Cubs

Notre Dame QB ends up in jail

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Notre Dame QB ends up in jail

From Comcast SportsNet
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) -- Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees was pepper-sprayed and arrested early Thursday after he allegedly ran from away from an off-campus party and knocked the wind out of a police officer who caught up to him. A probable cause affidavit says the 6-2, 210-pound Rees continued to resist even after being knocked down by police Officer Brandon Stec, so Stec used pepper spray and was finally able to subdue him with the help of other officers. Police Capt. Phil Trent said linebacker Carlo Calabrese tried to talk to police, asking them why they don't like Notre Dame. Trent said Calabrese eventually grew angry and twice told officers: "My people will get you." The 19-year-old Rees was charged with one count of battery, two counts of resisting law enforcement and one count of illegal consumption of alcohol by a minor. Police had filed a preliminary charge of felony battery on a police officer, which would have required him to stay in jail until being arraigned before a judge. Trent said Rees registered 0.11 percent on a blood-alcohol test. Rees was released on a 250 cash bond late Thursday afternoon. Prosecutors said they were still reviewing the preliminary misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct against Calabrese and would make a charging decision on Friday. He was released on 150 bond. Rees was among about five people who jumped a backyard fence and ran after officers arrived to break up a party several blocks from campus about 12:30 a.m. following the last day of Notre Dame's spring semester classes, Trent said. The affidavit says Stec chased Rees, continually saying he was a police officer and continually telling him to stop, but Rees refused. When he ran out into the street, a passing taxi driver heard Stec ordering Rees to stop and maneuvered his car to block Rees' path, the affidavit said. When Stec caught up with Rees, the quarterback "used his right knee to hit Officer Stec in the lower chest area, knocking the wind out of him, making it difficult to breath," the affidavit says. Coach Brian Kelly said he was aware of the incident. "I am of course very concerned given the nature of the allegations, but I am still gathering information. I'll withhold judgment until I can collect all the facts and speak with both Carlo and Tommy," he said. Trent said police arrested the 21-year-old Calabrese after he became angry when it became clear Rees was being arrested. Trent said Calabrese asked police, "Why aren't you a Notre Dame supporter," and "Why are you doing this to my teammate," before eventually uttering his warning. "I have no idea what that means but it's obviously some sort of threat," Trent said. Trent said some people in the crowd pulled Calabrese back into the yard away from the officers. Trent said Calabrese repeated the threat several minutes later and started trying to push through the people who were trying to restrain him. That's when he was arrested, Trent said. Calabrese, who is from Verona, N.J., was a backup linebacker who played in every game last season after starting eight games as a sophomore during the 2010 season. Rees, who is from Lake Forest, Ill., started 12 of 13 games as the Irish went 8-5 last season after starting four games as a freshman in the 2010 season. He was among four players competing during Notre Dame's spring practices for the starting quarterback spot this coming season. "The university is aware of this incident and is confident that it will be handled in a prompt and professional manner through the criminal justice system," Notre Dame spokesman Dennis Brown said in a statement. "Internal discipline is handled privately, in accord with our own policies and federal law." Brown said the university would have no further comment Trent said no one else at the party was arrested or cited and that none of the others who fled from the party was caught.

Cubs free agent focus: Will Harris

Cubs free agent focus: Will Harris

With Hot Stove season underway, NBC Sports Chicago is taking a look at some of MLB’s top free agents and how they’d fit with the Cubs.

The Cubs are looking for bullpen help this offseason. Enter Astros free agent right-hander Will Harris.

Harris has quietly been one of the game’s best relievers since 2015. In 309 games (297 innings), the 35-year-old holds a 2.36 ERA and 0.987 WHIP. Over that same period, his ERA ranks third among relievers with at least 250 innings pitched, trailing Zack Britton (1.89) and Aroldis Chapman (2.16).

2019 was one of Harris' finest seasons yet, as he posted a pristine 1.50 ERA and 0.933 WHIP in 68 appearances. Of the 60 innings he pitched last season, 49 2/3 of them came in innings 7-9, an area the Cubs bullpen needs the most help.

Cubs relievers posted a 3.98 ERA last season (No. 8 in MLB), but that number is deceiving. The bullpen was OK in low and medium-leverage spots — as defined by FanGraphs — posting a 3.19 ERA (tied for No. 2 in MLB). But in high leverage spots, they sported a woeful 7.92 ERA (No. 24 in MLB) and a 15.4 percent walk rate (tied for last in MLB).

"It was a real interesting year in the 'pen," Cubs president Theo Epstein said at his end-of-season press conference. "Our inability to pitch in high-leverage situations was a clear problem and was a contributing factor — we had the third-worst record in all of baseball behind just the Tigers and Orioles in combined 1 and 2-run games.

"Our inability to pitch in high-leverage moments kind of haunted us throughout the year, and that’s something that I have to do a better job of finding options for."

Those walks often spelled doom for the Cubs. Fans remember all too well the three-straight free passes Steve Cishek handed out on Sept. 10 against the Padres, the final of which was a walk-off (literally). David Phelps and Cishek combined to walk three-straight Cardinals on Sept. 20, two of whom came around to score. The Cubs lost that game 2-1; there are plenty more similar instances.

Harris, meanwhile, walked 14 batters (6.1 percent walk rate) in 2019 — 15 if you count the one he allowed in 12 postseason appearances. His career walk rate is 6.2 percent.

Four Cubs late-inning relievers are free agent this winter in Cishek, Brandon Kintzler, Brandon Morrow and Pedro Strop. Cishek and Kintzler had solid 2019 seasons, while Strop had his worst season as a Cub. Morrow hasn’t pitched since July 2018, but he and the Cubs are working on a minor league deal, according to WSCR’s Bruce Levine. Strop has expressed his desire to return next season.

Harris regressing in 2020 is a concern. Relievers are the most volatile players in baseball, and Harris could see his performance sag in 2020 after pitching an extra month last season. Teams will have to trust his track record and assume a regression isn't forthcoming.

But assuming Cishek, Kintzler, Morrow and Strop all won’t return in 2020, the Cubs have a couple late-inning relief vacancies. Harris is one of the better available options, and he’d help the Cubs cut down on the walks dished out by their bullpen.

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Eddy Piñeiro is quietly finding his form again, another sign that he's cut out for this

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USA Today

Eddy Piñeiro is quietly finding his form again, another sign that he's cut out for this

As a large group of TV cameras gathered around Charles Leno Jr.’s space in the Bears’ locker room, Eddy Pineiro quickly finished getting dressed in the shadows to Leno’s left. The kicker’s stayed out of the spotlight since losing the trust of his head coach on a nationally-televised game three weeks ago, but he’s played as well as anyone during the Bears’ three-game return to relevance. 

“Yeah, I would definitely say I’m more confident,” he said after the Bears’ 31-24 win on Thursday night. “There’s just good rhythm – good snap, good hold.” 

He hasn’t had to attempt a kick over 40 yards (!!) over the three games, but Pineiro’s accuracy issues, at least for now, seem at bay. He hit all five of his kicks against the Cowboys – four extra points and one 36-yard field goal. The kicker hasn’t missed a field goal (5-5) since LA, and has gone 9-10 on extra points. More importantly, they haven’t lost since either. 

“Oh yeah, it feels great,” Pineiro said. “Everyone in the locker room is super excited and happy. Everybody’s in a good mood. When you win, everybody’s in a good mood.” 

He hasn’t been physically tested much over the last month, but just ask Aldrick Rosas or Brett Maher how easy kicking at Soldier Field – even in nice conditions – is. The Bears have always loved Pineiro’s response to adversity, and it’s starting to look like he’s rewarded them again. 

“Just gaining experience, honestly,” he said. “I think the biggest thing for me has just been gaining experience. Playing the game, I obviously don’t have the most experience, but I think trying to gain that experience has been the biggest thing for me.” 

Pineiro mentioned that he’s still getting used to the adjustments that come with kicking in colder temperatures – which may help explain some of his more recent lackluster kickoffs. It’s easy to see how a nationally-televised game in unusually pleasant conditions could have been a trap for a young player who’s maybe pressing a bit, but after getting the full Bears Kicker Experience stuffed into half a season, Pineiro knows better. 

“In my opinion, you’ve got to play well in every single game,” he said. “[it’s] not like just because you’re on national TV, you’ve got to play better. It felt good to get out there and hit a couple kicks.”