Its decision time at Cubs camp

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Its decision time at Cubs camp

GOODYEAR, Ariz. The Cubs will meet after Wednesdays game and get the roster to where its 95 percent finished in Dale Sveums mind.

All eyes will be on Jeff Samardzija, who starts against the Cleveland Indians at HoHoKam Stadium and could be in position to secure the final spot in the rotation, or perhaps open the door for Randy Wells. The manager isnt saying.

Whoever it is, its a pretty good staff, Sveum said before Tuesdays 7-4 win over the Cincinnati Reds at Goodyear Ballpark.

Wells is scheduled to pitch an inning or two in relief on Wednesday thats probably telling and then start four days later. We should find out if hes the bullpens long man or retaking his spot in the rotation.

One week before they will leave Arizona and fly to Chicago, the Cubs still had 40 players in camp. The players will find out the decisions on Thursday morning, as Sveum expects everything to be finalized, except maybe one or two spots in the bullpen.

Theres the backup catcher coin flip between Steve Clevenger and Welington Castillo. Clevenger, a converted infielder, offers some versatility and a left-handed bat. Castillo has a rocket arm and is slightly more experienced at the higher levels. It could come down to who makes the pitchers feel more comfortable.

Joe Mather who can play the infield and the outfield and is hitting .408 this spring appears to have nailed down the final bench job. With Jeff Baker, Reed Johnson and Blake DeWitt in reserve, Sveum thinks he might have the best bench in the National League.

The biggest question mark remains the bullpen, and that doesnt even take into account Carlos Marmols state of mind or Kerry Woods health.

Twenty-four-year-old Rafael Dolis who has pitched in one game above the Double-A level could graduate and become the setup man. James Russell is a lock, and Sveum said theres a good chance he could be the only left-hander in the bullpen, which is bad news for Scott Maine.

Shawn Camp who was released by the Seattle Mariners last week spent Monday morning shaking hands and introducing himself to new teammates in the clubhouse.

Its so wide open and Camp has so much experience that the 36-year-old right-hander who just signed a minor-league deal is a good bet to make the Opening Day roster. Rodrigo Lopez, Casey Coleman, Lendy Castillo and Frankie De La Cruz are among those waiting to learn their fate.

Stay tuned itll be decision time at Cubs camp.

Kevin White not looking like a rookie as Bears open training camp

Kevin White not looking like a rookie as Bears open training camp

BOURBONNAIS — Call it a linebacker’s worst nightmare. Twice.

First it was outside linebacker Lamarr Houston, who found himself with wide receiver Kevin White on a pass route that made the wideout — he of 4.35 speed in the 40 — the coverage responsibility of a 274-pound defender whose specialty is going after quarterbacks.

White streaked away from Houston and caught Jay Cutler’s pass for a win for the offense.

Two snaps later it was inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman, whose first NFL interception was of a Cutler pass while Freeman was a member of the Indianapolis Colts, and who suddenly became the latest Bear defender to understand that with White, “if he’s even, he’s leavin’." To his credit, Freeman never lost sight of White, but neither was the overmatched linebacker more than a minor annoyance on the route that ended with another completion from Cutler.

“You know I think having our receivers out there healthy and able to practice, whether it’s Kevin or Alshon [Jeffery] or even Eddie Royal,” head coach John Fox said. “I think you feel the difference when they are out there playing.”

[MORE: Rough first camp day for Kyle Long, Bears No. 1 draft pick Leonard Floyd]

(Motion seconded by Messrs. Houston, Freeman.)

White was not done looking like anything but an inexperienced young player who’d missed his rookie season and virtually all of training camp with a stress fracture to his left leg. He made a twisting grab of another Cutler toss in the 7-on-7 drill, and later worked himself open on a broken play, making a sliding catch to save a pass from Cutler on the run.

Cutler and White spent time together in the offseason, away from football, and one result is the receiver understanding what his quarterback needs and demands.

“If he wants me at 9 yards, at 10 yards, come back down the line or run back to him, that’s what I have to do,” White said. “We’re continuing to do that.”

[SHOP: Gear up for the 2016 season, Bears fans!

White was practicing late last season before the Bears opted to leave him shut down after their season all but ended with the disappointing losses to San Francisco and Washington. The lost season set him behind on his learning curve, particularly given his relative inexperience playing at the highest level at West Virginia.

But the Bears also gave White’s injury time to heal rather than rush their No. 7-overall draft choice onto the field. The time off allowed more than just the stress-fracture surgery to mend.

“I had a whole year to recover, mentally and physically,” White said. “If we’d had had this talk last year, it would have mentally been a little rough as far as getting on my routes and trying not to run with a limp. And obviously taking a hit.

“But I’ve had a whole year to get it right. I thank the organization for giving me the time, and so I’m ready mentally and physically.”

Sports Business: NBA players intern at Google to prepare for life after basketball

Sports Business: NBA players intern at Google to prepare for life after basketball

There are many different ways professional athletes choose to spend their offseason — from traveling and relaxing, to practicing and preparing for the upcoming season.

For a group of NBA players, they decided to spend this offseason as interns at one of Silicon Valley's most powerful companies, preparing for life after basketball.

C.J. Watson, Wilson Chandler, Dahntay Jones, and D-Leaguer Moses Ehambe were among the players who interned at Google's headquarters last week, getting a crash course in how a tech giant operates. It's a smart decision by the seasoned veterans, as the average NBA career lasts less than five years.

This opportunity was part of the NBA's "Career Crossover" program, which the league launched in 2011 to help players prepare for their "second life" after basketball — something very few players plan sufficiently for.

In fact, in 2009 Sports Illustrated reported that 60 percent of former NBA players are broke five years into their retirement, and even highly-paid superstars like Allen Iverson, Latrell Sprewell, and Scottie Pippen have run into tremendous financial trouble after their playing days were over.

"One of the top priorities in regards to player development is talking to guys early and often about the importance of thinking about what you are going to do career-wise after the ball stops bouncing and your playing career is over," said Greg Taylor, the NBA's senior vice-president of player development, via VICE Sports.

Watson, Chandler, Jones and Ehambe spent their time at Google learning about how the company builds their products and makes money, as well as discussing platform analytics and YouTube.

The tech industry has been the top choice from NBA players in career discussions, leading the league to partner with companies such as Google and Facebook for offseason opportunities for players.

Just a short time spent preparing for life and a career after basketball will go a long way for these athletes, and who knows, maybe they'll be back at Google next offseason, or at the end of their time in the NBA.

Read the full story from VICE Sports here.

Rough first camp day for Kyle Long, Bears No. 1 draft pick Leonard Floyd

Rough first camp day for Kyle Long, Bears No. 1 draft pick Leonard Floyd

BOURBONNAIS — The first day of 2016 Bears training camp was one with players not in full pads as the team eases players into the rigors of the most intense practice stretch of the football year. “No pads” may suggest less grueling, but Thursday saw the Bears finish practice with two of their last four No. 1’s departing early with health issues, even as last year’s top pick was finally back on the field where his rookie season effectively was closed out.

Outside linebacker Leonard Floyd left practice early on a trainer’s cart, while guard Kyle Long finished his day in a walking boot. Neither situation was initially considered dire, but both were in disappointing contrast to the excellent first day of wide receiver Kevin White, whose 2015 season had ended with a stress fracture in his left leg.

[MORE: Bears' first round pick Leonard Floyd leaves practice with illness]

The feeling that swept over the practice fields on the Bears’ first day of practice in Bourbonnais was a mixture of shock and disbelief: Floyd, the Bears’ No. 1 draft choice, was leaving the field on a cart, typically one of the more ominous ways a player can exit a field. After Kevin White’s season was lost last year to a stress fracture suffered in practice even before training camp, the prospect of another Bears No. 1 pick going down before even a first practice in pads was one scenario that organization could hardly have contemplated.

Fortunately, Floyd was down with what he described as a “stomach bug” that had bothered him earlier in the week, and the rookie was expected to be practicing on Friday — subject to trainers’ OK.

“I’m feeling good right now,” said Floyd, who had tried to talk his way back onto the field initially. “What happened today was I’ve been a little under the weather the past couple of days and the trainers knew that. They told me to go out and give it a shot today and then they shut me down.

“I really was begging them to let me go back out there. They told me to shut it down and shut it down tomorrow. I’m basically just trying to get back healthy and get back out there ... because I don’t like to sit out. They recommended that I take it easy today. They didn’t want me to injure myself further.”

[SHOP: Gear up for the 2016 season, Bears fans!

Long left practice late with a calf issue, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport.

Long has started since day one as a rookie in 2013 and missed only one game over the span of three NFL seasons, all ending with his selection to the Pro Bowl.