The Top Five Stories to Watch 7/23-29

Bears Begin Training Camp
The Bears open training camp on Wednesday in Bourbonnais. The 2012 season begin with optimism the highest its been since the Bears last Superbowl appearance after the 2006 season. Question do abound as the Bears begin their tenth season under Lovie Smith.

The biggest question is how much the offensive line will hold up. The Bears have moved some players around and have only seen 2011 first round pick, tackle Gabe Carimi for six quarters as a professional. How well the reworked wide receiving core with mesh will Jay Cutler, the new offense under promoted coordinator Mike Tice and the safeties are other stories to watch.

Asik’s Offer Sheet
It appears more likely now that the Bulls are not going to match the three year $25 Million offer sheet for backup center Omer Asik. Asik showed a lot of promise this season. Twenty-five million dollars is too much for a reserve that averaged only 3.5 points and 5.0 rebounds per game in 2012.

They appear to be ready to sign Vladimir Radmanovic and rumors have the Bulls trying to sign Kenwood Academy alum Nazr Mohammed and/or the second pick in the 2003 draft Darko Milicic to replace Asik.

White Sox Return Home
After a 3-7 road trip, including 1-6 at Boston and Detroit the White Sox return home to host the Twins and then go back on the road to Texas.

Gavin Floyd will return from the Disabled List to start the opener. Floyd only missed one start with elbow tendonitis. Jose Quintana will start Tuesday and Jake Peavy on Wednesday.

Quintana lost another heartbreaker in the finale of the Boston series. He gave up no runs in seven innings on Thursday. Addison Reed gave up a three run home run to Cody Ross in the bottom of the ninth as the White Sox lost 3-1.

Peavy had the misfortune of matching up with Justin Verlander in the opener of the Detroit Series. One bad inning did Peavy in. He gave up three runs in the bottom of the third inning of a 4-2 loss.

Minnesota will send Francisco Liriano, Cole Devries and Nick Blackburn in the three game series. De Vries is having the best season of the three. He is 2-2 with a 3.95 ERA.

After a day off, the White Sox will travel to Texas to take on the Rangers for the second time this month. The All-Star matchup of Chris Sale and Yu Darvish will pitch in the opener. Philip Humber who came off the disabled list earlier this week is scheduled to pitch Saturday. Texas has yet to list their starters for Saturday and Sunday’s games.

Cubs Continue their Road Trip
After getting swept in St. Louis, the Cubs continue their road trip at surprising first place Pittsburgh and then return home Friday after an off-day to host St. Louis.

Jeff Samardzija, Paul Maholm and Ryan Dempster will pitch the three game series in the Steel City. The Pirates will send Erik Bedard, James McDonald and Kevin Correia. McDonald is one of MLB’s biggest surprises in 2012. He has become the ace of the Pirates staff. He is 10-3 with a 2.93 ERA.

The Cubs have yet to list their starters for any of the three games against St. Louis this coming weekend. Lance Lynn has become the St. Louis ace this season and a Cub killer. He is 12-4 with a 3.10 ERA this season. Against the Cubs he’s 3-0 with a 0.94 ERA in 2012. He got the win in the Cardinals 7-0 victory Sunday with six shutout innings. They do not list their starters yet for Saturday and Sunday.

Baseball Trading Deadline Watch
The White Sox made a move over the weekend that should greatly improve their mostly rookie bullpen. Brett Myers was the Astros closer when Kenny Williams shipped two minor league pitchers and one to be named to Houston for the Veteran. Myers has converted 19 of 21 save chances this season.

Kenny Williams seems to be finished with this move added to the acquisition of Kevin Youkilis earlier. He always seems to have some surprises at the trade deadline though.

The weekend sweep by Detroit shows the White Sox could still use another starting pitcher. The White Sox moved their pitching rotation around so that Sale and Peavy would pitch in the series against the Tigers.

The White Sox have had to lean heavily on Sale and Peavy throughout the season. Quintana has pitched spectacular this season but is in uncharted territory. Humber and Floyd have been inconsistent. There is no clear indication of when John Danks will back, if at all this season. Williams could easily try and get a proven veteran starter for the remainder of the season.

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