Brett Jackson may be ready, but Cubs don't have room yet

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Brett Jackson may be ready, but Cubs don't have room yet

MESA, Ariz. Brett Jackson has been better than advertised.

Thats the takeaway from Cubs manager Dale Sveum, who has been observing the 23-year-old outfielder for about a month now. Listening to scouts and watching minor-league video didnt tell the whole story.

When you see him in person, its been pretty impressive, every part of his game, Sveum said Wednesday. He comes to play every day. He comes to kick the other teams butt. Theres no doubt about it. (Hes) a very aggressive, confident kid whos probably going to end up playing here a long time.

So it becomes a question of when, not if, for Jackson, a 2009 first-round pick from Cal-Berkeley. Multiple club officials have noted that he already acts like he belongs.

Jackson is hitting .385 (5-for-13) in the Cactus League and has shown his speed on the bases and in the outfield. He fits Theo Epsteins ideal vision of a player who may not do one thing exceptionally well, but can make major contributions across the board.

The problem is that the Cubs have Marlon Byrd whos on an expiring contract in center field, plus Alfonso Soriano and David DeJesus stationed at the corners. Right now, theres no room for Jackson on Opening Day at Wrigley Field.

I dont see that opportunity the way the roster is configured, Sveum said. You dont want the guy to sit on the bench. He still needs to go play. Unfortunately, theres not really an opening right now for that to happen.

Jackson has only played 48 games above the Double-A level, so the likely outcome is that hell play half the season at Triple-A Iowa. But is he ready for the majors?

I dont see why he wouldnt be ready, Sveum said. The last part of his game is probably just being a little better two-strike hitter, not putting himself in some of those counts with swinging and missing. As far as the ability, I dont see what else has to happen besides (that).

Horace Grant on current state of Bulls: 'No need to panic'

Horace Grant on current state of Bulls: 'No need to panic'

After the Bulls got off to a 3-0 start, it looked like this would be a team that might be able to give LeBron James and the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers a run for their money in the Eastern Conference.

The Bulls proceeded to lose their next three, tempering those optimistic expectations. What those first six games proved is that they're an inconsistent bunch, and it's been a microcosm of their season past the halfway mark.

[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

Entering Thursday, the Bulls were slotted in as the No. 8 seed in the East with a 21-22 record through 43 games.

Former Bulls forward/center Horace Grant, who was named a special advisor to president and chief operating officer Michael Reinsdorf last year, joined SportsTalk Live on Thursday to talk about the team's current state, and why Bulls fans shouldn't panic just yet.

Check out his comments in the video above.

See what else he had to say during his SportsTalk Live appearance and on In The Loop below:

Jimmy Butler acknowledges 'huge accomplishment' but stays nonchalant about All-Star starter nod

Jimmy Butler acknowledges 'huge accomplishment' but stays nonchalant about All-Star starter nod

ATLANTA — Jimmy Butler insisted being a starter in the All-Star Game means next to nothing, but it seems to go against his never-ending battle for credibility and validation as a legit superstar.

Moments after it was revealed he would be an All-Star starter for the first time and make his third overall trip to All-Star weekend, he sang the same nonchalant tune.

"It hasn't changed at all," Butler said on a conference call Thursday evening. "Obviously, it's a huge accomplishment and honor to be named a starter. But it's All-Star weekend. There are going to be a lot of good players there. I guess it's just another name thrown in with some decent players."

The NBA's format for selecting the All-Star starters changed this season, with fans no longer being the sole group that gets to vote for starters. If it was still a fans-only vote, Philadelphia's Joel Embiid would've started in Butler's place.

But with the new formula that allows the media and the players to take part in the vote, the fan vote accounts for just 50 percent of the formula. So Butler joined Cleveland's LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, Milwaukee's Giannis Antekounmpo and Toronto's DeMar DeRozan in the starting five for the Eastern Conference.

Butler's is averaging 24.8 points with 6.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists, career-highs across the board, and had he not been selected as a starter, the Bulls' 20-21 record would not have prevented coaches from selecting him as a reserve as they had the last two seasons.

[SHOP BULLS: Get a Jimmy Butler jersey right here]

He won't be joined in the starting lineup by Dwyane Wade, who finished second in backcourt voting behind Irving, but cast his vote for his teammate anyway and hopes Wade will be selected as a reserve.

"Of course. He's been a huge part of what we're doing here, and I think he has played extremely well the first part of the season," Butler said. "He got my vote. I will tell you that."

Golden State's Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant will start for the West, along with Houston's James Harden, San Antonio's Kawhi Leonard and New Orleans' Anthony Davis, a Chicago native.

The fun-filled and busy weekend in New Orleans begins Feb. 17, from the league events to the parties to the festivities and then finally the All-Star Game on Sunday night.

Butler likely views it as more of an accomplishment for his team of trainers and confidants then himself.

"It's fun, man. You get to know the other really good players in the league, and you get to know a little bit about them," Butler said. "And the experience that you get to be a part of, whether it be the Jordan party or taking your guys with you everywhere. That's the most fun part for me, my trainers, my brothers, everybody that's behind the scenes helping me gets to experience it too."