Monday Extras: Play Ball! Except for Thomas

Monday Extras: Play Ball! Except for Thomas

Thomas Perez was released by the Phillies.  Man, I'm kind of sad.  I think this is a wise baseball decision, but this is like cutting the Phanatic to bring in a younger more athletic mascot or something.  [MLB.com]:

"I'm 32 years old, and know I can help another team," Perez said. "I
did my best for this team, and I appreciate what they did for me. It's
part of the life. They had to make a decision. I wish good luck for
these guys and this team, and thank the fans who support me for my
career.

"I have to turn the page."

-The Sixers are on a winning streak.. because the scheduling gods allowed them to play the Knicks in back to back games. Sixers are on fire! The Bulls have also won two in a row, so the Sixers are only 1.5 games up on them for the final playoff spot. [Yahoo]

-Lots of limo/taxi drivers in Vegas are sports fans, because they move
there to make gambling on games easier.  That's my theory anyway.  Limo
driver gives Jimmy Rollins some advice [FoxSports]
-The Playboy bunny who has an Eagles blog has posted 9 times in roughly four months.  Some of the posts actually have words.  But 3 definitely don't have any words.  She still probably gets more hits than most bloggers. [Bird Bunny Blog]
-Jim Thome looks pretty weird in a White Sox uni, but he didn't waste any time going long [Yahoo Picture]
-Phillies acquire Dave Dellucci for Rob Tejeda and prospect.  Should give the Phillies a nice lefty bat off the bench, something they were lacking. [Beerleaguer]
-In honor of opening day, The Natural and Sandlot clips [YouTube]
-The whole Paulie and his mother bit was way too much of a stretch.  David Chase must have been struggling for material.  It did bring out some anger in Paulie we haven't really seen.  Paulie ending the episode by beating the young kid and telling him not to tell Tony could be an interesting sign of things to come.  Sometimes I go about in pity for myself, and all the while, a great wind carries me across the sky.  Tony taking pleasure in the wind and just being alive juxtaposed with Paulie's anger.  Tony is no longer the same powerful, angry skipper.  His time is coming to an end.

Sixers being cautious with Jahlil Okafor early in training camp

Sixers being cautious with Jahlil Okafor early in training camp

GALLOWAY, N.J. — The Sixers lost Jahlil Okafor for the final 23 games last season because of a small meniscus tear in his right knee. Now they are being cautious as he prepares for his second year.

As part of the Sixers’ prescheduled load management for Okafor, he participated in a portion of practice and then worked out individually with head strength and conditioning coach Todd Wright.

“They just told me to relax once I did what they wanted me to do today,” Okafor said. “I was off to the sidelines. I feel fine. I’ll be good tomorrow.”

Okafor learned during his first NBA season that he should speak more openly with the staff about his body.

“Communication is key,” he said. “I think last year I didn’t really communicate how I was feeling, so I wasn’t able to get the help I needed.”

The team held three practice sessions in the first two days of training camp. Okafor said he knew the Sixers would be cautious with his workload. He is poised to improve upon his rookie year in which he averaged 17.5 points and 7.0 rebounds in 53 games last season.

“I’m 100 percent healthy,” he said. “I’m all good.”

Joel Embiid adjusting to new challenges in 1st NBA training camp

Joel Embiid adjusting to new challenges in 1st NBA training camp

GALLOWAY, N.J. -- With Joel Embiid's excitement to be on the court following two years of injuries comes the reality of his lengthy setback.

Embiid is participating in his first NBA training camp this week. While he has impressed with his natural abilities and improved skills, Embiid is facing challenges as he gets accustomed to the league.

"Everything is kind of off right now as far as catching the ball or shooting," Embiid said after practice Wednesday. "I've still got to get in the flow of the game."

Embiid has yet to play since being drafted in 2014. For the past two years he has worked out individually and in controlled settings. Practices, even in training camp, are different. 

"You see all the time when you realize he hasn't played basketball for a long time," Sixers head coach Brett Brown said. "He's trying to gather his feet and find his balance, he's trying to figure out stuff in real time speed on defensive assignments and rotations."

On Wednesday, Embiid went through practice without any minute restrictions and was feeling healthier from the cold and virus he had been battling (see story). Teammates have praised his physical presence and eagerness to compete. He makes an impact with his 7-foot-2 presence alone, but there is more he wants to improve. 

Embiid is adjusting to the speed of the game. He has been facing challenges with getting the ball in the post and spoke to the coaches about his frustrations. The staff explained they are focusing on pick-and-roll defense and getting out to run during training camp, but he will get that desired location in game situations. 

“You continue to see the size of Joel Embiid,” Brown said. “He's a big man and he's got a mindset to back up his physical gifts. He really wants the ball. He wants to get deep catches. He wants to dunk on people.”

Embiid always has been realistic about his transition to his rookie season. He has pointed out many times that he is a fast learner, and is anxious to soak up new knowledge and apply it to the court.

"It's really frustrating," he said. "But like I've said, you've got to trust the process, which I've been doing."