Sick bay: Urlacher on track for Detroit?

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Sick bay: Urlacher on track for Detroit?

It wont be this weekend in Arizona, but the specter of Brian Urlacher returning for the game in Detroit against the Lions is seeming more and more possible, with coach Lovie Smith speaking in terms of getting the veteran middle linebacker back.
The key may be whether the Bears can dispatch the Arizona Cardinals next Sunday, a game for which they hope to have NFL interception leader Tim Jennings and possibly defensive tackle Henry Melton, third among defensive tackles with six sacks despite missing the last game and a half.
The defense has performed well with reserves Geno Hayes against Minnesota and Blake Costanzo vs. Green Bay. But even a diminished Urlacher is viewed as the second-best linebacker in the corps.
But you know with hamstrings is just hard to say when you will get back, coach Lovie Smith said Wednesday. I just know he's here, and some of the things he's doing is better than what it was before. But it's pretty hard to come back from a hamstring injury in a week or so.
That's why we just have to keep -- well, no, not keep, we have to play good football, this week against Arizona, and just bide time for him to get back.
A less obvious but significant concern, however, is the hamstring strain suffered by right tackle Jonathan Scott in the Green Bay loss. The Bears went through a reduced practice on Wednesday and Scott joined Urlacher as the only two players not to practice at least on a limited basis.
That includes No. 3 receiver Earl Bennett, coming back from a concussion, and pass rusher Shea McClellin (knee) as well as Hayes.
The Cardinals were without wide receiver Early Doucet (concussion) and safeties Rashad Johnson (hamstring) and James Sanders (foot). None of the three are starters, however.
Among those limited for the Cardinals were defensive end Calais Campbell (calf) and nose tackle Dan Williams (hamstring), two-thirds of the starting front in Arizonas 3-4 base. Also limited was starting linebacker Quentin Groves (foot). Williams was inactiveinjured for the Cardinals win last weekend over the Detroit Lions.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Chris Sale returns to Chicago

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Chris Sale returns to Chicago

In this episode of the SportsTalk Live Podcast, Mark Carman (WGN Radio), Chris Hine (Chicago Tribune) and Seth Gruen (Bleacher Report) join Mark Schanowski on the panel.

Chris Sale is back in town. Do the White Sox miss their old ace?

Meanwhile, Jake Arrieta’s agent defends his client’s velocity drop. Does he have a point?

Plus LeBron James talks about his legacy, Tiger Woods’ fall from grace continues and the panel remembers legendary sportswriter Frank Deford.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Is the White Sox run differential a sign of better things to come?

Is the White Sox run differential a sign of better things to come?

From a record standpoint, the White Sox are maybe slightly above where most expected them to be this season.

From a run differential standpoint, the White Sox are way above any expectation.

After Monday’s 5-4 win against the Red Sox, the White Sox improved to 24-26 on the season. Impressively, the Sox have a plus-28 run differential, which is good for third-best in the American League.

The two AL teams higher than the White Sox in the category are both first-place teams. Houston is 36-16 with a whopping plus-74 differential while the Yankees are 29-19 and come in at plus-57.

The White Sox have the best run differential in the AL Central. The division-leading Twins (26-21) actually have a negative run differential at minus-7. The Twins are one of two teams with a negative run differential and a winning record (Baltimore is 26-23 with a minus-6 differential).

There are 15 teams in Major League Baseball with positive run differentials and the White Sox are the only team in that group more than one game under .500.

So what does that mean? Well, for one it could be a positive sign that the White Sox are actually a better team than their record. More plainly, it means the White Sox are winning games by bigger margins than they are losing them.

Monday’s win improved the White Sox record in one-run games to 5-7. The Sox are also 2-4 in two-run games and 3-5 in three-run games. That's a 10-16 mark in games decided by three runs or less. Meanwhile, in games decided by four runs or more the White Sox are 14-10.

What’s even stranger about the lack of success in close games is that the White Sox have the fourth best ERA among relievers in MLB.

May isn’t quite over yet so things can still even out in one direction or another, but these are certainly some odd numbers.