Cubs

Rose's recovery affecting Bulls' offseason plans?

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Rose's recovery affecting Bulls' offseason plans?

After the injury-plagued season the Bulls endured, it's fitting that the last official media-availability session of the season occurred at a hospital.

With Tuesday's press conference at Rush University Medical Center confirming that Derrick Rose will indeed miss eight to 12 months as he recovers from Saturday's ACL surgery, the organization now enters the offseason with the separate -- yet related -- agendas of fielding a competitive and cost-effective roster, adding serviceable players on the cheap and compensating for Rose's absence while bringing in players who will mesh with the All-Star point guard upon his return, although perhaps not in that order.

"Thats our job between now and July. Obviously short-term, were going to take a hit. Our thinking in general, long-term, wont change at all and the short-term, obviously you dont replace Derrick and what he brings to the team, and the production that hes got, but were going to have to fill that spot, scrape it together in the mean time, to fit in with our other guys," Bulls general manager Gar Forman said Tuesday.

"Were hopeful at some point he would be back. Im not sure were going to make plans as if he will be, but were optimistic he will be at some point. The biggest thing in mind is with an injury like this, weve obviously spent a lot of time putting a team together. In putting this team together, everything was looking at big picture, long-term and I think its our job to stay focused on that, and continue to look at what we feel is a long window of opportunity to have success and thats how well approach it. Have we taken a hit in the short-term? Without question. But will we make decisions based on the short-term? We wont.

"All our decisions will continue to be based long-term and obviously a big part of that is Derrick, who we feel is going to be a special player for us for the next 10, 15 years," he continued. "I really dont think Rose's absence will affect the Bulls' offseason decision-making process a lot. Again, any of the decisions we make from a basketball standpoint will be with long-term in mind, so I dont see it affecting a whole lot of the decisions that we make."

Added Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, a late arrival to the press conference: "Theres a process we go through. Well be in evaluation right now, then we have the draft coming up, so thatll be one opportunity to add. Then, there will be free agency after that. Then, theres summer league. Theres a lot of different avenues to go down, but the core of the team will be the same and we feel real good about that.

The Bulls have four players under contract making eight-figure salaries in the 2012-13 season -- Rose, Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah and All-Star Luol Deng -- and three veteran reserve free agents for whom they hold team options in backup point guard C.J. Watson and swingmen Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer, as well as a restricted free agent in center Omer Asik.

Asik is the most likely to return, as the Bulls can match opposing teams' offers for him, and the team will have to figure out who will fill in at point guard to start next season, but as of the present time, the team's focus is on Rose.

"Weve got a great medical staff. I'm glad everything went well. Derricks really upbeat, doing a great job with his rehab and looking forward to the challenge ahead," said Thibodeau, who has visited with the superstar point guard since the Bulls' playoff run ended. "The most important thing for us right now is his health, so we want him to focus on that and as we said during the season when it happened, its a new challenge for us, well get through it, we want him to prioritize his health right now and when hes ready to come back, hell come back. But there will be no pressure on him to come back soon. When hes ready, hes ready and then, well move forward from there.

"Hes a fierce competitor, as we all know, but hes also very coachable, so whatever hes being asked to do, hell do it and hell do it well, and hell do fine. Hes in great spirits right now and hes very determined," he continued. "Like everything, hes diligent in his approach. I think he prepared for the surgery well and now, hes going into the next phase and hes very upbeat."

Breaking down where Cubs can turn NLCS around and beat L.A.

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Breaking down where Cubs can turn NLCS around and beat L.A.

“Sometimes, you got to lay your marbles out there,” Jon Lester said Sunday night inside Dodger Stadium’s visiting clubhouse, before the Cubs flew home from Los Angeles down 0-2 in the National League Championship Series. “And you get beat.”

It will be extremely difficult for the Cubs to win four of the next five games against the Dodgers, starting Tuesday night at Wrigley Field. But the Cubs had the, uh, marbles to win last year’s World Series and have developed the muscle memory from winning six playoff rounds and playing in 33 postseason games since October 2015.

There is a cross section left of the 2015 team that beat the Pittsburgh Pirates and silenced PNC Park’s blackout crowd in a sudden-death wild-card game. While 2016 is seen in hindsight as a year of destiny, those Cubs still had to kill the myths about the even-year San Francisco Giants, survive a 21-inning scoreless streak against the Dodgers and win Games 5, 6, 7 against the Cleveland Indians under enormous stress.

There is at least a baseline of experience to draw from and the sense that the Cubs won’t panic and beat themselves, the way the Washington Nationals broke down in the NL Division Series.

· Remember the Cubs pointed to how their rotation set up as soon as Cleveland took a 3-1 lead in last year’s World Series: Lester, Jake Arrieta and Kyle Hendricks would each give them a chance to win that night. The Dodgers will now have to deal with last year’s major-league ERA leader (Hendricks) in Game 3 and a Cy Young Award winner (Arrieta) on Wednesday night in Game 4.

“Obviously, we know we need to get wins at this point,” Hendricks said. “But approaching it as a must-win is a little extreme. We've just got to go out there and play our brand of baseball.

“Since we accomplished that, we know we just have to take it game by game. Even being down 3-1 (in the World Series), we worry about the next game. In that situation, we didn’t think we had to win three in a row or anything like that. We just came to the ballpark the next day and worried about what we had to do that day.”

· The history lessons only go so far when the Dodgers can line up Yu Darvish as their Game 3 starter instead of, say, Josh Tomlin. There is also a huge difference between facing a worn-down Cleveland staff in late October/early November and a rested Dodger team that clinched a division title on Sept. 22 and swept the Arizona Diamondbacks in the first round. Joe Blanton and Pedro Baez aren’t walking through that bullpen door, either.

“We’ve done it before. We’ve been there before,” shortstop Addison Russell said. “But this year’s a new year. That’s a different ballclub. We’re definitely going to have to bring it.”

· Outside of Kenley Jansen, can you name anyone else in the Los Angeles bullpen off the top of your head? No doubt, the Dodger relievers have been awesome in Games 1 and 2 combined: Eight scoreless innings, zero hits, zero walks and Anthony Rizzo the only one out of 25 batters to reach base when Jansen hit him with a 93.7-mph pitch.

But the Dodgers are going to make mistakes, and the Cubs will have to capitalize. Unless this is the same kind of synthesis from the 2015 NLCS, when the New York Mets used exhaustive scouting reports, power pitching and pinpoint execution to sweep a Cubs team that had already hit the wall.

“Their bullpen is a lot stronger than it was last year,” Kris Bryant said. “They’re really good at throwing high fastballs in the zone. A lot of other teams try to, and they might hit it one out of every four. But this team, it seems like they really can hammer the top of the zone. And they have guys that throw in the upper 90s, so when you mix those two, it’s tough to catch up.”

· Bryant is not having a good October (5-for-28 with 13 strikeouts) and both Lester and Jose Quintana have more hits (one each) than Javier Baez (0-for-19 with eight strikeouts) during the playoffs. But we are still talking about the reigning NL MVP and last year’s NLCS co-MVP.

Ben Zobrist is clearly diminished and no longer the switch-hitting force who became last year’s World Series MVP. Kyle Schwarber doesn’t have the same intimidation factor or playoff aura right now. But one well-timed bunt from Zobrist or a “Schwarbomb” onto the video board could change the entire direction of this series and put the pressure on a Dodger team that knows this year is World Series or bust.

“We need to hit a couple balls hard consecutively,” manager Joe Maddon said. “Once we’re able to do that, we’ll gain our offensive mojo back. That's all that’s going on.

“I inherited something from my dad, and that was patience. So you’ve got to be patient right now. You’ve got to keep putting the boys back out there. You keep believing in them, and eventually it comes back to you.”

· Maddon is a 63-year-old man who opened Monday’s stadium club press conference at Wrigley Field by talking about dry-humping, clearly annoyed by all the second-guessers on Twitter and know-it-all sports writers who couldn’t believe All-Star closer Wade Davis got stranded in the bullpen, watching the ninth inning of Sunday’s 1-1 game turn into a 4-1 walk-off loss.

By the time a potential save situation develops on Tuesday night, roughly 120 hours will have passed since Davis threw his 44th and final pitch at Nationals Park, striking out Bryce Harper to end an instant classic. Just guessing that Maddon will be in the mood to unleash Davis.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should the Bears let Mitch Trubisky throw more?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should the Bears let Mitch Trubisky throw more?

Adam Jahns (Chicago Sun-Times), Ben Finfer (ESPN 1000) and Jordan Cornette (The U/ESPN 1000) join Kap on the panel. Justin Turner hits a walk-off 3-run HR off of John Lackey to give the Dodgers a 2-0 lead in the NLCS. So why was Lackey even in the game? How much blame should Joe Maddon get for the loss?

The Bears run the ball over and over and over again to beat the Ravens in overtime, but should they have let Mitch Trubisky throw the ball more?