White Sox

Forte won't rule out signing the franchise tag, wants to be in camp

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Forte won't rule out signing the franchise tag, wants to be in camp

Matt Forte was not in uniform for OTAs with the Bears. He was not there for the three-day minicamp last week. And he is still realistically a longshot to be in Bourbonnais when the Bears begin actual practices on July 26.

But Forte, appearing at the EA Sports Madden 2013 Pigskin Pro-Am in Chicago on Friday, did not rule out signing the 7.74-million franchise tag prior to the start of the season and told Comcast SportsNets Pat Boyle that the contract gap between the Bears and himself has narrowed.

I cant really speculate about signing the tag right now, Forte said, adding that as far as training camp itself, I want to be there, obviously. Its a matter of what happens in these next couple weeks leading up to July 16.

July 16 is the NFL deadline for a long-term contract. After that, Fortes only option is the guaranteed tag pay rate.

For complete coverage of Pats conversations with Forte and linebacker Lance Briggs, tune into Chicago Tribune Live and SportsNet Central Friday on Comcast SportsNet.

Forte reiterated that he is not seeking to become the NFLs highest-paid running back.

I just want to get market value, Forte said, citing the deals LeSean McCoy signed with the Philadelphia Eagles and Arian Foster did with the Houston Texans, both of which guaranteed the players slightly more than 20 million over five and four years, respectively.

Quarterback Jay Cutler has been among those who cannot see a 2012 season or even training camp without Forte, but the running back would prefer to be his own spokesman.

I dont know. It depends on how negotiations go, Forte said. Thats why it looks bad when other people speak for you...

Forte avoided discussing specifics beyond saying that talks are worlds apart from last year, a clear indication that the gap between the sides has narrowed from the impasse of the past year.

Forte said that he talks frequently with teammate Lance Briggs, who was in a similar franchise-tag situation in 2007 and eventually reached a long-term deal.

Pay the man! Briggs declared, expressing unqualified support for Forte and his position. "Hes done what hes had to and everybody on the team knows it.

Forte has generally maintained an outward air of calm through the stalemate times and is not getting any more emotional about any sense of progress that may be occurring.

I stay even-keeled about it. I dont get too high or too low about it, Forte said. If it happens, then thank God that its going to happen.

Everybody knows I want to be with the Chicago Bears and play for them, Forte said, at the same time asking for understanding. If it comes to the point where Im not going to be and have to make a business decision for myself, everybody should understand that.

Nationals to become latest MLB team to extend protective netting down foul lines

Nationals to become latest MLB team to extend protective netting down foul lines

Another MLB team will soon extend the protective netting in its home ballpark. 

Thursday, Nationals owner Mark Lerner announced that the Nationals will extend the protective netting at Nationals Park further down the foul lines. The netting will be installed during the All-Star break, according to Lerner's press release. 

Ahead of the 2018 season, all 30 MLB teams extended the protective netting in their home ballparks to reach the outfield end of both dugouts. However, the White Sox announced on Tuesday that they will extend netting at Guaranteed Rate Field to reach both foul poles, becoming the first MLB team to do so.

Extended netting has become a widely-discussed topic across baseball this season. In a game between the Cubs and Astros on May 29, a four-year old fan was struck by a foul ball line drive hit by Cubs outfielder Albert Almora Jr. The fan was rushed to the hospital following the incident and players from both teams were visibly shaken afterwards.

Almora spoke out about the need to protect fans several days later.

"I hope this never happens again, so whatever the league has to do to make that happen," Almora said at Busch Stadium on May 31 ahead of a Cubs-Cardinals game. "I don't think any kid that goes to a baseball game with their parents or whoever should worry about making it out unhealthy or whatever the case may be. I don't think that should ever cross their mind. 

"Whatever the league needs to do to do that, that should be in place."

Lerner referenced the fan in Houston specifically in the Nationals' announcement on Thursday.

"Over the past few weeks, we have seen several fans injured by bats and balls leaving the field of play at other stadiums," Lerner said. "I could not help but become emotional last month watching the Astros-Cubs game when a four-year-old little girl was hit by a line drive.

"I can’t imagine what her parents must have felt in that moment. And to see the raw emotion and concern from Albert Almora Jr. was heartbreaking. Further extending the netting at Nationals Park will provide additional protection for our fans."

Although only the White Sox and Nationals have announced plans for further extended netting this season, more teams will likely follow suit. In fact, the Rangers will extend the netting at their new ballpark next season to a similar area as the Nationals.

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Jalen Rose hints at or proposes a Bulls-Pelicans NBA Draft trade

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USA TODAY

Jalen Rose hints at or proposes a Bulls-Pelicans NBA Draft trade

The Bulls expected to be picking at the top of the NBA Draft after finishing in the top 4 of lottery odds. They dropped to seventh however, but could they be moving up?

Some think they can, and former NBA player and current ESPN analyst Jalen Rose "proposes" a Bulls-Pelicans trade while strongly suggesting their might be insider info behind this "proposal."

When asked what the Pelicans should do with the No. 4 pick, Rose suggests a trade.

"If I was them.... I guess I'm going to say this, I was going to look at my phone to see if I was able to say this," Rose says. "I'll swap with the Bulls and try to get [Zach] LaVine from them.... and give [the Bulls] Lonzo Ball."

So that would be the Bulls sending the seventh overall pick and LaVine to New Orleans for Lonzo Ball and the fourth overall pick.

When asked if that was going to happen, Rose coyly responded "we'll see."

Ball has been connected to Chicago ever since the Lakers started pursuing Anthony Davis during last season. Rumors also connected the Bulls to the Lakers-Pelicans trade for Davis in the past couple weeks as the third team. And further rumors have suggested the Bulls were the most active team in regards to moving up in the NBA Draft.

But what would it take to move up in the draft and who would the Bulls pick? Mark Strotman has the answers.

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