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Picking a president: Character becomes an issue for area voters

If you could ask Hillary Clinton one thing, what would it be?

It’s one question a diverse group of 18 local residents pondered Thursday night when they gathered in downtown Akron to watch Clinton’s acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention and discuss their opinions on the presidential election, the candidates and media coverage.

The group was invited as a part of Your Vote Ohio, a project involving more than 20 media companies across the state trying to reflect the thoughts of Ohioans in campaign coverage by conducting polling and holding discussions. Their names will be withheld until the publication of a cumulative article examining this group’s discussion compared with last week’s group that watched the Republican National Convention.

The nonprofit, nonpartisan Jefferson Center from St. Paul, Minn., facilitated the discussion.

When asked, many said they would ask Clinton about policy issues they feel she still hasn’t made clear, such as her stance on homeland security, veterans’ benefits and health care.

However, the conversation often gravitated then toward character. One man asked: “What makes you more trustworthy than a man who has unnaturally orange skin?”

Character became a theme: Participants could prioritize issues important to themselves in this election, and many agreed that in this election in particular they are judging candidates on how much they trust each one to act responsibly as well as their positions on the issues.

Some focused especially on integrity, noting that candidates may announce their policies, “but if [they] don’t have integrity, none of that matters.”

Many wanted to see Clinton address her “shortcomings” to explain her involvement in events that have dogged her candidacy, and also show more emotion than past speeches.

Clinton’s integrity, however, was not the only one at question Thursday.

Include media.

The group gained political information from a variety of sources — from newspapers and radio to TV and social media — but many agreed that they didn’t feel they were receiving accurate information.

“With political stuff in particular, there’s always two sides of the coin,” said one man.

“I realize that what networks are putting on TV is not half the story,” said another.

Some viewed social media as the main culprit of misinformation, noting the stories they see on Facebook and Twitter largely depend on who they follow and what they’ve read in the past.

And many think there are far too many sources available to know which one is accurate.

“That’s why I get frustrated with getting every­one’s opinion at me at the same time,” said one woman. “It’s too hard to sift through it all.”

On the other hand, others said bias exists in reporting, no matter the publication. Some in the group trusted certain writers and reporters over others.

Other people said they follow certain journalists because their opinions align.

The discussion of bias in journalism prompted a larger discussion of bias in the natural world.

Reporting on politics would be difficult to accomplish without bias, some agreed, because bias is pervasive. At a societal level, the question was raised: How would Donald Trump’s quotes sound if they came from a black man, or if Clinton’s quotes came from a man?

Theresa Cottom can be emailed at tcottom@thebeaconjournal.com.

Indians notebook: Relief pitcher Zach McAllister activated, reliever Jeff Manship placed on disabled list; trade rumors heating up

CLEVELAND: The Indians on Friday swapped out relief pitchers, activating Zach McAllister and placing Jeff Manship on the 15-day disabled list.

McAllister had been on the disabled list since July 7 with right hip discomfort. He has a 5.40 ERA and 1.61 WHIP to go with 28 strikeouts in 26⅔ innings pitched. He worked a couple of rehab appearances with positive reports.

“[Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway] told him to treat it like it was a game,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “Because he had been pitching to some righties earlier just to try to work on it a little bit. Last night, he was like, ‘Here, let’s go compete a little bit.’ I think it was good for him.”

Manship is being placed on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 27 with right wrist tendinitis. Manship has struggled lately, allowing five earned runs in his last 2⅔ innings.

For a brief time last season and earlier this year, Manship was among the more reliable relievers in the game. Lately, he didn’t show the same consistency. With McAllister ready to be activated and Manship dealing with some discomfort, the time came to allow him to rest.

“Again, all guys by this time of year have stuff that [is bothering them],” Francona said. “But when it starts getting in the way of him being able to do what he can do [it’s a problem]. I think that’s where the communication comes in. We talked to him a few times and put our heads together. We weren’t trying to get him to the DL. We were just trying to do what’s in our best interest so we can get him back and let him do what he does well.”

Rumor mill spinning

The Indians are one day closer to Monday’s non-waiver trade deadline, and a deal has yet to be reached involving any of their reported trade targets.

A wrinkle has also been added into the Jonathan Lucroy negotiations with the Milwaukee Brewers. Per ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick, Lucroy, the Brewers’ All-Star catcher, has the Indians as one of eight teams on his no-trade clause.

It could make a deal with the Brewers more difficult to complete. The no-trade clause potentially gives Lucroy leverage to seek a long-term extension or decline a deal altogether. Lucroy has a $5.25 million club option for next season. Several other teams, including the Detroit Tigers, Texas Rangers, Houston Astros and New York Mets, have all been reportedly connected to Lucroy as well.

Per FoxSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal, the Indians are one of a few teams interested in Pittsburgh Pirates closer Mark Melancon. The Pirates are reportedly seeking a relief pitcher back in the deal along with a prospect or two. Melancon, who can become a free agent this offseason, has a 1.51 ERA, 0.96 WHIP and 30 saves entering Friday.

Should the Indians deal for a pitcher of Melancon’s caliber, it’s possible Cody Allen could be moved out of the closer’s role. Allen has informed the club he would be comfortable with such a move if necessary. Melancon could also be inserted into the eighth-inning role, moving Bryan Shaw to the seventh.

Ryan Lewis can be reached at rlewis@thebeaconjournal.com. Read the Indians blog at www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/RyanLewisABJ and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/RyanLewisABJ

Indians notebook: Relief pitcher Zach McAllister activated, reliever Jeff Manship placed on disabled list; trade rumors heating up

CLEVELAND: The Indians on Friday swapped out relief pitchers, activating Zach McAllister and placing Jeff Manship on the 15-day disabled list.

McAllister had been on the disabled list since July 7 with right hip discomfort. He has a 5.40 ERA and 1.61 WHIP to go with 28 strikeouts in 26⅔ innings pitched. He worked a couple of rehab appearances with positive reports.

“[Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway] told him to treat it like it was a game,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “Because he had been pitching to some righties earlier just to try to work on it a little bit. Last night, he was like, ‘Here, let’s go compete a little bit.’ I think it was good for him.”

Manship is being placed on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 27 with right wrist tendinitis. Manship has struggled lately, allowing five earned runs in his last 2⅔ innings.

For a brief time last season and earlier this year, Manship was among the more reliable relievers in the game. Lately, he didn’t show the same consistency. With McAllister ready to be activated and Manship dealing with some discomfort, the time came to allow him to rest.

“Again, all guys by this time of year have stuff that [is bothering them],” Francona said. “But when it starts getting in the way of him being able to do what he can do [it’s a problem]. I think that’s where the communication comes in. We talked to him a few times and put our heads together. We weren’t trying to get him to the DL. We were just trying to do what’s in our best interest so we can get him back and let him do what he does well.”

Rumor mill spinning

The Indians are one day closer to Monday’s non-waiver trade deadline, and a deal has yet to be reached involving any of their reported trade targets.

A wrinkle has also been added into the Jonathan Lucroy negotiations with the Milwaukee Brewers. Per ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick, Lucroy, the Brewers’ All-Star catcher, has the Indians as one of eight teams on his no-trade clause.

It could make a deal with the Brewers more difficult to complete. The no-trade clause potentially gives Lucroy leverage to seek a long-term extension or decline a deal altogether. Lucroy has a $5.25 million club option for next season. Several other teams, including the Detroit Tigers, Texas Rangers, Houston Astros and New York Mets, have all been reportedly connected to Lucroy as well.

Per FoxSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal, the Indians are one of a few teams interested in Pittsburgh Pirates closer Mark Melancon. The Pirates are reportedly seeking a relief pitcher back in the deal along with a prospect or two. Melancon, who can become a free agent this offseason, has a 1.51 ERA, 0.96 WHIP and 30 saves entering Friday.

Should the Indians deal for a pitcher of Melancon’s caliber, it’s possible Cody Allen could be moved out of the closer’s role. Allen has informed the club he would be comfortable with such a move if necessary. Melancon could also be inserted into the eighth-inning role, moving Bryan Shaw to the seventh.

Ryan Lewis can be reached at rlewis@thebeaconjournal.com. Read the Indians blog at www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/RyanLewisABJ and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/RyanLewisABJ

Regional news briefs — July 30

AKRON

Baby’s death investigated

AKRON: Authorities are investigating the death of a 7-month-old baby boy found unresponsive Thursday at an Akron home.

An investigator for the Summit County Medical Examiner’s Office said Friday morning that there are no visible signs of trauma, and an autopsy is scheduled for next week.

At about 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Akron police officers responded to a call involving an unresponsive child at an apartment in the 400 block of West Miller Avenue in the city’s Summit Lake neighborhood south of downtown Akron.

The baby was taken to Akron Children’s Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 4:05 p.m.

Better Block event

AKRON: The intersection of Arlington and East Market streets in Akron’s Middlebury neighborhood will have a new look this weekend, with pop-up businesses, food vendors, live music and gathering spaces.

The Better Block event — fashioned after the successful one in North Hill last year — will run from 1 to 7 p.m. Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday.

The streets will remain open for vehicle traffic during the event. Bicycle lanes also will be open.

Roughly two-dozen vendors are expected, including those selling gifts and hot and cold food.

On Saturday, music will begin at 1 p.m. with DJ Chaka spinning hip-hop, reggae and house music. At 3 p.m., A-MINUS will perform “positive hip-hop , followed at 5 p.m. by Zach & the Bright Lights, playing indie folk.

On Sunday, music will begin at noon with Umojah Nation performing reggae, followed at 2 p.m. with the Acid Cats playing playing jazz rock.

Organizers include the Neighborhood Network of University Park.

CUYAHOGA VALLEY

Creek footbridge to open

SAGAMORE HILLS TWP.: The bridge is back.

The popular footbridge over Brandywine Creek in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park — closed since 2014 after being damaged by high water — has been repaired and was to be opened by the end of the day Friday.

The bridge is on the Brandywide Gorge Trail in northern Summit County. The trail is accessible from Brandywine Falls off Brandywine Road, in Sagamore Hills Township.

The project cost $86,000, with the National Park Service using funds from its Repair-Rehabilitation Program. Work included construction of a concrete pier and involved the lifting of two sections of the bridge onto the pier and abutment, to complete the connections, as well as efforts to stabilize the bank along Brandywine Creek.

The trail has remained open while the bridge was out, but there was no detour to cross the creek to complete the loop trail.

KENT STATE UNIVERSITY

International conference

KENT: More than 700 scientists, engineers and students from around the world are expected to attend the 26th International Liquid Crystal Conference Sunday through Friday at Kent State University.

The event is open to the public, but paid registration is required at http://www.kent.edu/lci/ilcc-2016.

The conference kicks off with a full day of tutorials led by pioneering scientists in the liquid crystal field, followed by a welcome reception starting at 6:30 p.m. Sunday.

Throughout the rest of the week, the daily format includes a speaker each morning at 8:30, followed by sessions on topics ranging from physics, mathematics, chemistry, biology and materials to applied liquid crystal research and industrial perspectives.

SUMMIT COUNTY

Office hours

STOW: Summit County Councilwoman Gloria Rodgers will host public office hours from 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Stow-Munroe Falls Public Library, 3512 Darrow Road.

She will answer questions and hear concerns. She represents District 3, which encompasses Hudson, Stow, Silver Lake and part of Cuyahoga Falls.

RubberDucks report: Manager Dave Wallace enjoys his part in the development of future and current major leaguers

The life of a minor league manager is an interesting lot. Major League Baseball measures its lead men by wins and losses, but the lower levels are about development and advancement.

Don’t get the RubberDucks wrong, they want to win as much as the next franchise. But for the Ducks, seeing the next big thing shine with the Indians is as much a victory as taking the Eastern League Western Division.

That’s why General Manager Jim Pfander and the like know they have a gem in Dave Wallace.

A six-year manager in the organization, he’s been with the RubberDucks since 2014.

“He gets it and that’s great,” Pfander said. “He knows what it means to be a part of this community. From a development standpoint, he can say, ‘Look I played in Harrisburg [with the Aeros]. I played in Portland. I know what to expect when you go to the fields.’

“He’s a quiet leader. When he needs to get vocal, he can get vocal. But people really respond to how he operates. He’s not a guy that’s going to get in your face. He trusts people to do their job. They respond to him better than any other manager than anyone I’ve seen in my 17 years of minor league baseball.”

The names Wallace has moved since he’s been in Akron are impressive. Francisco Lindor, last season’s American League Rookie of the Year runner-up, learned under Wallace. Potential 2016 Rookie of the Year Tyler Naquin learned under Wallace. Ditto for Erik Gonzalez, Cody Anderson and Kyle Crockett.

The MLB.com Prospect Watch came out Thursday and 10 minor leaguers in the Indians’ top 30 either played for Wallace this season or are currently playing for Wallace.

Players like Clint Frazier, Bradley Zimmer, Naquin and Lindor would flourish pretty much anywhere, but Wallace doesn’t separate the can’t-miss prospects from the hard-nosed behind-the-scenes guys.

“It’s the way he goes about his work,” All-Star first baseman Nellie Rodriguez said. “He treats everybody the same. He’s a great guy to be around. If we’re doing something wrong, he pulls us aside and tells us what we should have done in that situation. He’s always telling us the truth.”

For Wallace, 36, the biggest obstacle is the evolving nature of the game and balancing the dispositions of those players.

“You’re dealing with different personalities,” Wallace said. “It’s different teams throughout the year. It’s finding and fostering a way for everybody to not only learn individually, but how to get better as a team.

“It’s a challenge I enjoy a lot because I’ve been surrounded with so many good people as a staff, not only here, but throughout my six years of managing. The Indians provide us with every resource we need.”

For Wallace, it’s not as much about green-lighting a star as much as it is making sure everyone is on the same page not only on the field, but in their approach.

“All I ever ask from any of our guys is two things, that they take ownership of their own career and that they show up every day with the idea of getting better,” Wallace said. “That might be one percent better that day, but after a large period of time, they’ve gotten better.”

Wallace measures his major league successes just as much as he does wins at Canal Park.

The competitor in him wants to win no matter what, but he knows the end goal is getting that prospect to the highest level.

“The first thing I feel is absolute happiness for them because I’ve seen the hard work and sacrifice they put in,” Wallace said. “They deserve it. Secondarily, it gives me a great deal of satisfaction that I had a small hand in it. It’s never just one guy that gets a player to the big leagues. It’s an organizational effort.”

Browns looking at Ogbah at end
Emmanuel Ogbah was an end before he was a linebacker and now he's being looked at defensive end since the season-ending injury to Desmond Bryant.
Browns notebook: Robert Griffin III, Joe Haden pledge to help close friend Josh Gordon stay on track

BEREA: Quarterback Robert Griffin III and cornerback Joe Haden are determined to do everything in their power to support recently reinstated wide receiver Josh Gordon, ease his return to the Browns and help him stay on the right path.

Gordon said he committed to Baylor University in 2009 partly because of Griffin. They became such close friends that Gordon likens Griffin to an older brother.

“I’m glad that he considers me and can look at me as a big brother, someone he can lean on,” Griffin said Friday as training camp began. “... We have always been family. I know what he has to do to overcome obstacles that he has put himself into. If you talk to him, you’re going to love him. You are going to think he’s a great guy. He just made a couple mistakes, and it’s his job and our job to no longer make those mistakes.”

Gordon and Haden have developed a strong friendship since they became teammates in Cleveland four years ago. Haden and his wife, Sarah, plan to hang out with Gordon and host him for dinner during the Browns’ downtime.

“I’m super excited for J.G. to be back,” Haden said. “We’ve talked several times, and I’m just telling him, ‘Let’s get back to normal, J.G. Let’s both of us go back to the Pro Bowl. It’s been a little off. I didn’t have my year last year. You weren’t here.’”

Gordon has missed 27 of the Browns’ past 32 games because of recurring violations of the NFL’s substance-abuse policy, but he clearly still has the backing of his teammates after being reinstated by Commissioner Roger Goodell on Monday. Gordon will be suspended for the first four regular-season games of the 2016 season.

The Browns’ brass has welcomed him back, too, and Griffin and Haden have vouched for him when asked by the organization’s bigwigs.

“I don’t think it was just me that did that,” Griffin said. “I think the coaches wanted to see him. They wanted to give him a fresh slate, an opportunity to write his own story, erase the tape and record a new message.”

Gordon’s friends aren’t the only players who are pleased to see him.

“I applaud the league for letting him back in and making that decision,” said quarterback Josh McCown, who’s never previously played with Gordon. “You look at guys going through those things, and I believe structure can only benefit those guys. To have him here, I believe gives him the best chance to put his best foot forward. We’ll just all rally around him as teammates and be available to help him do that.”

Gordon is sidelined with a quadriceps injury and won’t practice for at least a couple of weeks, but he studied the script of plays as he watched the first practice of camp. Haden worked out with Gordon in Los Angeles in the offseason and expects the 2013 All-Pro selection to have a stellar comeback after a long layoff.

“J.G.’s a rare specimen,” Haden said. “So I would expect him to be good.”

Return on horizon

Haden is still rehabbing after undergoing ankle surgery in March. However, Haden and coach Hue Jackson are confident the two-time Pro Bowler won’t miss the regular-season opener Sept. 11.

“He’ll have an opportunity, hopefully, in the preseason to play,” Jackson said. “But I know for a fact that he will be out there getting ready to play in the opening game.”

Haden also expects to return to practice soon. He ran well Thursday in a conditioning test.

“It’s on its way. I’ve been working hard, been here the whole offseason and the training staff, we’ve been doing a really good job,” he said. “We have a really good schedule, and I’m just getting better every day. Whenever they say I’m ready to go, I’ll be out there.”

Haden hopes to knock some rust off in the preseason.

“I definitely would want to get some action before the regular season,” he said.

Limited to five games last year because of two concussions and other injuries, Haden’s hungry.

“It’s really a ‘what have you done for me lately’ league, and you kind of see that when it was a very bad season for me last year,” he said. “I had high expectations, and I definitely didn’t live up to them. I’m just ready to get back out there and prove that I’m still one of the best corners in the league.”

He’s back

Pro Bowl tight end Gary Barnidge practiced Friday after having sports hernia surgery June 2. He said the first three days after the procedure were difficult, but his recovery has been “smooth sailing” ever since.

“We knew this plan going in that we were going to be ready for training camp, and that was the goal the whole time,” he said.

Fans shut out

The Browns closed their first practice of camp to the general public due to inclement weather. The session was sold out, but thousands of fans were turned away because of lightning in the area. The team practiced outside after a short delay.

“I wish I could talk to Mother Nature and have it go differently,” Jackson said. “It was a safety issue and I respect that. It’s really about making sure our fans are OK.”

Saturday’s practice is scheduled to be open to the public and run from 3:25-5:55 p.m.

Nate Ulrich can be reached at nulrich@thebeaconjournal.com. Read the Browns blog at www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NateUlrichABJ and on Facebook www.facebook.com/abj.sports.

Indians activate RP Zach McAllister, place RP Jeff Manship on disabled list; Trade rumors heating up

The Indians on Friday swapped out relief pitchers, activating Zach McAllister and placing Jeff Manship on the 15-day disabled list.

McAllister had been on the disabled list since July 7 with right hip discomfort. This season he has a 5.40 ERA and 1.613 WHIP to go with 28 strikeouts in 26 2/3 innings pitched. He worked a couple of rehab appearances with positive reports.

"[Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway] told him to treat it like it was a game,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “Because he had been pitching to some righties earlier just to try to work on it a little bit. Last night, he was like, ‘Here, let’s go compete a little bit.’ I think it was good for him.”

Manship is being placed on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 27 with right wrist tendinitis. Manship has struggled as of late, allowing five earned runs in his last 2 2/3 innings pitched.

For a brief time last season and earlier this year, Manship was among the more reliable relievers in the game. Lately, he didn't show the same consistency. With McAllister ready to be activated and Manship dealing with some discomfort, the time came to allow him to rest.

“Again, all guys by this time of year have stuff that [are bothering them],” Francona said. “But when it starts getting in the way of him being able to do what he can do [it’s a problem]. I think that’s where the communication comes in. We talked to him a few times and put our heads together. We weren’t trying to get him to the DL. We were just trying to do what’s in our best interest so we can get him back and let him do what he does well.”

Rumor mill spinning

The Indians are one day closer to Monday’s non-waiver trade deadline, and a deal has yet to be reached among any of their reported trade targets.

A wrinkle has also been added into the Jonathan Lucroy negotiations with the Milwaukee Brewers. Per ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick, Lucroy, the Brewers’ All-Star catcher, has the Indians as one of eight teams on his no-trade clause.

It could make a deal with the Brewers more difficult to complete. The no-trade clause potentially gives Lucroy leverage to seek a long-term extension or decline a deal altogether. Lucroy has a $5.25 million club option for next season. Several other teams, including the Detroit Tigers, Texas Rangers, Houston Astros and New York Mets, have all been reportedly connected to Lucroy as well.

Per FoxSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal, the Indians are one of a few teams interested in Pittsburgh Pirates closer Mark Melancon. The Pirates are reportedly seeking a relief pitcher back in the deal along with a prospect or two. Melancon, who can become a free agent this offseason, has a 1.51 ERA, 0.960 WHIP and 30 saves entering Friday.

Should the Indians deal for a pitcher of Melancon’s caliber, it’s possible Cody Allen could be moved out of the closer’s role. Allen has informed the club he would be comfortable with such a move if necessary. Melancon could also be inserted into the eighth-inning role, moving Bryan Shaw to the seventh.

Indians activate RP Zach McAllister, place RP Jeff Manship on disabled list; Trade rumors heating up

The Indians on Friday swapped out relief pitchers, activating Zach McAllister and placing Jeff Manship on the 15-day disabled list.

McAllister had been on the disabled list since July 7 with right hip discomfort. This season he has a 5.40 ERA and 1.613 WHIP to go with 28 strikeouts in 26 2/3 innings pitched. He worked a couple of rehab appearances with positive reports.

"[Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway] told him to treat it like it was a game,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “Because he had been pitching to some righties earlier just to try to work on it a little bit. Last night, he was like, ‘Here, let’s go compete a little bit.’ I think it was good for him.”

Manship is being placed on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 27 with right wrist tendinitis. Manship has struggled as of late, allowing five earned runs in his last 2 2/3 innings pitched.

For a brief time last season and earlier this year, Manship was among the more reliable relievers in the game. Lately, he didn't show the same consistency. With McAllister ready to be activated and Manship dealing with some discomfort, the time came to allow him to rest.

“Again, all guys by this time of year have stuff that [are bothering them],” Francona said. “But when it starts getting in the way of him being able to do what he can do [it’s a problem]. I think that’s where the communication comes in. We talked to him a few times and put our heads together. We weren’t trying to get him to the DL. We were just trying to do what’s in our best interest so we can get him back and let him do what he does well.”

Rumor mill spinning

The Indians are one day closer to Monday’s non-waiver trade deadline, and a deal has yet to be reached among any of their reported trade targets.

A wrinkle has also been added into the Jonathan Lucroy negotiations with the Milwaukee Brewers. Per ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick, Lucroy, the Brewers’ All-Star catcher, has the Indians as one of eight teams on his no-trade clause.

It could make a deal with the Brewers more difficult to complete. The no-trade clause potentially gives Lucroy leverage to seek a long-term extension or decline a deal altogether. Lucroy has a $5.25 million club option for next season. Several other teams, including the Detroit Tigers, Texas Rangers, Houston Astros and New York Mets, have all been reportedly connected to Lucroy as well.

Per FoxSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal, the Indians are one of a few teams interested in Pittsburgh Pirates closer Mark Melancon. The Pirates are reportedly seeking a relief pitcher back in the deal along with a prospect or two. Melancon, who can become a free agent this offseason, has a 1.51 ERA, 0.960 WHIP and 30 saves entering Friday.

Should the Indians deal for a pitcher of Melancon’s caliber, it’s possible Cody Allen could be moved out of the closer’s role. Allen has informed the club he would be comfortable with such a move if necessary. Melancon could also be inserted into the eighth-inning role, moving Bryan Shaw to the seventh.

2016 Summer Olympic Games: Jimmy Butler feeling at home on Team USA

CHICAGO: Jimmy Butler spun a basketball on his finger. He joked around with Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving during a brief one-on-one exchange. He smiled as some of the NBA’s biggest stars lobbed some playful barbs in his direction.

Back in Chicago on the eve of the Olympics, Butler is fitting in quite nicely with the U.S. national team.

“There are a lot of great players on this roster, but more than just basketball players, I get to learn a lot more about them off the court,” Butler said, “who they are as people and their families, and how they act, their personalities. I think that’s been my favorite part of this whole journey, just getting to know the guys that I go up against every year.”

It’s good practice for the fall, when Butler returns to a new-look Bulls team that suddenly includes two longtime opponents for the versatile swingman.

Derrick Rose is gone, traded to the New York Knicks. All-Star center Pau Gasol landed in San Antonio. But Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo decided to join Butler in Chicago, providing championship experience but also two more players on the wrong side of 30 who like to have the ball in their hands.

“I’m excited. I know they are as well,” Butler said before Thursday’s Team USA practice at the United Center. “It’s a new start for a lot of us.”

Butler’s reputation also took a hit in the wake of the Bulls’ 42-40 finish in April, ending the franchise’s string of seven consecutive playoff appearances. The two-time All-Star was openly critical of new coach Fred Hoiberg and did not click with Rose last season.

Asked about speculation he had a hand in the Bulls’ offseason activity, Butler brushed the notion away like he would an overzealous defender.

“That has nothing to do with me. I don’t move guys,” he said. “It’s like I always say, people are going to think what they want to think.

“That doesn’t bother me,” he continued. “I know where I stand. I know who I am.”

Butler’s inclusion on the national team establishes the 6-foot-7 Marquette product as one of the best players in the world, part of a steady rise for the No. 30 selection in the 2011 draft. On the 12-player roster for Team USA, only Draymond Green and DeAndre Jordan are lower draft picks.

Butler, 26, averaged 20.9 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.8 assists last season. He has increased his averages for scoring and assists in each of the last four years.

“I knew he was a workhorse, but that man really never stops working,” Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson said, “and I give Jimmy a lot of credit because he came into this league and obviously he didn’t have the hype he [would] if he was like a top-five pick, but he’s worked himself into an All-Star and one of the best wings in the game.”

Before this Olympic run, U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski had only seen Butler on TV.

“The very first thing is just how strong and what a great athlete he is,” Krzyzewski said. “Then what a good guy he is, and then what an outstanding competitor. You felt he was going to check every box, but you put two checks in each of these boxes. He’s terrific, and he’s a really good guy.”

Krzyzewski said Butler and Paul George are the most versatile players on the team, capable of guarding any position. Butler had four points and three rebounds while playing 14½ minutes in the United States’ 107-57 exhibition victory over China on Tuesday night.

After Friday night’s game against Venezuela at Butler’s home with the Bulls, and then a trip to Houston for one more game against Nigeria, the U.S. team will depart for Brazil. When it comes to the Olympics, Butler said he just wants to win.

It’s a very familiar response for U.S. assistant Tom Thibodeau, who coached Butler with the Bulls before he was fired in May 2015.

“To see how much he’s grown from his first year in the league to what he’s become, it’s a testament to how hard he’s worked, his intelligence, his drive,” Thibodeau said. “Each year he’s gotten better, and I think his makeup will allow him to continue to improve each year.”

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