Cubs

Urlacher: Forte 'will be there' when he needs to be

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Urlacher: Forte 'will be there' when he needs to be

As matters stand now, the Bears will be without running backs Matt Forte and Khalil Bell when their voluntary offseason program begins next Monday. Its strictly business; neither has a signed contract or tender offer in place and theyre simply not permitted to be at Halas Hall for the sessions until they sign.

But Fortes unhappiness at not having a contract concluded will not make him a holdout when the season starts, according to one prominent teammate.

Linebacker Brian Urlacher said Tuesday that Forte will be there when he needs to be and that includes training camp.

Newly signed backup running back Michael Bushll have a lot of reps if Matts not there, Urlacher said, laughing, prior to his receiving the Bears Ed Block Courage Award for 2011. Bush willl get to know the offense pretty well.

Matt takes care of himself, knows the offense, is a smart guy, hes always in shape. Hell be at training camp when he needs to be. Either way whether hes under contract or hes franchised hell be there. Im glad weve got him back.

Fortes head coach did not sound any alarms, either, regarding Fortes eventual attendance or any possible effects from missing offseason work time.

Last season we didnt have an offseason, Lovie Smith said, alluding to the lockout that extended until just before training camp, and we had a pretty good year.

Cubs not working on Anthony Rizzo contract extension this winter

Cubs not working on Anthony Rizzo contract extension this winter

For all the talks of possible contract extensions involving Cubs this offseason, first baseman Anthony Rizzo's name has been mentioned less than other core players.

Well, that's because the Cubs haven't approached Rizzo with an extension, according to ESPN's Jesse Rogers

"The Cubs have informed us that they will not be offering Anthony an extension at this time," Marc Pollack, Rizzo's agent, told Rogers.

Rizzo was seen as a logical candidate to get a new deal this winter. He's the face of the franchise and one of the team's most valuable players on the field and in the clubhouse. Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer didn't comment on specifics, but he said Tuesday the organization is having extension talks with current players.

"We always take the position of not commenting on extensions, but are we having those discussions? Yes," Hoyer said at the Winter Meetings. "People focus so much on trades and free agent signings at these meetings, but all the agents are under the same roofs, also, and allows us to have those kinds of discussions. I'm not gonna specify who or what, but yeah certainly those conversations are ongoing."

If Rizzo isn't part of those discussions, shortstop Javier Báez is left as the most likely Cub to get extended this offseason. Kris Bryant and Willson Contreras have been involved in incessant trade rumors, and according to Rogers, the Cubs haven't approached Kyle Schwarber with a new contract, to this point.

Rizzo is signed through 2020 and the Cubs have a team option on him for 2021 worth $16.5 million. But the Cubs will likely go into next season not knowing if Rizzo will be around after 2021, complicating the long-term picture of the franchise.

Pollack added that Rizzo is open to being a Cub for life, for what it's worth. 

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Mercy! Hawk Harrelson wins Ford Frick Award and joins the Hall of Fame

Mercy! Hawk Harrelson wins Ford Frick Award and joins the Hall of Fame

SAN DIEGO -- The Hawk is in the Hall.

Legendary White Sox broadcaster Hawk Harrelson was announced as the winner of the Ford Frick Award on Wednesday, sending one of the most colorful characters in baseball history to Cooperstown forever.

Harrelson spent decades behind the mic for the White Sox, never leaving any doubt over how much passion he had for the South Siders. His love for the White Sox and the game in general shone through with every word he uttered, with so many of those words becoming part of baseball’s lexicon.

Be it iconic catchphrases like “You can put it on the board, yes!” and “He gone!” or memorable moments such as “You gotta be bleepin’ me!” and “Under the circumstances, that was the best catch I have ever seen!” everyone in Chicago has a favorite Hawk call. For multiple generations of fans, he was as closely associated with the franchise as anyone.

The Ford Frick Award honors excellence in broadcasting, and while his detractors might label him too much of a homer, there was never an attempt to mask that fact. Hawk’s broadcasts were for White Sox fans, and he accomplished what few broadcasters can claim to accomplish today: Watching his games was like watching the game at the bar, with fellow fans getting all riled up over every play.

There’s a great line from a baseball film that goes, “Baseball’s a game; games are supposed to be fun.” Hawk made games just that: fun. Whether he was going crazy over a White Sox win, his voice cracking while proclaiming that “our kids just will not quit,” or he was seething in anger, decrying one of the men in blue as “a disgrace to the umpiring profession,” he provided a level of entertainment that made games more enjoyable.

For many, being a White Sox fan includes adopting “Hawkisms” -- be they greatest hits or deep cuts -- as part of your daily routine. “Don’t stop now, boys” and “we need help” can be equally enjoyable rallying cries. And they all stem from the Hawk. He’s not just a man. He’s a language all his own.

That’s a Hall-of-Fame impact.

And now he’s been rewarded with this honor, a place in Cooperstown among the greats. For this writer, “deserving” to be a part of the Hall of Fame means being such an integral part of the game that you cannot tell the story of baseball without the person in question. You cannot tell the story of the game without slipping into a Hawk impression. You wouldn’t want to. It’s simply too much fun.

Mercy.

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