Wood, Marmol and the shape of Cubs bullpen

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Wood, Marmol and the shape of Cubs bullpen

PHILADELPHIA Kerry Wood gave a thumbs-up review of his simulated game and kept walking through the clubhouse: It went good. Thanks.

Wood threw around 22 pitches on Monday at Citizens Bank Park. If the right shoulder responds, the Cubs hope to activate him by Thursday or Friday.

Wood hasnt appeared in a real game since April 13, and went on the disabled list with right shoulder fatigue thats been bothering him occasionally since the beginning of spring training.

Well just see how everything goes the next couple days, manager Dale Sveum said. If everything goes according to plan where the bullpens not all beat up, it will probably be Thursday.

The Cubs arent going to overload their 3 million setup man. The emergence of 24-year-old Rafael Dolis (1-1, 3.38 ERA, one save, two holds) gives them another option. Wood wont automatically work the eighth inning right away.

(To) just take a little stress off the whole situation when he first comes back, Sveum said, we could possibly just move him into the seventh-inning role and see what happens there. But well talk about that in the next few days.

The Cubs have had trouble getting the ball to Carlos Marmol, a consequence of their spotty offense. Sveum believes that helps explain why the closer has been so erratic.

Marmol saved a game on April 8, and didnt get another chance until April 24 (which he couldnt convert). He had a five-run cushion on Sunday and walked three batters and forced in a run before getting the final out in Sundays 5-1 win over the Philadelphia Phillies.

Hes just got to understand (his) fastball, Sveum said. Hes thrown 62 fastballs this year and hes given up one hit, so he shouldnt be afraid to throw that thing.

Hes not a guy thats going to paint corners. Just knowing that you dont have to go to the slider all the time is the big thing. When your fastballs not getting hit and theres not a lot of hard contact when its in the zone have some confidence.

He needs to pitch more and that will help him, too. Hes one of those guys that needs to pitch and have more of a feel for everything out there on the mound because hes a max-effort guy.

Marmol (0-1, 5.87 ERA) stressed that he doesnt want to make any excuses. But he acknowledged that it hasnt been easy to stay sharp under these circumstances.

Yeah, man, everybody knows that, Marmol said. Ten, 15 days without a save opportunity you go out there and try to do your best. Its going to be tough. You give your best that day.

Monday on CSN, CSNChicago.com: Bulls introduce Denzel Valentine

Monday on CSN, CSNChicago.com: Bulls introduce Denzel Valentine

The Bulls will introduce first round draft pick Denzel Valentine on Monday at the Advocate Center, and CSN has you covered all the way.

Tune in to CSN Chicago or catch a live stream on CSNChicago.com at 11 a.m. as GM Gar Forman and head coach Fred Hoiberg introduce Valentine, the Michigan State senior whom the Bulls selected 14th overall in last week's NBA Draft.

Valentine, last year's AP Player of the Year, became the first player in NCAA history to average at least 19 points, seven rebounds and seven assists in a single season. The shooting guard's versatility and ability to shoot from the perimeter will make him a perfect fit in Fred Hoiberg's system, and his passing will help in the wake of the Bulls dealing Derrick Rose to the Knicks.

Check out our coverage of Valentine and the rest of the Bulls draft:

Bulls 'absolutely thrilled' to land Denzel Valentine

Gar Forman shoots down Jimmy Butler trade talk

How the NBA cap spike will affect the Bulls

Bulls get 'a well-rounded player' in Paul Zipser

How the Bulls' Central Division foes fared in the 2016 NBA Draft

White Sox Road Ahead: Heating up on the South Side

White Sox Road Ahead: Heating up on the South Side

CSN's JJ Stankevitz and Siera Santos discuss the struggles of James Shields while also going over a difficult upcoming series for the White Sox in this week's Road Ahead, presented by Chicagoland & Northwest Indiana Honda dealers.

On the back of Chris Sale and his 13th win, the White Sox are back to .500 after taking two of three from the Toronto Blue Jays.

The South Siders have now won five of their last seven games, and won back-to-back series for the first time in nearly two months. They're now 2.5 games behind the Blue Jays for the second Wild Card spot and are playing much better baseball as they head toward the All-Star break.

Hear what JJ Stankevitz and Siera Santos had to say about their big week, as well as their upcoming three-game series against the Twins, in this week's Honda Road Ahead video above.

White Sox win consecutive series for first time since late April

White Sox win consecutive series for first time since late April

The White Sox have been adamant the baseball they’ve played the past six weeks isn’t far removed from their torrid start to the season.

Now they have something to show for it.

Courtesy of a 5-2 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday afternoon at U.S. Cellular Field, the White Sox have back-to-back series victories for the first time since they swept the Texas Rangers and Toronto two months ago. With five wins in their last seven tries, the White Sox improved to 38-38 as they head into a much-needed day off.

“It’s huge,” said outfielder J.B. Shuck, whose second homer in as many days provided an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth. “You feel kind of a weight lifted off the shoulders in the clubhouse. We’ve been grinding. Even some of our losses, we’ve been in games. We’ve come back, we’ve given ourselves a chance and one thing here or there kind of led us to losing and now it’s starting to work for us a little bit.”

A week ago the White Sox were coming off yet another demoralizing road sweep against an AL Central opponent. They had played well in two of three contests against the Cleveland Indians but came up empty. That sweep followed one at the Detroit Tigers earlier in the month and another previous one during a hellish May weekend in Kansas City.

But starting with an extra-innings win at the Boston Red Sox on Monday night, the White Sox have started to put things together more consistently than they had of late.

They capitalized on good pitching in the first two victories over the Red Sox and then the offense did the heavy lifting in an 8-6 win on Wednesday. Though they didn’t close out a sweep of Boston, the White Sox carried it over to their home series against Toronto.

“We need some of those,” said closer David Robertson, who retired the side on 10 pitches in the ninth to convert his 20th save. “When you get your butt kicked and you get swept in places, you gotta come home and win some games. We’re playing a lot better baseball. We’re pitching better. Hopefully it continues and we stay strong.”

Sunday’s victory was full of quality play in all aspects for the White Sox.

-- Chris Sale was dominant for seven of eight innings and earned his 13th victory in 15 decisions.

-- Robertson’s inning aside, Sale gave the bullpen another critical day of rest.

“It’s kind of relaxing,” reliever Zach Duke said.

-- Beginning with Adam Eaton’s major-league leading 10th outfield assist in the first inning, the defense turned in several big plays behind Sale, including double plays in the fourth and seventh.

-- The offense provided several timely hits, whether Melky Cabrera’s two-out RBI single in the third or Shuck’s solo homer to increase the lead back to three runs in the eighth.

Now the White Sox have a day to rest before they continue their homestand on Tuesday with the first of three against the Minnesota Twins.

“I like the way we're playing,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “I think offensively, we're swinging it a little bit, doing some things, and playing defense along with it. That's a good sign for us to be able to continue to do that. Pitchers are getting back to being healthy and getting after it. I like the way this is headed. I like the fire that these guys have shown and bouncing back in some tough situations.”