Deja vu: Hamilton injured vs. 76ers, but returns to the game

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Deja vu: Hamilton injured vs. 76ers, but returns to the game

With 3:15 left in the third quarter of Saturday nights Bulls win over Philadelphia, there was suddenly a flashback to last season. Rip Hamilton, in the midst of a strong individual period and raining down mid-range jumpers, leaped in the air to make a pass and when he landed, immediately began limping.
For the injury to occur against the 76ers, the team that ousted the Bulls from the playoffsand against whom Derrick Roses season ended in Game 1 of the first-round series at the United Centerwas eerie enough, but considering Hamiltons injury-plagued debut season in Chicago made it downright terrifying for both the team and its fans.
Hamilton couldnt put pressure on his left foot and was helped off the court by teammates Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich, then headed to the locker room, after which the organization informed the media that he suffered a sprained left foot.
In a twist, however, Hamilton not only returned to the bench, but was reinserted into the contestshades of Joakim Noah, who severely sprained his ankle in Philadelphia during the aforementioned series, then briefly returned to play in the same game, though he was out for the remainder of the series afterwardsby Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau as a designated free-throw shooter. Hamilton knocked down three of his four attempts at the charity stripe to close out the Bulls win.
It was a lot scarier than I thought, but well see. Tomorrow Im supposed to get an MRI on it. But the good thing about it, I was able to put a little bit of weight on it and I was able to go back into the game, the veteran recounted afterwards. I didnt get an x-ray. It was just one of those things, its all feeling and there was a lot of adrenaline still in the game. I felt as though I could still move. I know I wasnt 100 percent or anything like that, but I felt as though I could still get out there and help the team.
Hamilton injured himself when I jumped up. As soon as I came up off my feet, thats when I really felt something on the bottom of my foot. I felt something pop.There wasnt anybody around. They always say the worst injuries are when nobodys around and you didnt fall on anybodys foot or anything like that, so it was just one of those things that when it happened, it just scared me and when I felt it, I didnt want to put any pressure on it, but there wasnt a whole lot of pain. So, thats why it was so freaky to me, continued the Pennsylvania nativehe grew up less than an hour from Philadelphiawho admitted his foot was sore afterwards. I would have tried to play even earlier, if asked. Thats why I came back on the bench. They kept asking me, Can you play? and I was like, Man, I wont know until Im actually out there defending somebody live or running down the court, so it was one of those things that if I got there, I was going to see how it was going to feel.
Thibodeau asked me and I told him, Yeah, put me back in the game. He didnt want to put me back in at first and I was like, Im good. As long as my right shooting arm is good, Im good, the shooting guard went on to say. I just told myself, Just figure it out. Whoever Im guarding, just try to run near them and hope they dont get the ball.
I wanted to be back out there. Coach took a chance on me and put me back out there.
Thibodeau, perhaps sensitive to the criticism he received for putting Noah back into the May playoff game, explained that he didnt have an official diagnosisas did Hamilton, who stated, I dont know what it is. We dont know what it is until I get an MRIfor the injury and was simply relying on advice from the Bulls medical staff. Although Hamilton walked with a noticeable limp, he was functional on the floor.
When he came back to the bench, Fred Tedeschi, the teams head trainer told me that we could use him if we needed him, so I thought we needed him, the coach said. Well, Im not a doctor. I just ask the trainer, Can he go? We do have a medical staff here. I know you guys the media are trained that way also, but they have to be cleared by the doctor and the trainer before I get to them. If Fred tells me that he cant go, then hes not going to go. Hes been evaluated so, I trust our medical staff.
The silver lining to the injury is that if Hamilton has to miss any significant amount of time, the Bulls now have the cap space to sign a 14th playera minimum-salary veteranto the roster, something that wasnt imminent as of last week, when it became possible, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. But the organizations front office and player-personnel staff have been keeping a close eye on available veterans if the need arose, which likely wont be known until Monday, as the team is off Sunday.

Joe Maddon vents frustrations with tensions already rising in Cubs vs. Pirates

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Joe Maddon vents frustrations with tensions already rising in Cubs vs. Pirates

PITTSBURGH — “Still smells like champagne,” said one wise guy walking through the visiting clubhouse at PNC Park late Monday night.

The Cubs had just beaten the Pittsburgh Pirates, with some of the same raw emotions from last year’s wild-card win resurfacing during a 7-2 win in early May. There’s that much at stake in the National League Central that maybe we shouldn’t spend so much time fixating on the St. Louis Cardinals.

The eye-for-an-eye moment came in the seventh inning, with Pittsburgh reliever Kyle Lobstein drilling Ben Zobrist with his first pitch. Home plate umpire Laz Diaz had already watched Cubs starter Jason Hammel hit Starling Marte with a pitch in the sixth inning and issued a warning to both benches.

Manager Joe Maddon yelled at Lobstein and Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli screamed at the visiting dugout, and it felt like October all over again.

“I was able to vent a little bit,” Maddon said. “It’s always fun to vent, isn’t it? I mean, we’ve all been there. You have to vent on occasion. That’s the worst thing you could possibly do for your health long-term — to hold that stuff in. I want to get it out.”

Maddon spent part of his pregame media session talking up Cervelli, calling him a “good dude” who worked out at his wife’s boxing gym in Tampa, Fla., during the offseason: “He came to my Gasparilla party, dressed as a pirate of all things.”

“It’s just a matter of judging intentions,” said Zobrist, who’s new to this emerging rivalry after earning a World Series ring with the Kansas City Royals last year. “As a team, you’re trying to think: ‘Well, was that intentional? Was it not?’ But I think in that situation it was pretty clear.

“Our whole team’s going to stick up for each other. Obviously, Joe took exception to it. I think a lot of other guys did, too. I’ve been around long enough — I’ve been hit before. I took my base and scored a run. That’s the way I look at it.”

Maddon had even more fun with the Pirates and the replay system in the seventh inning after Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle erased a double play with a successful challenge at first base. Maddon responded by using Major League Baseball’s new takeout rule to challenge Jordy Mercer’s slide into second base.

“I had no clue what I was doing,” Maddon said. “I just knew I could challenge. At that particular juncture, why not? Give it a roll. Bottom of the seventh inning, who knows what they’re going to think?”

Maddon kept rolling and filibustering during his postgame news conference, saying how much he loved the Pirates’ uniforms as a kid growing up in Pennsylvania and comparing this rivalry to his high-school quarterback days and Hazleton vs. West Hazleton.

“People in Pittsburgh can enjoy that,” Maddon said. “They can identify with ‘Friday Night Lights,’ ‘All the Right Moves,’ all of the above. I’m being this way specifically so I don’t comment on the hit by batter.”

Cubs top Pirates to stay baseball's best, but Theo Epstein won't stop making moves

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Cubs top Pirates to stay baseball's best, but Theo Epstein won't stop making moves

PITTSBURGH — Relentless is the word the Cubs keep using to describe a lineup that knocked out Gerrit Cole on Monday night with the bases loaded and two outs in the fifth inning and the Pittsburgh Pirates already trailing by two runs at PNC Park.

Relentless could also be a label for Theo Epstein’s front office, even after spending almost $290 million on free agents and even with an 18-6 record that’s the best in baseball following a 7-2 win over the Pirates.

The Cubs want nothing to do with the randomness of another elimination game and can’t take anything for granted with 85 percent of the schedule still remaining. They’ve already lost playoff hero Kyle Schwarber for the season, and the outfield picture is clouded with Jason Heyward dealing with a sore right wrist since early April and Matt Szczur scheduled to get an MRI on his right hamstring on Tuesday morning.

Not that Epstein needed a reminder, but the president of baseball operations flashed back to last year’s National League wild-card game when he flew into Pittsburgh, checked into the team’s downtown hotel across the Roberto Clemente Bridge and went running along the Allegheny River.

From his hotel room, Epstein could sort of see where Schwarber’s two-run homer off Cole flew out of PNC Park last October, giving this franchise a runaway sense of momentum.

“We’ve played really well,” Epstein said, “but I don’t think we’ve completely locked in yet or clicked in all facets of the game. Our pitching staff’s really been carrying us. It’s been the most consistent part of our team yet. As it warms up here, I think the bats will get going and they’ll probably carry us for a while.

“But as far as needs that we might have, or ways that we can get better, we’re always assessing that. I think there’s lots of different ways we could potentially improve the club before the end of the season.”

The Cubs will watch Tim Lincecum’s upcoming showcase in Arizona because they always check in on potential impact players at that level. Lincecum — a two-time Cy Young Award winner who helped the San Francisco Giants win three World Series titles — is making a comeback after hip surgery.

While the Cubs should have big-picture concerns about their rotation and a farm system that hasn’t developed the arms yet, Jason Hammel (4-0, 1.24 ERA) is making his own comeback.

Even if manager Joe Maddon doesn’t seem to completely trust Hammel, who gave up two runs across five innings and got pulled after throwing 89 pitches and accidentally hitting Starling Marte to lead off the sixth. Four different relievers combined to shut down the Pirates (15-11) the rest of the night.

Epstein — who is in the fifth and final year of his contract and used “status quo” to describe his extension talks with chairman Tom Ricketts — will have the position-player prospects to bundle if the Cubs do need a frontline pitcher this summer. A franchise-record payroll in the neighborhood of $150 million was also projected to have some room for in-season additions.

After beating up on the division’s have-nots and going 8-1 against the Cincinnati Reds and Milwaukee Brewers, the Cubs should have a better idea of where they stand after Maddon’s “Minimalist Zany” road trip to Pittsburgh and a four-game showdown against the Washington Nationals at Wrigley Field.

“There’s always the threat of somehow playing to the level of your competition in a negative way,” Maddon said. “I’m not denigrating any team that we’ve played to this point. That is not my point. But if you play teams with less-than (.500) records and maybe they’re not playing as well, you don’t turn that dimmer switch up to the full velocity. But when you’re playing really good teams, I think that naturally brings out the best in you.”

Preview: White Sox, Red Sox duel Tuesday night on CSN

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Preview: White Sox, Red Sox duel Tuesday night on CSN

The White Sox take on the Red Sox on Tuesday night, and you can catch all the action on Comcast SportsNet. Coverage begins live from the South Side at 7 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Tuesday's starting pitching matchup: Jose Quintana (3-1, 1.47 ERA) vs. Steven Wright (2-2, 1.37 ERA)

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