Bulls

Kaplan: Struggles continue for Mitchell in Birmingham

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Kaplan: Struggles continue for Mitchell in Birmingham

Coming off of five consecutive wins and two straight one-hitters, everyone in the Charlotte Knights organization was ready to label Terry Doyle the ace going into the second half of the season. But that will not be the case. Doyle requested his release from the Triple-A White Sox affiliate last week. He will be joining the Japanese powerhouse and defending champion Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks.
This may come as a surprise to some, but it makes perfect sense. Doyle found his groove in May and early June and this is the perfect opportunity for him to take his services elsewhere while his stock is high. Earlier this season, Sox scouts made it clear to Doyle that the chances of him ever seeing time at the major league level were slim to non-existent. He signed a three year deal with a guaranteed 500K salary for 2012, a team option for 2013 and a mutual option for 2014. The move to Japan will not only triple Doyles salary, it will give him some sort of stable plan for the future that few players find at the minor league level.
After serving a 50-game suspension for testing positive for the performance-enhancing drug Stanozolol, Andre Rienzo made his return on Saturday in Birmingham. Any time your name is linked to steroids, controversy will follow but Rienzo has atoned for his mistake and made it clear that he wants to move on and get back to what he does best: playing baseball.
The 23-year-old right-hander made his Double-A debut last week, and he looked rusty to say the least. His time away from the game was evident in his shaky approach and uncomfortable presence on the mound. He went 3.1 innings, and allowed one run on three hits. His main problem was locating his pitches as he walked five batters in his brief starting appearance. His uneasiness on the mound should not come as a surprise but it will be interesting to see if Rienzo bounces back in the second half of the season.
As another week passes the Jared Mitchell saga continues, as does his downward spiral. The wildly athletic outfielder had another week that he would soon like to forget. Over a five-game span, Mitchell only tallied two hits in 19 at bats (.105). He added six strikeouts to his season total that now sits at 83, one behind the league leader. His .310 OPS and .169 average against left-handers are starting to make me think maybe this kid just does not have the stuff to cut it at the major league level. Mitchell needs to find an answer, and it needs to be found fast. I know he is still young, but lets not forget the clock never stops ticking.
Winston-Salem clinched the Carolina League Southern Division first half championship, which guarantees them a spot in the playoffs in September. The Dash's 43-25-1 record is good enough for third best in all of High-A baseball. Their early success is largely due to the efforts of Trayce Thompson and Jake Petrika.
Although Thompson has struggled as of late, he is still finding ways to contribute when his team is most in need. Last week he was only 3-for-20 (.150) but also delivered two clutch home runs. Thompson needs to figure out a way to be more efficient at the plate and limit his strikeouts (nine last week). His clutch performances are helping his team win games but it will not be enough to move him through the system.
Petrika toed the rubber for one start last week and was awarded another no decision. He only went five innings, gave up four runs on eight hits and struck out five. He allowed a .381 average against which is much too high for a pitcher trying to go deep into a game. Petrika has been average with glimpses of brilliance this season, and if he can find a groove I think he can hold his own in Double-A when he is called up.
Rangel Ravelo is frustrated and you cant really blame the guy. In four games last week Ravelo was 2-for-15 (.133) with one RBI. What the stat sheet does not tell you is how he is spraying the ball all over the field. Ravelo did not strike out last week and has only fanned once in the last10 games. He is putting the ball in play but simply cannot find a hole in the defense. The only thing a professional can do in this situation is keep swinging the bat, and sooner or later the ball will start to find green grass.

Bulls, Bobby Portis value each other greatly despite no deal getting done

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USA TODAY

Bulls, Bobby Portis value each other greatly despite no deal getting done

Monday's deadline came and went with expected results: Bobby Portis and the Bulls being unable to reach an agreement on a contract extension.

Some 19 hours later all parties involved said the right things, that they value one another and hope to be working together long-term.

But all that will be shelved until July 1, when Portis enters restricted free agency at this coming season's end. The two sides found themselves in position to wait out on an extension.

For Portis, he's improved his game each of his first three seasons in the league posted per-36 numbers on par with some of the game's best big men. Expected to start while Lauri Markkanen recovers from a sprained elbow - and then act as the team's Sixth Man after that - Portis is in line to post career numbers once again.

For the Bulls, nearly all their front office decisions the past three seasons have been with an eye toward the 2019 offseason and having as much cap space as possible. Waiting on a Portis contract allows them to see if any of the top free agents in the class are interested in Chicago, while also having the ability to match any deal Portis gets on the open market.

It's similar to how the Bulls played out the rookie scale contracts of both Jimmy Butler and Zach LaVine.

John Paxson spoke during Tuesday's practice at the Advocate Center and reiterated how much the Bulls value Portis and the work he's put in since they drafted him 22nd overall in 2015.

Portis also spoke with reporters after practice. And what would normally be considered posturing from any other player, Portis' blue-collar mentality was present in his comments.

"I couldn’t see myself in no other jersey. Obviously, I got Bulls DNA," he said. "Me and the city have a love connection somewhere. At the same time, I just enjoy playing for the Bulls.

"I play this game because I love it. Obviously, you want to make as much money as possible to help your family. But I started playing basketball because it’s fun to me and I loved it. I still have that same passion, that same heart every night I go out there."

Still, the opportunity will be there for Portis to make himself significant money in the coming six months. After averaging a modest 13.2 points and 6.8 rebounds in Year 3, Portis will be called upon to shoulder a scoring load in the absence of Markkanen. And with Jabari Parker's Bulls career off to a shaky start, Portis will be the go-to guy on the second unit once Markkanen is back in the lineup.

"Bobby is a guy that is very confident in himself. He’s confident in his ability. That’s what we love about him," Fred Hoiberg said. "And like I said, he’s going to go out there and play the same way every time he steps on the floor, whether it’s practice, whether it’s a pick-up game in the summer or once we get started on Thursday. He’s a warrior, and he’s just going to go out there and play the right way with great effort.’’

The Bulls will need that with the start of the regular season just two days away. They open on the road against the Philadelphia 76ers, a team that went 30-11 at home last season.

Portis will play a significant role in slowing down one of the NBA's best frontcourts. Whether or not this is his last season doing so in Chicago, he knows what the Bulls think of him and won't let the impending negotiations distract him.

"I know how much I’m valued. They tell me a lot. Give it all I got. Kind of the leader of the bunch. Blue-collar worker," he said. "Everybody respects me because I come in every day with a chip on my shoulder, try to push my guys to get better each day. That makes me go."

Hawks Talk Podcast: Crawford's return, Saad's demotion and power play concerns

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USA TODAY

Hawks Talk Podcast: Crawford's return, Saad's demotion and power play concerns

In the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle, Charlie Roumeliotis and Slavko Bekovic provide their thoughts on the Blackhawks’ 3-0-2 start.

They also discuss Brandon Saad’s demotion and whether it could serve as a wake-up call, Corey Crawford’s potential return on Thursday vs. Arizona and what could happen with Anton Forsberg because of it, and address the power play concerns.

The guys wrap up the podcast by making a few bold predictions going forward.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below, and be sure to subscribe, rate us and write a review!