Greer, Orr await return of Marquise Pryor

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Greer, Orr await return of Marquise Pryor

Tyquone Greer plays basketball at Orr. So the 6-foot-7 junior doesn't command as much attention from fans or media as players from more celebrated schools and more established programs such as Simeon, Whitney Young, Morgan Park, Marshall or Crane.
But Orr coach Louis Adams is beating a drum in Greer's behalf. "He is one of the best players in the state, a Division I recruit. He is one of the top five players in the state. What separates him from other players? He can put the ball on the floor at 6-foot-7," Adams said.
A lot of major Division I colleges are listening. Greer has scholarship offers from Illinois, DePaul, Wisconsin, Bradley, Baylor, Marquette, Arkansas, Florida State and Providence. And he has attracted interest from Miami (Fla.), South Carolina and Nebraska. More can be expected.
Greer got more exposure last weekend as Orr won three games in Detroit. He had 17 points and eight rebounds in a 61-54 victory over East English Village and 23 points and nine rebounds in a 47-36 triumph over Detroit Frederick Douglass. Louis Adams Jr. had 14 points and four assists in a 46-34 decision over Detroit Community.
They'll return to action on Friday when Orr (9-2) plays Westinghouse in a Public League Red-West match-up.
"This is the best team I've had," coach Louis Adams said. "We are good enough to win state if we do things we are supposed to do and stay disciplined."
Greer said the key to success is working together and believing in each other. "As the coach says: 'Trust in each other.' We can only beat ourselves. We are very athletic and we hustle a lot. Last year's team was a shooting team. They lived and died by the three-point shot. But this team is more into going to the basket," he said.
And the Spartans could be even better. Marquise Pryor, a 6-foot-6 senior who is arguably the team's best player, is due to be released from jail on Feb. 22 and Adams expects him to rejoin the team.
Pryor, who averaged 20 points per game last season and was one of the state's leading rebounders, was arrested last September near his Englewood home and later charged as an adult with gun possession. Already facing a gun charge, he pleaded guilty in both cases and entered Cook County's four-month disciplinary program.
"He has been with me since seventh grade. He is a 17-year-old kid. He made a mistake. He deserves a second chance," Adams said. "With him, we can beat Northern Illinois. He makes us one of the best teams in the country. He is a man out there. He could be our best player. He is probably the best rebounder in the country."
Greer said he is looking forward to Pryor's return. Last year, with Greer and Pryor, Orr finished 22-6 and lost to Wheaton St. Francis in the regional. Three years ago, the Spartans were 19-7 and lost to Riverside-Brookfield in the sectional.
"(Pryor) is a big part of this team," Greer said. "With him, we could be undefeated."
As it is, Greer (16 ppg) and 5-foot-10 senior point guard Jamal McDowell (10 ppg, 8 assists) are the only returning starters from a year ago. They blend with 6-foot-8 junior Marlon Jones (12 ppg, 8 rpg), a transfer from Crane, 6-foot-3 junior Louis Adam Jr. (18 ppg), the coach's son, and 5-foot-11 senior Brandon Clemons (8 ppg), a transfer from Simeon.
Adams Jr., a transfer from Thornton, has offers from DePaul, Bradley and TexasPan-American. He backed up Greer by contributing 39 points in the three-game sweep in Detroit last weekend.
Other contributors are 6-foot-4 junior Armani Ousley and 5-foot-11 junior Jerion Jackson.
Greer's first love was football. A native West Sider, he started playing football with the Vikings youth football team in third grade. He played quarterback and wide receiver. Several high schools recruited him to play football. He opted for St. Patrick. He dreamed of being the next Tom Brady. He wanted to go to Ohio State to play football.
In fact, Ohio State and Baylor are his dream schools--for basketball. "I have been watching Ohio State since I was little. I really wanted to go to Ohio State for football. They haven't offered from basketball. I'm hoping they will. But they haven't shown any interest. It is disappointing. I have another year to show them what I've got," he said.
An unanticipated growth spurt turned Greer's interest from football to basketball. He grew from 6 feet to 6-foot-5 in seventh grade. As he got taller, he began to think basketball was the sport for him, not football. All of a sudden, football was too slow paced for him. He liked to run up and down the basketball court.
"In seventh grade, I started to realize I was pretty good at basketball," Greer said. "I was playing football and basketball at the same time but I committed to basketball in eighth grade. I played football for one year in high school, then stopped because I liked basketball better. And I was committed to St. Patrick but I met coach Adams at an all-star game and transferred to Orr after my freshman year."
Greer's idol is NBA star Kevin Durant. No wonder. "He is tall and can do all the things I can do...dribble, shoot, a lot of things that people my size can't do," he said.
"I'm 100 percent better than last year. I am more aggressive and more physical. I attack the basket more. I'm growing as a player. I'm smarter on the court and more mature on and off the court."
And if Marquise Pryor returns on Feb. 22, there is no telling how much better Greer and his teammates will be. Stay tuned.

Veteran outfielder Peter Bourjos eyes role with White Sox

Veteran outfielder Peter Bourjos eyes role with White Sox

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- As he surveyed the landscape this offseason, Peter Bourjos thought he and the White Sox would make for a good fit.

Adam Eaton had been traded and Austin Jackson departed via free agency, leaving the White Sox with Melky Cabrera and several young players to man a thin outfield. Bourjos, who lived in Chicago until second grade, pursued the White Sox and last month agreed to terms on a minor-league deal in hopes of earning a spot on the Opening Day roster. Last season, Bourjos, who was born in Chicago, hit .251/.292/.389 with five home runs and 23 RBIs in 383 plate appearances for the Philadelphia Phillies.

“I always liked playing in Chicago,” Bourjos said. “It was a good fit and then spring training is here. I have two young kids. So packing them up and going to Florida wasn’t something I wanted to do either.

“We definitely look at all those options on paper. Evaluate what might be the best chance of making a team and this is definitely one of them. It seems like a good fit on paper.”

If he’s healthy enough, Charlie Tilson will get the first crack at the everyday job in center field. Tilson, who missed the final two months of last season with a torn hamstring, is currently sidelined for 10 days with foot problems. Beyond Tilson, the White Sox have prospects Adam Engel and Jacob May with Cabrera slated to start in left field and Avisail Garcia pegged for right. Leury Garcia is also in the mix.

But there still appears to be a good shot for Bourjos to make the club and manager Rick Renteria likes his veteran presence for the young group. Bourjos has accrued six seasons of service time between the Phillies, Los Angeles Angels and St. Louis Cardinals.

“Bourjy has been around,” Renteria said. “He knows what it takes. He understands the little nuances of major-league camp and how we have so many players and we want to give them all a look. We want to see Bourjos, we want to see him out there.”

Bourjos, who turns 30 in March, has an idea what he wants to do with his chance. A slick defensive outfielder, Bourjos wants to prove he’s a better hitter than his .243/.300/.382 slash line would suggest. He said it’s all about being relaxed.

“Offensively just slow everything down and not try to do too much,” Bourjos said. “I put a lot of pressure on myself and it hasn’t translated. I think last year I got in a spot where I just tried to relax in the batter’s box and let everything go and what happened happened. I had success with that.

“I now realize what that feels like and it doesn’t work. Just take a deep breath and be relaxed in the box and good things are going to happen.”

Why Brett Anderson called Cubs fans ‘f------ idiots’ and loves the idea of pitching at Wrigley Field

Why Brett Anderson called Cubs fans ‘f------ idiots’ and loves the idea of pitching at Wrigley Field

MESA, Ariz. – On an October night where you could literally feel Wrigley Field shaking, Brett Anderson fired off a message on his personal Twitter account: "Real classy cubs fans throwing beer in the Dodgers family section. Stay classy f------ idiots."
 
The Cubs had just clinched their first National League pennant since the year World War II ended, beating Clayton Kershaw and playing as close to a perfect game as they had all season. Anderson kept up the entertaining commentary during the World Series, previewing Game 7 – "We can all agree that we're happy it's not Joe West behind the plate tomorrow" – and tweaking his future manager: "Aroldis (Chapman) might puke on the mound from exhaustion." 
 
In another generation, a veteran pitcher might walk into a new clubhouse and wonder about any awkwardness with a hitter he once drilled with a fastball or some bad blood from a bench-clearing brawl. But overall today's players share the same agents, work out together in the same warm-weather offseason spots and understand the transient nature of this business. When pregame batting practice is filled with fist bumps, bro hugs and small talk between opponents, it becomes trying to remember what you said on social media. 
 
"I'm kind of a sarcastic ass on Twitter," Anderson said Monday. "I kind of sit back and observe. I'm not a huge talker in person. But I can kind of show some of my personality and candor on some of those things.
 
"You look at stuff (when) you get to a new team. I'm like: ‘Wow, man, did I say anything about anybody that's going to piss them off?' But I think the only thing I said about the players is that Kyle (Hendricks) looks like he could have some Oreos and milk after pitching in the World Series. 
 
"But that's kind of the guy he is. Just the calmness that he shows is something that we can all try to strive for."
 
Anderson essentially broke the news of his signing – or at least tipped off the media to look for confirmations – with a "Wheels up to Chicago" tweet in late January. The Cubs guaranteed $3.5 million for the chance to compete against Mike Montgomery and see which lefty can grab the fifth-starter job. Anderson could max out with $6.5 million more in incentives if he makes 29 starts this season. 
 
After undergoing surgery to repair a bulging disc in his lower back last March, Anderson made three starts and didn't earn a spot on the NLCS roster.  
 
"I obviously wasn't in the stands," Anderson said. "Supposedly from what I was told – it could be a different story – but there was just some beers thrown on where the families were. I'm going to stick to my family and my side.  
 
"I wasn't calling out the whole stadium. (It wasn't): ‘Screw you, Cubs fans.' It was just the specific (incident) – whoever threw the beers on the family section. Everybody has their fans that are kind of rowdy and unruly.

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"That just happened to be a situation. But you like those people on your side. I played in Oakland, and they had some of the rowdiest fans. In the playoffs, it seemed like ‘The Black Hole' for the Raiders games.
 
"You have your bad seeds in every fan base. When people are rowdy and cheering on their team and have one too many beers, the next thing you know, you're throwing them.
 
"Just visiting (Wrigley), it's a fun crowd, because it's such an intimate setting and you feel like they're right on top of you and it's so loud." 
 
Imagine the matchup nightmare the Dodgers could've been if their pitching staff hadn't been so top-heavy and manager Dave Roberts could've confidently gone to someone other than Kershaw, Rich Hill or closer Kenley Jansen. The Dodgers had made Anderson the qualifying offer after a solid 2015 season – 10-9, 3.69 ERA, 180-plus innings, a 66.7 groundball percentage – and he grabbed the $15.8 million guarantee. 
 
Anderson turned around and did the knock-on-wood motion at his locker, saying he felt good after completing a bullpen session with catcher Willson Contreras at the Sloan Park complex. Anderson is a Tommy John survivor who's also gone on the disabled list for a stress fracture in his right foot, a broken left index finger and a separate surgery on his lower back.
 
"Yeah, it's frustrating," Anderson said. "When I'm healthy and able to go out there and do my work, I feel like I'm a pretty good pitcher. I don't think I've ever been able to put everything as a whole together in one season. I've had some good spots – and some good seasons here and there – but hopefully I can put it all together and have a healthy season and do my part."
 
The Cubs are such a draw that Shane Victorino signed a minor-league deal here last year – even with more than $65 million in career earnings and even after a fan dumped a beer on him while he tried to catch a flyball at Wrigley Field in 2009.   
 
Anderson wanted to play for a winner and understood the organization's pitching infrastructure. He saw his pitching style as a match for the unit that led the majors in defensive efficiency last year. He was even intrigued by Camp Maddon and the wacky stunts in Mesa.  
 
"It's obviously an uber-talented group," Anderson said. "(It's also) seeing the fun that they're having. I'm more on the calm and cerebral side, but I think doing some of the things that these guys have in store for me will hopefully open me up a little bit and break me out of my shell. 
 
"'Uncomfortable' is a good word, especially for me. You don't want to get complacent. You don't want to get used to rehab. You want to go out there and do new things and try new things and meet new people and have new experiences. All things considered, the Cubs offered the best mix of everything."