White Sox

Volstad losing grip on spot in Cubs rotation

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Volstad losing grip on spot in Cubs rotation

Chris Volstad hasnt realized the potential the Cubs saw when they made him part of the Carlos Zambrano trade with the Miami Marlins last winter.

Volstad needed 58 pitches to get through two innings against the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday night at Wrigley Field. With an 0-6 record and a 7.46 ERA, he appears to be losing his grip on his spot in the rotation.

After an 8-7 loss, manager Dale Sveum was planning to meet with team president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer to discuss their fifth starter.

Well get together as a staff and talk to Theo and Jed and evaluate the situation, thats for sure, Sveum said. Well see what our options are and go from there.

The Cubs paid more than 15 million to get rid of Zambrano, whos now 1-2 with a 1.87 ERA through seven starts, numbers that are hard to imagine him putting up on the North Side without old friend Ozzie Guillen and the benefit of a fresh start.

Volstad loaded the bases in the first and second innings and gave up four runs on six hits and three walks. Sveums review: Theres just no life, no command.

Volstads winless in his last 19 starts dating back to July 17, 2011. He was asked if hes anticipating a change.

Im working (and) trying to show them I deserve to be in the rotation, he said, but I dont know what kind of answer youre looking for there.

The change of scenery that seemed to help Volstad during spring training hasnt carried over to the regular season.

I was a little more relaxed in spring, he said. I think Im trying too hard, trying to do different things, just a lot of forcing instead of just letting my ability take over. I know its in there. Its just a matter of tapping into it and finding it.

Volstad is only 25 years old and a former first-round pick, upside that pretty much got him the job once he landed in Arizona. But Sveum was still running through potential replacements during his postgame news conference in the interview room.

Casey Coleman? Sveum said: Yeah, definitely, he could be one of the options, theres no question.

Travis Wood? A key piece to the Sean Marshall trade with the Cincinnati Reds is at Triple-A Iowa and performed well in a spot start earlier this season.

Its a logical choice, no doubt about it, Sveum said. Now, we got to make a decision quick. Im not sure exactly when his next outing is. Thatll come into play, too.

A reporter mentioned that Wood also pitched on Thursday night.

Well, then, were in good shape, Sveum said.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Chuck Garfien on Yasmani Grandal signing with the White Sox

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Chuck Garfien on Yasmani Grandal signing with the White Sox

SportsTalk Live is at the United Center for Blackhawks Authentic Fan Night. David Haugh, Charlie Roumeliotis and Scott King join Kap on the panel.

0:00 - The Blackhawks look to get back in the win column with the Lightning in town.

5:00 - Chuck Garfien joins Kap to talk about Yasmani Grandal signing with the White Sox. How much will this help the Sox sign more free agents? Plus the panel discusses how much this improves Willson Contreras' trade value as the Cubs reportedly shop him.

17:00 - Chase Daniel said Mitch Trubisky looked great in practice. Will that translate to the game on Sunday?

Listen here or in the embedded player below.

Sports Talk Live Podcast

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Morgan Park's Adam Miller another program-changing recruit for Illinois

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ADAM MILLER

Morgan Park's Adam Miller another program-changing recruit for Illinois

Illinois and head coach Brad Underwood landed their most important recruiting target for the second time in three seasons on Thursday night.

Morgan Park senior guard Adam Miller became the latest Mustang guard to commit to the Illini and Underwood when the preseason co-favorite for Player of the Year announced his decision during a public press conference at the Jordan Brand store on State Street.

A consensus top-40 national prospect in the Class of 2020, Miller's commitment to Illinois gives the program another highly-regarded in-state prospect. Just two years earlier, at the very same Jordan store and under very similar circumstances, Morgan Park guard Ayo Dosunmu announced his college decision to go to Illinois -- a commitment that changed local recruiting momentum at Illinois during Underwood's first full season.  

Although Miller's commitment shares similarities to Dosunmu's, Miller's pledge is also slightly different from his former high school teammate. Any program can win one major recruiting war over the big boys. By doing it twice in three years, it's a major signal that Underwood and Illinois are a force to be reckoned with when it comes to local recruiting. Landing Miller's commitment in a hotly-contested race over his other finalists of Arizona and Louisville, Miller's announcement on Thursday signifies that Illinois and Underwood are ready annually to compete with national powerhouse programs when it comes to keeping local talent at home.

While former Illinois coaches like Bruce Weber and John Groce failed to consistently keep, and develop, top in-state talents late in their tenures, Miller's commitment is a significant indication that Underwood and his staff are making positive recruiting inroads at home that could continue to last.

The term "pipeline" has become cliche in the recruiting world. But it certainly can't hurt Illinois to be continually involved with Morgan Park's best players. The Mustangs continue to churn out Division I prospects every single season. And Morgan Park has another high-major junior -- guard Brandon Weston -- waiting in the wings that Illinois is already recruiting. 

Illinois will certainly need to spread its recruiting efforts more throughout the Chicagoland area to maintain recruiting stability of top in-state talents. Grabbing a top-50 player in two out of three classes -- particularly in a basketball-crazy hotbed like Chicago -- is significant.

During his junior season, Miller took the city by storm as he was the state's most dominant scorer. The lefty averaged 28.4 points, 7.8 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game -- putting up multiple 40-point games and looking virtually unstoppable during certain stretches of play. Even as opposing defenses threw exotic zones and double-teams his way, it didn't do much to slow Miller down. 

Miller already faced a tough set of local expectations entering the 2019-20 season. Morgan Park returns a loaded, nationally-ranked team. There's a baseline expectation for Miller to replicate his stellar junior season. Those local expectations now become enormous since Miller is staying home and going to Illinois. 

Now that Miller's commitment is under his belt, he can focus on pushing Morgan Park to a potential city and state title as the preseason's No. 1 team in the area. Illinois can focus its recruiting efforts on getting additional reinforcements for Miller and his fellow 2020 recruits. And by the time Miller reaches Champaign next season, Illinois is optimistic that they'll be a consistent NCAA tournament presence once again.