Bears

Jackson Stays Red Hot In Leading Tennessee To Twinbill Sweep

Jackson Stays Red Hot In Leading Tennessee To Twinbill Sweep

Saturday April 16, 2011
Posted: 9:40 p.m.
CUBS Tennessee AA
Brett Jackson continued his torrid start to the season Saturday in helping pace Tennessee to a doubleheader of sweep of Montgomery at Smokies Park. Jackson got hits in both ends of the twin bill as the Smokies ran their winning streak to four games with 11-7 and 3-1 victories, respectively.

Jackson went 2-for-5 with a double, three runs scored and a pair of walks, pushing his batting average to .467. While Jackson has been scintillating, he did have some help. Ryan Flaherty had two homers and five RBIs in the opener. Josh Vitters added a homer and three RBI.

It all made it easier for Alberto Cabrera, who picked up his first victory after allowing three runs in six innings.

The nightcap was a bit tighter with Ty Wright connecting for a solo homer. Josh Vitters also added a hit and is batting .367. Ryan Buchter earned the win, pitching a scoreless sixth inning before David Cales tossed a scoreless ninth for his fourth save.
Iowa AAA
The I-Cubs rallied for three seventh-inning runs Saturday night with what would prove to be the winning run scoring on a wild pitch in a 4-3 victory over Memphis at Principal Park.

Fernando Perez capped the rally by scoring when Victor Marte uncorked a wild pitch with the bases loaded. Bryan LaHair had three hits for the I-Cubs, pushing his average to .406.

The Iowa bullpen tossed three shutout innings with Justin Berg 2-0 earning the victory. J.R. Mathes started and went six innings, allowing three runs on five hits while striking out six.
Daytona A
The Cubs began the season with a six-game winning streak but on Saturday night they lost their fourth in a row, dropping a 9-6 decision to Lakeland at Joker Marchand Stadium.

Brent Ebinger 1-1 was tagged with the loss, allowing seven runs on eight hits in his three innings. He allowed five runs in the second inning and the Cubs could not recover. Matt Cerda had three hits for the Cubs, including a homer and two RBIs. Jae-Hoon Ha had two hits and an RBI. Both he and Cerda are hitting .400.
Peoria A
Peorias Saturday afternoon game against Wisconsin at Fox Cities Stadium was rained out and will be made up when the Timber Rattlers visit OBrien Field in either May 24-26 or June 14-16. The Chiefs and Wisconsin will play a doubleheader Sunday beginning at 1:05 to make up Fridays game, which was also rained out.
WHITE SOXBirmingham AA
The Barons split a doubleheader with visiting Chattanooga, taking the opener, 2-0, before dropping the nightcap, 3-2.

Charlie Leesman pitched six innings of one-hit ball in the opener, striking out six and walking two. He took a no-hitter into the fifth before allowing a leadoff single. Greg Infante pitched the seventh to pick up his second save. The Barons collected only three hits, one of which was a Justin Greene two-run homer in the fifth.

Brad Coons RBI double in the top of the seventh snapped a 2-2 tie in the nightcap. Shane Lindsay took the loss. Justin Edwards had started and allowed a run on two hits over five innings. Andrew Garcia had two hits, including a triple, and an RBI for the Barons.
Kannapolis A
Matthew Heidenreich got hit hard early Saturday night at Fieldcrest Cannon Stadium and Kannapolis never recovered, dropping a 9-5 decision to Hickory.

Heidenreich 0-1 allowed six runs and never made it out of the first inning, giving up four hits and walking one. Paul Burnside then allowed three runs in 5 13 innings, giving Hickory a lead from which the Intimidators couldnt recover.

Kannapolis managed only five hits with Ryan Hamme collecting one of them. He had two RBIs. Ross Wilson drew three walks for the Intimidators.
Winston-Salem A
Justin Tooles two-run double highlighted a three-run 11th inning, lifting Kinston to a 5-2 victory over the Dash at BB&T Park Saturday night. It was just the second victory in 23 games at Winston-Salem for the Indians.

Orlando Santos surrendered all three runs and took the loss. Andy Wilkinshad a pair of hits for the Dash.

Charlotte AA
The Knights and Tides were rained out Saturday at Harbor Park. No makeup date has been scheduled.

Kevin Czerwinski can be reached at ktczerwinski@gmail.com.

Bears to hold joint training camp practices with Broncos this summer

Bears to hold joint training camp practices with Broncos this summer

The Bears will reunite with former defensive coordinator Vic Fangio in Denver this summer, as word broke Monday the Broncos will host Matt Nagy and Co. for joint training camp practices in advance of their preseason game in August.

The Chicago Tribune's Brad Biggs confirmed the news on Twitter.

This is the second time Denver will welcome the Bears for training camp sessions. The two teams held joint practices back in 2018.

Training camp won't be the first time the Bears will see Fangio since his departure last offseason. Chicago pulled off a last-second victory over the Broncos in Week 2 of the 2019 season when kicker Eddy Pineiro booted a 53-yard game-winner as time expired in the fourth quarter. His kick was set up by the clutch version of Mitch Trubisky, who connected on a 25-yard pass to Allen Robinson on the play before Pineiro's conversion.

Fangio left a lasting impact during his time as the Bears defensive coordinator that reached its peak in 2018 when Chicago was widely regarded as the most ferocious defense in the league. The Bears finished third in yards allowed per game and ended the season with the top run defense. Their 27 interceptions were tops in the NFL, too.

Behind a refined approach, Albert Almora Jr. is off to a hot start this spring

Behind a refined approach, Albert Almora Jr. is off to a hot start this spring

The Cubs have only played three spring training games, and it’s dangerous to use spring results to predict regular season successes/failures. Still, it’s okay to acknowledge Albert Almora Jr.’s hot start in camp.

In two games, Almora is 4-for-4 with a walk, double, home run, four RBIs, and four runs scored. That line is essentially equivalent to a single game in the regular season and could be turned upside down by the end of the week. But it’s a start for the 25-year-old who’s struggled immensely at the plate for the last season-and-a-half at the plate.

In his last 177 games (dating back to the second half of 2018), Almora holds a .235/.270/.347 slash line. The advanced stats paint an uglier picture: 58 wRC+, .261 wOBA and 52.2 percent groundball rate.

Last season was the most challenging of Almora’s young career. He hit .236/.271/.381 in 130 games with a 64 wRC+, .271 wOBA, -0.7 fWAR (all career worsts). On top of that, he was involved in a heartbreaking moment early in the season; an Almora foul ball struck a young girl at Minute Maid Park during a Cubs-Astros game in May.

Almora recently refused to blame his 2019 offensive woes on that incident, though it obviously played a part. He did admit he was in a bad place mentally and used this winter to decompress. Almora also used it to make some adjustments to his swing and the changes are clear as day:

Pre-2020:

2020:

As MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian notes, Almora is now more upright in the box and his stance is more closed. His leg kick is less defined, and he’s rotating his front leg far less than previous seasons. In short, he’s more direct to his swing and has more time to react in the box because he cut out a lot of his pre-swing movements.

Almora said Monday he’s far from where he wants to be, pointing out the MLB season is a 200-day marathon. It’s too early to tell whether his simplified approach leads to sustainable success.

Small sample size be damned, Almora’s made noticeable adjustments. That’s the first step in his mission to get back on track offensively.

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