The second round of the NBA playoffs begins tonight – without the Bulls, obviously.
The first game to tip off is Washington at Indiana. Based on the teams’ performance in the first round, this looks like a great opportunity for the Wizards to reach the conference finals.
As the Bulls know very well, John Wall and Bradley Beal are the NBA’s best young backcourt. Maybe they’re due for a slump after playing so well in Round 1, but it seems as though both players are rising to the occasion of their first trip to the playoffs. They should be able to outplay Indiana’s George Hill and Lance Stephenson.
As expected, the Cubs made some roster moves this morning. They placed outfielder Ryan Sweeney on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right hamstring. Sweeney injured himself making a running catch in Friday’s game against the Cardinals. To replace him in the outfield, the Cubs selected the contract of Chris Coghlan from Class AAA Iowa.
They also activated pitcher Jake Arrieta from the disabled list to start against the Cardinals’ Michael Wacha in today’s 12:05 p.m. game. The Cubs also optioned left-handed reliever Zac Rosscup to Iowa and transferred injured reliever Kyuji Fujikawa from the 15-day DL to the 60-day DL. That move is procedural as the Cubs had to make room on the 40-man roster for Coghlan.
Sweeney is likely looking at a 3-4-week stint on the DL.
It’s the second of May, but the Cubs will be playing their first game of the new month after going 9-17 in April, or 1 game worse than last season. They’ll send lefty Travis Wood to the mound this afternoon against Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright, who is 5-1 with a 1.20 ERA.
MILWAUKEE – It looks more like a day better suited for Bears-Packers than Cubs-Brewers, but as long as we’ve got a roof and the grass has some sunlamps, we’re OK for baseball at Miller Park. Outside, it’s cloudy and in the 40s, but that retractable roof will be closed.
The Cubs woke up this morning already 10.5 games behind the first-place Brewers in the NL Central standings, and we’ve still got a few days before we hit May.
Before Sunday’s Game 4 in Washington, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau had some strong thoughts about Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s widely-publicized comments.
One of Thibodeau’s closest allies in the profession is Clippers head coach Doc Rivers, who employed Thibodeau in Boston from 2008-10.
MILWAUKEE -- The Cubs’ beleaguered bullpen saw more change today as Jose Veras went on the disabled list with a strained left oblique. Brian Schlitter, who opened the season with the big club, was recalled from Class AAA Iowa, meaning the Cubs still have a 13-man pitching staff. Manager Rick Renteria said yesterday that Veras’ oblique was bothering him, so today’s move came as no surprise.
Veras said the oblique starting bother him “a couple of days ago, little by little.” It’s been a rough start to the season for Veras, who lost his job as the closer early on. He is 0-0 with a 15.88 ERA and a WHIP of 2.82. The DL stint also might serve to let Veras clear his mind a little.
MILWAUKEE -- The Cubs got good news today when they found out an MRI performed on top pitching prospect C.J. Edwards turned up only fatigue and inflammation but no structural damage. The 22-year-old Edwards had felt some fatigue during his last bullpen session for Class AA Tennessee. The Cubs say Edwards will rest for a couple of weeks before beginning a throwing program.
Edwards is 1-0 with a 2.61 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP at Tennessee. The Cubs obtained him last July from the Rangers along with Mike Olt, Justin Grimm and Neil Ramirez for Matt Garza, who pitches tonight for the Brewers here at Miller Park. Garza will face former Brewers pitcher Carlos Villanueva.
The Cubs will go this way against Garza:
The Cubs today placed outfielder Justin Ruggiano on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring. He injured himself yesterday trying to make a catch in the top of the ninth inning, when the Diamondbacks rallied for 5 runs against the Cubs bullpen. The bullpen is such a problem area now that instead of calling up an outfielder, the Cubs brought up two relief pitchers.
We’re now at 100-Eve at Wrigley Field. Tomorrow, the Cubs will celebrate the 100th birthday of the old ballpark. Theo Epstein was on the field this evening (and it’s really cold here), and he was asked about 100 years and no world championships being celebrated here by the Cubs.
“I don’t think I really need that kind of reminder,” he said. “That’s not what I’m thinking about when I think about tomorrow. When it comes to the 100th anniversary, for me, I think of just Wrigley as the epicenter of fans’ connection to the Cubs represents something so important to this franchise and the fans that not only connects the fans to the team but also generations of fans to one another, fathers to sons, grandfathers to grandsons, mothers to daughters, mothers to sons.
The Bulls have scheduled a news conference for 4 p.m. on Monday. All signs point to Joakim Noah getting the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award.
Once the Pacers and center Roy Hibbert went into a late-season tailspin, it was clear Noah would win this award with ease and it obviously didn't take long for the league office to count the ballots. Noah will be handed the trophy before Tuesday's Game 2 vs. Washington at the United Center.
Noah will be the second Bulls player to win the award, following Michael Jordan in 1987-88.