Bears

Sometimes You Feel Like A McNutt, Sometimes You Don't

Sometimes You Feel Like A McNutt, Sometimes You Don't

Tuesday April 26, 2011
Posted: 10:00 p.m.

CUBS
Tennessee AA
The Smokies have been getting recognition all season for their bats but Tuesday night Trey McNutt deserved some attention for the way he gutted through five innings for his first victory of the season in a 6-1 victory at Jacksonville.

McNutt 1-1 allowed only one run in his five innings of works but surrendered seven hits and issued a walk, skating in and out of trouble on more than one occasion before the bullpen locked up the Suns with four scoreless innings.

Tennessee broke the game open with a four-run third inning. Matt Spencer and Rebel Ridling had RBI doubles before Steve Clevenger and Blake Lalli added RBI singles. Ridling extended his hitting streak to seven games and pushed his average to .424 in the process. Hes 14-for-31 .452 on the current road trip, which concludes Wednesday afternoon.
Iowa AAA
Memphis scored three times in the bottom of the ninth Tuesday afternoon at Auto Zone Park to rally past Iowa, 4-3. Nick Stavinohas RBI single brought in the winning run, making a loser of John Gaub.

Lou Montanez had two hits and an RBI. Hes hitting .435 and has driven in 26 this season. He has reached base safely in 17 of 18 games.
Peoria A
Arismendy Alcantara stayed hot and Austin Kirk had his second consecutive solid outing Tuesday night as Peoria bounced Clinton, 10-1, at Alliant Energy Field.

Alcantara extended his hitting streak to six games with a pair of hits. He also drove in four runs as did Tony Giansanti. Alcantara his hitting .500 11-for-22 during the streak with 12 RBIs. Rohan was 3-for-5 and has eight hits in his last 15 at-bats, pushing his average to .358.

Kirk 2-1, meanwhile, allowed a run and struck out six over six innings, his longest outing of the season.

WHITE SOXWinston-Salem A
The Dash have struggled through much of the latter half of April but found some solace Tuesday night at BB&T Ballpark, topping Frederick, 3-2, for just their second victory in the last nine games.

Winston-Salem scored three seventh-inning runs to take the lead. Jared Mitchells two-run single tied the score at 2-2 before he was thrown out attempting to steal second. Ian Gac walked and then went to third on an Andy Wilkins double before Jason Bour brought him home with a fielders choice.

Jose Martinez finished with a pair of hits and is hitting .397. Addison Reed, making his second appearance of the season with the Dash after coming up from Kannapolis, pitched two scoreless innings for his first victory. Taylor Thompson went 1 13 innings for his first save.
Kannapolis A
The Intimidators had their biggest offensive output of the season Tuesday night, pounding host Lexington, 13-6.

Kannapolis jumped out to a 6-1 lead after two innings with Trayce Thompsons three-run homer in the second providing the big blow. It was his team-leading sixth of the season. Kyle Eveland added a three-run homer of his own in the seventh. Jake Petricka improved to 2-0 after allowing four runs in five innings.

In other action, Charlotte saw its losing streak stretch to five games as it dropped an 8-5 decision to ScrantonWilkes-Barre at Knights Stadium. Dayan Viciedo had a homer and three RBIs for the Knights. Huntsville bested Birmingham, 7-3, at Joe Davis Stadium. Charlie Leesman struck out eight over six shutout innings before Nate Jones surrendered seven runs in a third of an inning to take the loss and waste Leesmans effort.

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

2017 Bears position grades: Defensive backs

2017 Bears position grades: Defensive backs

2017 grade: B-

Level of need: High

Decisions to be made on: Kyle Fuller (free agent), Prince Amukamara (free agent), Marcus Cooper (contract), Sherrick McManis (free agent), Bryce Callahan (restricted free agent), Quintin Demps (contract)

Possible free agent targets: Trumaine Johnson, Malcolm Butler, Bashaud Breeland, E.J. Gaines, Rashaad Melvin, Robert McClain, Darrelle Revis

There’s a wide spectrum of scenarios for the Bears at cornerback, ranging from keeping the status quo to blowing the whole thing up, and everything in between. Safety is far more stable, with Adrian Amos and Eddie Jackson proving to be a reliable pairing, so that’s set for 2018.

Let’s start with one end of that cornerback spectrum: The Bears keep the top of this unit intact. That means, No. 1, retaining Kyle Fuller via the franchise tag and/or a long-term contract. No. 2, it means bringing back Prince Amukamara, who didn’t record an interception and committed a few too many penalties, but otherwise was a fine enough cover corner. No. 3, it means keeping restricted free agent Bryce Callahan as the team’s No. 1 slot corner.

On paper, this doesn’t seem like an altogether bad option. The Bears weren’t spectacular at cornerback in 2017, but the position was a little better than average, which isn’t the worst place to be for a single unit. Couple with solid play from the safeties and the Bears’ defensive backs were overall a decent enough group. Outside of Marcus Cooper -- who is a candidate to be cut for cap savings -- the Bears may not need to make wholesale changes to this group.

That, though, is a rosier look at this unit. The Bears can certainly improve the personnel in it with a healthy amount of cap space and a strong crop of free agent cornerbacks about to hit the market. Keeping Fuller and then signing a top-tier player like Trumaine Johnson or Malcolm Butler would upgrade this group, as would bringing back Fuller and Amukamara but then using a high draft pick on a player like Ohio State’s Denzel Ward.

Unless the Bears sign two big-time cornerbacks -- i.e. Fuller and Johnson, or even a guy like Brashaud Breeland or E.J. Gaines -- it would seem reasonable for them to use a first or second-round pick on a cornerback in an effort to find a longer-term solution at the position. That doesn’t mean the Bears would absolutely have to go that route, especially with other needs at wide receiver, guard and outside linebacker.

But here’s another thought: It’s not out of the realm of possibility that the Bears are able to sign a combination of two top cornerbacks in free agency. With plenty of cap space top-end free agents lacking at wide receiver and outside linebacker/edge rusher, could Pace allocate a good chunk of that money to, say, tagging Fuller and making runs at Johnson, Butler and/or Breeland? 2018 looks to be a good year to be aggressive in the free agent cornerback market, and that could play into the Bears’ strategy well.

Before we finish, we should carve out some space for Amos and Jackson. Pro Football Focus isn’t the only outlet that’s given Amos high marks -- Bleacher Report’s NFL1000 ranked him as the No. 1 free safety in the league, too. Jackson came in at No. 19 in B/R’s strong safety rankings, which is pretty solid for a fourth-round rookie.

But the larger point here isn’t exactly where Amos and Jackson are in outside evaluations -- it’s that, tangibly, the pair played well off each other on a consistent basis last year. Seeing as Amos didn’t enter the Bears’ starting lineup until Week 4 -- after Quintin Demps suffered a season-ending broken forearm against Pittsburgh -- how quickly and successfully he and Jackson meshed was one of the more impressive developments for the Bears’ 2017 defense. Amos needs to make more plays on the ball and Jackson has some things to clean up, but the Bears enter the 2018 league year not needing to address their safety position. That’s a good place to be for a team with other significant needs.

Three Things to Watch: Bulls-76ers

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NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Bulls-76ers

The Bulls square off against the Sixers tonight on NBC Sports Chicago, with coverage beginning at 6:30 with Bulls Pregame Live. Here are three things to watch as the Bulls begin the stretch run of their regular season.

1. The new rotation: Most of the Bulls’ rotation looks the same, but the addition of David Nwaba, Cristiano Felicio and Cameron Payne will have a different feel. The Bulls clearly want to get a look at these guys before the end of the regular season, meaning they’re not just going to get sporadic minutes. They’ll have to play through their mistakes, play out-matched at times and be put in uncomfortable situations. But the Bulls need to see what they have, especially in Payne, who has missed the entire season to this point with a broken foot.

2. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons: They’re quite the 1-2 punch and have the Sixers looking at their first playoff appearance since Derrick Rose hadn’t yet torn an ACL. Yeah, that’s a long time. Embiid just finished his first All-Star appearance (starting in his second year) and Simmons is the front runner for Rookie of the Year. The Bulls will have their hands full with these two. Luckily…

3. Kris Dunn is back: The Bulls wanted to get Dunn some run before heading to All-Star Weekend to play in the Rising Stars Challenge, and he looked healthy in that thumping against the Raptors last week. The good news is John Paxson says Dunn won’t be on a minutes limit, which means he’s healthy. That, of course, is more important than how he’s playing. It’ll be fun to see him, LaVine and Markkanen play together down the stretch. Their numbers together aren’t great, but the Bulls are 2-2 with all three in the lineup, and tanking or not…it’s more fun to watch when those three are rolling.