Already beginning the season without All-Star Derrick Rose, the teams point-guard depth suffered another potential hit during Tuesday nights game against the Thunder at the United Center. Veteran Kirk Hinrich strained his right groin in the second quarter of the contest didnt return to the game.
I spoke to Fred Tedeschi, the teams athletic trainer at halftime. He said he tweaked something, said Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau. I dont know how serious it is. If he needs time, hell get time. If he doesnt, hell play in the next game.
Hinrich missed last Tuesdays win over the Bucks with a right-thumb injury. In his absence, backup Nate Robinson started the second half and seldom-used rookie Marquis Teague also saw minutes at point guard.
I thought Nate played well. In the second half, he was trying to run our offense, said Thibodeau. Teague has done a good job. Hes practicing well. Hes learning the game, the NBA game. Hes learning his teammates. Each day, hes gotten better, so if hes called upon, I expect him to play well.
Even if the injury is minor and Hinrich was sidelined for precautionary reasons, his injury highlighted just how fragile the Bulls depth at the position is. Thibodeau, however, is confident that even if Hinrich was sidelined for an extended period of time, his next man up philosophy, which has worked for the better part of his tenure in Chicago, will allow the team to ride out the storm.
Thats part of the game, he explained. Everybody in that room is capable of playing and playing well, and were going to need everyone over the course of the season, so I expect when theyre called upon, to be ready and get the job done.
When discussing his unconventional lineup choices, Joe Maddon had this to say, "It's almost a backwards way of doing this right now that I'm finding fascinating.....So I'm just gonna let it play for just a little bit and see where it takes us."
And it is hard to blame Maddon for letting his experiment ride out longer.
Via our Chris Kamka, Rizzo has hit in the leadoff spot seven times this season. In those seven plate appearances he has a single, double, triple (July 21), home run, walk, hit by pitch and a groundout. Rizzo’s numbers as a leadoff hitter are staggering:
And it appears the Cubs agree.
After their 7-2 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday, Ben Zobrist joked that Rizzo is the “self proclaimed greatest leadoff hitter...”. And while on paper, having Zobrist bat fourth in the order and Rizzo lead off seems contradictory, the move has definitely energized the offense. Immediately following all the lineup shuffling, the Cubs reeled off four straight wins before the Cardinals 18-run, 18-hit explosion, but even in that game Rizzo did draw a base by HBP.
And sure enough, in Saturday’s game, there was Rizzo, dominating to the tune of three walks and a triple. There is no telling if Maddon will continue to keep him in the leadoff spot. The move was originally made to help Rizzo get his groove back, which if Saturday’s win was any indication, he has.
But with Jason Heyward having a great offensive season, Jesse Chavez looking good in his Cubs debut (two clean innings with one strikeout) and Baez continuing his MVP-like play, Cubs fans should be as optimistic as one certain fan at Wrigley Field.
Training camp Daily: Peter King joins the Under Center Podcast on Day 2 of practice in Bourbonnais. King and John "Moon" Mullin talk Trubisky year 2, Trubisky comparison, Bears upside this season and Urlacher's Hall of Fame Induction.
Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded link below: