do my best to get back, he said. When Im out there, Im not going to try to hold back anything. Im going to give it my all, as long as Im on the court.

Rose also discussed the possibility that his litany of ailments could be connected to his bad back, as well as the fact that his current injury, a strained right groin, was bleeding internally.

Probably so, when you think about it. Its all my lower body. I think so, but hopefully after all this treatment, therapy Ive been getting, it goes away, he said. His groin bleeding was pretty scary, but I knew that it wasnt anything to worry myself about. Rip had the same thing almost his whole career and hes been playing. I just try to stay positive and keep my spirits high.

Injuries affecting Fire's preseason with season three weeks away

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USA TODAY

Injuries affecting Fire's preseason with season three weeks away

It may be a good thing that the Fire’s originally scheduled season opener March 3 at Colorado got moved back.

The Fire’s preseason has been riddled with injuries to key players and the extra week may end up being needed to get the team ready for the season. Four players (not counting the already known long-term injuries to Michael de Leeuw and Djordje Mihailovic) sat out Saturday’s game against Florida Gulf Coast University due to injury: Daniel Johnson (a right ankle injury suffered in a game against Philadelphia on Feb. 8), Grant Lillard (left knee), Matt Polster (left knee) and Luis Solignac (left hip).

Polster’s injury is especially notable because he has had recurring left knee problems since first suffering a sprain in the 2016 season finale at Toronto. Polster missed the first nine games of 2017 due to the injury and missed three more in August due to a related injury.

The 24-year-old, who is now the longest tenured player on the team and the only player remaining from before general manager Nelson Rodriguez’s tenure began at the end of the 2015 season, arrived with the Fire after playing with the U.S. national team in January. He played all 90 minutes on Jan. 28 against Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Bastian Schweinsteiger still hasn’t played in the preseason and the team hasn’t listed him as injured.

All the absences, combined with rest for some of the team’s regulars, resulted in a starting lineup against Florida Gulf Coast that featured two players who have appeared in an official match with the Fire. Three trialists and four draft picks started.

Four of the Fire’s seven scheduled preseason matches are in the books. The Fire lost 2-1 to Montreal on Feb. 14. One of the bright spots was a rare set piece goal after the Fire trailed the Impact 2-0. Dax McCarty headed in a free kick from Diego Campos. Campos has been dangerous on set pieces, hitting the post with a free kick and assisting a goal from a corner kick in Saturday’s 2-0 win against Florida Gulf Coast.

Next up is a match against USL expansion team Nashville SC on Feb. 21. Next Saturday the Fire play at Orlando to finish up play in Florida.

The Fire close out the preseason March 3 against the team’s USL affiliate, Tulsa, at Toyota Park before the season opener on March 10.

Addison Russell is so over 2017: 'That's last year, don't want to talk about that'

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USA TODAY

Addison Russell is so over 2017: 'That's last year, don't want to talk about that'

MESA, Ariz. — “That’s last year, don’t want to talk about that.”

In other words, Addison Russell is so over 2017.

The Cubs shortstop went through a lot last year. He dealt with injuries that affected his foot and shoulder. He had a well-documented off-the-field issue involving an accusation of domestic abuse, which sparked an investigation by Major League Baseball. And then came the trade speculation.

The hot stove season rarely leaves any player completely out of online trade discussion. But after Theo Epstein admitted there was a possibility the Cubs could trade away one or more young position players to bolster the starting rotation, well, Russell’s name came up.

And he saw it.

“There was a lot of trade talk,” Russell said Saturday. “My initial thoughts were, I hope it doesn’t happen, but wherever I go, I’m going to try to bring what I bring to the table here. It’s a good thing that it doesn’t have to be that way. I’m happy being in a Cubs uniform, I want to be in a Cubs uniform, for sure. But there was some talk out there. If I got traded, then I got traded, but that’s not the case.”

No, it’s not, as the Cubs solved those pitching questions with free-agent spending, bringing in Yu Darvish and Tyler Chatwood to replace the departed Jake Arrieta and John Lackey. It means Russell, along with oft-discussed names like Kyle Schwarber, Ian Happ and Javy Baez, are all still Cubs.

While the outside world might have expected one of those guys to be moved in some sort of blockbuster trade for Chris Archer or some other All-Star arm, the Cubs’ young core remains intact, another reason why they’re as much a favorite to win the World Series as any team out there.

“I’m really not surprised. The core is still here. Who would want to break that up? It’s a beautiful thing,” Russell said. “Javy and I in the middle. Schwarber, sometimes playing catcher but mainly outfield. And then (Kris Bryant) over there in the hot corner, and of course (Anthony) Rizzo at first. You’ve got a Gold Glover in right field (Jason Heyward). It’s really hard to break that up.

“When you do break that down on paper, we’ve got a lineup that could stack up with the best.”

This winter has been about moving on for Russell, who said he’s spent months working to strengthen his foot and shoulder after they limited him to 110 games last season, the fewest he played in his first three big league campaigns.

And so for Russell, the formula for returning to his 2016 levels of offensive aptitude isn’t a difficult one: stay on the field.

“Especially with the injuries, I definitely wanted to showcase some more of my talent last year than I displayed,” Russell said. “So going into this year, it’s mainly just keeping a good mental — just staying level headed. And also staying healthy and producing and being out there on the field.

“Next step for me, really just staying out there on the field. I really want to see what I can do as far as helping the team if I can stay healthy for a full season. I think if I just stay out there on the field, I’m going to produce.”

While the decrease in being on the field meant lower numbers from a “counting” standpoint — the drop from 21 homers in 2016 to 12 last year, the drop from 95 RBIs to 43 can in part be attributed to the lower number of games — certain rate stats looked different, too. His on-base percentage dropped from .321 in 2016 to .304 last year.

Russell also struggled during the postseason, picking up just six hits in 36 plate appearances in series against the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers. He struck out 13 times in 10 postseason games.

Of course, he wasn’t alone. That World Series hangover was team-wide throughout the first half of the season. And even though the Cubs scored 824 runs during the regular season, the second most in the National League and the fourth most in baseball, plenty of guys had their offensive struggles: Schwarber, Heyward and Ben Zobrist, to name a few.

“You can’t take anything for granted. So whenever you win a World Series or you do something good, you just have to live in the moment,” Russell said. “It was a tough season last year because we were coming off winning the World Series and the World Series hangover and all that. This year, we had a couple months off, a couple extra weeks off, and I think a lot of guys took advantage of that. I know I did. And now that we’re here in spring training, we’re going to get back at it.”