White Sox

Thunder's Maynor, back from ACL injury, has advice for Rose

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Thunder's Maynor, back from ACL injury, has advice for Rose

Another Bulls preseason game, another young point guard that, like Derrick Rose, is recovering from an ACL surgery. Actually, Oklahoma City backup Eric Maynora starter in place of All-Star Russell Westbrook in Tuesdays contest; Westbrook and NBA scoring champion Kevin Durant each logged a DNP-CD, so Thunder head coach Scott Brooks could evaluate the rest of his rosteris technically recovered from his knee injury after missing almost all of last season.

Maynor, who was quietly regarded as one of the leagues top second-stringers at his position, suffered his torn ligament on Jan. 7 of last season against the Houston Rockets in the Thunders ninth game of the campaign. He became a forgotten man to many, as Oklahoma City made it to the NBA Finals, with veteran Derek Fisher filling in for him, but although he wasnt playing, Maynor was never out of the loop.

It was tough from the start of it because Ive never been hurt before, but I carried on and started getting better, day by day. I had to push myself every day to get back to where I wanted to be, explained Maynor, who is probably best known for hitting a dramatic shot to upset Duke when he played at pre-Final Four VCU. It was tough at first, getting back out there, even working out. Just not knowing if I could get the step back that I had and all the moves, the quickness.

I was away from the team for a little bit, then I couldnt stand it because I was at home, not doing anything, so then I started traveling with the team and I traveled for the rest of the year, he continued. That was really better because sometimes youll be at home and youre sitting there by yourself, just bored and thinking too much. When I got with my teammates, they were able to push me every day, whether we were at home or on the road.

Chimed in Brooks: Well, we kept him involved quite a bit. As soon as he was able to travel, he was traveling with us. He was at every shootaround, every meeting, every film session, and I had myself and the assistant coaches always talk to him.

I always had him tell me about the game, give me kind of like a verbal scouting report of what he thought of the game, what he thought of the players, what he thought we could have done better and I also had him give me a few plays to draw up. I used a few of them; they didnt work too well, but he would come back the next game and try to give me some more, he added. Hes a thinking mans player. Hes a point guard that loves the game, hes cerebral. Thats how he has success in this league. Hes not going to blow by you and dunk over you. What hes going to do is hes going to outsmart you and hes done a great job with that.

While Maynor is a different player than Rose, he has advice from his own experience that could apply to the Bulls superstar.

With me, it took time and everybody that Ive talked to that had the injury, you could say this and say that, but its different when you get out there and start going up and down, especially against the best players in the world. I think its different with me because I was never speed, speed, speed, speed. Its like Im back to where I was, but D-Rose, hes fast all the time, so hes going to have to work to get that back, but I know hes going to keep working and hell be straight, said Maynor, who added that he hasnt been in contact with either Rose or Minnesota point guard Ricky Rubio, another young floor general working through the same injury. Theres going to be good days, theres going to be bad days, but you just have to keep working throughout all of it.

Thats the thing: You dont want to rush anything, so I would advise both of those guys to make sure youre ready to come back, he went on to say. Now I feel good playing.

Brooks said that only last month was he positive that Maynor was back to his old self, but since then, hes been just as confident in the savvy point guard as he was in the past,

Hes done a great job with his rehab, with our medical team and hes put the time in. I knew he was back in September, when he started to play pickup games, he explained. The next step was to play five-on-five. Once I saw that, I knew that it was just getting some of the rust off his game and thats moving along pretty good.

You have to fight through every day. You cant take days off, you cant get down on yourself or down on the situation. You have to continue to fight with a good, positive attitude and thats what Eric has done, and from what I understand, thats what Derrick is doing also. It comes back. Eric hasnt lost any of his quickness or strength. I never had an ACL injury, but thats probably one of the things as an athlete, you fear youre not going to be the same. But you will be the same with the work that you put in, with the type of care that players have. You will be the same, if not better.

Durant, friends with Rose since they won a gold medal in the 2010 FIBA World Championships, also shared his opinion.

I havent talked to him, but people that I know him, I just told them that I know hes going to get back stronger and better. Ive been praying for him, of course. Ive been watching the videos online, so Im sure hes going to have a really nice comeback year for the Bulls and be at full strength, he said. I think hell be better with all that weight training hes been doing to strengthen his body and his core. Hes doing everything that he needs to do.

Thunder reserve DeAndre Ligginsa Chicago native who attended Washington High School and lost to Rose in the 2007 city title gameexpressed a similar sentiment.

I know hes a competitive guy and hes trying to get back as quickly as he can. Hes a humble dude and a great ballplayer. I just hope he gets back well and continues to be great in the NBA, he told CSNChicago.com. Derricks going to be back pretty quickly because I know how hard hes trying to get back and I know his rehab is very aggressive, so I know hes a competitive guy and he wants to get back to prove himself again.

Jose Abreu still leading AL first basemen to start 2018 MLB All-Star Game

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USA TODAY

Jose Abreu still leading AL first basemen to start 2018 MLB All-Star Game

Last week, Jose Abreu had a nearly 26,000 vote lead to start the 2018 MLB All-Star game over Red Sox first basemen Mitch Moreland. But now Abreu can take a brief sigh of relief on his quest to Washington.

MLB updated the American League fan ballot standings Tuesday for the Midsummer Classic. The Sox first baseman now has a lead on Moreland by over 138,000 votes.

This an encouraging sign for Abreu and White Sox faithful. Are fans taking notice of Abreu’s production this season?

His numbers this year include a slash line of .283/.338/.500. He also has 11 homers, 41 RBIs and 26 doubles. For his career, Abreu has a .299 average, 135 homers and 451 RBIs in 683 games.

He ranks first among AL first basemen in hits, doubles, RBIs, SLG and OPS. In other major offensive statistics, Abreu ranks near the top 10 for almost all of them.

Abreu is a cornerstone in the White Sox rebuild and if he does indeed start, it could be huge for his confidence and the team.

An All-Star nod this season would also mean a second career appearance in the game. He debuted in his rookie year (2014) as a reserve.

If fans indeed vote Abreu in as a starter, he would be the first position player to start for the White Sox since Frank Thomas did it back-to-back as a first baseman in 1994 and 1995.

There is still time to cast your votes to see Abreu start the Midsummer Classic. The AL will have another updated voting ballot June 26.

Should the Blackhawks explore bringing back Artemi Panarin?

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USA TODAY

Should the Blackhawks explore bringing back Artemi Panarin?

Here's an interesting development as we approach the NHL Draft: Artemi Panarin has informed the Blue Jackets that he's not ready to consider an extension "at this time" and because of that, Columbus is testing the market for the Russian winger, according to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet.

Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen responded to the report shortly after in a statement released by the team:

"Artemi is an elite National Hockey League player. Our position has been that we want him to be a Blue Jacket for many years and that has not changed. He has a year left on his contract, so there is plenty of time to work towards that end. Should anything change moving forward, we will address it at that time and any decision we make will be in the best interest of our club.”

Ironically, Panarin was traded to Columbus on the afternoon of last year's draft as part of a blockbuster package that sent Brandon Saad back to Chicago. It shook up the hockey world, and has the potential to do so again.

Panarin is set to become an unrestricted free agent in 2019, but is free to sign an extension with Columbus on July 1. Clearly, that doesn't seem to be in the cards right now and it's why the Blue Jackets have to put out feelers. They can't risk losing him for nothing.

On the flip side, Panarin has every right to test the open market. He has one year left on his contract that carries a $6 million cap hit. He's due for a hefty raise, will be 27 years old next summer — the prime of his hockey career — and will certainly be looking for a long-term deal after accepting a bridge contract with the Blackhawks.

Speaking of whom, should his former team explore bringing him back to Chicago now that he's on the market?

Every general manager should and will do their due diligence and call for an asking price, Stan Bowman included. Those conversations might start with Alex DeBrincat or Nick Schmaltz, and if that's the case, you say thanks but no thanks and move on. 

The Blackhawks have the Nos. 8 and 27 picks in this year's draft as possible ammunition, but the Blue Jackets are ready to take that next step. They were up 2-0 in their first-round series before losing four straight to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals. It's unlikely they'd be looking to center a potential deal around draft picks. 

The only way you even consider it from the Blackhawks perspective is if Panarin is guaranteed to sign a long-term extension at a price you're comfortable with, but that's one of the main reasons why they traded him in the first place. 

To cap it all off, trading for Panarin wouldn't even address the Blackhawks' biggest need and that's a Top 4 defenseman. Those don't grow on trees. The Blackhawks will have the cap space to sign a player like James van Riemsdyk to patch up their top 6. You can't say the same for the free-agent blue line group.

So while it may certainly be fun for Blackhawks fans to come up with possible trade scenarios to get Panarin back in an Indianhead sweater, it just doesn't make great sense for a variety of reasons.