Bulls

Sveum says Soriano doesnt need the big stick

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Sveum says Soriano doesnt need the big stick

MILWAUKEE Maybe Alfonso Soriano connects and goes off on one of those hot streaks where he carries the Cubs offense.

But its the middle of May and the 136 million man still hasnt hit a home run yet.

The fact of the matter is fastballs are getting too deep, manager Dale Sveum said Sunday. Whatever it is, its just a strange phenomenon right now that Edwin Maysonet has more home runs than Alfonso Soriano.

Maysonet, a Milwaukee Brewers utility guy, got his first one in Saturdays win over the Cubs. (Sveum said that Chris Volstad who gave up that grand slam and has a 6.92 ERA will make his next start and keep a spot in the rotation for now.) Outside of Bryan LaHair, the Cubs havent seen many big moments like that.

Thats tough to swallow, Sveum said. We got to get some two- and three-run home runs out of that position. Theres no question about it. Were having trouble sustaining innings.

Soriano woke up on Sunday hitting .250 with 15 RBI and a .284 on-base percentage. Sveum, an old hitting coach, has suggested using a different bat.

Soriano has been open to the idea and made some changes. But Sveum said Soriano just didnt go as far as I wanted.

Theres no question Id like to see a much lighter bat, Sveum said. He has adjusted a little bit, but I think a really smaller, lighter bat would help a lot.

Soriano is among the teams hardest workers, and one of the more popular players in the clubhouse. He does not have a reputation of being difficult to deal with.

Its one of those things where you can tell a guy to use a really small, light bat Sveum said. The physics alone it makes sense.

Youre talking a few ounces two, three ounces and I think a shorter bat only makes sense to help out. Theres no question.

Maybe it will all even out for Soriano by the end of the year. Albert Pujols and David Ortiz are the only two other players with 10-straight 20-homer seasons through 2011.

The power outage in Southern California became a national story. It took Pujols until May 6 before he hit his first home run for the Los Angeles Angels.

Soriano is 36 years old and likes swinging the big bat. Its worked for most of his career. Hes watched his 340 homers fly in the big leagues. His manager understands the dynamics.

Its very hard to do, Sveum said. Its almost like a (mechanical thing). Its hard to change your mechanics. Its hard to change something thats felt so comfortable.

Sometimes when you take a 35-, 35-and-a-half-inch bat, and you make it 34, (it) looks like its 31 inches, (just) so much smaller. Those things are harder to get over than people think.

Three Things to Watch: Bulls dance with Warriors

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Three Things to Watch: Bulls dance with Warriors

Is there any better way to break in your new Black Friday television than Bulls-Warriors tonight? We think not. Coverage starts at 9 p.m. with Bulls Pregame Live, and the game is also available to stream via the NBC Sports app

Here are three things to keep your eye on: 

1. Not the score. Let's be honest: the Bulls probably won't sneak out a win at the Oracle. In fact, ESPN's matchup predictor only gives Fred Hoiberg's young squad a 2.9 percent chance to come up victorious. UIC has three times better odds against juggernaut Kentucky at Rupp Arena on Sunday, in case you needed some context.  

With the talent gap in mind, though, it will be important for the Bulls to come out with high energy. The Warriors will likely take the contest lightly in the first half, so starting off strong reflects well on the coaching staff and starters. Stay within 10 points by the half, and that's considered a massive triumph. 

2. Lauri Markkanen vs. Draymond Green? Assuming the Dubs start out with Green on Markkanen, this will be rookie's biggest test of the season. Green is an elite defender, capable of wrecking gameplans from the tip. He's physical, quick and athletic. 

Markkanen is coming off two duds on the West Coast trip, but his aggressiveness hasn't wavered. It'll be important for him to continue to attack even with the reigning Defensive Player of the Year hounding him. 

3. Steph, KD and Klay doin' work. The Bulls offense hasn't exactly been a thing of beauty through the first 16 games. Their offensive rating is a brutal 94.4, ranked last in the NBA. Golden State, on the other hand, sits at the top with a rating of 113.1. 

Take some time to admire the skills of Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson because when it comes to working cohesively on offense, they've set the gold standard. 

What Chicago sports fans should be thankful for

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USA TODAY

What Chicago sports fans should be thankful for

Families gather and people talk about things they are thankful for on Thanksgiving, but what are Chicago sports fans happy for now?

Raised expectations on the North Side

Got to be thankful that a “disappointing” season is winning the division and losing in the NLCS. The expectations have skyrocketed, and that’s thanks to a ridiculous nucleus of bats and a steady front office. Not many clubs can say that. Also, though, it’s important to be appreciative of the Wrigley bar stretch. They may charge $8 for a Miller Lite, but it’s always a damn good party.

Javy tags, too. Don't forget Javy tags.

Rebuild sparking hope in White Sox fans

Where to begin? Obviously, be thankful for the plethora of young talent that will soon take over the South Side. Be thankful for Avi Time (while you still can). Be thankful that taking your friends or family to a game won’t cause you to take out a second mortgage. Be thankful for the 2020 World Series and, of course, 2020 MVP Eloy Jimenez. But most importantly, be thankful that Rick Hahn’s phone stays buzzing.

Eddie O back in the booth for the Blackhawks

The Blackhawks are having a rough start to the season, but at least Eddie Olczyk is back in the booth. The longtime Blackhawks broadcaster returned to the booth on Oct. 18 after missing time while undergoing chemotherapy treatments for colon cancer.

With some of the key names from the Blackhawks’ title runs either leaving or being unable to play this season (in the case of Marian Hossa), Blackhawks fans are probably thankful to see a familiar face and hear a familiar voice during games.

Lauri Markkanen leading the Bulls rebuild

OK, there’s not much to be thankful for about the current Bulls team. At 3-13, the Bulls are tied for the fewest wins in the NBA (maybe in the long-term that’s something to be thankful for as well). However, Zach LaVine’s pending debut after his eventual return from injury should help create some excitement.

The thing Bulls fans really should be thankful for this year is the play of rookie Lauri Markkanen. The 20-year-old leads the team in scoring (14.6 points per game) and rebounds (8.3 per game) while shooting at a high percentage (34.2 percent on threes and 50.6 percent on twos). It’s only the beginning of the Bulls’ rebuild, but Markkanen is a good start.

Mitchapalooza

If a few things broke the Bears’ way, Chicagoans could have been grateful that the team was finally out of the cellar. Instead, we’ll settle for the fact that there seems to be some building blocks already in place. Mitchell Trubisky, Tarik Cohen, Leonard Floyd and Akiem Hicks seem to fit that category. Also, some may be thankful that this is likely John Fox’s last season at the helm.

Fire ending a playoff drought

After finishing dead last in MLS in 2015 and 2016, the Fire were one of the most improved teams in the league in 2017. After posting the third best record in the league, the Fire made a first playoff appearance since 2012.

The playoff run didn’t last long with the Fire losing a play-in game at home, but the arrival of Bastian Schweinsteiger and the league’s leading goal-scorer, Nemanja Nikolic, helped fill the stadium with six sellouts and gave Fire fans something to cheer for.