Cubs

Hinrich a game-time decision for 'Circus Trip' opener

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Hinrich a game-time decision for 'Circus Trip' opener

PHOENIXKirk Hinrich was one of the first players on the floor at U.S. Airways Arena for the Bulls morning shootaround and immediately began shooting with an assistant coach, conveniently avoiding the small group of media who had traveled from Chicago. However, while the veteran point guard didnt talk about his status for Wednesday evenings game against the Suns, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, in his typically cautious fashion, expressed optimism that he would be in the lineup.

Well see. Hes feeling better. Well see what he can do, a surprisingly jovial Thibodeau said.He was a lot better yesterday and well see after this morning and then tonight, warming up.

I know hes feeling a lot better, so we have to let him get out there. He did some out there yesterday and feels a lot better today, he continued. Its always a game-time decision. A lot can happen between shootaround and the game. A guy gets treatment. You never know.

Obviously Nate will be the backup, Kirk will start and Marquis is there and ready. As I mentioned before, each day he comes in, hes working hard, hes improving and were not afraid to use him. Hes a good player.

A person familiar with the situation said he expects Hinrich to suit up Wednesday, a sentiment Hinrich was unwilling to fully commit tothough he was dealt to Washington just prior to Thibodeaus hiring, the floor generals habit of not disclosing personal information is very similar to the coachsafter Tuesday afternoons practice at the Berto Center, the teams final session before departing for the current five-game road trip.

Im feeling better, so Im just happy with the progress and Ill just keep trying to get better. I guess just how I move. Between now and Wednesday, I just have to do as much treatment as I can, and at some point, I have to really push it, test it, to see how I feel, Hinrich explained, noting that the Bulls mostly reviewed film Tuesday, though they were engaged in some light shooting and drill work when media availability began. Its come down over the last couple days. Originally, after I had to leave the Minnesota game, I was pretty bummed out. It just wasnt trending good. I dont want to be in and out of the lineup. I want to be in the lineup, stay in the lineup and my focus right now is to figure out the root of my problem, and whats causing these issues and take care of them, and stay on top of them.

My focus is just trying to figure out whats causing all my muscular problems and just go from there.

Hinrich, an understated type, also discussed the benefits of the team-building experience that occurs on extended road trips, as well as expressing confidence in the play of rookie Marquis Teague, who played solid basketball down the stretch of Monday nights home loss to the Celtics.

I think were all excited to get out on the road. On the road, its just us. Were all weve got. We dont have the fans, everything like that behind us, so its kind of a fun experience. So, well get out there, hopefully play some really good basketball, he said. Teague did really good. Hes a very talented player, very good athlete, long arms, good shooter. I try to sometimes step back and think what it would be like if I was 19. He did great. I try not to overwhelm him. I want him to know that if he has any questions, Im here for him, but more than anything, help him by example.

Thibodeau, as usual, broke down the strengths of his teams opponent, Phoenix, a rebuilding squad that has some offensive firepower.

Theyre versatile, theyre quick, they get the ball up the floor quickly, they can get into multiple pick-and-rolls, the skill set of their players. Dudleys a terrific basketball player. Dragic puts a lot of pressure off the dribble. Beasley, he can play the three, the four, hes inside, hes outside, hes off the dribble. Scola is very clever, you have to be discipline, shot-fake discipline, he knows how to score. Gortat is one of the most underrated big guys in the league. So, theyre a very good team, they have excellent shot-blocking. If they turn you over, now theyre in the open floor. That puts a lot of pressure on you. We just have to be ready from the start of the game, he said. There will be many pick-and-rolls in this game and often times, its not the initial pick-and-roll, its the second or third one on the same play, where theres the constant re-picking, so you have to have the discipline to, if you defend the first one well, you have to defend the second one, the third one. So, it has to be a multiple-effort mentality and everybody has to stay tied together. So, if we do that, we take care of the ball, the paint, then react out, well be okay.

When asked about the recent playing time of shooting guard Rip Hamilton, the coach revealed that due to the veterans injury-plagued campaign last season, hes being careful about the starters minutes.

I think Rips done fine and Im trying to monitor his minutes also right now, and the big thing for him and for us is his health, so thats what Im concerned with most and obviously, if we have to extend our defense, that changes things, too. But I think Rip has done well, Thibodeau explained. Hes fine. I just want to make sure it remains that way.

Of course, were monitoring that Hinrichs playing time, as well, just because of whats happened so far, but well see.

Theo Epstein brushes aside rumors: 'There's essentially zero trade talks involving the Cubs'

Theo Epstein brushes aside rumors: 'There's essentially zero trade talks involving the Cubs'

No, the Cubs are not currently talking to the Baltimore Orioles about bringing Manny Machado to the North Side of Chicago.

So says Theo Epstein, the Cubs president of baseball operations who met with the media at Wrigley Field ahead of Friday's series opener with the San Francisco Giants.

Epstein vehemently shot down the notion of trade talks and specified the major diffence between trade rumors and trade talks, while refusing to comment on Machado in particular.

"I'm not addressing any specific rumor or any player with another team," Epstein said. "I would never talk about that in a million years. The simple way to put it is there's been a lot of trade rumors involving the Cubs and there's essentially zero trade talks involving the Cubs.

"There's a real disparity between the noise and the reality and unfortunately, sometimes that puts a player or two that we have in a real tough circumstance. And that's my job to clarify there's nothing going on right now.

"We have more than enough ability to win the division, win the World Series and we really need to focus on our roster and getting the most out of our ability and finding some consistency. Constant focus outside the organization doesn't do us any good, especially when it's not based in reality right now."

The Cubs have presented a united front publicly in support of Addison Russell, whose name has been the one bandied about most as a potential leading piece in any move for Machado.

After all, the Cubs have won a World Series and never finished worse than an NLCS berth with Russell as their shortstop and he's only 24 with positive signs of progression offensively.

Trading away 3.5 years of control of Russell for 3-4 months of Machado is the type of bold, go-for-it move the Cubs did in 2016 when their championship drought was well over 100 years.

Now, the championship drought is only one season old and the window of contention is expected to remain open until through at least the 2021 season.

Epstein likes to point out that every season is sacred, but at what cost? The Cubs front office is still very much focused on the future beyond 2018.

"Everybody's talking about making trades in May — the first part of the season is trying to figure out who you are," Epstein said. "What are the strengths of the club? What are the weaknesses of the club? What's the character of the club? What position is the club gonna be in as we get deeper in the season? What's our short-term outlook? What's our long-term outlook? What's the chemistry in the clubhouse?

"All those things. It's a process to get there and figure it out. If you rush to those kinds of judgments, you can oftentimes make things worse. I think it's important to figure out exactly who you are and give guys a chance to play and find their level and see how all the pieces fit together before you make your adjustments."

So there's no chance we could see the Cubs once again jump the market and make an early deal like they did last year for Jose Quintana or five years ago for Jake Arrieta? Will they definitely wait another five weeks until July to make a move?

"It's just the natural order of things," Epstein said. "We wouldn't be opposed to doing something, but that's not the case right now. It's not happening."

New Trier's Duke Olges gives Northwestern verbal commitment

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247 Sports

New Trier's Duke Olges gives Northwestern verbal commitment

New Trier junior three-star ranked athlete Duke Olges (6-foot-5, 260 pounds) gave Northwestern his verbal commitment last Sunday yet waited until Friday morning to make his decision public via his Twitter page.

Olges, who was recruited by the Wildcats as a defensive tackle, felt pressure to make a decision since the Wildcats already had one defensive tackle verbal commitment in Clear Springs Texas Jason Gold while another defensive tackle with an offer was making an on campus visit later that day.

“I didn’t know if it was the right decision, to be honest. It was impulse more than anything,” Olges told WildcatsReport.com's publisher Louis Vaccher. “But what comforted me is after having a couple days to think about it, I felt a sigh of relief. It would have hurt me too much to let that scholarship go. As much as I wanted to go and visit other schools, losing that scholarship would have hurt more than anything else.”

Olges is now the 10th known verbal commitment in the Wildcats Class of 2019  and the second in state pledge along with Bolingbrook junior DB Cameron Mitchell. 

Olges, who was holding 26 scholarship offers this spring, was planning to make summer visits to Iowa, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Virginia and Duke before giving the Wildcats his verbal commitment.