White Sox

Will Rose return to form after surgery?

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Will Rose return to form after surgery?

As devastating as Derrick Roses torn left ACL injury, suffered in the Bulls postseason opener late last month, was to watch, the question soon became whether the All-Star point guard would return to his previous form.

While modern medicine has made considerable advancements and a torn ACL is no longer a death sentence for Rose, as Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau aptly put it after the injury occurred, there are several examples of players who dont regain their explosiveness, a key element of Roses brilliance, after returning to the court, something that can often stem from a lack of confidence in their body.

Its a huge part of it and if you look at reasons athletes do or dont get back to pre-injury level of play, theres no question that the psychological component is part of it, said Dr. Brian Cole, the Bulls team physician and the surgeon who performed Roses procedure last Saturday, at the teams Tuesday-afternoon press conference at Rush University Medical Center. But Rose will learn to be able to trust his knee.

Hell be doing basketball-specific activities very early on, continued the doctor, who allowed that some athletes dont fully regain confidence in being able to perform the same feats they did prior to an ACL injury. Then, you do non-contact, basketball-friendly activities against other people.

Its this progression of low contact to higher levels of contact in competition, pre playing a real game.

Fred Tedeschi, the Bulls head trainer, who has been working with Rose, both in helping get his range of motion back in preparation for surgery and in the recently-started rehabilitation process, discussed how Roses basketball recovery would potentially progress after the three-month mark.

As a patient, hes done everything Ive asked and more, said Tedeschi. Once you get him there, he does exactly what you ask. He usually does five more reps.

At the 12-week mark, youre talking about spot shooting on a basketball court, he continued. As the body tolerates, youll progress to cutting activities. Some of the things that youve seen Derrick do over and over again, hell have to re-learn.

As he can tolerate it, well keep advancing, well keep adding more to it, up until the point where you start looking at what I refer to as predictable contact. Then, you take the final step, which is full-blown practice and see how thats tolerated, progressing into game activities.

Added Cole, who acknowledged that Roses body could respond quicker than the typical timeline for recovery: Its a progression, so youve got to crawl before you walk and typically patients, after ACL reconstruction, are actually running within 12 weeks and in general, we speak of basketball-activities linearally in other words, without cutting and so forth as soon as four months, and then its just going to be a progression of conditioning.

You think of a return to sport ultimately, thats the end game here we think of recovery as sort of a long process thats in stages, he continued. Theres only so much thats willfully in our control. A lot of its about physiology, how his bodys going to respond to various aspects of training. Hes an unbelievably hard worker and he wants this more than anything. Were not going to rush it.

"The most important thing is all of us feel comfortable, based on some specific parameters, that he is ready to go at each stage as we advance him. If hes not ready, then we delay and if hes ready, then we advance him to the next stage, through that progression. People do get back in six months after ACL reconstruction, but its not common in professional sports with an athlete of this caliber, mainly because downside of not being fully prepared is a worst-case scenario.

Hes determined and he is an amazing kid. He believes he will do this.

Cole also confirmed that Rose will be expected to return to the court in the 2012-13 regular season at some point as early as January, if he recovers on schedule and while his workload might be lowered, if his body can handle it, he will see game action, not just practice minutes and be nursed along.

Theres a lot of therapeutic benefit to starting with early minutes when we think its safe because you really have to play to play and all these muscle patterns have to kick in. Obviously you can do that off the court, informally, said Cole. Whether he has to go 40 minutes, thats a whole different story, but just getting out there and playing when hes able, thats when his exponential growth is going to come. Lots of athletes go back and play at a very high level, but not necessarily initially at the level they were pre-injury.

Some people get it at six months, some people get it at eight its been reported that it can take three years it depends upon the muscle physiology, probably the confidence issues. All of those things play in, he continued. Every athlete has a different story and every injury is different. Suffice it to say, he will probably get back and if we think hes safe next season, hell play next season and even if hes not at the same capability he was before his injury, the expectation is hell get there over some, hopefully near-term period of time.

Added Tedeschi, who cited the examples of former Bulls guard Jamal Crawford and current backup center Omer Asik as players who have recovered from serious knee injuries under his watch: Its a process and its tough on the players, and eventually they make it. Its the initial hardship and then progressing through. I have every confidence Derrick will do fine with this and that it will go as planned.

As for Roses current state of mind, though he wasnt present at Rush for the time being, he remains in Chicago the update is that hes doing well.

His spirits seemed really good. I know, in his mind, hes just determine to attack this rehab and get his game back to the level that it was, said Bulls general manager Gar Forman. There was a period where he was downI think hes ready to aggressively attack this.

Chimed in Cole: Hes getting around great, resuming activities of normal function, which is what all of want to do early after an operation.

Why would the White Sox make a trade for Nomar Mazara?

Why would the White Sox make a trade for Nomar Mazara?

SAN DIEGO — After a deathly silent first day of the Winter Meetings, the White Sox finally created a little buzz on Day 2. A little.

Not any buzz that they’ll admit to, of course, Rick Hahn spending a second straight media session with nothing to announce, talking about how he’s unable to handicap whether the White Sox will make a move this week in Southern California.

But the buzz hit the internet shortly before Hahn spoke Tuesday afternoon, a rumor that the South Siders were once again trying to acquire right fielder Nomar Mazara from the Texas Rangers.

It’s not the first time we’ve heard the White Sox linked to the 24-year-old. They were supposedly interested at the trade deadline in July. And just like they’ve reportedly started trade talks with the Los Angeles Dodgers in another effort to bring Joc Pederson to the South Side, they’ve similarly circled back to the Rangers and Mazara.

“He's obviously a powerful man, 6-4, I think, 6-5. He looks like he's seven-foot every time I see him in the box,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said, asked about Mazara during his media session Tuesday. “Runs extremely well for a big guy. Can defend. Good arm. Brings a lot of qualities to the plate. Can pop one in the seats as quickly as anybody. I think he's done it against us a number of times, but he can play right field well.”

Indeed he can “pop one in the seats,” as Renteria well knows. Mazara hit three homers in two days off Reynaldo Lopez and Odrisamer Despaigne back in June, including one that traveled 505 feet.

Fan reaction was not kind to the idea of the White Sox getting Mazara to plug their hole in right field, a likely result of expectations that the team would be in on the biggest available names this winter, such as free-agent outfielders Nicholas Castellanos and Marcell Ozuna. Pederson, after a career year in which he blasted 36 home runs, would probably sate an appetite for a big splash.

Instead, we’re talking about Mazara. And fans are trying to figure out why.

No, he’s not splashy. In four big league seasons, he’s got a .261/.320/.435 slash line, 79 home runs and 308 RBIs. Playing in just 116 games in 2019, he hit .268/.318/.469 with 19 homers — breaking a streak of exactly 20 long balls in each of his first three seasons — and 66 RBIs. Those aren’t elite numbers.

With a supposedly aggressive approach and money to spend, why is Mazara the target instead of someone like Castellanos? That’s a good question, and one with some potential answers, however unsatisfying to the critics they might be.

Left-handed bat

The right-field vacancy has been, throughout the offseason, the team’s best opportunity to add some left-handed hitting to an overly right-handed lineup. While Hahn has said numerous times, Tuesday included, that the White Sox aren’t going to let handedness be the be all, end all in their search for new hitters, he’s also said that in an ideal world, he’d be able to add some left-handed balance to the lineup.

He did that when he signed Yasmani Grandal to the richest contract in club history. Grandal’s a switch-hitter, giving the White Sox a pair of those, Grandal joining Yoan Moncada. But the remainder of the lineup, both current and projected, is right-handed: Jose Abreu, Nick Madrigal, Tim Anderson, Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert. That leaves two spots, right field and DH, as the only opportunities to find more balance. The White Sox might move forward with a rotation at DH including Grandal, Abreu, James McCann (a righty) and Zack Collins (a lefty), leaving right field as the only spot, perhaps, to add a left-handed bat of some significance.

“It’s an ideal. There’s certain fits that exist within the trade market. There’s certain fits that exist within the free-agent market still,” Hahn said. “We are not going to sell out to handedness. If we can find a premium right-handed bat that fits that makes more sense than a left-handed option, that’s the route we will go.”

Lesser of the defensive evils?

Hahn has also said that, ideally, whichever player the White Sox add to fill the hole in right would be a good defender. That one’s perfectly easy to understand. While the White Sox have no intention to move Eloy Jimenez out of left field, believing he showed some big-time improvement as his rookie season went along, he’s still a work in progress out there. Some have jumped to the conclusion that he’s already best suited for DH. I’d suggest waiting a little longer than just one injury-interrupted rookie season before declaring him unserviceable in left. Luis Robert, another rebuilding cornerstone, earns rave reviews for his defensive work in center, but he’ll be getting his first taste of the big leagues in 2020.

Well, Mazara isn’t exactly a Gold Glover in the making, it seems. He had minus-four Defensive Runs Saved last season, not a good number. But other options are worse.

Castellanos has a poor defensive reputation, one backed up by the numbers: He had minus-nine DRS in 2019. Seemingly no one at the Winter Meetings has a good thing to say about Ozuna’s defense, either, and he exclusively played left field during his two seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals. Adding either to the outfield mix on the South Side would create unwanted defensive headaches. Could their offensive profiles, particularly that of Castellanos, overcome those defensive reps? Absolutely, but also at a high price point.

Mazara has a reputation as a (perhaps only slightly) better defender and certainly as an athletic player. And the White Sox wouldn’t have to give him tens of millions of dollars to put up such woeful defensive numbers.

“We like, generally, to have athletic players who are capable of contributing beyond just one dimension of their game,” Hahn said. “For example, not just being able to beat you with the bat, but perhaps with their legs and perhaps with their defense. That's the ideal.

“That isn't always the case. There are certain positions where that's a little less the case, and you make due with it and so be it because of how special they may be in another area of contribution.

“Eventually at some point we're going to see Luis Robert running around center field. Certainly with surrounding him with guys that are similarly athletic -- perhaps not on par with that, because he's a bit of a freak -- has some appeal. It's not essential, but yeah, ideally, that would look nice.”

Diamond in the rough?

The White Sox say they’re moving into the next phase of their rebuilding project, and that would seemingly be a phase in which they don’t have to go digging for buried diamonds that might turn their careers around in a new setting. But that’s what Mazara could be.

And Hahn said he likes the idea of adding that kind of player.

“That's where you really can make your hay,” Hahn said. “That's where, if you can find something that's undervalued and you can get it better and you have tangible reasons for believing you can get this guy better, that's a real opportunity.”

Maybe eyes are rolling because Hahn wasn’t similarly glowing about the opportunity to break the bank on someone at the top of the free-agent market, but that’s not a bad desire. Every team wants to find buy-low gems that could blossom into key contributors. Heck, the Cubs made one a centerpiece of their rebuilding project with a 2013 trade that brought Jake Arrieta to the North Side.

That’s hardly suggesting that the White Sox would get the steal of the century in a deal for Mazara. But there’s a reason he was such a highly touted prospect once upon a time. He’s still just 24 years old, and perhaps that old change-of-scenery chestnut actually makes some sense. The Rangers might be willing to sell low due to their projected outfield alignment or due to tiring of waiting for Mazara to live up the hype. And the White Sox could at least take advantage.

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Are there reasons to be skeptical? Of course. Mazara’s offensive numbers have not been overly impressive. His defense is not what one would call “great.”

But he does address some needs, and perhaps most importantly, he’d be a big upgrade.

Mazara would not be a big-splash type of acquisition, but he’s way better than what the White Sox have in right field at the moment, which is nothing. They do not have an everyday right fielder, and we saw in 2019 how unproductive a parade of ineffective options can be.

Mazara had a .786 OPS in 2019. White Sox right fielders had a .565 OPS.

“Nowhere to go but up” is not a reasoning that fires up a fan base. But it’s also true for the White Sox when it comes their right-field situation.

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Two MLB moves that changed the landscape of Kris Bryant's trade market

Two MLB moves that changed the landscape of Kris Bryant's trade market

Two reported transactions Tuesday may not have drawn much attention from Cubs fans, but both directly impact the North Siders.

First, The Athletic’s Fabian Ardaya reported the Angels are trading third baseman Zack Cozart to the Giants for cash and a player to be named later. Soon thereafter, free agent shortstop Didi Gregorius agreed to a one-year deal with the Phillies, as Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported.

From a Cubs perspective, the Angels' and Phillies' moves impact a potential Kris Bryant trade market. According to Ardaya, the Giants are picking up the remaining $12.67 million on Cozart’s deal. This clears payroll space for Los Angeles to make a run at a superstar free agent, like third basemen Anthony Rendon and Josh Donaldson.

The Phillies inquired with the Cubs regarding a potential Bryant trade, according to multiple reports. However, Bryant’s unresolved grievance case is a holdup in any trade talks, should the Cubs entertain offers. If he wins, he'll become a free agent next winter. If he loses, he'll remain under team control through 2021.

Gregorius will slot into shortstop for Philadelphia, while incumbent Jean Segura will move to second base, according to NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jim Salisbury. The Phillies are less likely to pursue Bryant — should the Cubs shop him — than they were entering Tuesday. Things can change, but they have less of an infield need as they did on Monday.

On the other hand, the Angels and new manager Joe Maddon suddenly could be a candidate to pursue Bryant. Acquiring him would bring less certainty than Rendon or Donaldson, as Bryant is only under contract for two seasons more, max. Furthermore, acquiring Bryant will cost the Angels prospect capital, while adding Rendon and Donaldson will 'only' entail paying them handsomely as free agents.

In short, Philadelphia is less likely to pursue Bryant than they were entering Tuesday; the possibility of the Angels doing so is stronger than it was entering the day. The Angels haven't been directly connected to Bryant at this point, but that now could change.