White Sox

PFF: CB Jennings a 'secret superstar'


PFF: CB Jennings a 'secret superstar'

Tim Jennings took a chance on himself in 2011 when he left the Indianapolis Colts, with whom he had won a Super Bowl ring at the Bears' expense in 2007, and signed with Chicago.His new team envisioned Zackary Bowman securing the starting left cornerback position, so much so that Charles Tillman was flipped over to the right side to set Bowman on the left.Three games into the 2010 season, Bowman was benched and Jennings was in. He stayed there for the 13 games to finish that year, plus two playoff games, and the first 14 of 2011. Then Bowman was inserted for the Week 16, Christmas night game against the Packers.Thereasoning was a bitfuzzy. One story was that it was for matchups against the taller Green Bay receivers (Bowman is 6-foot-1, Jennings 5-foot-9). But since it was the first Packers game in 2010 that exposed Bowman and led to his benching, the reason seemed simpler.Jennings had justone tackle and nothing else the previous week against Seattle, a woeful 38-14loss thatended the starting gigs ofCaleb Hanie, Marion Barber, Chris Conte and Johnny Knox, the last two for reasons of injury.Bowman's "chance" lasted one game and Jennings was back for the Week 17 regular season finale in Minnesota, an eventual 17-13 win for the Bears.Now, Jennings again finds himself in a starter's role as the off-season begins."It's kind of motivation but on the same token the coaches are going to make the decisions to kind of figure out what they want to do," Jennings, who punctuated last Wednesdays OTA with a lay-out diving interception of a Jay Cutler pass, said."So the opportunity was there. I wanted to come out and prove that next game against Minnesota that I was kind of your guy the whole season. Hopefully I'll continue being your guy moving forward in my career," he added.Despite the Bears signing Kelvin Hayden and Jonathan Wilhite this offseason, the unofficial money is on Jennings continuing to be the Bears' guy.Pro Football Focus' Sam Monsonhas identified Jennings as the Bears' "Secret Superstar" in an intriguing bit of analysis which deftly notes that Jennings, at 5-foot-9, may not be the prototypical man-to-man cornerback. But he is a complete fit in the Bears system."It's a buyer's market for Cover-2 corners at the moment, and the Bears have bought themselves a good one in Tim Jennings," Monson summarizes. "He may suffer the same slight that all Cover-2 corners have to live with, but the bottom line is that Tim Jennings makes things tough for opposing wide receivers, and isn't that the job of a cornerback, whatever the scheme? Tim Jennings is the Chicago Bears Secret Superstar."

Carlos Rodon's first win in 10 months showed he could still be the ace of the future for White Sox


Carlos Rodon's first win in 10 months showed he could still be the ace of the future for White Sox

As encouraging as the reports are on many of the White Sox’s minor-league pitching prospects, Carlos Rodon’s effort against the Athletics on Sunday at Guaranteed Rate Field could prove just as significant to the rebuild on the South Side.

Looking much like the ace the Sox envisioned prior to Rodon’s rough 2017 season that ended with shoulder surgery, the left-hander put together his most successful effort of ’18 during a 10-3 drubbing of the Athletics before a sun-drenched crowd of 21,908.

Making his fourth start of the season, Rodon matched a career-high by going eight innings. He yielded two runs on seven hits with no walks and three strikeouts. Rodon earned his first win of the season to help the Sox salvage a split of the four-game series.

“I felt good today—a lot of strikes,” Rodon said. “It was good to go eight and just be ahead of guys.”

Helping matters for Rodon was an offensive explosion by the Sox, led by Yoan Moncada’s career-high six RBIs. After falling behind 2-0, the Sox plated five runs in each of the fifth and sixth innings as Moncada cleared the bases with a double off the base of the wall in the fifth and launched his 10th home run of the season to drive in three more an inning later.

“Today was a great day,” Moncada said via a team interpreter. “I just went out to play the game the way that I play. Just to have fun. It was a very good game for me.”

Daniel Palka and Yolmer Sanchez also homered as the Sox won for just the second time in their last 11 games.

Rodon was the happy recipient of the run support to win his first game since Aug. 21, 2017, against the Twins. On Sunday, he threw 99 pitches, 69 for strikes and was consistently in the mid-90s with his fastball.

“I’m looking to do that every time out,” Rodon said. “Just show up and establish the strike zone with the fastball and be aggressive.”

The 25-year-old’s second-inning strikeout of Khris Davis was the 400th of Rodon’s career. It is a career that is continuing after a surgery that was a setback, but one that did not derail Rodon’s confidence that he would again pitch effectively.

“There are up-and-down days when you go through shoulder surgery or any surgery for any player,” Rodon said. “You've just got to work through it and try to make your way back. I'm here now and it’s looking up and I’m trying to get better.”

So is it reasonable to view Rodon as the future ace after all?

“You certainly can’t discount that,” manager Rick Renteria said. “He has to go out there and continue to get his feet underneath him and get through the rest of the season healthy and climbing.”

In other Sox pitching news, Renteria said starter Dylan Covey, who was removed in the fifth inning of Saturday’s game due to a hip flexor injury, “felt better” Sunday and the team will continue to monitor the right-hander’s progress.

Meanwhile, veteran Miguel Gonzalez made a rehab start for Triple-A Charlotte as he continues to recover from inflammation in his right rotator cuff. Gonzalez went three innings and allowed one hit with a walk and a strikeout. Outfielder Eloy Jimenez belted his first homer for the Knights in the game.

A series to forget: Facts and figures from Cubs' rough weekend in Cincinnati

A series to forget: Facts and figures from Cubs' rough weekend in Cincinnati

The Cubs and their fans may want to invent and use one of those Men In Black neuralyzers because the four-game series in Cincinnati was one to forget.

The Reds finished off a four-game sweep of the Cubs on Sunday with an 8-6 win. The way the Reds won the finale will be especially painful for the Cubs considering they led 6-1 after six innings. Mike Montgomery appeared to tire in the seventh inning and Pedro Strop got rocked out of the bullpen to lead to a seven-run seventh for the hosts.

The Reds have now won seven in a row and 10 of 12, but still sit 13 games under .500. Bizarrely, the Reds also swept the Dodgers, the Cubs’ next opponent, in a four-game series in May. Duane Underwood will start for the Cubs Monday against the Dodgers and make his major league debut.

Here are some other wild facts and figures from the series:

  • The last time the Reds swept the Cubs in a four-game series was back in 1983. That was the first week of the season and three weeks before the infamous Lee Elia rant.
  • One positive for the Cubs from the game was Montgomery’s start. Through six innings he allowed one run on three hits and two walks. However, he gave up a single, a double and a single in the seventh before Strop relieved him. Montgomery had gone six innings and allowed one run in each of his last four outings.
  • Strop was definitely a negative. On his first pitch, Strop gave up a home run to pinch-hitter Jesse Winker, the second home run for a Reds pinch-hitter in the game. Then Strop allowed a single, a walk, a single and a double before getting an out. Strop’s final line: 2/3 inning pitched, four runs, one strikeout, three walks, four hits.
  • The Cubs led in three of the four games this series, including two leads after five innings.
  • The Cubs were 5-for-23 (.217) with runners in scoring position in the series. On the season the Cubs are hitting .233 with RISP, which is 22nd in the majors and fourth-worst in the National League (but ahead of the division-rival Brewers and Cardinals).
  • The Reds outscored the Cubs 31-13 and scored at least six runs in every game. The Reds are now 6-3 against the Cubs this year after going a combined 17-40 against the Cubs from 2015-2017.