Bears

ND Notes: Martin, Nix to return for 2013; Daniels nears green light

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ND Notes: Martin, Nix to return for 2013; Daniels nears green light

Updated: 6:00 p.m.

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- As Notre Dame prepares for the BCS Championship, the team scored two big wins for next season.

Coach Brian Kelly announced Monday offensive lineman Zack Martin and defensive tackle Louis Nix will return to Notre Dame for their graduate and senior seasons, respectively, answering two pressing questions for the 2013 season.

Martin, a senior captain, has started all 38 of Notre Dame's games since 2010 and was named the team's top offensive lineman in 2012. The 6-foot-4, 304-pound tackle settled on returning early last week, although the decision wasn't necessarily an easy one.

"I wanted to play with Nick, I ultimately want to play for (offensive line coach Harry Hiestand) another year," Martin explained.

Nick is Martin's younger brother, a sophomore who could slide in on the right side of Notre Dame's offensive line in 2013. Potentially getting to play alongside his brother was a key reason for Martin deciding to return for his fifth year.

"I think he's going to have an opportunity to play next year, and I think that a situation like that only comes once in a lifetime," Martin said.

The early projection for Martin's NFL Draft position was a second-round one, so he's certainly forgoing a good opportunity to stay in South Bend.

The same can be said for Nix, who made 45 tackles in his first year as a starter on Notre Dame's defensive line. He was a force up front and often cleared a path to the ball for Manti Te'o, among other Irish linebackers -- a point noted by ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper last week.

But Nix mentioned his desire to earn a degree, not surprising given he's said the academic challenge of Notre Dame was one of the reasons why he committed to the school in the first place.

Additionally, running back Cierre Wood will wait to receive his draft evaluation before making a decision on his future. Wood rushed for 740 yards and four touchdowns in 2012, a drop from his breakout 2011 (1,102 yards, nine touchdowns).

Sick bay

The only player to be updated here is DaVaris Daniels, who coach Brian Kelly said will begin taking contact next week after suffering a broken clavicle Nov. 10 at Boston College. The sophomore receiver looks on track to re-join Notre Dame's receiving corps for the BCS Championship.

That's more than welcome news, given Daniels and quarterback Everett Golson looked to be in sync in the weeks leading up to his injury.

"He looks really good," Kelly said. "He's going to be able to be a key contributor for us."

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should the Bears let Mitch Trubisky throw more?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should the Bears let Mitch Trubisky throw more?

Adam Jahns (Chicago Sun-Times), Ben Finfer (ESPN 1000) and Jordan Cornette (The U/ESPN 1000) join Kap on the panel. Justin Turner hits a walk-off 3-run HR off of John Lackey to give the Dodgers a 2-0 lead in the NLCS. So why was Lackey even in the game? How much blame should Joe Maddon get for the loss?

The Bears run the ball over and over and over again to beat the Ravens in overtime, but should they have let Mitch Trubisky throw the ball more?

Dry humping and second-guessing: Joe Maddon defends his Game 2 bullpen decisions

Dry humping and second-guessing: Joe Maddon defends his Game 2 bullpen decisions

Joe Maddon has no easy decisions.

With the way his tattered bullpen has pitched this postseason, there's a very real possibility that any guy he calls on to pitch is the "wrong" guy or the right guy in the "wrong" spot.

For everybody wanting Maddon to ride Wade Davis as a workhorse this fall — something the Cubs skipper has already done just to get to this NLCS — remember how much flak he took for overusing Aroldis Chapman a year ago at this time.

Davis also hasn't been superhuman this postseason, allowing a pair of runs (including a homer) and seven baserunners in 4.1 playoff innings, good for a 4.15 ERA and 1.62 WHIP.

So when Maddon sat in the dugout late Sunday evening watching helplessly as John Lackey served up a walk-off homer to Tormund Giantsbane Justin Turner, the "Madd Scientist" immediately found himself in the crosshairs of Cubs fans and the media.

The first question he fielded in his postgame press conference was about not using Davis and there were several follow-ups. That and the offensive futility is about all anybody wanted to talk about after the Cubs fell down 0-2 in the NLCS.

Maddon explained Davis was available only in a save situation due to workload issues — the Cubs closer was in uncharted territory Thursday night/Friday morning, throwing the most pitches (44) and innings (2.1) he's thrown since Aug. 24, 2013 when he was still working as a starter. That's a span of 1,511 days.

"Wade knew that going into the game, it was going to be with the say," Maddon said. "We caught the lead, he's in the game. So whatever the narrative was, it's really a false narrative. He was not coming into that game until we grabbed the lead. He was not going to pitch more than three outs. That's it."

How does Maddon respond to his second-guessers?

"Doesn't matter," Maddon said. "First of all, social media, the moment I start worrying about that, I really need to retire. Second of all, that was all predetermined [Sunday] night again."

Davis also has a recent history of arm troubles (he was on the disabled list twice in 2016 for a forearm issue) and also saw his workload jump in September just to help the Cubs get to the postseason. In the final month of the regular season, Davis threw 237 pitches, 42 more than he threw in any other month of 2017. The last time he topped 200 pitches in any month was May 2015.

TV cameras showed Davis throwing in the Cubs bullpen alongside Lackey at one point in the ninth inning, leading to surprise by a huge faction of the (*looks around and whispers*) social media fanbase when the game broadcast resumed after commercials and the pitching change was to bring Lackey — not Davis — into the game.

"Wade was not warming up to come in that game," Maddon said. "Wade was probably just testing his arm at that point. We had talked about it before the game — up and in. 

"For those that aren't involved in Major League Baseball and professional baseball in general, when a guy's throwing too much, it's very important to not dry hump him, as the saying goes. Get him up and put him back down and bring him back in later. So I wasn't going to do that."

(Wow, really was not expecting to hear or write the phrase "dry hump" regarding this story.)

Maddon insists health is not the problem with Davis.

"Yes [he's healthy]. Oh yeah," Maddon said. "Listen, this guy just did yeoman kind of work — I love that word — in Washington and was not prepared to go more than three outs. I don't understand why that's difficult to understand.

"And furthermore, you have to also understand it wasn't the last game of the year or the second to last game. It was about winning eight more games. All these things are factors."

Maddon has a point. This isn't a Buck Showalter case where the Baltimore Orioles manager failed to use his best reliever — Zach Britton — in a non-save situation in a winner-take-all American League wild card game because he wanted the closer to be ready for a save.

The Cubs went down in a game that was tied 1-1 with their best reliever failing to get in the game even though he hadn't pitched in the last two days. 

But Davis can't cover every inning in relief, especially when the Cubs' two starters (Jose Quintana and Jon Lester) lasted just 9.2 innings against the Dodgers, leaving the Cubs bullpen to account for the other 8+ innings somehow.

The rest of the Cubs bullpen has to step up, too, which they did before the ninth inning of Game 2.

Still, Maddon couldn't resist getting one more defensive shot in before putting the matter to bed:

"I really hope you all understand that social media doesn't count at all," he said. "Twitter doesn't count at all. And really, as sportswriters, you should do a better job than relying on Twitter to write a story, quite frankly."

Well then.