Bears

Montanez Continues To Dominate Pacific Coast League Pitching

Montanez Continues To Dominate Pacific Coast League Pitching

Sunday May 1, 2011
Posted: 5:55 p.m.
CUBSIowa AAA
Lou Montanez continued his tear Sunday afternoon for Iowa, which upended Omaha, 7-5, at Werner Park.

Montanez had three hits, extending his hitting streak to seven games while pushing his batting average to .432, second best in the Pacific Coast League. He also picked up his 28th RBI, which is also second in the league. Montanez has reached base safely in 20 of 21 games in which he has appeared this season.

Brad Snyder also had a big game, collecting a pair of hits, including the three-run homer that highlighted a six-run second inning. He extended his hitting streak to six games and is 12 for his last 32. Tony Campana also picked up a hit to extend his hitting streak to five games.

Austin Bibens-Dirkx 1-2 earned the win with 1 23 scoreless innings after coming on in relief of starter Jay Jackson, who lasted only 4 13 innings.
Tennessee AA
The Tennessee bats finally fell silent Sunday afternoon as they dropped a 4-1 decision to Carolina at Smokies Park.

The Smokies were 0-for-5 with runners on base and didnt score until the eighth inning when Marwin Gonzalez smacked a solo homer. Trey McNutt 1-2 allowed two runs over six innings to take the loss.
Peoria A
Yordy Cabreras two-run double sparked a three-run sixth inning Sunday afternoon, lifting Burlington to a 4-3 victory over visiting Peoria at Community Field.

The Chiefs held a 2-1 lead before Yohan Gonzalez took the loss, allowing two of the runs on two hits in 13 of an inning. Austin Kirk started and allowed two runs on three hits over 5 23 innings. He also fanned seven.

Richard Jones had a solo homer for the Chiefs, who had only six hits. Matt Szczur had one of those hits, extending his hitting streak to nine games with a fifth-inning single. Greg Rohan, the Midwest League leader in RBIs, hits and doubles, missed the game with flu-like symptoms and a fever.

In other action, Justin Jacksons solo homer in the 10th lifted Dunedin to a 2-1 victory over Daytona at Jackie Robinson Stadium. Ryan Searle took the loss. Aaron Kurcz started and tossed five shutout innings. Matt Cerda had two of Daytonas four hits.
WHITE SOXBirmingham AA
The Barons frenetic season continued Sunday afternoon with a 6-4 loss to Mobile at Regions Park.

Birmingham, after allowing three first-inning runs, rallied to take a 4-3 lead only to see the BayBears tie it in the seventh and then score twice in the eighth. Kyle Cofield took the loss, allowing two runs on three hits in 1 23 innings. Justin Edwards had started an allowed the three first-inning runs, all of which were unearned. He finished up by scattering eight hits over 5 23 innings.

Tyler Kuhn was 1-for-4 with an RBI and is hitting .343, good enough to place in the top 10 among Southern League hitters. Justin Greene was 2-for-4 with a homer and an RBI.

In other action, Winston-Salem was sent to its fifth consecutive defeat on Sunday as Wilmington rallied for three eighth-inning runs en route to a 4-2 victory at Frawley Stadium. Taylor Thompson 1-1 had a 0.82 ERA heading into his eighth-inning appearance before a Whit Merrifield two-run single gave the Blue Rocks the lead. The Dash managed only four hits. Charlotte also lost on Sunday afternoon, dropping a 9-3 decision to visiting Columbus. Lucas Harrell took the loss despite Johnny Nunez allowing six earned runs in a third of an inning of relief. Dayan Viciedo had a double and two RBIs. ... Hickory overcame an early deficit, rallying for a 4-3 victory over visiting Kannapolis. Jake Petricka allowed four runs on nine hits over five innings to suffer his first loss of the year. Mike Blanke had a pair of hits for the Intimidators.

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?