Bears

Cubs, Campana knock Halladay off his game

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Cubs, Campana knock Halladay off his game

PHILADELPHIA This could have been what Philip Humber meant when he said he didnt know what his name was doing on this list.

Until Humber made baseball history last week with the White Sox, the last man to throw a perfect game was Roy Halladay, the machine who did it to the Florida Marlins on May 29, 2010.

Some four months later, Halladay threw a no-hitter in his first postseason start (against the Cincinnati Reds). The Philadelphia Phillies ace has won the Cy Young Award in both leagues.

Halladay appeared to be in the zone on Friday night at Citizens Bank Park, retiring the first 10 Cubs he faced. A sellout crowd in South Philly (45,261) might have wondered if history was unfolding.

Tony Campana, whos listed at 5-foot-8, made everyone take notice in the fourth inning. He was a blur sprinting down the line, getting underneath the tag and sliding headfirst into first base.

The Perfect Game Watch was over with that bunt single. The Cubs were putting a 5-1 victory in motion.

Campana stole second and scored the games first run when Starlin Castro singled to right-center field. The 25-year-old outfielder has brought a different dimension to this team since the Marlon Byrd trade, and will keep pushing until Brett Jacksons ready to play center.

After watching Campana run out two infield hits, score two runs and steal his fifth base in six games since his promotion from Triple-A Iowa, manager Dale Sveum committed to playing him 80 percent of the time.

Thats awesome, Campana said. That gives me a chance to kind of show what I can do and hopefully I can stay there for a long time.

Since 2005, the Cubs are now 5-1 in their six games against Halladay, who took the loss after giving up three runs in seven innings. Campana liked to think that he disrupted Halladays rhythm.

Definitely, Campana said. Hes usually one of those guys that likes to just get the ball and go and he had to slow down and really pay attention to me a little bit more.

It looked like it was going to be a long night for Paul Maholm, who began his start by giving up back-to-back singles before shutting down the Phillies (9-11) for six innings.

Maholms 100th and final pitch was drilled by Ty Wigginton for a home run in the seventh, but the left-hander still outdueled Halladay.

Hes a great pitcher and you know hes not going to give up a ton, Maholm said. You just got to make sure you make your pitches, get groundballs and do everything you can to make sure that we had a chance to come back in and get some things going.

It took a little while, but luckily I kept throwing up a couple zeroes and the defense was making plays.

You probably didnt see this coming from the Cubs (7-13). Maholm has won his past two starts after getting hammered in his first two. Campana has shown that he can be a game-changer. It turns out Halladay wasnt perfect.

I dont think you ever have any explanation about beating the best pitcher in baseball, Sveum said. It didnt look too good after those first three or four innings. It didnt look like we were going to do a whole heck of a lot off his fastball and his cutter. (But) we fought and scratched and did what we could to get the runs when we had to.

Roquan Smith helps shear a sheep at Bears community event

Roquan Smith helps shear a sheep at Bears community event

Roquan Smith has more sheared sheep than tackles on his stat sheet as a pro football player.

Smith and several other Bears rookies participated in a hands-on community event at Lambs Farm in Libertyville, Illinois on Monday where he assisted farm staff with the sheep's grooming. Smith said it was a first for him despite growing up around animals. 

"It's like on the norm for me though, playing linebacker you're in the trenches," Smith said of the experience.

"Shaving a sheep, I never really envisioned myself doing something like that," Smith said via ChicagoBears.com. "I was around animals [growing up], but it was more so cows and goats here and there and dogs and cats. I've petted a sheep before, but never actually flipped one and shaved one."

Bears rookies got up close and personal with more than just sheep.

Smith was selected with the eighth overall pick in April's draft and will assume a starting role opposite Danny Trevathan at inside linebacker this season. Here's to hoping he can wrangle opposing ball-carriers like a sheep waiting to be sheared.

The Bears' defense is ahead of its offense, but Matt Nagy doesn't see that as a problem

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USA Today Sports Images

The Bears' defense is ahead of its offense, but Matt Nagy doesn't see that as a problem

Asking players about how the defense is “ahead” of the offense is a yearly right of passage during OTAs, sort of like how every baseball team has about half its players saying they’re in the best shape of their life during spring training. So that Vic Fangio’s defense is ahead of Matt Nagy’s offense right now isn’t surprising, and it's certainly not concerning. 

But Nagy is also working to install his offense right now during OTAs to build a foundation for training camp. So does the defense — the core of which is returning with plenty of experience in Fangio’s system — being ahead of the offense hurt those efforts?

“It’s actually good for us because we’re getting an experienced defense,” Nagy said. “My message to the team on the offensive side is just be patient and don’t get frustrated. They understand that they’re going to play a little bit faster than us right now. We’ll have some growing pains, but we’ll get back to square one in training camp.”

We’ll have a chance to hear from the Bears’ offensive players following Wednesday’s practice, but for now, the guys on Fangio’s defense have come away impressed with that Nagy’s offense can be. 

“The offense is a lot … just very tough,” cornerback Prince Amukamara said. “They’re moving well. They’re faster. They’re throwing a lot of different looks at us and that’s just Nagy’s offense. If I was a receiver I would love to play in this offense, just because you get to do so many different things and you get so many different plays. It just looks fun over there.”

“They’re moving together, and I like to see that,” linebacker Danny Trevathan said. “We’re not a bad defense. They’re practicing against us, so they’re getting better every day, and vice versa. It’s a daily grind. It’s going to be tough, but those guys, they got the right pieces. I like what I see out there. When somebody makes a play, they’re gone. Everybody can run over there. It’s the right fit for Mitch, it’s the right fit for the receivers, the running backs.”

Still, for all the praise above, the defense is “winning” more, at least as much as it can without the pads on. But the offense is still having some flashes, even as it collectively learns the terminology, concepts and formations used by Nagy. 

And that leads to a competitive atmosphere at Halas Hall, led by the Bears’ new head coach. 

“He’s an offensive coach and last year coach (John) Fox, I couldn’t really talk stuff to (him) because he’s a defensive coach and it’s like Nagy’s offense so if I get a pick or something, I mean, I like to talk stuff to him,” Amukamara said. “He’ll say something like ‘we’re coming at you 2-0.’ Stuff like that. That just brings out the competition and you always want that in your head coach.”