Bears

Wood, Marmol and the shape of Cubs bullpen

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Wood, Marmol and the shape of Cubs bullpen

PHILADELPHIA Kerry Wood gave a thumbs-up review of his simulated game and kept walking through the clubhouse: It went good. Thanks.

Wood threw around 22 pitches on Monday at Citizens Bank Park. If the right shoulder responds, the Cubs hope to activate him by Thursday or Friday.

Wood hasnt appeared in a real game since April 13, and went on the disabled list with right shoulder fatigue thats been bothering him occasionally since the beginning of spring training.

Well just see how everything goes the next couple days, manager Dale Sveum said. If everything goes according to plan where the bullpens not all beat up, it will probably be Thursday.

The Cubs arent going to overload their 3 million setup man. The emergence of 24-year-old Rafael Dolis (1-1, 3.38 ERA, one save, two holds) gives them another option. Wood wont automatically work the eighth inning right away.

(To) just take a little stress off the whole situation when he first comes back, Sveum said, we could possibly just move him into the seventh-inning role and see what happens there. But well talk about that in the next few days.

The Cubs have had trouble getting the ball to Carlos Marmol, a consequence of their spotty offense. Sveum believes that helps explain why the closer has been so erratic.

Marmol saved a game on April 8, and didnt get another chance until April 24 (which he couldnt convert). He had a five-run cushion on Sunday and walked three batters and forced in a run before getting the final out in Sundays 5-1 win over the Philadelphia Phillies.

Hes just got to understand (his) fastball, Sveum said. Hes thrown 62 fastballs this year and hes given up one hit, so he shouldnt be afraid to throw that thing.

Hes not a guy thats going to paint corners. Just knowing that you dont have to go to the slider all the time is the big thing. When your fastballs not getting hit and theres not a lot of hard contact when its in the zone have some confidence.

He needs to pitch more and that will help him, too. Hes one of those guys that needs to pitch and have more of a feel for everything out there on the mound because hes a max-effort guy.

Marmol (0-1, 5.87 ERA) stressed that he doesnt want to make any excuses. But he acknowledged that it hasnt been easy to stay sharp under these circumstances.

Yeah, man, everybody knows that, Marmol said. Ten, 15 days without a save opportunity you go out there and try to do your best. Its going to be tough. You give your best that day.

There are no certainties yet, but the Bears are 'cautiously optimistic' that Mitch Trubisky will return this Sunday

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USA Today

There are no certainties yet, but the Bears are 'cautiously optimistic' that Mitch Trubisky will return this Sunday

The Bears won’t definitively say whether quarterback Mitch Trubisky will return for Sunday’s game against New Orleans, but, to borrow one of Matt Nagy’s favorite deflections, his arrow seems to be pointing in the right direction.

“I feel good that he’ll be able to practice the whole way, and have a good practice,” Nagy said. “His deal is going to be more a day-by-day deal –– let’s see exactly. Every day that goes by, was that a good day? Was that a bad day? Talk through it and see how he feels, see what the trainers say, where we as coaches think he’s at. And mentally, too. All that’s a part of this thing.”

Wednesday will be the first day that the Bears release a post-practice injury report. Trubisky returned to his throwing regiment on Monday and wasn’t limited with any sort of pitch count. He’ll be a full-go in practice, and feels confident that his left shoulder is close to feeling 100%. Trubisky (/Bears PR) brushed off the line of questioning when an official diagnosis was asked for, but his left shoulder, as reported, was dislocated.

“Yeah, it went back in,” he said. “It's a weird feeling – it's not good.”

Trubisky and the Bears were pretty confident off the bat that the injury wasn’t season-ending. Going forward, he’ll wear a protective brace on the shoulder, and the team plans to spend this week assessing his pain tolerance.

“Obviously I haven't gotten hit since then, and there always is some pain tolerance involved,” Trubisky added. “I mean, this is football. So you've just got to figure it out throughout the course of the week I guess. There are some ways we simulate getting hit –– either with the pads or going through certain drills with the trainers –– to try to get you as ready as possible and to make sure I can go out and do the job the way I know I can.”

The harness he’ll wear is similar to what wide receiver Taylor Gabriel had been using to protect a shoulder that was dislocated at multiple points last season. Gabriel actually cut off the brace during halftime of the Bears game in London because he was frustrated with how much it limited his pass catching. Still, the two have spent some time talking about what to expect.

“Mine’s a little different because I don’t need to necessarily catch,” Trubisky said. “But I’ve got to make sure I’ll be able to catch all the snap radius’ if something happens with that. I’ve been practicing everything that you could pretty much simulate with the trainers as much as you can to make sure I could go out there and do what my team needs me to do.”

For now, the public-facing message coming out of Halas Hall is that Trubisky and backup Chase Daniel will be splitting reps with the 1’s all week. And even though the Nagy-era Bears have always practiced excess precaution with injuries, there's an undeniable optimism in the building.

“I always say ‘cautiously optimistic’,” Nagy said. “I feel good about it, but we’re preparing with both right now. The thing with Chase is that we know he’s been in this role before. If it ends up being him, then it’s the same mojo.”

Luis Robert, Nick Madrigal highlight White Sox minor league all-star team

Luis Robert, Nick Madrigal highlight White Sox minor league all-star team

Until the White Sox start winning at the big league level, the minor league system will continue to be of extra importance to the fanbase.

Even as Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease joined the White Sox in 2019, there was still some high-level talent in the minors. MiLB.com broke down each position to come up with a team of White Sox minor league all-stars.

These players were picked solely based on production and not prospect status, but a number of prospects still found their way on the team.

Catcher: Yermin Mercedes

First base: Gavin Sheets

Second base: Nick Madrigal

Shortstop: Zach Remillard

Third base: Danny Mendick

Outfield: Luis Robert, Steele Walker and Daniel Palka

Utility: Matt Skole

Left-handed starter: Avery Weems

Right-handed starter: Jorgan Cavanerio

Relief pitcher: Will Kincanon

The obvious standouts are Robert and Madrigal. Both played at three levels before finishing in Triple-A Charlotte. Overall, Robert had a 1.001 OPS and Madrigal hit .311, including a .331 mark in Charlotte.

Both players are expected to be up with the White Sox for most of 2020.

Walker and Sheets, both former second-round picks, are also noteworthy prospects. Sheets, drafted in 2017, led the Double-A Southern League in RBIs and Walker, drafted in 2018, was productive at both levels of A ball.

MiLB.com played some games with the rest of the infield a bit with Mendick being listed at third base. Mendick played more games at second (48) and shortstop (42) than third base (38) for Charlotte. He started at all three of those spots as a September call-up for the White Sox. His versatility will be valuable going forward in the majors.

Mercedes became a hot topic among White Sox fans for a scorching hot season. The 26-year-old catcher split the year between Double-A and Triple-A and put up especially big numbers for Charlotte. He hit .310/.386/.647 in 53 games for the Knights, which should be enough of a resume to give him a chance to impress during next spring training.

Palka and Skole have been with the White Sox for multiple years in the majors and were a part of a dangerous Charlotte lineup. Meanwhile, Remillard is a career minor leaguer who had a nice season with Birmingham and Single-A Winston-Salem.

On the pitching side, Jonathan Stiever may have gotten robbed. The right-hander had a 3.48 ERA in 26 starts between both levels of A ball, including a 2.15 ERA in 12 starts with Winston-Salem. However, Cavanerio, 25, got the nod with a 3.13 ERA with the Dash in 19 starts.

Regardless of his exclusion on this team, Stiever emerged as a breakout prospect in 2019 and will be one to watch in 2020 as he enters the higher levels of the minors.

Weems was a sixth-round pick out of Arizona in the 2019 draft. The left-hander pitched in both levels of rookie ball and finished with a 2.09 ERA with 74 strikeouts and 10 walks in 60 1/3 innings.

Kincanon is a local product from suburban Riverside-Brookfield High School. The 23-year-old had 71 strikeouts and a 1.86 ERA in 58 innings for Winston-Salem.

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