Status of Bulls' big men Gibson, Noah differ for Game 6


Status of Bulls' big men Gibson, Noah differ for Game 6

PHILADELPHIAAfter twisting his right ankle in Tuesdays Game 5 win over the 76ers at the United Center, Taj Gibson insists hell play in Thursday evenings Game 6 in Philadelphia.

"Im all right. Ive been getting treatment the last few days, so I should be OK," Gibson said prior to the Bulls morning shootaround at Community College of Philadelphia. Im going to play.

The doctors said I cant do any harm to it. Just go out there, its all about how much I can take. Just go out there and lay it all on the line, continued the third-year power forward, who noted that his ankle experienced some swelling on Wednesday, but has since gone down. It didnt really feel any kind of way after the game, but it got a little bit sore. But these things happen. Its all about how much pain you can take and weve got some of the best doctors, so Im looking forward to playing full strength.

His coach was a bit more coy about Gibsons status.

Taj is better, said Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, though he eventually admitted that Gibson would most likely play Thursday and would can go in the teams shootaround.

Hes huge. Hes been a big part of our team for a long time. Hes playing starters minutes now, he continued about Gibson, arguably the Bulls most consistent impact player in the first-round playoff series. Hes come off the bench, short minutes, extended minutes, can guard five positions. Hes scoring the ball very effectively, so hes playing at a very high level.

As for the Bulls other injured big man, starting center Joakim Noah traveled with the team and was present at the shootaround, but declined to talk to reporters.

Jo will be a game-time decision, said Thibodeau, who added that Noah would do a little bit at shootaround. Hes better.

Chimed in Gibson: Hes looking great. Hes looking better by the day, shooting yesterday, so well see how he feels.

It would be great for our team. Wed have an extra big, wed have one of our emotional leaders back and it would help our team out in many different ways.

Cubs camp observations: Wrigley's home-field advantage without fans

Cubs camp observations: Wrigley's home-field advantage without fans

Four days into the Cubs’ training camp restart, we’ve only begun to get acquainted with the new normal of baseball rhythms and routines that we can only hope will result in a 2020 season of 60 games.

If the league can fix some of its early testing issues and keep enough players on enough teams healthy enough to start the season, what might come into play for the Cubs and the actual baseball.

Early observations after about a dozen Zoom sessions with team personnel and two intrasquad scrimmages:

NUTS: Home cooked?

The Cubs, who draw so reliably in one of the unique ballparks in the majors, might have more to lose than most teams without fans allowed to attend games when the season starts July 24.

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Just how much of the Confines’ home-field advantage is lost will be a matter of “wait-and-see,” manager David Ross said.

“There’s always an advantage to playing in your own park,” he said Sunday. “You feel more comfortable you woke up in your own bed. You’re not staying in a hotel room, which especially now, where you feel like outside spaces just aren’t comfortable as they used to be, probably [gives] a slight advantage in your city.

“There’s no substitute for fans,” he added. “There’s probably a slight advantage, but I don’t know if it’s as great as it used to be.”

What Ross didn’t mention were the rooftops across Waveland and Sheffield, which are planning to operate at 25-percent capacity when games start, suggesting at least a few hundred fans within cheering and booing distance.

“You’re going to hear them loud and clear, too,” pitcher Tyler Chatwood said. “I promise you that.”

BOLTS: Taking the fifth

All you need to know about Alec Mills’ ability to adjust and immediately step into an important role is what he did in an emergency start against the first-place Cardinals at Wrigley last year with the Cubs a half-game out and barely a week left in the season.

He hadn’t started anywhere in a month — and that was in the minors. But the guy who pitched out of the bullpen just three times in the four intervening weeks, pitched two outs deep into the fifth inning that day and didn’t allow a run (the bullpen took care of that, in a loss).

No wonder when Ross talks about Mills replacing the injured Jose Quintana (thumb) in the rotation, he says, “I’ve got a ton of confidence.”

He’s not the only one. “I’ve always had the mindset of doing whatever I can to stay ready and help in any way,” said Mills after pitching a strong three innings in a simulated game Sunday. “Obviously, with an unfortunate injury like this, I think it’s just even more heightened.

“I’m ready to do whatever, whether it needs to be maybe a start here or there, a couple more starts, long guy out of the pen — just whatever I need to do I pride myself on being ready to do that.”

CHATTER: The mask at hand

“It’s a little different. You leave the house with a phone, your keys, your wallet and your mask.”

—Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo on his and his teammates’ new daily normal.

“Everybody is thinking about it, but we try to get here and understand this is our safe zone and we’re trying to create that [within] the things that we’re going to do on and off the field.”

—Ross on players weighing the risk of playing during the pandemic against the safety precautions and protocols the team has built in and around its Wrigley Field bubble.


2020 MLB schedule: Chicago Cubs, White Sox could benefit from short trips

2020 MLB schedule: Chicago Cubs, White Sox could benefit from short trips

Both the Cubs and White Sox may benefit this season from the unique MLB schedule which will have all clubs play regionally, instead of across their leagues. Since the A.L. Central and N.L. Central teams are all fairly close, and Chicago is practically in the middle of the action, both the Sox and Cubs will rank near the bottom for miles traveled over the course of the regular season, according to MLB Network.

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During their 2020 schedule release show, MLB Network displayed a graphic saying the Cubs will travel the second-fewest miles at 4,071 and the White Sox will travel sixth-fewest at 4,750 miles. It’s important to note that may not give them an edge in the regular season, as the other teams to round out the list are all Central division opponents as well: the Brewers, Tigers, Cardinals and Reds.

But when it comes time for the playoffs, that rest may pay off-- especially if either team faces off against a team from the West. All of the top-five teams for most miles traveled come from the A.L. and N.L. West, ranging from 11,332 miles traveled for the Rockies to a whopping 14,706 miles traveled for the Rangers. In a condensed season, with significantly less rest, that long travel could take a toll.

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