Cubs

Colvin out to prove Cubs wrong

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Colvin out to prove Cubs wrong

MESA, Ariz. Tyler Colvin walked in from right field and saw two Chicago reporters standing by the Cubs dugout. He lowered his head and pretended to cover his face.

Colvin wore sunglasses and a black Colorado Rockies hat, but there was no chance he wouldnt be recognized at HoHoKam Stadium.

This is where Colvin crushed Cactus League pitching and forced his way onto the 2010 team. Its just up the street from the complex where prospects got bigger and stronger at Camp Colvin.

Colvin was diplomatic about last Decembers change of scenery trade that involved four high draft picks who hadnt quite made it yet. He's quiet and polite but would still like to prove the Cubs wrong.

They have their ideas of what they want, Colvin said Tuesday. Of course, you can look at it that way and say, Hey, they didnt want me. Well, these guys want me and its a fresh start.

Colvin went out and got a single, a triple and an RBI groundout in an 11-4 loss to the Cubs. It could take years to sort out this trade.

The Cubs believe Ian Stewart can be their everyday third baseman and made him the centerpiece of a deal that sent Colvin and infielder DJ LeMahieu to Colorado. The 26-year-old Colvin was a buy-low candidate after spending long stretches of last season at Triple-A Iowa and hitting .150 with 58 strikeouts in 206 at-bats with the Cubs.

When Theo Epstein took over at Clark and Addison, Colvin thought it might be another shot at a fresh start, but he never got a chance to speak with the new president. Like Andrew Cashner another former first-round pick traded away this winter Colvin got the news when assistant general manager Randy Bush called.

When the Cubs signed outfielder David DeJesus in late November, general manager Jed Hoyer said it would be wrong to say Colvin is out of the teams plans. Less than two weeks later, Colvin was traded to the Rockies.

Its one of those things where I have to come into spring training (and) battle for a spot, Colvin said. Nothings going to be given to me. I know that. I have to go ahead and show everyone over here what I can do.

Colvin says his confidence is back, that hes eager to show hes the same left-hander hitter who generated 20 homers in only 358 at-bats in 2010. The rookies playing time became a great debate.

One morning at Wrigley Field before a game against the White Sox, it set off manager Lou Piniella, who blasted broadcaster Steve Stone during his Im not a damn dummy rant.

Piniella also called out certain members of the media: The same way that I get called ridiculous, theyre ridiculous in the way they report things.

Colvin was always the calm at the center of the storm, keeping his thoughts private. He kind of shook his head when a reporter mentioned the Three Cs marketing pitch the Cubs built around Colvin, Cashner and Starlin Castro last offseason. They never asked for that.

Colvin also didnt seize the job when the Cubs traded Kosuke Fukudome last July, hitting .189 in the seasons second half.

When it was suggested that Colvins athleticism would play well across the wide gaps at Coors Field, he ran with the question for a moment before stopping himself.

Lets not get ahead of everything, Colvin said. Lets make the team first.

Albert Almora Jr. gave another example of his all-around game

Albert Almora Jr. gave another example of his all-around game

Albert Almora Jr. might be in the middle of a breakout season. The 24-year-old outfielder continues to show his impressive range in center field and is having his best year at the plate.

In Sunday's 8-3 win against the Giants, Almora had three hits and showed off his wheels in center to rob Evan Longoria of extra bases. The catch is visible in the video above.

"Defensively, right now he's playing as well as he possibly can," Maddon said.

On top of the defense he has become known for, he is hitting .326. That's good for fifth in the National League in batting.

"He's playing absolutely great," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "He's working good at-bats. His at-bats have gotten better vs. righties.

"The thing about it, is there's power there. The home runs are gonna start showing up, too."

There's also this stat, which implies Almora is having a growing significance on the Cubs as a whole:

There may be some correlation, but not causality in that. However, with Almora's center field play and growing accolades at the plate, the argument is becoming easier and easier that he is one of the most important players on the Cubs. That also goes for Almora's regular spot in the lineup, which has been up in the air with Maddon continuing to juggle the lineup.

Bears still see Dion Sims as a valuable piece to their offensive puzzle

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USA Today Sports Images

Bears still see Dion Sims as a valuable piece to their offensive puzzle

Dion Sims is still here, which is the outcome he expected but perhaps wasn’t a slam dunk — at least to those outside the walls at Halas Hall. 

The Bears could’ve cut ties with Sims prior to March 16 and saved $5.666 million against the cap, quite a figure for a guy coming off a disappointing 2017 season (15 catches, 180 yards, one touchdown). But the Bears are sticking with Sims, even after splashing eight figures to land Trey Burton in free agency earlier this year. 

“In my mind, I thought I was coming back,” Sims said. “I signed to be here three years and that’s what I expect. But I understand how things go and my job is come out here and work hard every day and play with a chip on my shoulder to prove myself and just be a team guy.”

The Bears signed Sims to that three-year, $18 million contract 14 months ago viewing him as a rock-solid blocking tight end with some receiving upside. The receiving upside never materialized, and his blocking was uneven at times as the Bears’ offense slogged through a bleak 11-loss season. 

“The situation we were in, we weren’t — we could’ve done a better job of being successful,” Sims said. “Things didn’t go how we thought it would. We just had to pretty much try to figure out how to come together and build momentum into coming into this year. I just think there were a lot of things we could have done, but because of the circumstances we were limited a little bit. 

“… It was a lot of things going on. Guys hurt, situations — it was tough for us. We couldn’t figure it out, along with losing, that was a big part of it too.”

Sims will be given a fresh start in 2018, even as Adam Shaheen will be expected to compete to cut into Sims’ playing time at the “Y” tight end position this year. The other side of that thought: Shaheen won’t necessarily slide into being the Bears’ primary in-line tight end this year. 

Sims averaged 23 receptions, 222 yards and two touchdowns from 2014-2016; that might be a good starting point for his 2018 numbers, even if it would represent an improvement from 2017. More important, perhaps, is what Sims does as a run blocker — and that was the first thing Nagy mentioned when talking about how Sims fits into his offense. 

“The nice thing with Dion is that he’s a guy that’s proven to be a solid blocker,” Nagy said. “He can be in there and be your Y-tight end, but yet he still has really good hands. He can make plays on intermediate routes. He’s not going to be anybody that’s a downfield threat — I think he knows that, we all know that — but he’s a valuable piece of this puzzle.”