Will Greg Oden ever play again?

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Will Greg Oden ever play again?

From Comcast SportsNet
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- Greg Oden has suffered yet another setback with his troublesome knees. The often-injured 7-foot center was undergoing a minor procedure Monday to clear out debris in his left knee in Vail, Colo., when the surgeon determined there was additional damage and performed microfracture surgery, the Portland Trail Blazers said. The former No.1 pick in the 2007 NBA draft has now had two microfracture surgeries on his left knee, and one on his right. He has also undergone surgery for a fractured left kneecap. The Blazers say Oden will not play this season. "It's hard to put into words the heartbreak for everyone involved, but especially for Greg. He's a young man who has experienced a great number of physical challenges in his playing career and today is yet another significant setback for him," Trail Blazers President Larry Miller said in a prepared statement. "We have a lot of empathy for Greg and his family during this difficult time." Oden, who has not played in an NBA game since Dec. 5, 2009, has appeared in 82 career games for the Blazers, averaging 9.4 points and 7.3 rebounds. It was expected that he might be able to play this season, but a checkup before the start of training camp in December reportedly revealed concerns about a non-weight-bearing ligament in the left knee, further setting back his rehabilitation. Oden was a restricted free agent heading into this season. The Blazers and Oden initially agreed to an 8.9 million qualifying offer for this year, but when the setback was announced the two sides restructured the deal, which was dropped to 1.5 million. He will become an unrestricted free agent following this season. Oden has turned down several interview requests this season. Shortly after the news about the latest surgery broke, Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge posted on Twitter: "Praying for my bro G.O. get better!" The Blazers were in Los Angeles on Monday night for a game against the Lakers. "I'm sure he's saying, Why Me?' Sometimes in life, things like that happen, and you wonder why it's happening to you," coach Nate McMillan said about Oden before the game. "Some of these injuries have occurred, not only on the floor but off the floor. There's really not an explanation for why, or sometimes how they're happening. I'm sure it's been a frustrating start for him." Portland's acting general manager Chad Buchanan told reporters that the team knew there was the possibility of an additional microfracture surgery when he went in for the procedure. The doctor found two defects, he said. Buchanan was asked whether the latest surgery might mean the end of Oden's career. "Greg's still very young, in relative terms, for a professional basketball player. He's recovered from a couple of these before -- his last two microfracture lesions have healed fine," Buchanan said. "So there's no reason to think he couldn't come back as long as he shows the work ethic and desire that he's had in the past to come back. I think it's premature to speculate anything beyond that." The former Ohio State star was selected over Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant with the top pick in the 2007 draft. Debates raged over who should be the No. 1 selection, and the Blazers eventually went with Oden in the hope that he would lead the team -- along with Brandon Roy and Aldridge -- to an NBA championship. But Oden's rookie season was postposed when he required microfracture surgery on his right knee that forced him to miss the 2007-08 season. Oden's repeated knee problems have drawn comparisons to Sam Bowie, the injury-plagued big man the Blazers selected ahead of Michael Jordan in the 1984 draft. While Bowie played in 76 games his rookie season, averaging 10 points and 8.6 rebounds, he appeared in just 63 games over the next four seasons because of injuries. He missed the entire 1987-88 season. In all, he had five operations.

Cubs feel comfortable unleashing Kris Bryant after ankle injury

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Cubs feel comfortable unleashing Kris Bryant after ankle injury

Kris Bryant's ankle is feeling so well, even Sunday's wet and chilly conditions couldn't keep him out of the lineup.

Bryant rolled his right ankle running the bases in Thursday's game and sat out Friday's contest. But an MRI showed just a mild issue and Saturday's rainout helped minimize Bryant's time on the shelf.

Bryant tested his ankle on the slick outfield grass Sunday morning and felt so good, Joe Maddon wrote out Sunday's lineup with the 2015 Rookie of the Year in left field with Tommy La Stella at third base.

"It wasn't terrible," Bryant said. "I've dealt with a lot worse. ... I didn't think much of it. I'm fine. It's good to be out there. Maybe the weather made it a little worse than it was. I feel good."

The Cubs chose to play it safe with Bryant after already covering for the losses of Kyle Schwarber and Miguel Montero in the lineup, but after Sunday's pregame "test," it was all systems go.

"I think that was their concern - if I could run down some balls out there," Bryant said. "I felt fine. I'm going through all the routes and stuff like that. Everything is good to go."

Maddon was open to the possibility Friday of calling upon Bryant to pinch-hit late in the game if he felt up to it, but no such situation arose.

The Cubs manager was intially expecting to be without Bryant for the entire weekend, eyeing a return Monday night in Pittsburgh.

"I didn't know," Maddon said. "I really thought maybe by [Monday] would've been more than likely, but he was adament that he feels great. The training staff said, 'He's fine. Go for it. Don't worry about it.' I'm just following both of those groups with KB saying himself."

Bryant said he's had ankle issues in the past and was in the habit of taping his ankles for every game. But he actually didn't have his ankles taped for a couple games because he had been feeling so good.

Cubs nation can breathe a sigh of relief that the injury was not more serious, so now all Bryant can do is shrug his shoulders and laugh it off.

"Of course something happens [the game I don't tape my ankles] so the baseball gods are telling me to continue to tape my ankle," he said. "Lesson learned."

Bryant has been seeing a lot of time in left field lately with Javy Baez back from the disabled list, La Stella (.400 AVG, 1.203 OPS) mashing and Jorge Soler off to a slow start (.193 AVG, .610 OPS).

Bryant still said he prefers third base, but he's feeling more and more comfortable and confident in the outfield.

Maddon loves Bryant's defense at third base, but considers him a utility guy more so because of the situation the team is in with Schwarber lost for the season and Baez/La Stella adept at third base.

"It's a matter of fitting all the pieces in and then re-shuffling it game-in-progress," Maddon said.

Reinstated closer David Robertson: 'Weirdest thing' to watch White Sox on TV

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Reinstated closer David Robertson: 'Weirdest thing' to watch White Sox on TV

BALTIMORE — David Robertson kept an eye on the White Sox from Alabama by watching games on TV.

The closer, who has been reinstated for Sunday’s series finale against the Baltimore Orioles, prefers his normal view from the bullpen. Robertson is available for duty after he returned to the club Sunday morning. He missed the previous three games to attend the funeral of his father-in-law, who passed away Monday after a nine-month battle with cancer. The White Sox optioned Tommy Kahnle to Triple-A Charlotte to make room for Robertson.

“I tried to keep up with the games,” Robertson said. “Watched (Saturday’s) game, which is the weirdest thing I think I’ve ever done. Watching a full game, seeing everyone come in. Was yelling at the TV. It’s harder watching a game on TV than it is being here in person to watch it. I was glad, it was a great win for the guys.”

Robertson — who has eight saves, a 0.87 ERA and 13 strikeouts in 10 1/3 innings — stayed with the White Sox through Wednesday. He pitched twice in the series in Toronto, posting two scoreless innings before flying home for services on Thursday and Friday.

“I was fine in Toronto,” Robertson said. “Emotions hit me when we got there. He not only was my wife’s dad, he was one of my good friends. We hung out nonstop. He lived with us all offseason. He’s a good man. He was taken too early.”

Jose Abreu helps White Sox rally to tie record for April wins

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Associated Press

Jose Abreu helps White Sox rally to tie record for April wins

BALTIMORE -- The White Sox closed a record-tying April in the most appropriate of ways -- with another heavy dose of late-inning magic.

Jose Abreu made up for a costly error with two late RBIs, including singling in the go-ahead run in the ninth, and the White Sox tied a team record for April victories with an 8-7 win over the Baltimore Orioles in front of 29,152 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

Playing without manager Robin Ventura, who was ejected after a controversial review in the fourth, the White Sox scored five times in the final three innings to rally for win No. 17. They finished the season’s opening month with a 17-8 mark to tie the 2000, 2005 and 2006 clubs for most April victories.

“I’ll put a lot of money with Jose at the plate with runners in scoring position,” Adam Eaton said. “We got the job done. Good team win. Not really how we drew it up, but it shows character with the team for sure. Battling back, each delivering punches and for us to get the last punch in there … Huge night for us.”

It was in particular a big showing for Abreu, who entered the game with a .220 average and 11 RBIs, his fewest in April in three seasons. The occasion became even bigger after Abreu’s fielding error in the eighth -- one of two by the White Sox -- extended the inning for Matt Albers.

With the White Sox leading 7-5, Abreu couldn’t handle a nice throw by Todd Frazier with two outs in the eighth and Manny Machado reached. Albers -- whose scoreless streak was snapped after 33 1/3 innings -- hit Adam Jones with the next pitch and Chris Davis followed with a game-tying, two-run double off Zach Duke.

But a team that has scored 49 of its 95 runs (51.6 percent) from the seventh inning came through again.

Eaton started the winning rally with a bunt single off Orioles closer Zach Britton, who exited the game as he injured himself retrieving the ball. Carlos Sanchez then walked against reliever Vance Worley to set up Abreu, who also singled in the tying run in an eighth-inning rally. Abreu drove an 0-1 cutter from Worley to right and Eaton slid in to home ahead of the throw from Joey Rickard. Nate Jones, who got the final out in the eighth, retired the side in order in the ninth to close it out.

The White Sox also rallied back from a pair of earlier deficits, long after Orioles starter Kevin Gausman departed.

Brett Lawrie, who had a solo homer in the third, walked and stole second base in the seventh and Austin Jackson singled after a 10-pitch battle with Mychal Givens to get the White Sox within 5-4.

The White Sox scored three runs off Darren O’Day, who hadn’t allowed a run all season. Sanchez had a pinch-hit double to open the eighth inning and scored on Abreu’s tying RBI single to right. Frazier blasted a 411-foot homer -- his seventh -- to center to put the White Sox up 7-5. The team’s 49 runs from the seventh inning on are the most in the American League. The White Sox, who finished with 10 hits, also have six comeback wins.

“It seemed like everybody picked everybody up tonight,” Frazier said. “It’s just a good character builder here.”

The offense came through for starter Mat Latos, who had his worst start of the season. The Orioles tried often to go the opposite way against Latos and it worked to the tune of four runs and 11 hits.

Baltimore had at least two hits in four of the five innings that Latos worked, including solo homers by Pedro Alvarez and Jonathan Schoop to tie it at 3 in the fourth.  

Latos allowed two hits to start the third, but was spared more damage when Adam Jones grounded into a controversial 5-4 double play that resulted in the 12th ejection of Ventura’s career.

Machado, who had singled ahead of Jones, slid late into second base and made contact with the leg of Lawrie, who never threw to first. Ventura asked for a review as Machado appeared to be in violation of the new slide rule. After a stoppage of at least six minutes, review officials determined that Machado didn’t interfere on the play and Jones was safe at first. Ventura immediately argued the call and loss of challenge with crew chief Gerry Davis, who ejected him.

But Latos pitched around it. He stranded two more runners on in the fourth to keep the score tied, but Baltimore pulled ahead in the fifth as Latos walked Matt Wieters and Alvarez doubled deep to center to make it 4-3.

Latos saw his ERA increase to 1.84 from 0.74.

“I was fortunate,” Latos said. “The offense showed up and put up a bunch of runs on the board and the defense showed up and we were able to get away with a really good win, a hard fought win.”

Ventura is pleased with how his team has handled its early success. Even though the White Sox have proven to be a fiery team in the dugout, Ventura thinks his veteran core has helped them keep a level head. While he’s pleased with the team’s April, he doesn’t think White Sox players will get ahead of themselves.

“They're looking for Sunday,” Ventura said. “They're excited about the win, no doubt, the way they're playing. But very good group about focusing on what's at hand and not looking in the rear view mirror.”