White Sox

Texas Tech hires familiar face as new coach

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Texas Tech hires familiar face as new coach

From Comcast SportsNetLUBBOCK, Texas (AP) -- New Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury has wanted to be back in Lubbock since he left a decade ago.Late last week the former Red Raiders quarterback was watching film to prepare for Texas A&M's game against Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl and getting ready to accompany Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel to New York, where he became the first freshman ever to win the Heisman Trophy.On Saturday, the Texas Tech job came open when Tommy Tuberville left after three seasons to take the Cincinnati job.The next day Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt talked to Kingsbury about the job twice."It's just been a whirlwind but I couldn't be happier, beyond ecstatic to be back. It feels like home," Kingsbury said after landing in Lubbock on Wednesday night. "This is where I wanted to be, it's where I've wanted to be."Kingsbury and Hocutt met in Austin yesterday and the deal was sealed there Wednesday afternoon. Hocutt announced the news with a video posted on Twitter not long after."Wreck em Tech," Kingsbury said in the video, giving the school's Guns Up sign when the camera panned to him.Hocutt and Kingsbury agreed to a four-year deal, the terms of which have not been settled. Kingsbury will be formally introduced at a news conference Friday.Kingsbury was the Aggies offensive coordinator this year. If it was any other school, Kingsbury said, he would have stayed at A&M."He understands," Kingsbury said of Manziel. "He knows how I feel about him. He's as good a player as I've ever seen and probably the fiercest competitor I've ever been around, so it was definitely hard with that. But this is where I belong."Kingbury was the first in a string of record-setting quarterbacks for the Red Raiders under former coach Mike Leach. Kingsbury passed for more than 12,000 yards at Tech.He has never been a head coach and at 33, he'll be one of the youngest in major college football.Hocutt called him the "right fit" for Texas Tech."He's prepared his whole life for this," said Hocutt, who was the same age as Kingsbury when he got his first athletic director job at Ohio University. "He's ready and I had no hesitation."Not long after Kingsbury was hired former Texas Tech receiver Danny Amendola, now with the St. Louis Rams, tweeted: "We jus got our swagger back. Wreck em TECH. Lets ride."Kingsbury flew back from Austin with Hocutt and other school administrators, who all were meeting with the university's regents late Wednesday.Red Raiders fans never warmed to Tuberville. Texas Tech still emphasized the passing game and the spread offense under Tuberville, but many Tech fans had a hard time getting past the firing of the popular Leach.There's no doubt about what kind of offense the Red Raiders will run now. Kingsbury has been part of some of the most prolific offenses in the country the past few years. His offenses spread the field and move quickly, favoring the up-tempo that is all the rage. Texas A&M is third in the nation in total offense at 552 yards per game heading into the Cotton Bowl against Oklahoma.Before Tuberville came to West Texas, the Red Raiders had two coaches in 24 years -- Spike Dykes and Leach. Kingsbury becomes their second coach in four years.Kingsbury will work with sophomore quarterback Michael Brewer, this season's backup to Seth Doege. Brewer played high school football under Chad Morris, who Hocutt interviewed for the Red Raiders coaching job Tuesday in South Carolina. Hocutt later flew to Nashville, Tenn., to meet with Titans defensive coordinator Jerry Gray.Kingsbury knows Brewer's talent, calling him a "winner" and a "heck of a player.""I just got through coaching one of those up that was pretty decent, so hopefully we can get him going," he said of Brewer.Kingsbury followed Kevin Sumlin to A&M from Houston, where he mentored quarterback Case Keenum and the 2011 Cougars led the nation in total offense, passing offense and scoring.He is a Texas native from New Braunfels, not far from Austin.During his years as Texas Tech's quarterback Kingsbury put together some monster passing games passing. He still holds the school record for most completions in a game. Against Missouri in 2002 he completed 49 of 70 passes for five touchdowns and 510 yards.Drafted by the New England Patriots in 2003, Kingsbury played for five NFL teams. He also played in the Canadian and All-American football leagues.The past two seasons have seen the Red Raiders slide down the stretch. This year they lost four of their last five games and in 2011 they dropped five straight to close the season for the program's first losing season since 1992. Under Tuberville, Texas Tech did not have a winning Big 12 season.The Red Raiders play Minnesota in the Meineke Car Care Bowl on Dec. 28 in Houston.Chris Thomsen, who led the offensive line under Tuberville, will coach the bowl game.

Left, right, center: Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert and Micker Adolfo are dreaming of being the White Sox championship outfield of the future

Left, right, center: Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert and Micker Adolfo are dreaming of being the White Sox championship outfield of the future

GLENDALE, Ariz. — All that was missing was a dinner bell.

From all over the White Sox spring training complex at Camelback Ranch they came, lined up in front of the third-base dugout and all around the cage to see a trio of future White Sox take batting practice.

This is all it was, batting practice. But everyone wanted to get a glimpse of Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert and Micker Adolfo swinging the bat. And those three outfield prospects delivered, putting on quite a show and displaying exactly what gets people so darn excited about the White Sox rebuild.

How to sum it up if you weren’t there? Just be happy you weren’t parked behind the left-field fence.

Jimenez and Robert are two of the biggest stars of the White Sox rebuilding effort, with Adolfo flying a bit more under the radar, but all three have big dreams of delivering on the mission general manager Rick Hahn and his front office have undertaken over the past year and change: to turn the South Siders into perennial championship contenders. The offensive capabilities of all three guys have fans and the team alike giddy for the time they hit the big leagues.

And those three guys can’t wait for that day, either.

“Actually, just a few minutes ago when we were taking BP, we were talking about it,” Jimenez said Tuesday. “Micker and Luis said, ‘Can you imagine if we had the opportunity one day to play together in the majors: right, left and center field? The three of us together and having the opportunity to bring a championship to this team?’ I think that’s a dream for us, and we’re trying to work hard for that.”

“We were just talking about how cool it would be to one day all three of us be part of the same outfield,” Adolfo told NBC Sports Chicago. “We were talking about hitting behind each other in the order and just envisioning ourselves winning championships and stuff like that. It’s awesome. I really envision myself in the outfield next to Eloy and Luis Robert.”

How those three would eventually line up in the outfield at Guaranteed Rate Field remains to be seen. Adolfo’s highly touted arm would make him an attractive option in right field. Robert’s speed and range makes him the logical fit in center field. Jimenez will play whichever position allows his big bat to stay in the lineup every day.

Here in Arizona, the focus isn’t necessarily on some far off future but on the present. As intriguing as all three guys are and as anticipated their mere batting practice sessions seem to be, they all potentially have a long way to go to crack the big league roster. Jimenez is the furthest along, but even he has only 73 plate appearances above the Class A level. Adolfo spent his first full season above rookie ball last year. Robert has yet to play a minor league game in the United States.

The group could very well make its way through the minor leagues together, which would obviously be beneficial come the time when the three arrive on the South Side.

“We were talking about (playing in the big leagues), but also we were talking about just to have the first stage of the three of us together in the minor leagues first and then go to the majors all three of us together,” Robert said. “To have the opportunity to play there should be pretty special for us. We were dreaming about that.”

For months now, and likely for months moving forward, the question has been and will be: when?

Whether it’s Jimenez or top pitching prospect Michael Kopech or any other of the large number of prospects who have become household names, fans and observers are dying to see the stars of this rebuilding project hit the major leagues. Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez made their respective jumps last season. Hahn, who has said repeatedly this offseason that the front office needs to practice patience as much as the fan base, has also mentioned that a good developmental season for these guys might involve no big league appearances at all.

And it’s worth remembering that could be the case considering the lack of experience at the upper levels of the minor leagues for all three of these guys.

“In my mind, I don’t try to set a date for when I'm going to be in the majors,” Jimenez said. “That is something I can’t control. I always talk with my dad and we share opinions, and he says, ‘You know what? Just control the things that you can control. Work hard and do the things that you need to do to get better.’ And that’s my key. That’s probably why I stay patient.”

But staying patient is sometimes easier said than done. The big crowd watching Jimenez, Robert and Adolfo send baseballs into a to-this-point-in-camp rare cloudless Arizona sky proved that.

Dreaming of the future has now become the official pastime of the South Side. And that applies to fans and players all the same.

“I’m very, very excited,” Jimenez said, “because I know from the time we have here, that when the moment comes, when we can all be in the majors, the ones that can finally reach that level, we’re going to be good, we’re going to be terrific. I know that.”

With Josh Sitton on his way out, what’s next for the Bears’ offensive line?

With Josh Sitton on his way out, what’s next for the Bears’ offensive line?

The first major move of Ryan Pace’s 2018 offseason hit on Tuesday, as NFL Network reported the Bears will not exercise Josh Sitton’s $8 million option for 2018. 

The move accomplishes two things for the Bears: 1) It frees up about $8 million in cap space and 2) Removes a veteran from the offensive line and creates a hole to fill, presumably by a younger free agent or draft pick. 

The 31-year-old Sitton signed a three-year deal with the Bears after Green Bay cut him just before the 2016 season, and was a Pro Bowler his first year in Chicago. Sitton played 26 of 32 games in two years with the Bears, but him being on the wrong side of 30 was likely the biggest factor here. If the Bears saw his skills eroding, releasing him now and netting the cap savings while going younger at the position does make sense. 

“Going younger” doesn’t guarantee the Bears will draft Notre Dame brawler Quenton Nelson, though that did become a greater possibility with Tuesday’s move. Nelson might be one of the two or three best offensive players in this year’s draft, and offensive line coach Harry Hiestand knows him well from the four years they spent together at Notre Dame. 

There’s a natural fit there, of course, but a few reasons to slow the Nelson-to-Chicago hype train: Would he even make it to No. 8? Or if he’s there, is taking a guard that high worth it when the Bears have needs at wide receiver, outside linebacker and cornerback? Still, the thought of Nelson — who absolutely dominated at Notre Dame — pairing with Hiestand again is tantalizing, and Nelson very well could step into any team’s starting lineup and be an immediate Pro Bowler as a rookie. 

If the Bears go younger in free agency, Matt Nagy knows 26-year-old guard Zach Fulton (No. 25 in Bleacher Report’s guard rankings) well from their time in Kansas City. Fulton — a Homewood-Flossmoor alum — has the flexibility to play both guard positions and center, which could open the door for Cody Whitehair to be moved to left guard, the position he was initially drafted to play (though the Bears do value him highly as a center, and keeping him at one position would benefit him as opposed to moving him around the line again). There are some other guys out there — like Tennessee’s Josh Kline or New York’s Justin Pugh — that could wind up costing more than Fulton in free agency. 

Or the Bears could look draft an offensive lineman after the first round, perhaps like Ohio State’s Billy Price, Georgia’s Isaiah Wynn or UTEP’s Will Hernandez. How the Bears evaluate guards at the NFL Combine next week will play an important role in how they go about replacing Sitton. 

The trickle-down effect of releasing Sitton will impact more than the offensive line, too. Freeing up his $8 million in cap space -- which wasn't a guarantee, unlike cutting Jerrell Freeman and, at some point, Mike Glennon -- could go toward paying Kyle Fuller, or another top cornerback, or a top wide receiver, or some combination of players at those positions (as well as outside linebacker). The Bears were already in a healthy place cap-wise; that just got healthier on Tuesday.