Bears

I-Cubs Power By Albuquerque

I-Cubs Power By Albuquerque

Thursday April 21, 2011
Posted: 10:15 p.m.
CUBSIowa AAA
Lou Montanez grand slam capped a six-run third inning and powered Iowa by Albuquerque, 9-4, Thursday night at Principal Park.

Montanez was 4-for-5, pushing his average to .423. Hes in the top five in the Pacific Coast League in batting and is second with 19 RBIs. The rest of the I-Cubs combined for four hits, but it was more than enough for Jay Jackson, who joined the club from extended spring on Thursday to make his first start of the year.

Jackson, who had been fighting a sore shoulder, allowed two runs on two hits over five innings while striking out four. Polin Trinidad closed it out for his first save.

In other news, catcher Welington Castillo was called up Daytona. Castillo, who had a double and scored twice, had been recovering from a thumb injury wand was serving as a DH for Daytona until he was able to move back behind the plate. Pitcher Jake Muyco was released and INF Jonathan Mota was placed on the DL.
Daytona A
The Cubs earned their third consecutive victory Thursday night to retain a one-game lead over Clearwater in the Florida State Leagues North Division. The superb relief pitching of Brent Ebinger marked Daytonas 5-3 victory over Lakeland at Jackie Robinson Stadium.

The left-hander pitched 4 23 shutout innings, striking out five and scattering four hits in after coming on for Zach Rosscup. Mike Burgess had two hits, including a homer and three RBIs, for the Cubs.
Peoria A
Arismendy Alcantara collected a career high four RBIs Thursday night as Peoria upended Beloit, 5-4, in a rain-shortened game at OBrien Field. Alcantara had a pair of hits, including a three-run triple.

Eric Jokisch 2-0 earned the victory. Greg Rohan went hitless in three at-bats, ending his hitting streak at 12 games. Peoria pitchers saw their scoreless-inning streak snapped at 23 13 innings when Beloit scored in the fifth inning.
Tennessee AA
Brett Jackson continues to tear through the Southern League though his efforts at the plate went for naught Thursday night as the Smokies dropped a 5-3 decision at Carolina.

Jackson had a pair of hits, including a solo homer, and has now hit safely in 12 of 14 games this year. The former top pick is hitting is batting .426 and took over the batting lead on the Double-A circuit. Hes also tops in OPS.

Trey McNutt 0-1 took the loss, tying a career high by allowing eight hits in four innings. He struck out four and gave up three runs in that stretch. Only two of the five runs three Tennessee pitchers allowed was earned.
WHITE SOXCharlotte AAA
The Knights have been streaky this season, starting out the year 5-0 before losing the next six straight games. Theyve begun a new winning streak, though, taking their second in a row Thursday night at Durham Athletic Park, this one a 6-4 victory over the Bulls.

Jeff Marquez 2-1 earned the win with a solid seven-inning effort. She allowed two runs and scattered six hits while striking out three. Only one of the runs he surrendered was earned, lowing his ERA to 1.50 in three starts. Anthony Carter pitched 1 23 perfect innings for his first save.

Gookie Dawkins three-run homer in the eighth inning proved to be the difference. Lastings Milledge had an RBI and drew a pair of walks but it still hitting .182 since joining the Knights. Alejandro De Aza, conversely, had three hits and is batting .333.
Winston-Salem A
The Dash lost their fourth straight Thursday night, this one a 7-6 decision to Wilimington at BB&T Ballpark.

Winston-Salem scored a combined three times in the seventh and eighth innings but could draw no closer after Wilmington had taken a 7-3 lead after four innings. Hector Santiago 0-1 allowed all seven runs in four innings as the Dash fell to 6-7.

Jose Martinez and Ian Gac each had three hits with Martinez effort pushing him to second in the Carolina League in hitting a .434. Jared Mitchell had a pair of hits and two RBIs as he extended his hitting streak to five games. ... Utility man Kyle Shelton and RHP Tyson Corley were promoted to Birmingham while RHP Addison Reed and INF Jake Oester join the Dash.
Kannapolis A
Matt Heidenreich pitched his best game of the season, earning his first victory Thursday night as Kannapolis defeated West Virginia, 4-1, at Fieldcrest Cannon Stadium.

Heidenreich 1-1, a former fourth-round selection, allowed three hits over six shutout innings. He was supported by Kannapolis 10-hit attack as five players collected two hits apiece. Dan Black had the biggest impact, hitting a homer and collecting three RBIs.

Kevin Czerwinski can be reached at ktczerwinski@gmail.com.

2017 Bears position grades: Inside Linebacker

2017 Bears position grades: Inside Linebacker

2017 grade: B+

Level of need: Low

Decisions to be made on: Christian Jones (free agent), John Timu (free agent), Jonathan Anderson (free agent); Jerrell Freeman has reportedly been cut

Possible free agent targets: Demario Davis, Preston Brown, Anthony Hitchens, Avery Williamson, Navorro Bowman, Derrick Johnson

How the Bears rate Nick Kwiatkoski will be the key to figuring out what this unit will look like in 2018. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio thought Kwiatkoski finished last season strong, but strong enough to rely on him in 2018 as the starter next to Danny Trevathan?

The thing with the Bears’ inside linebackers, though: Trevathan makes whoever is playing next to him better. The problem is Trevathan hasn’t been able to stay on the field — he missed time in 2017 with a calf injury and a one-game suspension, and missed half of 2016 after rupturing his Achilles’. Trevathan hasn’t played a full 16-game season since 2013, so durability is an issue for the soon-to-be 28-year-old.

So that leads to this question: Do the Bears need to find someone in free agency, regardless of how they value Kwiatkoski, who’s also missed time due to injuries in his first two years in the league?

Free agency could provide a few options. Demario Davis had a career high 97 tackles for the New York Jets last year and has never missed a game as a pro. Preston Brown had some decent production in Buffalo and also hasn’t missed a game since being drafted in 2014. Avery Williamson may not be a world-beater but has only missed one game in his four years in the NFL.

The Bears could also opt for someone who fits more of a rotational mold, like Dallas’ Anthony Hitchens, or try to lure a veteran linebacker like Navorro Bowman (who played for Vic Fangio in San Francisco) or Derrick Johnson (who Matt Nagy knows from his Kansas City days) to play next to Trevathan and/or Kwiatkoski.

The Bears could opt to keep the status quo and re-sign Christian Jones and John Timu for depth, and enter 2018 with Kwiatkoski and Trevathan as the team’s starters (Jerrell Freeman, who suffered a season-ending injury and then was hit with his second PED suspension in as many years, was cut on Tuesday). Signing a starting-caliber free agent isn’t out of the question, either, but there is a third option for the Bears if they appear to stand pat in free agency: Draft an inside linebacker in April. If that’s the route they go, Georgia’s Roquan Smith could be the guy. But again, those more pressing needs at other positions could mean the Bears don’t burn a first-round pick on an inside linebacker.

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

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NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Ottawa Senators tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Trade chips.

The Blackhawks have reached the point in their season where they have no choice but to become sellers before the Feb. 26 deadline, and we saw that when they traded Michal Kempny to the Washington Capitals on Monday for a conditional third-round pick in 2018. Tommy Wingels could also be an attractive piece for a team looking to fill out their depth.

The Senators will definitely be sellers, and wow do they have some names potentially on the market that can fetch large returns: Derrick Brassard and Mike Hoffman are two players who log top-six minutes on a nightly basis and also have term left on their contract, which is great for teams looking to load up for this year and beyond.

The biggest name to watch, probably in the league altogether, is Erik Karlsson, who could be on the move if a team offers a big enough package for the Senators to pull the trigger now as opposed to in the offseason if they feel him re-signing is a long shot. He was the best defenseman last season, and if a team steps up to get him, they're getting two possible postseason runs out of him.

2. Artem Anisimov's experiment at left wing not working.

Joel Quenneville has tried rekindling the magic between Anisimov, Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane as of late, only this time Anisimov is playing the wing and it just hasn't been very effective. The trio was on the ice for each of the two 5-on-5 goals the Kings scored on Monday, and Anisimov completely lost his man on the first one.

It's important to establish a consistent left winger for Schmaltz and Kane, and maybe putting Alex DeBrincat up there is something you consider going forward as part of a long-term solution. Move Anisimov back down as the third-line center to play in more of a defensive role and continue using his big body on power plays for his offensive abilities might be the best bet.

3. Win the special teams battle.

In their last meeting against Ottawa on Jan. 9, the Blackhawks went 4-for-6 on the power play and 4-on-4 on the penalty kill in an 8-2 win. And those are two areas to look out for again.

The Senators own the 28th-ranked power play with a 16.1 percent success rate and 29th-ranked penalty kill with a 74.5 percent success rate. Get ready for another offensive outburst?