Thibodeau: Rose 'coming along,' takes contact in practice

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Thibodeau: Rose 'coming along,' takes contact in practice

As expected, Tom Thibodeau played his cards close to the vest, but even the poker-faced Bulls head coach couldnt hide the fact that Derrick Roses sore back is gradually improving. The reigning league MVP participated in Sundays team practice at the Berto Center and took on contact, a significant step in his eventual return to the court after missing five consecutive games with lower back spasms.

He did more today. Coming along, so well see how he is tomorrow, the coach revealed. He took on contact today, so I want to see how he is, how he feels, after the contact."

Thibodeau noted that Rose would warm up prior to Monday afternoon's game against the Hawks (as he did before Saturday's loss to the Nets), however, he wouldnt budge when prodded about when Rose would return or if the Eastern Conference All-Star starter will play before the annual exhibition, held Feb. 26 in Orlando.

When hes ready to play, hes ready to play, whether its tomorrow or later. Im not going to base it on anything other than him being ready to play. Not our opponent, not the All-Star Game, not anything but if hes cleared medically and hes ready to play. Then hell play, said Thibodeau, the East teams coach. Each day hes done more. Hes responded well. He hasnt had any problems, so today was more physical. Defended pick-and-rolls, went one-on-one, defended in the post, played in the post, defended catch-and-shoot. So he did a lot today and well see how he is tomorrow and were going to go from there, but its the next step for us.

Thibodeau did admit that when Rose does return, he could be a bit cautious with the superstar point guards playing time, simply due to conditioning reasons.

His conditioning will probably be affected a little bit and his timing, but hell get that back quickly, said Thibodeau, who noted that Rose did some half-court running. Well see what he can handle.

Clark the Cub hops on the Arrieta bandwagon with fake beard, onesie

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Clark the Cub hops on the Arrieta bandwagon with fake beard, onesie

Hey, Clark the Cub is wearing pants!

That was my first reaction when I saw the get-up for the Cubs mascot Thursday. OK, technically a onesie isn't "pants," but it's close enough.

As Arrieta took the mound for the Cubs in his first start since his second career no-hitter, Clark showed his support with the same onesie:

BEARrieta - Get it?

For reference, here's Jake's onesie from Los Angeles last August:

We're not even going to get into the beard or why a bear with fur covering its face would need - or even have - a beard.

This has been your pointless Chicago sports news of the day. Back to regularly scheduled programming.

Score one for Jim Harbaugh: NCAA rescinds ban on satellite camps

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Score one for Jim Harbaugh: NCAA rescinds ban on satellite camps

Jim Harbaugh vs. the NCAA rolls on, and the khaki'd one just scored a big victory.

There hasn't been a more-uttered phrase than "satellite camp" this offseason, thanks mostly to Harbaugh, who made national headlines when he took his Michigan football team down to Florida for a practice at a high school known for cranking out top talent.

Harbaugh was obviously using it as a recruiting tool, to show off his Wolverines in the fertile recruiting ground down South.

Head coaches from the SEC were not happy, calling it an infringement on their recruiting territory and lamenting what they saw as an unfair recruiting advantage.

So the NCAA sided with the SEC and banned satellite camps, a move that disappointed many coaches across college football, who argued that these camps give kids who wouldn't otherwise be able to show their abilities off to coaches from outside their immediate area. For example, a player from Texas not catching the eyes of schools from the Lone Star State and unable to drive across the country to visit schools in the Midwest and elsewhere could land a scholarship thanks to a Midwestern school coming to his area and running a satellite camp.

Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald was one of many to voice displeasure with the NCAA's decision.

The NCAA took those arguments to heart, apparently. Thursday, the NCAA Division-I Board of Directors rescinded the ban put in place by the NCAA Division-I Council, a major win for Harbaugh and other proponents of the satellite camps.

The Board of Directors also vowed to conduct a "broad assessment" of the recruiting process.

"The Board of Directors is interested in a holistic review of the football recruiting environment, and camps are a piece of that puzzle," said Board of Directors chair Harris Pastides, president of the University of South Carolina. "We share the Council’s interest in improving the camp environment, and we support the Council’s efforts to create a model that emphasizes the scholastic environment as an appropriate place for recruiting future student-athletes."

Northwestern athletics director Jim Phillips is the chair of the Council.

"It’s clear that the membership has differing views on this subject, and the Council appreciates the Board’s insights into this important issue," Phillips said. "This review will provide an opportunity to identify the most effective ways prospective student-athletes can have their academic and athletic credentials evaluated by schools across the country."

Michigan was obviously feeling good about the news.

Cubs' timeline for Willson Contreras with Miguel Montero on DL

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Cubs' timeline for Willson Contreras with Miguel Montero on DL

Willson Contreras isn’t walking through that door – at least not yet – but the Cubs still envision their catcher of the future making his mark at some point this season.

It won’t be an immediate impact since the Cubs placed Miguel Montero on the disabled list with lower back tightness before Thursday’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers, promoting Triple-A Iowa catcher Tim Federowicz to Wrigley Field and having David Ross catch Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta.

That’s the biggest concern now, how Contreras would handle a veteran pitching staff with strong personalities and how much he still has to develop defensively at the Triple-A level. Because last year’s Southern League batting champion is hitting .375 through his first 14 games with Iowa and has all the physical tools that essentially made him an untouchable prospect during trade talks over the winter.

“When I came up to the big leagues my first year, I thought it was going to be easier,” Montero said. “I wondered the same question for myself: ‘Man, how difficult could it be?’ To be honest, I didn’t realize until I had a couple years in the big leagues that it was harder than you think.

“Especially when you have these kinds of pitchers that have been around for a long time. You’re putting a lot of pressure on yourself, trying to call the perfect game for this guy. It’s a lot of weight on your shoulders.

“I guess they’re trying to avoid that. Obviously, the time will come for (Contreras). But the only way to figure it out is to let him catch out here with them. I think that’s the only way to prove (yourself) and learn.

“If you keep saying he’s not ready to catch a major-league staff yet, when is he going to be ready, right?”

Montero didn’t know what triggered this injury – “I guess it’s age, right?” he said with a smile – but he felt something similar with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2013 and missed almost a month while recovering from a lower back strain.  

Montero – who will turn 33 this summer and earn $14 million in the final guaranteed season of his contract next year – had been awaiting the results of an MRI and mentioned a couple of bulging discs in his back.

The Cubs need short- and long-term insurance policies and succession plans because “Grandpa Rossy” intends to retire after this season and Kyle Schwarber will have to prove he can still catch at the major-league level after undergoing surgery on his left knee to reconstruct his ACL and repair his LCL.

It’s not realistic to think Ross can catch 100-something games at the age of 39. Federowicz looks like a decent backup option after playing parts of four seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

“We just had to make a choice right there,” manager Joe Maddon said. “‘Fed’ was here for a reason. ‘Fed’ had a great spring training and you’re looking at the overall development of Contreras.

“In your mind’s eye, if you’re putting this whole thing together, with a guy like Willson, you’re probably going to wait until the second half, hopefully, to get him involved here. Or the latter part of the season to really get him here (and) get his feet on the ground.”

It’s probably not fair to drop Contreras into the clubhouse of a World Series contender before his 24th birthday and expect him to take charge of one of the best pitching staffs in baseball.

Remember, the Cubs left Contreras exposed in the Rule 5 draft after the 2014 season and didn’t add him to the 40-man roster, partially because the infielder signed out of Venezuela hadn’t played above the A-ball level at that point.

“You bring in a guy like ‘Fed’ for a specific reason and here the specific reason just popped up,” Maddon said. “He’s a veteran. He understands the major leagues. He understands veteran pitchers.

“There’s a lot of different reasons why you sign ‘Fed’ in the first place – and then you don’t run away from him when the opportunity jumps up there. Contreras’ time will come.”