The Denver Post Colorado breaking news, sports, business, weather, entertainment. Mon, 11 Apr 2022 05:45:58 +0000 en-US hourly 30 The Denver Post 32 32 111738712 CU Buffs’ O-line off to good start with first-year coach Kyle DeVan Mon, 11 Apr 2022 05:31:26 +0000 When he was hired in December to coach the Colorado Buffaloes’ offensive line, Kyle DeVan knew he first had some work to do off the field.

The group had learned from two different coaches during a difficult 2021 season. For some of the linemen, DeVan is the fifth position coach they’ve had in Boulder.

“I think any time you go through a coaching change and really it’s been a couple of them in my room, especially for the older guys, you’ve got to be conscious of it and understand you’re not going to come in – at least in my opinion – and just change shop and say, ‘This is how we’re going to do it’ and be like a dictator,” DeVan said. “I want them to understand this is us, this is we and this is how we’re going to do it and couple that with getting them to buy in and trust that I have their best interests in mind.”

While the process of improving the line is ongoing, DeVan is off to a good start with his group. Several of CU’s linemen have expressed their appreciation for DeVan, while also bonding through adversity.

CU head coach Karl Dorrell fired line coach Mitch Rodrigue seven games into the 2021 season. The group spent the rest of the time learning from interim coach William Vlachos. Then, DeVan was hired.

“We’ve had so much stuff happen to us and this is my fifth coach, sixth coach, something like that,” center Austin Johnson said. “Coaches matter, but to a point, we have really just been able to stick together as a group and come together and that’s all that matters. I love the boys. I love the boys in the group.”

It all starts with DeVan, though, as he was hired to help a group that struggled throughout 2021. Knowing the task in front of him, DeVan didn’t spent time watching everything the Buffs did in 2021.

“When I got hired I sat down with coach (Dorrell) and kind of went through everybody, went through our personnel,” said DeVan, who was the line coach at Arizona from 2019-20 and an offensive analyst at Michigan last season. “To be honest with you, there’s a lot of people that come in here and tell you they watch every play from every game here before. I don’t believe in that because now you have a vision of a player that was being coached and being taught by somebody else. So I watched it and I had an idea and then I wanted those guys to show me who they are and who they want to become.”

From there, DeVan has started with fundamentals. His approach, he said, was to first teach the Buffs’ linemen to block a man standing in front of them. Then, they began to work on blocking the defender as he moves.

“It’s all progression based,” he said.

CU has talent on the line, but it will take time to come together. On Saturday, the Buffs held an open scrimmage and the line was OK, but struggled at times. It’s still very early in the process with DeVan, but right guard Casey Roddick believes it has been a solid start.

“I think if I were to grade it out, it would be an 80,” he said of scrimmage. “I think it was a really good day, though.

“The continuity between all of us has grown exponentially ever since last season, so it’s gonna be really nice.”

Roddick is one of three returning starters, along with tackles Jake Wiley and Frank Fillip. Alabama transfer Tommy Brown has been playing with the first team at left guard, while Noah Fenske and Johnson have rotated at center.

The process of finding the best group of five starters and filling out a depth chart might go late into preseason camp in August, but the first few months of the process have been positive.

“The more we got to know each other through January and February, the more we built that trust and that relationship,” DeVan said. “Now, they’re starting to see the stuff that I teach is favorable to some of them. Obviously, it might be a little bit different than what they learned in the past, but I’m trying to figure out what makes each individual special. They all have talent. You don’t play in the Pac-12 without some type of talent, so I’m trying to get the most out of each individual kid.”

By doing that, the ultimate goal is fairly simple.

“We want to own the line scrimmage,” DeVan said. “We want to win up front and they have to learn how to do that. They’re buying into the way I teach things, the way I coach things. I really like where we’re at right now.”

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With COVID mission over, Pentagon plans for next pandemic Mon, 11 Apr 2022 05:28:29 +0000 WASHINGTON — A COVID-19 patient was in respiratory distress. The Army nurse knew she had to act quickly.

It was the peak of this year’s omicron surge and an Army medical team was helping in a Michigan hospital. Regular patient beds were full. So was the intensive care. But the nurse heard of an open spot in an overflow treatment area, so she and another team member raced the gurney across the hospital to claim the space first, denting a wall in their rush.

When she saw the dent, Lt. Col. Suzanne Cobleigh, the leader of the Army team, knew the nurse had done her job. “She’s going to damage the wall on the way there because he’s going to get that bed,” Cobleigh said. “He’s going to get the treatment he needs. That was the mission.”

That nurse’s mission was to get urgent care for her patient. Now, the U.S. military mission is to use the experiences of Cobleigh’s team and other units pressed into service against the pandemic to prepare for the next crisis threatening a large population, whatever its nature.

Their experiences, said Gen. Glen VanHerck, will help shape the size and staffing of the military’s medical response so the Pentagon can provide the right types and numbers of forces needed for another pandemic, global crisis or conflict.

One of the key lessons learned was the value of small military teams over mass movements of personnel and facilities in a crisis like the one wrought by COVID-19.

In the early days of the pandemic, the Pentagon steamed hospital ships to New York City and Los Angeles, and set up massive hospital facilities in convention centers and parking lots, in response to pleas from state government leaders. The idea was to use them to treat non-COVID-19 patients, allowing hospitals to focus on the more acute pandemic cases. But while images of the military ships were powerful, too often many beds went unused. Fewer patients needed non-coronavirus care than expected, and hospitals were still overwhelmed by the pandemic.

A more agile approach emerged: having military medical personnel step in for exhausted hospital staff members or work alongside them or in additional treatment areas in unused spaces.

“It morphed over time,” VanHerck, who heads U.S. Northern Command and is responsible for homeland defense, said of the response.

Overall, about 24,000 U.S. troops were deployed for the pandemic, including nearly 6,000 medical personnel to hospitals and 5,000 to help administer vaccines. Many did multiple tours. That mission is over, at least for now.

Cobleigh and her team members were deployed to two hospitals in Grand Rapids from December to February, as part of the U.S. military’s effort to relieve civilian medical workers. And just last week the last military medical team that had been deployed for the pandemic finished its stint at the University of Utah Hospital and headed home.

VanHerck told The Associated Press his command is rewriting pandemic and infectious disease plans, and planning wargames and other exercises to determine if the U.S. has the right balance of military medical staff in the active duty and reserves.

During the pandemic, he said, the teams’ make-up and equipment needs evolved. Now, he’s put about 10 teams of physicians, nurses and other staff — or about 200 troops — on prepare-to-deploy orders through the end of May in case infections shoot up again. The size of the teams ranges from small to medium.

Dr. Kencee Graves, inpatient chief medical officer at the University of Utah Hospital, said the facility finally decided to seek help this year because it was postponing surgeries to care for all the COVID-19 patients and closing off beds because of staff shortages.

Some patients had surgery postponed more than once, Graves said, because of critically ill patients or critical needs by others. “So before the military came, we were looking at a surgical backlog of hundreds of cases and we were low on staff. We had fatigued staff.”

Her mantra became, “All I can do is show up and hope it’s helpful.” She added, “And I just did that day after day after day for two years.”

Then in came a 25-member Navy medical team.

“A number of staff were overwhelmed,” said Cdr. Arriel Atienza, chief medical officer for the Navy team. “They were burnt out. They couldn’t call in sick. We’re able to fill some gaps and needed shifts that would otherwise have remained unmanned, and the patient load would have been very demanding for the existing staff to match.”

Atienza, a family physician who’s been in the military for 21 years, spent the Christmas holiday deployed to a hospital in New Mexico, then went to Salt Lake City in March. Over time, he said, the military “has evolved from things like pop-up hospitals” and now knows how to integrate seamlessly into local health facilities in just a couple days.

That integration helped the hospital staff recover and catch up.

“We have gotten through about a quarter of our surgical backlog,” Graves said. ”We did not call a backup physician this month for the hospital team … that’s the first time that’s happened in several months. And then we haven’t called a patient and asked them to reschedule their surgery for the majority of the last few weeks.”

VanHerck said the pandemic also underscored the need to review the nation’s supply chain to ensure that the right equipment and medications were being stockpiled, or to see if they were coming from foreign distributors.

“If we’re relying on getting those from a foreign manufacturer and supplier, then that may be something that is a national security vulnerability that we have to address,” he said.

VanHerck said the U.S. is also working to better analyze trends in order to predict the needs for personnel, equipment and protective gear. Military and other government experts watched the progress of COVID-19 infections moving across the country and used that data to predict where the next outbreak might be so that staff could be prepared to go there.

The need for mental health care for the military personnel also became apparent. Team members coming off difficult shifts often needed someone to talk to.

Cobleigh said military medical personnel were not accustomed to caring for so many people with multiple health problems, as are more apt to be found in a civilian population than in military ranks. “The level of sickness and death in the civilian sector was scores more than what anyone had experienced back in the Army,” said Cobleigh, who is stationed now at Fort Riley, Kansas, but will soon move to Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland.

She said she found that her staff needed her and wanted to “talk through their stresses and strains before they’d go back on shift.”

For the civilian hospitals, the lesson was knowing when to call for help.

“It was the bridge to help us get out of omicron and in a position where we can take good care of our patients,” Graves said. “I am not sure how we would have done that without them.”

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Elon Musk no longer joining Twitter’s board of directors Mon, 11 Apr 2022 05:28:09 +0000 SAN FRANCISCO — Tesla CEO Elon Musk won’t be joining Twitter’s board of directors as previously announced. The tempestuous billionaire remains Twitter’s largest shareholder.

Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal tweeted the news, which followed a weekend of Musk tweets suggesting possible changes to Twitter, including making the site ad-free. Nearly 90% of Twitter’s 2021 revenue came from ads.

“Elon’s appointment to the board was to become officially effective on 4/9, but Elon shared that same morning that he would not be joining the board,” Agrawal wrote in a reposted note originally sent to Tesla employees. “I believe this is for the best.”

Agrawal didn’t offer an explanation for Musk’s apparent decision, although he dropped one major hint. The Twitter board “believed having Elon as a fiduciary of the company, where he, like all board members, has to act in the best interests of the company and all our shareholders, was the best path forward,” he wrote.

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Resi Stiegler back, among big names at World Pro Ski Tour event Mon, 11 Apr 2022 05:26:57 +0000 A year ago, Resi Stiegler retired from ski racing. Eight weeks ago, she gave birth to her daughter, Rosi. A few days ago, she handed Rosi to her husband to sneak in an extra afternoon training session.

She had a race — two, in fact — to prepare for.

The three-time U.S. Olympian will make a quasi-comeback at the World Pro Ski Tour’s championship races this weekend at Taos Ski Valley in New Mexico. With lucrative prize money on the line, the field is loaded with Olympians, World Cup standouts, national team members, college standouts and those who just so happen to be coming out of retirement (see: Stiegler).

“I was planning on winning, because that’s who I am,” Stiegler cracked of her expectations with qualifying set for Friday, a men’s and women’s parallel slalom race Saturday and a parallel giant slalom race Sunday. “But then I didn’t know they were coming.”

“They” would be a reference to Erin Mielzynski of Canada and American Paula Moltzan, who both competed at the Winter Games in Beijing.

The tour that has long attracted elite racers. With roots dating to the late 1960s, it once featured the likes of Billy Kidd and the Mahre brothers (Phil and Steve) before disbanding around 1999. The tour came back in 2017, but the world championships were put off the past two years because of the pandemic.

Up for grabs will be $20,000 for the men’s and women’s winners in both races. Plus, there’s a $25,000 bonus for the male and female racer who perform the best in both events combined.

The competition will be side-by-side racing along a super-slalom course that features pro-style jumps. One run each on the red and blue courses (for fairness), with the winner advancing through a March Madness-style bracket based on time differential.

On the men’s side, there are names such as Linus Strasser, who was part of Germany’s Olympic silver medal in the team parallel event in Beijing, and American River Radamus (fourth in the giant slalom in Beijing). There’s also Robert Cone, the 30-year-old from Vermont who’s dominated the circuit the last two seasons. In all, more than 50 men entered.

The field for the women is smaller — about two dozen — but just as stacked. Moltzan enters fresh off winning the slalom crown at the U.S. championships.

The tour isn’t designed to compete with the World Cup circuit. It’s simply another avenue for race competition.

“We’re the NASCAR to their Formula One — complementary tours,” explained WPST CEO Jon Franklin, whose partnership deals include Rocket Mortgage. “The action should be fast and furious.”

Expect the unexpected, too.

That was the case with Tuva Norbye, the 25-year-old racer who retired from the Norwegian team due to a back issue. On a whim, Norbye, a grad student at the University of Utah, decided to compete at a WPST event in January. On borrowed skis and gear, she won the event and the $10,000 to go with it.

A month later, in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, she won again. Another $10,000.

For this event, she had her racing gear shipped from home and increased her training. The racers go through a time trial Friday to determine their seeding for the tournament, which will be a field of 16 for the women and 32 for the men.

“The competition level is really high, and here for the finals, it’s going to be the highest that it’s ever been,” Norbye said. “I’m excited for it. I’m actually getting a little nervous, too.”

A casual conversation with her husband, German slalom racer David Ketterer, enticed Stiegler back to the starting gate. He simply inquired: How fun would it be to race at an event together?

Extremely, Stiegler thought. And so here they are.

The excitement’s building for the 36-year-old Stiegler, whose long but injury-filled career included 178 World Cup entries — one podium — and more than a dozen surgeries. Stiegler retired last April following a slalom win at the national championships.

Stiegler, who lives in Wyoming and trains at Jackson Hole, skied up to the day of Rosi’s birth in early February. She also watched the Beijing Games, and her heart broke for good friend Nina O’Brien, who fell near the finish line in the women’s giant slalom and suffered a compound leg fracture.

Soon after the birth of Rosi, O’Brien wrote under Stiegler’s Instagram post: “I know a good babysitter who has plenty of time on her hands.”

Stiegler said she is excited to back racing.

“If it’s this really awesome thing that goes well, I can really have a fun year (on the World Pro Ski Tour) next year,” said Stiegler, who serves as a coach for her husband and helps oversee Stiegler Ski Racing Camps with her brother.

Any chance of a full-scale comeback?

“I’m retired,” Stiegler said with a laugh.

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Chicago Bulls will face the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks beginning Sunday in the 1st round of the NBA playoffs Mon, 11 Apr 2022 04:56:43 +0000 The Chicago Bulls will face the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the NBA playoffs, staying close to home to begin their first postseason appearance in five years.

The best-of-seven series will start Sunday at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee. Game time and TV coverage are undetermined.

The Bulls (46-36) — who completed the regular season Sunday night with a 124-120 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves — became locked in to the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference last week after beginning 2022 at the top of the conference standings.

The defending NBA champion Bucks (51-31) were neck and neck with the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers but dropped to the third seed Sunday after resting most of their starters in a loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The rivalry between the Bulls and Bucks seemed to gain an new edge after Alex Caruso’s injury at the hands of Grayson Allen in January, but it has been a lopsided series ever since. The Bulls lost all four meetings with the Bucks this season, including 28- and 21-point blowouts in the last two games.

“They’re champions for a reason,” Bulls coach Billy Donovan said. “They’re battle-tested. They’ve been through this. We will have to play very, very good basketball on both ends of the floor.”

Despite facing the hardest schedule in the league after the All-Star break, the Bucks posted a 15-7 record as they chase back-to-back titles.

Giannis Antetokounmpo poses an impossible problem for most teams, but the Bucks have thrived in recent wins over the Bulls on the strength of other players such as Brook Lopez and Jrue Holiday.

“They have a really good team and a complete team,” Zach LaVine said. “I think we do as well. We just have to attack them and figure out a way we can beat them. … We have to try to bring the fight to them because if we’re back on our heels, it’s not going to be good.”


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Nuggets’ playoff matchup set vs. Warriors despite ugly ending vs. Lakers Mon, 11 Apr 2022 04:42:11 +0000 Austin Reaves treated Ball Arena like his personal practice gym as the Lakers stormed back and stunned the Nuggets late Sunday night in overtime.

The Nuggets blew a 17-point fourth-quarter lead, then couldn’t muster any offense in overtime, falling 146-141 to the Lakers.

“Very disappointing fourth quarter, played no defense, gave up 40 points,” said Nuggets coach Michael Malone, whose postgame press conference ended in 58 seconds. “… But the season’s over. No one got hurt tonight and we’re focused on moving forward and preparing for Golden State.”

The only solace to be taken among the loud Lakers cheers was that the result ultimately didn’t matter. As the Lakers’ season ended, the Nuggets’ second season was just beginning.

By virtue of Utah’s win over Portland, and Golden State’s victory over New Orleans, the No. 6 Nuggets were locked into a first-round matchup against the No. 3 Warriors.

That series will start in San Francisco on Saturday night.

Back in Denver, Nikola Jokic observed Sunday’s proceedings sporting a blue suit with loafers from the Nuggets’ bench. Officially listed as out with wrist soreness, Jokic was joined on the bench by Will Barton (knee), Aaron Gordon (hamstring) and Monte Morris (elbow) as starters who got the night off.

But it was an undeniably sour ending to Denver’s regular season, which ended at 48-34. The look of disgust on Malone’s face throughout the overtime was unmistakable.

Reaves finished the game with a 31-point, 16-rebound, 10-assist triple-double, and Malik Monk poured in 41.

Among those who did play, Jeff Green scored 16, DeMarcus Cousins added 17 points and nine rebounds, and Bryn Forbes knocked down five 3-pointers en route to 24 points.

“No loss is fun,” Forbes said. “But also, bigger picture.”

Without LeBron James, Anthony Davis or Russell Westbrook active, the Lakers still managed to upend the Nuggets. Markus Howard’s 14-point fourth-quarter onslaught momentarily gave the Nuggets some life. He finished the night with 25 points.

The other downside of the night came several minutes into the second quarter when Facu Campazzo was ejected after shoving Wayne Ellington during a scramble for a rebound. It was an unceremonious end to a frustrating regular season for the team’s third-string point guard.

Bones Hyland was a two-way menace throughout the third. He registered three blocks to help engineer a 22-11 run to start the third, then bolstered the lead with a handful of buckets. The Nuggets extended their lead to double-digits, going deep into their bench with guys like Zeke Nnaji, Vlatko Cancar and Howard. The 39-point quarter propelled the Nuggets to a 108-95 lead going into the fourth.

It was Nnaji’s first game since March 9 due to bilateral knee soreness, and it was Cancar’s first since Jan. 3 when he suffered a foot fracture. Both had encouraging moments, topped by Cancar’s no-look, fastbreak pass to JaMychal Green for a dunk late in the third.

Though unlikely to be staples of the playoff rotation, it’s at least comforting that they’d returned from injury in time for the first round.

Malone spent at least 10 minutes with Jamal Murray at the end of Saturday’s practice checking in and evaluating his star guard.

“One thing I told him, because you guys are in there, you see him out there dunking the ball, and I’m sure you guys are probably saying, ‘Well, he looks really good,’” Malone said. “… There’s gonna be no rush, there’s gonna be no pressure. That continues to this day.

“‘Hey Jamal, if you want to play, you wanna go out there and play a couple of minutes in a game where there’s no huge implications (vs. Los Angeles), great,” Malone continued. “If you’re not ready to do so, great.’ I owe that to him, and I think he appreciates the honesty and transparency that he’s gotten from me and Tim Connelly all the way through. Obviously, he’s not there yet. That’s a really big mental hurdle to make. It’s just one where he has good days, and he has other days that are not as good, and that’s been very challenging for him mentally.”

Murray and the Nuggets will have nearly a week to re-evaluate his status before the postseason begins.

But first, they needed to play out the end of the regular season against the lowly Lakers. Sunday’s game was tied at 69 going into halftime. The Nuggets were hardly polished, and defense was mostly an afterthought.

Jeff Green (12 points), Forbes (11) and Cousins (10) paced the offense with most of their damage coming from the paint. It was such a laidback affair that the wave started midway through the first half.

Typically locked in and engaged, Malone even shook hands with a courtside fan during game play.

The dual reviews associated with Campazzo’s ejection and a Stanley Johnson flagrant foul may have inadvertently bought the Nuggets a few precious minutes of real time. As such, they were the last of the relevant games to enter halftime.

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Chicago Bulls rest 4 starters in regular-season finale victory as injury concerns continue ahead of playoffs Mon, 11 Apr 2022 04:37:45 +0000 The final day of each NBA season often features the lengthiest injury reports of the year as teams rest their stars to settle in for the postseason.

The Bulls followed that trend in Sunday’s 124-120 victory in the regular-season finale against the Minnesota Timberwolves, benching four starters for the 82nd game of the season — DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine, Nikola Vučević and Alex Caruso.

Resting the starters allowed secondary players to build confidence heading into the playoffs. Patrick Williams (35 points) and Ayo Dosunmu (26) had career-high scoring nights, both playing more than 40 minutes.

Coach Billy Donovan approached the game as a growth opportunity for both players, calling frequent timeouts to direct their decision making without the usual starters on the court.

“They’ve got to learn as young players how to manage themselves inside the game with those guys,” Donovan said. “In a lot of ways, DeMar and Zach can take some of that pressure off of Ayo. But today he was the sole primary guard, and having to organize all of that was probably a little bit of a different feeling for him tonight.”

Some of the Bulls scratches were expected. They mathematically couldn’t budge from the No. 6 seed, so playing a full-strength lineup with DeRozan and Vučević only would have risked fatigue and injury for two keys to the team’s postseason success.

But other names on the injury report serve as looming question marks for the Bulls in the playoffs — primarily Caruso and LaVine, whose health could determine how far the Bulls can go.

LaVine’s knee became a point of concern when he missed the last two games before the All-Star break to seek treatment in Los Angeles for soreness and tightness. Nearly two months later, the Bulls don’t have any more answers about the guard’s health heading into the postseason.

To his credit, LaVine has maintained nearly identical offensive production — 24.4 points and 4.5 assists per game — before and after the All-Star break. But his shooting percentages have dropped as an uncharacteristic timidness has crept in during several games.

Meanwhile, Caruso is fighting through back spasms, sitting out a game last week and wearing a heat pack during breaks on the sideline. The guard asked out of the third quarter of the Bulls’ loss to the Miami Heat on April 2 after the pain moved up between his shoulder blades, resulting in a sharp pain whenever he collided with other players.

Even when Caruso isn’t visibly nursing the injury, Donovan said it’s easy to tell the defensive specialist — who stole the ball only once in the last three games — is playing at a fraction of his typical intensity.

After sitting for two games, Caruso will return to practice this week to ramp up into the playoffs. If he’s still limited, the Bulls might need to rely more heavily on Dosunmu, who took over point guard duties earlier this season.

Donovan used Sunday’s game to focus on Dosunmu’s ability to direct the offense, calling two timeouts in the opening two minutes of the second half to instruct the rookie after multiple turnovers.

“(Dosunmu) is great in terms of coaching because he always responds,” Donovan said. “It was really a tough night for him, but the way he kept his head in the game … it speaks to his maturity and competitiveness.

“He just gets lost in competing. Sometimes guys get frustrated, they get down, they hang their head. He never does that.”

For his part, DeRozan isn’t a fan of rest games — and he hasn’t needed them this season. The veteran forward understands the need to care for his body, joking after a midseason game that all he does after games is ”go home and sit down” now that he’s in his 30s. But DeRozan isn’t prone to taking breaks unless he feels his body is in distress.

“I don’t need no time off,” he said after Tuesday’s loss to the Milwaukee Bucks. “I hate sitting too long. I love playing. … I’m kind of weird when it comes to that. You’re not supposed to feel too good. I hate feeling too good. Some of my best games came when I felt like I got jumped by 10 media people.”

DeRozan took a game off last week after feeling discomfort in his groin — which he always treats carefully after a torn adductor in 2014. He will finish the season having missed only six games, four of them during the leaguewide COVID-19 outbreak in December.

DeRozan’s ability to dodge injuries this season serves as a rare bright light for the Bulls during a season in which hopes were routinely dashed by the injury report.

The Bulls waited until this week to shut down Lonzo Ball for the season after January surgery for a torn meniscus, ending months of hope that the guard could return for a last-minute boost to the roster. Ball’s injury was a core part of the revolving door of starting guards for the Bulls, who swapped four players into the starting point guard role the last two months.

With Caruso’s and LaVine’s injuries ongoing, the Bulls might have to continue this trend of adaptable lineups in the postseason.

“We’ve dealt with all this for so long,” Donovan said. “You try to have a level of optimism … but this is just how it’s been for us this year.”


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Yankees drop series finale against Red Sox Mon, 11 Apr 2022 04:34:38 +0000 Jordan Montgomery got up off the ground after getting hit hard by a come-backer, but the Bombers couldn’t get themselves back up off the mat Sunday night. The Red Sox rallied to beat the Yankees 4-3 and avoid a sweep at the Stadium.

“It just kind of was in a weird spot and then it caught me right on the bone. So it sounded pretty loud, but got up and walked it off,” Montgomery said. “I’ll be ready in five days. I’ll walk it off.” That’s the kind of “bounce back’’ the Yankees need with the high-powered Blue Jays coming into the Stadium on Monday night. And still, taking their first two games and winning the first series of the season, particularly against an American League East division rival, is definitely starting out 2022 on the right foot.

“If you’re gonna win the East and be a playoff team, there’s got to be some consistency of what you’re doing. Whether it’s a 100-win season  or a playoff type season, regardless, you’re gonna go through your lumps and your bumps along the way. So every win is precious. Of course you want it to be that you get off to a great start because I think there’s something about that,  that can be settling as a team and for individuals,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said.  “When individuals get off to a good start,  you kind of get into the flow of the season a little bit easier without guys kind of pressing to do more than they need to.”

“We’ve been in every situation we’ve got off to slow starts and still went on to win 100 games. Last year, of course,  we’re up against it the final two and a half months and really caught fire,” Boone said.  “So we want to be as consistent as we can be. Of course, hopefully that means a great start, but you know, we’re not going to be affected one way or the other. We’re going to come in expecting to do special things and do great things, but we’re not going to be swayed by a great win or a tough loss.”

Anthony Rizzo certainly won’t be pressing.

He’s 3-for-10 with two homers and six RBI in three games. The Yankees, who hit strikes hard but had little to show for it, can take comfort in that and the fact that they started the season winning a series against a division rival.

Rizzo, who had an RBI in each of his fist six games after being acquired by the Yankees in a trade last July, has started this season with two RBI in his first three games of this season.

Friday and Saturday he did it with power, homering in the first two games of the season. Sunday night it was a two-run single in the fourth inning that tied the game.

Montgomery is the first Yankee starter so far this season to not give up a home run. He still allowed three earned runs on four hits. He walked one and struck out four. The lefty got through 3.1 innings, throwing 58 pitches, 38 for strikes. That he got through 3.1 innings was a win for the Yankees after he went down dramatically in the first inning as Xander Bogaerts’ come-backer, 103 miles per hour off the bat, hit him in the back of his left, lower leg. Montgomery was on the ground for several minutes before he got back up and was able to continue pitching.

“It was a pretty gutsy effort to kind of walk it off, shake it off,” Boone said. “So glad we’re able to get X rays and negative and everything so we’ll see in the morning. I’m sure he’s gonna be pretty stiff. He’s pretty stiff already right now, but a gutsy effort.”

That spared a bullpen that had already been stretched out this season. In the first two games, the bullpen threw 13 innings allowing one earned run.

Clarke Schmidt gave the Yankees 2.2 solid innings, despite giving up the go-ahead home run to Dalbec in the top of the sixth.

Josh Donaldson struck out three times looking for the first time in his career and then singled with one out in the sixth inning. Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who began his Yankee career going 0-for-8, got his first hit in pinstripes with a leadoff double in the fourth. He and Jose Trevino, making his first start behind the plate for the Yankees, scored on Rizzo’s single.


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Isiah Kiner-Falefa finally collects first hit as a Yankee Mon, 11 Apr 2022 03:56:58 +0000 Isiah Kiner-Falefa finally got it.  The shortstop went into Sunday night’s series finale against the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium 0-for-8 with an error in the first two games. In the Bombers’ half of the inning, Kiner-Falefa led off the fourth with a double.

Aaron Boone, however, wasn’t worried about that snowballing on the 27-year-old the Yankees acquired from the Twins last month.

“I feel like offensively he’s hit some balls really hard and just hasn’t got anything to show for it yet. Obviously made the error on the throw on the run,” the Yankees manager said before Sunday night’s game. “I like where he’s at from a mindset. He’s aggressive. He’s attacking on both sides of the ball. Now we just got to dot that hit column, but that’s going to come especially with his bat-to-ball skills, and like I said, I feel like he hit a couple balls right on the nose last night, so he’ll be fine.”

Kiner-Falefa is a career-.265/.316/.354 hitter with 16 home runs over four years in the big leagues. He came up to the majors as a catcher and was a Gold Glove third baseman, but said shortstop was the position he is most comfortable with.

Kiner-Falefa bobbled a ground ball on the eighth, but Gleyber Torres’ quick turn—and a slow Red Sox video replay room—got the double-play.


Jose Trevino made his Yankee debut Sunday night, catching left-hander Jordan Montgomery on the nationally televised game. The catcher was acquired from the Rangers the last week of spring training when it was clear that Ben Rortvedt, the catcher the Yankees got in the trade with the Twins with Kiner-Falefa and Josh Donaldson, was not going to be ready for the season.

Trevino singled in the fourth and scored a run.

“I like Jose behind the plate. We talked about how good (Kyle Higashioka) is back there and rightfully so. But Jose’s tremendous back there too,” Boone said. “And it’s exactly what you said Higgy’s not going to go every day. Feel like Jose’s got a chance to work a little bit with Monty already. He caught his last live session and felt like they connected pretty well. So excited for him to get his first start with us. And, and getting the mix.”

The 29-year old Trevino is a .245/.270/.364 career hitter over parts of four years in the big leagues. Last year, he started a career-high 89 games for the Rangers, hitting .239 with five homers and 30 RBI.

Rortvedt had a strained right oblique when the Yankees made the deal. He was still feeling the strain, so the Yankees sent him for an MRI this week. Boone said he’s been cleared to start ramping up.


With their unique roster, Boone will be rotating guys for a day off. On Sunday, it was DJ LeMahieu who was on the bench.

“I am trying to get out in front and look at matchups when kind of makes the most sense. I think most of our guys, if not all, will probably have at least one day here in the first 10 (games),” Boone said. “So just trying to be a little strategic with how we do it. I’m sure there’ll be a wrinkle in here that alters how we want to do it. But like I said the other day, it’s probably this is the most I’ve done where I’m kind of, at least, penciling out several days ahead as much as I can.”

LeMahieu ended up pinch hitting in the eighth, flying out to right field.


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Column: Marcus Stroman quickly bonds with the Wrigley Field fans, but his strong Chicago Cubs debut is wasted Mon, 11 Apr 2022 03:42:18 +0000 When Marcus Stroman strolled out to the Chicago Cubs bullpen 40 minutes before Sunday’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers, he raised his arms over his head and exhorted fans to start cheering early.

It was a perfect opening for the anticipated debut of the “Stro Show,” the nickname given to the veteran starter whom the Cubs signed to a three-year, $71 million deal on the eve of the lockout.

Not since towel-waving reliever Dick Selma in 1969 has a Cubs pitcher taken it upon himself to get the fans revved up into a party atmosphere.

“I’ve been like this, my man, since forever,” Stroman said. “I love energy. I’m not your typical baseball player who is going to be a robot out there. I appreciate the people and I’m going to let them know I appreciate them.

“I’ve always been like that. I love to feel that from the crowd. You can feel that buzz, that energy, the second you go out there, and I’m someone who pitches off that. I’m excited to be a Cub and I can’t wait to have that each and every time out.”

Stroman did his job in his first outing at Wrigley Field, allowing one run on two hits over five innings and leaving with a two-run lead. But the bullpen coughed it up in a 5-4 loss to the Brewers, who avoided a sweep and finally showed why they’re the consensus favorites in the National League Central.

Brewers pitchers struck out 13 Cubs and allowed four hits, only one after the second inning. All in all, the Cubs had to be satisfied with winning the series and getting big performances from their two key free agents, Stroman and Seiya Suzuki, who hit his first major-league home run Sunday and finished the series with a .375 average and six RBIs.

The three Cubs starters — Kyle Hendricks, Justin Steele and Stroman — combined for a 1.19 ERA with 15 strikeouts and 11 hits allowed in 15⅓ innings, a good omen for a team that doesn’t figure to score a lot of runs this year.

But Sunday belonged to Stroman, who had to wait through two games and a rainout to make his Cubs debut.

“I didn’t want to push him back all the way to Game 3,” manager David Ross said beforehand. “There were talks of this guy maybe being our opening-day starter from my perspective. … I hope fans are excited. I’m dang sure excited to watch him compete and go about his business. I thought it was a nice signing for us.”

Suzuki’s first home run — a three-run, 412-foot blast into the left-field bleachers in the first — gave Stroman some early breathing room. The Japanese star and third base coach Willie Harris bowed to each other as Suzuki rounded third, a gesture Suzuki said was Harris’ idea.

“I’ve never done it in Japan,” he said. “But I was talking to my third base coach, Willie Harris, and he said it was kind of boring rounding third with no performance. It just felt like something we wanted to do.”

Sammy Sosa was the last Cubs slugger to bow after home runs, which he did during a few Cactus League games in 1999, saying it was a tribute to Japan, which he had toured in the offseason. But the Cubs asked Sosa to stop the bowing after Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Todd Stottlemyre complained that Sosa was showboating.

That was a different era, however, and Cubs fans seemed to enjoy Suzuki’s bow. He said he’s “still thinking” about whether to make it a new tradition after home runs.

Stroman also may have started a new tradition, coming out to pitch with a white durag under his blue Cubs cap. He said he was growing out his dreads and has other colored durags he might wear this year.

Stroman said he “had chills” walking out to the mound and that having a tight bond with the fan base was “something I’ve wanted my entire career.” His only blemish occurred in the third, a solo home run by Willy Adames on a 3-2 sinker, and he said he felt strong enough to go longer than five.

But Ross lifted him after 88 pitches as, like most managers this April, he has his starters on a strict pitch count due to the shortened spring training.

“I have a lot of respect for that man, so I’ll never challenge him,” Stroman said of Ross’ decision. “It’s a journey. It’s a process. We want to be healthy and playing playoff baseball in August, September and all the way into October, so Rossy has to be the one to adjust for health and make sure we don’t do too much.”

Ross compared Stroman’s preparation and work ethic to those of Jon Lester, whose signing in 2015 turned into a franchise-changing moment for the Cubs.

“When you first get around Jon and see him, they come in to work and it’s work first and then ‘I’m going to be kind of a teammate,’” Ross said. “This guy comes in, gets his work done and he’s diligent about what he wants to do — his preparation. What stands out is his routine so far.”

Reliever Jesse Chavez served up a two-run home run to Rowdy Tellez in a three-run sixth, blowing the lead and denying Stroman a chance at the win. The Cubs received a gift in the bottom of the sixth when a two-out walk, an error and two wild pitches by Jake Cousins brought home the tying run without a hit. But the Brewers regained the lead on Mike Brosseau’s pinch-hit home run off Daniel Norris in the seventh.

It looked for a second like the Cubs tied it again in the seventh when Jonathan Villar tried to beat out a slow roller to short with two outs and a runner on third. Adames made a nice pickup and barely nailed Villar, who attempted a headfirst slide. After a long replay review, the call was confirmed.

“One hundred percent I thought I was safe,” Villar said. “But that’s baseball.”

The Cubs had no chance against Devin Williams and closer Josh Hader. Suzuki was called out on strikes without taking the bat off his shoulder against Williams in the eighth, and Hader struck out two in a perfect ninth.

After a day off Monday, the Cubs begin a trip to Pittsburgh and Colorado, where they’ll face former Cubs star Kris Bryant. Stroman already is looking ahead to his next start at Wrigley, a place he believes has a home-field advantage like no other ballpark.

“That’s super rare in baseball,” he said. “I don’t know if you guys know that or you guys are spoiled with this crowd. I’m excited for each and every game.”


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