Rizzo, Vitters arent options for Cubs yet

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Rizzo, Vitters arent options for Cubs yet

MINNEAPOLIS This was in the middle of what turned out to be a 12-game losing streak. The Chicago media was out in force at Wrigley Field for Cubs-Sox.

Dale Sveum didnt completely dismiss the idea last month. The Cubs manager was asked about the possibility of bringing up Anthony Rizzo to be the designated hitter during interleague play.

Sveum said thats definitely going to be talked about with the front office, and that very narrow opening was all we needed to run through. Reporters were looking for something to write about, and fans had already pinned their hopes on the next big thing.

Rizzo who began the day hitting .365 with 18 homers and 49 RBI in 54 games at Triple-A Iowa wasnt at Target Field on Friday night and wont be on the South Side June 18-20. There wasnt much of a chance the first baseman would be promoted anyway.

Its serious talk, Sveum said. When is that day gonna happen? Is it the right time? You dont sit down and say: Should we do it tomorrow? We havent done anything like that. Its obviously a subject, but

We thought better of it and obviously we didnt. And there are no plans to do it against the White Sox either.

Rizzo gets all the hype now. But it was Josh Vitters who went third overall to the Cubs in the 2007 draft, while the Boston Red Sox grabbed Rizzo in the sixth round.

They were born 19 days apart in August of 1989 and played together on elite travel teams at national tournaments, even though they grew up on opposite sides of the country.

Vitters has gradually worked his way up the system. He never turned out to be the replacement for Aramis Ramirez at third base, and wont be taking Ian Stewarts job anytime soon.

Vitters is still only 22 years old. Hes hitting .272 with nine homers and 32 RBI through 57 games at Iowa. Hes not a natural defender and he needs to become more selective at the plate (13 walks in 200-plus at-bats).

Hes been swinging the bat really well lately, Sveum said. He (doesnt have) great command of the strike zone, (but he) puts the ball in play and doesnt strike out a lot.

Hes still got to develop defensively. Hes still not going all that great (at third base). Hes got to get a little better defensively before we think of that.

Sveum remains committed to Stewart, whos struggling to stay above .200 and has been dealing with a nagging left wrist injury, but covers a lot of ground on the left side of the infield.

Its just a matter of him coming in and saying its too sore to go, Sveum said. That defense is still tough to take out of the lineup. Hes going to get in there and play that defense and somehow figure something out and get hot and start carrying us offensively.

The Cubs value Stewarts left-handed bat, plus defense and track record with the Colorado Rockies (43 homers in 2009 and 2010). In the meantime, it cant hurt Vitters hanging around his buddies Rizzo and Brett Jackson, two mature, driven prospects feeling a sense of urgency to get to the big leagues.

Morning Update: Dwyane Wade comes up clutch in close win vs. Kings

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AP

Morning Update: Dwyane Wade comes up clutch in close win vs. Kings

Dwyane Wade gets a little help but saves the day defensively vs. Kings

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Dwyane Wade gets a little help but saves the day defensively vs. Kings

Dwyane Wade gets a little help but saves the day defensively vs. Kings

It was a gift and the Bulls weren't going to look it in the mouth as Dwyane Wade was poised to finish off another one of his sterling defensive plays with a breakaway dunk with the game tied and Arron Afflalo and DeMarcus Cousins trailing.

Lightly touched by the small of his back by Cousins, Wade miscalculated his liftoff and missed the dunk but was bailed out by the refs for a foul with 14 seconds left.

Then, he bailed the Bulls out.

Wade had his fifth fourth-quarter defensive play, stripping Cousins on a steal on the ensuing possession with the Sacramento Kings having a chance to win, leading to a Michael Carter-Williams dunk and finishing a 102-99 win Saturday night at the United Center.

It was a clock-turning performance for Wade on both ends of the floor, even if his missed dunk is a reminder that he is 35 years old. 

"I took off too far as I look at the instant replay," Wade said. "I should've took maybe one more dribble. Can't say I felt 35, I just took off too far (laughs). But hey, sometimes you get calls, sometimes you don't. I'm a person who hasn't gotten a lot all year so I'm not gonna apologize for nothing."

Stripping Cousins on his spin move was the finale, but he swatted an Arron Afflalo corner triple in the fourth, smothered Ty Lawson at the rim twice for blocked shots to end the third and tortured Lawson again in the fourth for another steal that led to him following up a Jimmy Butler missed layup with a follow and foul.

"Just a read," said Wade on stripping Cousins. "We knew he was gonna go to DeMarcus at that point. Once we forced him left, I knew he had to come back to the right hand. And being in the right place at the right time, the ball was right there for me."

Wade played like a desperate and motivated man, putting up 30 with six rebounds and four assists on the second night of a back-to-back is proof positive he took Friday's loss to Atlanta personally and used his play to back up those feelings.

He took to twitter to apologize for the poor effort against the Hawks, producing his best all-around performance as a Bull.

"We've been good in desperate moments," Wade said. "We haven't been good in non-desperate moments, when we win three in a row or playing a team that we should beat. But (in) the desperate moments I like us."

He scored 13 in the fourth, along with the last of his four blocked shots and all three of his steals took place in the final 12.

"I thought he was terrific," Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. "He was aggressive all game long, taking the ball to the basket, getting to the line 15 times. He came up with two big plays."

Hoiberg threw out different lineups and rotations, playing Paul Zipser as a sixth man and having the second-round draft pick close the game. Zipser took advantage, hitting three triples and scoring 13 points.

"I thought it was night and day from last night," Hoiberg said. "Our energy was really good all night long. We got just enough stops to find a way to win."

Cousins dominated the game with 42 and 14 rebounds in 35 minutes, the only Kings player in double figures all night.

"He was pretty much unguardable for the majority of the game, Taj did a solid job on him," Hoiberg said. "When Robin was on him, they put him on the perimeter and let him shoot threes. He's a monster."

Back-to-back triples from Cousins gave him 40 and tied the game at 97, as a third one rimmed out with a little under two minutes left.

Cousins dominated the start of the third quarter, hitting midrange jumpers over Lopez and taunting the Bulls bench after hitting a jumper to put the Kings ahead, 70-63 midway through the third.

But the Bulls stayed close, with Hoiberg choosing to sit Rajon Rondo for the second half after playing him six minutes in the second quarter, using Wade as a point guard and going with Carter-Williams for defense, along with Zipser, who didn't look scared of the moment.

"I like the wrinkle coach put in there, putting him in early," Wade said. "He gave him an opportunity and he helped us big time."

Butler scored 23 with seven assists and five rebounds in 39 minutes, didn't have to play the hero for once and made fun of Wade's apology tweet.

"He was due for a big night," Butler said. "He can tweet again if he can come out again and give us 30 and some big steals and big dunks."

"I think that's what called of him, to score baskets and guard. It's kinda sneaky. You never really expect it until it happens."

It looked like the worst was over when the Bulls made a short run to end the third, surviving the onslaught from Cousins — and surviving their own experimenting with Zipser instead of going with Denzel Valentine, switching things up altogether.

But the tone was set by the leaders, who can only manufacture but so much urgency on a nightly basis.

"I like this team when we're desperate," Wade said. "A desperate team, we're not bad."