White Sox

Rizzo's blast pushes Cubs past Astros

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Rizzo's blast pushes Cubs past Astros

Anthony Rizzo stepped in against Houston starter J.A. Happ in the fifth inning Saturday for another sure-to-be-scrutinized at-bat. Rizzo struck out looking in the first, and his fourth-inning flyout elicited roars from the crowd of 37,906 at Wrigley Field, only to be caught just in front of the warning track.
But in the sixth, Rizzo ripped Happ's fastball 398 feet, sailing a home run over the right field ivy at Wrigley Field for the first time.
"It just feels good to get that win and get that monkey off my back hitting a home run and this and that," Rizzo said.
The Cubs are hoping it's the start of something great, even if the over-analysis of Rizzo's every move has begun to grow tired.
"The sort of daily watch of how he's doing is probably not a great thing for anybody," general manager Jed Hoyer said prior to Saturday's game. "I think just let him play, look up and hope the numbers will be there a year from now."
But even in just four games, Rizzo has already delivered two game-winning hits. On Saturday, Rizzo helped push his team to a 3-2 win and send the crowd home happy -- and probably soaked from sweat, as Matt Garza said it felt like he was wearing "a suit of water" thanks to the humid, 90-degree conditions.
Rizzo struck out in the seventh with runners at the corners and one out, as Houston decided to intentionally walk Starlin Castro to set up a double play chance with Rizzo. Manager Dale Sveum liked Rizzo's at-bat, noting he fouled off a few tough sliders from lefty Fernando Abad, but also took the time to note there's still plenty of room for growth in Rizzo's plate approach.
"I think a guy like him, you can tell he wants those RBIs too, and is probably going to be a little more aggressive, but he's also taking his walks too," Sveum said. "He's also 22 years old, let's not forget how young he is. We've already gone over this stuff about young hitters walking 100 times, it just doesn't happen. It takes a little time for hitters to get to that 80 to 100 walk pace."
Still everyone was reminded of Rizzo's offensive potential on the final day of June. But defensively, the Cubs have similarly high expectations. Rizzo flashed his defensive skills in the third inning, charging a slow chopper to his right, fielding it cleanly and firing a strike to Geovany Soto to nab Houston's Scott Moore at home plate.
"That's my go-to place," Rizzo said of his defense. "Hitting's going to come and go but fielding's going to be the consistent thing I pride myself on all the time. That's where I go to."
"He's a really good defender," Hoyer explained. "He made too many errors in Triple-A, and that's something we need to work with him on, but as far as soft hands, picking balls, throwing, he's going to be a really good defender in the big leagues. I don't think there's any question about that."
The nine errors Rizzo made with Triple-A offer room for improvement, but most accounts have him as someone who is an asset with the glove. Baseball Prospectus' minor league guru Kevin Goldstein agreed with Hoyer's evaluation, noting Rizzo has good hands and footwork, although his range is somewhat limited due to his large frame.
Garza did his part to pull Rizzo out of the spotlight, at least for a moment. As the first baseman was being interviewed on the TV broadcast of the game after its conclusion, Garza raced up and shoved a shaving cream pie into the camera and snatched the headset away from Rizzo.
"Get that guy out of the limelight a little bit," Garza said. "Hes doing his thing. Just let him enjoy it. You only get to make a debut as a Cub one time. Hes doing a great job producing and doing what he does. Let the guy enjoy it. Hes going to be a great one. Let him enjoy it and there will be a lot of time in front of the camera. Right now let him enjoy it, let him enjoy this ride and lets take this nice little attitude we have going on into tomorrow."

White Sox Talk Podcast: Ask Us Anything Part 1

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Ask Us Anything Part 1

We asked you to ask us anything about the White Sox and you delivered in a big way. We got so many questions, we had to do two different podcasts! Among the questions here in Part 1: should the White Sox send Yoan Moncada to Triple-A? What players will be traded before the deadline? Who are some sleeper prospects in the minors? Will Jordan Stephens be called up before Michael Kopech? Should Juan Uribe be a team ambassador? What's our all-time White Sox team from 2000 to the present and many more.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Michael Porter Jr.: 'I'm the perfect fit for today's NBA game'

Michael Porter Jr.: 'I'm the perfect fit for today's NBA game'

Michael Porter Jr. grabbed some attention when he remarked that he was "perfect fit for today's NBA game" during an appearance on The Will Cain Show.

The interview went a long way towards showing off the uber-confident nature of Porter, who has consistently talked about being the best player in his class throughout the draft process. Porter also remarked that he was "an immediate impact guy," and that he "doesn't want it to take long to be one of the best players in the NBA."

His hubris has been intruiging considering the mystery surrounding the prospect.

During the interview Porter added that he would be open to doing more workouts for NBA front offices ahead of Thursday's NBA Draft. The only workout he has completed so far was his pro day workout in Chicago, and multiple reports have cited that Porter did look good shooting, though he was in an isolated setting with no defenders.

The one thing Porter has not done much throughout the process is talk about his weaknesses, which is somewhat concerning seeing as he has much to improve on. The general consensus is that a healthy Porter can get buckets at will. But if he can improve his ball-handling, rebounding and passing skills, he will be much more than a go-to scorer. Tightening his ball-handling skills is likely the key, as the ability to grab the rebound and push in transition would be a huge boon for Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg's offense.

The biggest question when it comes to Porter on the Bulls is can he fit with Lauri Markkanen? Despite receiving many favorable Kevin Durant and Paul George comparisons leading up to the draft, there is a rising sentiment that his best position in the NBA may be the power forward spot. It is not yet known if he has the foot speed to stay in front of quicker wings in today's NBA. But at six-feet-ten-inches, it is easy to imagine him having a huge advantage against slower power forwards rather than wings. While Markkanen is not currently built to be a full-time center, playing him at the five with Porter at the four would present Hoiberg with a potentially devastating closing lineup.

Versatility is the name of the game in today's league, and Michael Porter Jr. may be the key to unlocking the full potential of Hoiberg's pace-and-space attack.