White Sox

Friedrich joins Fire for training

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Friedrich joins Fire for training

German defender Arne Friedrich has joined the Fire this week in advance of the club's home opener Saturday against Philadelphia (7 p.m., Comcast SportsNet). Check out the gallery below for photos of Friedrich training with his new team and a few photos of the German international squaring up against some world-class players in 2010's World Cup.

Friedrich comes to the Fire after being released from his contract with German-side VFL Wolfsburg last September. The 32-year-old only appeared in 15 games with Wolfsburg, which he joined in 2010, due to a pair of slipped discs. 2012 will be Friedrich's first season playing outside Germany's top-level Bundesliga.

From 2002-2010, he was a back-line stalwart for Hertha Berlin, appearing in 231 games and scoring 14 goals. Friedrich has also been capped 82 times by the German National Team, the 18th-most in the history of club. He scored his only international goal in a 2010 World Cup match against Argentina.

White Sox chances at signing Michael Brantley might have improved

White Sox chances at signing Michael Brantley might have improved

LAS VEGAS — In addition to reportedly being in on Bryce Harper, the White Sox are reportedly in on Michael Brantley, a less-heralded though still quite good free-agent outfielder.

And their chances of signing him might have just gotten better.

According to Fancred's Jon Heyman, the White Sox were one of the three teams trying to sign Brantley, the longtime Cleveland Indian who South Side fans are very familiar with. One of the others, the Philadelphia Phillies, just signed free-agent outfielder Andrew McCutchen, and while that move might not end up creating a seismic shift in the Harper sweepstakes, it might knock them out of the running for Brantley.

This isn't the first time the White Sox have been mentioned as angling for the 31-year-old, with them reportedly even making him a contract offer.

Brantley isn't quite as obvious a long-term fit as Harper, a full five years older. He doesn't bring the no-brainer alignment with the organization's wave of highly touted prospects.

But it's not like he's ancient, either, and he's coming off another fine season in which he slashed .309/.364/.468 and made his third All-Star team. His veteran experience could be a valuable addition to a young team trying to grow into a perennial contender, and he fills an obvious need in the outfield after the White Sox non-tendered starting right fielder Avisail Garcia. Of course, Brantley hasn't played anywhere but left field since 2015, the position that seems to be the destination for top-ranked prospect Eloy Jimenez.

So would Brantley be a bridge to the outfield of the future or a part of it? The kind of contract he would get would likely best describe his fit.

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Bears James Daniels stands tall against NFL’s best DT Aaron Donald

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USA TODAY

Bears James Daniels stands tall against NFL’s best DT Aaron Donald

Rookie guard James Daniels laughed and shook his head in the aftermath of the Bears’ 15-6 win Sunday over the Los Angeles Rams:

Had he ever gone against a defensive tackle anything like Rams All-Pro Aaron Donald?

“I don’t think I’ve ever played a D-tackle like that one,” Daniel said. “He rushes unique compared to other defensive tackles. [Ndamukong] Suh plays like a lot of other tackles but just better than they do. But Donald is different.

“No defensive tackle I’ve ever played has played like that. He protects his chest and that’s why offensive linemen have trouble. You’re trying to ‘punch’ him but he protects and there’s nothing you can punch. He’s at an angle. That’s why he’s so good. If you really look at tape, you see how he protects, and he was doing a great job every play of keeping his hands inside.”

Daniel, who didn’t get his first NFL start until Game 7, has played every bit like the second-round draft choice he was this year. Against Donald on multiple occasions Sunday, he and right guard Bryan Witzmann faced a modern incarnation of similarly-undersized Hall of Fame defensive tackle John Randle.

The result was a win for the Bears and a game in which Donald, the NFL sack leader with 16.5 over 12 games, managed just one (of the Rams’ three for the game) hit on Mitchell Trubisky to go with one solo tackle and one assist. It was Donald’s least-productive 2018 day since Week 1 at Oakland.

Donald did beat Daniels on more than one occasion. But it’s what happened next that made perhaps an even greater impression.

Daniels recovered within the play, kept his physical and mental balance – “If you start panicking,” he said, laughing, “that’s not going to be good” – and kept Daniels at bay in pass protection and, along with Witzmann and center Cody Whitehair, moved the Rams tackle as part of the Bears amassing a season-high 194 rushing yards.

“He just kept his poise, stuck to his basics and technique, and against a guy like that, that’s what you gotta do,” Whitehair said. “There’s going to be ups and downs and it’s all in how you respond to it.”

Coach Matt Nagy saw the same: “One of James’ biggest strengths is if he happens to lose a little leverage he can recover, but for the most part he was very consistent. And man, for being such a young kid, very calm, composed and that was one of the big things we talked about as a team was to stay calm and composed and next play mentality, he did that.”

Daniels credits Whitehair, himself a fellow second-rounder, with helping him through the rough spots of acclimating to the NFL. Whitehair also was instrumental in executing a blocking scheme that dealt with a Rams front seven that included five No. 1 draft picks.

“That was one of the biggest challenges that he’s ever going to have,” Nagy said. “Not all the time, he was not going against him every play, but there’s times where he’s out there and Aaron has so many great moves. But I thought [Daniels’] technique was really good last night. He never lunged too much, he stayed balanced.”

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