White Sox

Bears training camp capsules: Quarterbacks

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Bears training camp capsules: Quarterbacks

Bears QB lineup best since 1940s you could look it up
Jay Cutlers thumb is healed. New GM Phil Emery re-signed Josh McCown and added former Oakland and Washington starter Jason Campbell.
The result is easily the best quarterback depth chart since the Bears had Brian Griese and Kyle Orton behind Rex Grossman in 2006-2007 and begins training camp ranked No. 2 for the Bears all-time. The firepower at the top in Cutler clearly stamps this as the best quarterback staffing since the group of Sid Luckman, Johnny Lujack and rookie Bobby Layne in 1948.
Two of that group finished in the Hall of Fame. Thats a very longshot for any of the current corps but all three of Cutler-Campbell-McCown have starter experience and motivation to perform from the outset of training camp on. It is probably not a stretch to say that if Jason Campbell were in Chicago last year, the Bears are in the playoffs.
Our quarterback position, weve improved it, said coach Lovie Smith. Sometimes when youre a backup quarterback you go unnoticed. Jason Campbell is a good addition to our group. Josh McCown also as the third quarterback.
So I feel like were going to be able to put more points on the board, which we will have to do. The team that led the league I think averaged 35 points per game last year. We were about at 22. We have to improve on that.
2011 in review
The Bears 2011 season turned on the broken thumb suffered by Cutler in a San Diego game that was all but decided. It was the second straight season for Cutler to end the year with an injury, a trend he and the Bears need to have end. Campbell went down with a broken collarbone, did not receive much interest in free agency, and
The fall from 7-3 and a No. 5 playoff seed, at which point the Bears were sixth in the NFL averaging 26.8 points per game, to 8-8 and out of the postseason was set in motion by the injury at quarterback, a first domino in a chain that culminated in the firing of general manager Jerry Angelo.
Angelo was blamed for not staffing the quarterback position adequately behind Cutler. The irony in this lay in the fact that Angelo did not stick coaches with any player they did not want. Then-offensive coordinator Mike Martz in 2010 did not want Hanie, pressing for signing vet Todd Collins for 1 million. But after a promising two quarters in the NFC Championship game, Martz changed course and decided in 2011 that in fact he could fashion an NFL quarterback out of Hanie, insiders toldCSNChicago.com.
The problems with Hanie and Nathan Enderle, Martzs hand-picked draft choice to develop, were evident in training camp. Hanie threw as many as a half-dozen interceptions in one practice and was briefly demoted behind Enderle, whose ineptness was such that late in the season with Hanie failing, Enderle was not even deemed worth having in uniform three of the final four weeks.
Hanie, Enderle, Martz and Todd Collins are all gone.
2012 training camp What to watch
Depth chart
1. Jay Cutler2. Jason Campbell3. Josh McCown4. Matt Blanchard
This is a position group without a significant element of competition, which is generally a good thing at the quarterback spot. Teams can split and take sides in quarterback competitions. That will not happen in this camp or preseason where the objectives are clear:
Cutler refine rapport with receivers, settle in with third offensive coordinator in four Chicago seasons, but now with position coach and de facto passing-game coordinator Jeremy Bates, previously with Cutler in Denver. The purpose of training camp is to take the return to Cutlers preferred offense to the next level.
Its stuff that I do well. Its stuff that I know, Cutler said. As a quarterback you want to be in the same offense over and over and over and over again so you can get a good feel for it and so you know all the nuances. This offense, I was in it three years in Denver, so this is my fourth year in it. Im very comfortable with it.
Campbell establish viability as No. 2 in season returning from injury; use preseason as audition for 2013 free agency.
I just wanted to be somewhere you can definitely win and compete, Campbell said. At the same time I want to play but you have to understand that that position is definitely taken care of here. But it gives me an opportunity to be on a quality team where you can learn some intangibles within the team. Thats what you take it is the most you can make out of a situation and make the best of it.
McCown provide veteran depth in Bears offense and confirm skills in preseason.
Blanchard an undrafted rookie free agent from Wisconsin-Whitewater, Blanchard played his way during minicamps into a contract and a chance through preseason at the practice squad, Bears or other.

The White Sox sent down Carson Fulmer, so why isn't Lucas Giolito receiving the same treatment?

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AP

The White Sox sent down Carson Fulmer, so why isn't Lucas Giolito receiving the same treatment?

Lucas Giolito is having a rough go of things in his second year with the White Sox.

He came into the season with some pretty high expectations after posting a 2.38 ERA in seven starts at the end of the 2017 campaign and then dominating during spring training. But he’s done anything but dominate since this season started, and after one of his worst outings in Thursday’s 9-3 loss to the Baltimore Orioles, he’s got a 7.53 ERA in 10 starts in 2018.

Giolito stuck around for only four outs Thursday, but he allowed the Orioles to do plenty of damage, giving up seven runs on six hits — two of which were back-to-back home runs to start the second inning — and three walks. He leads the American League with his 37 walks.

“I take what I do very seriously. I work as hard as I can at it,” Giolito said. “So when I experience failure like this, it’s kind of hard to deal with. All I can do is come back tomorrow, keep working on things and hopefully have a better one.”

All of Giolito’s struggles have fans wondering why the White Sox haven’t sent him down to Triple-A to work on his craft.

“I don’t foresee that at this particular time,” Rick Renteria said when asked if Giolito could be sent to Triple-A. “I think he’s just a young man who’s got to continue to minimize the emotional aspect of crossing from preparation into the game and staying focused, relaxed and hammer the zone with strikes. And truthfully it’s just first-pitch strike and get after the next one.”

The White Sox have already sent one young pitcher down in Carson Fulmer, who was having a nightmarish time at the big league level. Fulmer’s results were worse than Giolito’s on a regular basis. He got sent down after posting an 8.07 ERA in nine outings.

But hasn’t Giolito suffered through command issues enough to warrant some time away from the major league limelight? According to his manager, Giolito’s situation is vastly different than Fulmer’s.

“I don’t see them anywhere near each other,” Renteria said. “They’re two different competitors in terms of the outcomes that they’ve had. Lucas has at least had situations in which he might have struggled early and been able to gain some confidence through the middle rounds of his start and continue to propel himself to finish some ballgames, give us six or seven innings at times. So it’s two different guys.

“With Gio, I expect that we would have a nice clean start from the beginning, but when he doesn’t I still feel like if he gets through it he’ll settle down and continue to hammer away at what he needs to do in order to get deeper into a ballgame, and that was a little different with Carson. With Carson it was right from the get-go he was struggling, and he had a difficult time extending his outings after the third or fourth because it just kept getting too deep into his pitch count and not really hammering the strike zone as much.”

Renteria is not wrong. Giolito has had a knack to take a rough beginning to a start and turn it into five or six innings. Notably, he gave up a couple first-inning runs and walked seven hitters and still got the win against the Cubs a week and a half ago. And while his first-inning ERA is 10.80 and his second-inning ERA is 12.54, he’s pitched into at least the sixth inning in seven of his 10 starts.

Renteria’s point is that Giolito is learning how to shake off early damage and achieving the goal, most times out, of eating up innings and keeping his team in the game. Those are a couple valuable qualities to develop for a young pitcher. But are those the lone qualities that determine that Giolito is suited to continue his learning process at the major league level? His command remains a glaring problem, and both he and Renteria admitted that his problems are more mental than physical.

“The one thing everyone has to understand is we have to go beyond the physical and attack a little bit more of the mental and emotional and try to connect and slow that down,” Renteria said. “Those aspects are the ones that ultimately, at times, deal in the derailment of the physical action. So if we can kind of calm that down a little bit.

“He’s very focused. Giolito is high intensity. Nice kid but high-intensity young man when he gets on the mound. You might not believe it. He’s going 100 mph. So I think it goes to more just trusting himself, trusting the process, taking it truthfully one pitch at a time.”

Well, if a demotion to the minors isn’t likely, what about moving Giolito to the bullpen? Carlos Rodon and Chris Sale dipped their toes in bullpen waters before moving to the rotation. Could a reversal of that strategy help Giolito?

Well, the current state of the White Sox starting rotation — Fulmer in the minors, Miguel Gonzalez on the 60-day DL and pitchers like James Shields, Hector Santiago and Dylan Covey, who aren’t exactly long-term pieces, getting a lot of starts — doesn’t really allow for another piece to be removed.

“I know they have done it with Rodon and Sale,” Renteria said. “The difference is we don’t have the makeup of the starting rotation that those clubs had in order to put those guys in the ‘pen. We are in a different situation right now. Moving forward, is that something we can possibly do? Absolutely. It has been done with very good success.

“Right now we are in truly discovery mode and adjustment mode and adapting and trying to do everything we can to get these guys to develop their skill sets to be very usable and effective at the major league level and we are doing it to the best of our ability.”

There could be promise in the fact that Giolito has turned a season around as recently as last year. Before he was impressing on the South Side in August and September, he was struggling at Triple-A Charlotte. Even after he ironed things out, things had gotten off to a rocky enough start that he owned a 4.48 ERA and 10 losses when he was called up to the bigs.

It doesn’t seem Giolito will be going back to Charlotte, unless things continue to go in a dramatically poor direction. Right now, these are just more of the growing pains during this rebuilding process. “The hardest part of the rebuild” doesn’t just means wins and losses. It means watching some players struggle through speed bumps as they continue to develop into what the White Sox hope they’ll be when this team is ready to compete.

Even without practicing, Allen Robinson is making a strong first impression with the Bears

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Even without practicing, Allen Robinson is making a strong first impression with the Bears

Before Bears wide receivers coach Mike Furrey met with the media on Wednesday, Allen Robinson was curious what his position coach would say about him in public. 

“I just told him, I don’t know you,” Furrey quipped. “Who’s Allen Robinson?”

Furrey, of course, knows who Robinson is. But the point behind that joke is that Furrey, the Bears’ court wide receivers coach in four years, is still getting to know all of his receivers — let alone the one who hasn’t participated in a practice yet. For all the positivity that's easy to find around Halas Hall these days, the Bears' biggest offseason acquisition hasn't taken a rep yet. 

The good news for the Bears, of course, is that Robinson’s past play speaks for itself. He combined for 153 catches, 2,883 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2015 and 2016, and has been adamant he’ll return to that high level of play when he’s cleared to practice. The Bears were confident enough in Robinson’s medicals to guarantee him a little over $25 million in March, per Spotrac, about a month before they let Cameron Meredith sign with the New Orleans Saints largely over medical concerns (Meredith’s torn ACL was viewed as more serious than Robinson’s, in short). 

So the getting-to-know-you phase for Furrey and Robinson is largely taking place off the field in the meeting rooms of Halas Hall. 

“What a great young man,” Furrey said. “He’s come in here, obviously, rehabbing and doing all those things. But he’s alert, he comes to meetings, he’s ready to go. Really, really smart, you can tell that from the beginning and he’s a professional.”

What Furrey, in particular, likes about Robinson is that he’s an “alpha,” but is far more than all talk and no action. 

“And a lot of times that alpha talks a lot and they don’t really put it out there,” Furrey said. “He kind of has that alpha quietness to him. He understands what’s going on, you can look at him and you just kind of get that feel of he has a great understanding of how to approach this game at this level. Obviously he’s been highly successful for a couple years with some big numbers, but he doesn’t act like that. He’s still hungry, he wants to learn, and I think he’s got a chip on his shoulder, which is a good trait to have too. So we’re excited about that.”

The expectation all along has been for Robinson to be cleared to fully participate in training camp practices. So while coach Matt Nagy said last week Robinson is “ahead of the game,” that may not mean he takes part in the final round of OTAs next week or veteran minicamp the first week of June. 

But while Robinson can’t prove himself to his new coaches on the field yet, he’s doing the right things off the field to make a positive first impression. 

“He knows you gotta come in early, he knows you gotta be the last one to leave, he knows you gotta study,” Furrey said. “It doesn’t matter five years in, six years in, you gotta take notes. It doesn’t matter if you hear it 10 times, you just gotta keep taking notes. He’s been really good at that, and I’ve been really impressed with that. I’ve been able to get on the field with him a little bit, just kind of throwing some balls to him, and I didn’t know he was that big. But obviously we’re excited for it to happen out there.”