Wells is prepared for whatever the Cubs throw at him

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Wells is prepared for whatever the Cubs throw at him

MESA, Ariz. Maybe this was a preview, but Randy Wells didnt want to search for any deeper meaning. He has tried to block out all the noise and just pitch when they give him the ball.

Wells came in during the fifth inning on Saturday and got five outs in a 5-1 loss to the San Diego Padres at HoHoKam Stadium. He has said all the right things, even as it seems like the odds are tilted against him.

This could become his role the long man out of the bullpen but Wells wasnt treating it like a showcase.

I dont really look into it, Wells said. Theres an obvious competition going on and you start getting caught up in that, then it makes it tougher to pitch.

Wells has received only one Cactus League start and threw three shutout innings that day against the Milwaukee Brewers. Hes pitched in an intra-squad scrimmage and a B game. Hes not complaining.

Its just the way we worked out this spring, Wells said. We got a lot of guys who have to get their starts. Thats just what the deal is.

Dale Sveum has Wells piggybacking and scheduling issues because of the number of rotation candidates that came to camp. The manager said that he knows Wells capabilities after his years in the division as a Brewers coach. That body of work also wasnt enough to guarantee Wells a spot.

If decisions are going to be announced by Wednesday Sveums timeline then there arent many chances left to make an impression.

Sveum wrote off Jeff Samardzijas performance (seven runs on 10 hits in four innings) on Friday against the Colorado Rockies as a lesson, all part of the learning curve.

You cant throw 90 percent of all your pitches 91 mph and above, Sveum said. You better have unbelievable location if youre doing that.

The manager didnt necessarily think that Samardzija opened the door for Wells or Rodrigo Lopez, instead framing it as probably the best thing that happened to him, so he realizes that you have to change bat speeds.

As a rookie in 2009, Wells went 12-10 with a 3.05 ERA. The next season he made 32 starts and accounted for almost 200 innings. A forearm injury wiped out two months of last season, but he closed by going 6-3 with a 4.04 ERA in 14 starts after the All-Star break.

There is a reasonable expectation of what youd get from Wells as the fifth starter, but the Cubs see potential upside in Samardzija and Chris Volstad. Long man wouldnt be Wells first choice, but hes speaking in clichs, thinking team first, not wanting to make any waves.

Id be disappointed, Wells said. Its three years in the rotation and (then to) have to go to the bullpen. But it could be a new challenge, something exciting. Either way, youre going to have to make adjustments. And if I do end up in the rotation, then Ill just try (to) have a better year than I did last year and take it one step further.

Horace Grant on current state of Bulls: 'No need to panic'

Horace Grant on current state of Bulls: 'No need to panic'

After the Bulls got off to a 3-0 start, it looked like this would be a team that might be able to give LeBron James and the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers a run for their money in the Eastern Conference.

The Bulls proceeded to lose their next three, tempering those optimistic expectations. What those first six games proved is that they're an inconsistent bunch, and it's been a microcosm of their season past the halfway mark.

[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

Entering Thursday, the Bulls were slotted in as the No. 8 seed in the East with a 21-22 record through 43 games.

Former Bulls forward/center Horace Grant, who was named a special advisor to president and chief operating officer Michael Reinsdorf last year, joined SportsTalk Live on Thursday to talk about the team's current state, and why Bulls fans shouldn't panic just yet.

Check out his comments in the video above.

See what else he had to say during his SportsTalk Live appearance and on In The Loop below:

Jimmy Butler acknowledges 'huge accomplishment' but stays nonchalant about All-Star starter nod

Jimmy Butler acknowledges 'huge accomplishment' but stays nonchalant about All-Star starter nod

ATLANTA — Jimmy Butler insisted being a starter in the All-Star Game means next to nothing, but it seems to go against his never-ending battle for credibility and validation as a legit superstar.

Moments after it was revealed he would be an All-Star starter for the first time and make his third overall trip to All-Star weekend, he sang the same nonchalant tune.

"It hasn't changed at all," Butler said on a conference call Thursday evening. "Obviously, it's a huge accomplishment and honor to be named a starter. But it's All-Star weekend. There are going to be a lot of good players there. I guess it's just another name thrown in with some decent players."

The NBA's format for selecting the All-Star starters changed this season, with fans no longer being the sole group that gets to vote for starters. If it was still a fans-only vote, Philadelphia's Joel Embiid would've started in Butler's place.

But with the new formula that allows the media and the players to take part in the vote, the fan vote accounts for just 50 percent of the formula. So Butler joined Cleveland's LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, Milwaukee's Giannis Antekounmpo and Toronto's DeMar DeRozan in the starting five for the Eastern Conference.

Butler's is averaging 24.8 points with 6.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists, career-highs across the board, and had he not been selected as a starter, the Bulls' 20-21 record would not have prevented coaches from selecting him as a reserve as they had the last two seasons.

[SHOP BULLS: Get a Jimmy Butler jersey right here]

He won't be joined in the starting lineup by Dwyane Wade, who finished second in backcourt voting behind Irving, but cast his vote for his teammate anyway and hopes Wade will be selected as a reserve.

"Of course. He's been a huge part of what we're doing here, and I think he has played extremely well the first part of the season," Butler said. "He got my vote. I will tell you that."

Golden State's Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant will start for the West, along with Houston's James Harden, San Antonio's Kawhi Leonard and New Orleans' Anthony Davis, a Chicago native.

The fun-filled and busy weekend in New Orleans begins Feb. 17, from the league events to the parties to the festivities and then finally the All-Star Game on Sunday night.

Butler likely views it as more of an accomplishment for his team of trainers and confidants then himself.

"It's fun, man. You get to know the other really good players in the league, and you get to know a little bit about them," Butler said. "And the experience that you get to be a part of, whether it be the Jordan party or taking your guys with you everywhere. That's the most fun part for me, my trainers, my brothers, everybody that's behind the scenes helping me gets to experience it too."