Bears

Rays player gets hit by pitch, faints on the field

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Rays player gets hit by pitch, faints on the field

From Comcast SportsNet
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- A scary situation involving Tampa Bay second baseman Will Rhymes overshadowed another strong outing by Rays right-hander Jeremy Hellickson. Rhymes left in the eighth inning of the Rays' 2-1 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday night after being hit by a pitch near his right elbow. While standing at first base he gestured that he wanted to come out of the game, took a couple of steps and collapsed into the arms of first base coach George Hendrick. Trainers worked on Rhymes in the coach's box before he was assisted to a utility cart and left the field. The Rays said Rhymes briefly fainted, but that he is fine, remained at the ballpark for X-rays on his arm and was not taken a hospital. "He got kind of rubber-legged right there," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "That stuff hurts. I know it's in the arm, but that can definitely take your breath away. It was described to me as kind of an adrenalin rush that caused that reaction." X-rays were negative and the team said Rhymes is day to day with a bruised right forearm. Hellickson pitched six solid innings and Luke Scott had a tiebreaking sacrifice fly as Tampa Bay snapped the Red Sox's five-game winning streak. "Hellickson's change up made that fastball look like it's a 100 (mph)," Boston manager Bobby Valentine said. Hellickson (4-0) allowed one run and five hits en route to winning a career-best sixth consecutive decision, dating to Sept. 4. He struck out six and walked two. After Jake McGee and Joel Peralta both threw a scoreless inning, Fernando Rodney pitched the ninth for his 12th save. Clay Buchholz (4-2) gave up two runs and six hits over five-plus innings for Boston. Buchholz, who took a grounder off his foot during the sixth, had allowed four or more runs in all seven of his previous starts this season. "No," said Buchholz when asked if the foot was an issue. "I think it was more after I came out. It's a little sore. It's nothing (to worry about)." Matt Joyce opened the sixth with an infield single that went off Buchholz's leg. He went to third on a single by Carlos Pena. Andrew Miller replaced Buchholz and gave up Scott's sacrifice fly that put Tampa Bay ahead 2-1. Red Sox right fielder Cody Ross appeared to have problems with the roof on Scott's shallow fly. "I wasn't really planning on going until I saw Cody Ross kind of backpedal," Joyce said. "The Trop can be tough sometimes for outfielders. It's hard to see the ball when you're not used to it. He started backpedaling. As an outfielder, I know it's hard to get a lot on your throw and make a really good throw when you're on the heels of your feet and backpedaling. I took a shot and it worked out." The Rays, winners of four straight, loaded the bases with two outs later in the sixth, but Miller struck out Elliot Johnson on a 3-2 pitch. Tampa Bay took a 1-0 lead in the second when Buchholz was called for a balk on a pickoff move to first with runners on the corners and two outs. Pena, who had a leadoff single, scored on the play. "I was going to go third to first, and my cleat sort of got caught," Buchholz said. The Red Sox wound up with three balks overall. "Crazy," Valentine said. Daniel Nava's fourth-inning RBI single got Boston even at 1-all. Valentine said left-hander Felix Doubront, who was hit on the ear by a ball during batting practice Tuesday, was cleared to make his start Thursday. Meanwhile, Boston left-hander Rich Hill left the field after being struck by a ball in batting practice before Wednesday night's game. The team said Hill is OK. NOTES: Red Sox closer Andrew Bailey (right thumb) is set to resume throwing next week. ... Boston 3B Kevin Youkilis (lower back) started a rehab assignment as the DH with Triple-A Pawtucket and could play in the field Friday. ... Valentine doesn't believe RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka (right elbow), scheduled to start for Pawtucket Thursday, is close to pitching in the majors. ... Rays 3B Evan Longoria (left hamstring) took batting practice, but has not started running. ... Red Sox LF Carl Crawford (left wrist) could start swinging a bat next week. ... The Rays acquired OF Rich Thompson from Philadelphia for minor league OF Kyle Hudson.

Could Bears improve and still lose ground? The MMQB's Albert Breer weighs in on tough NFC North

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USA TODAY

Could Bears improve and still lose ground? The MMQB's Albert Breer weighs in on tough NFC North

NBC Sports Chicago’s John "Moon" Mullin talked with The MMQB's Albert Breer, who shared his thoughts on where the Bears stand — and if they’ll be able to compete — in a highly competitive NFC North.

Moon: The Bears have made upgrades, but they’re in the NFC North and not many divisions are tougher, given the strength at quarterbacks.

Breer: Yes. You look at the other three teams, and they all very much believe they’re in a window for winning a championship. The Packers are going through some changes, but they’ve gotten Mike Pettine in there as defensive coordinator and a new general manager who was aggressive on draft day. I know that internally they feel that’s going to give them a boost, and bringing Aaron Rodgers back obviously is the biggest thing of all.

Minnesota, all the things they did this offseason, signing (quarterback) Kirk Cousins, (defensive lineman) Sheldon Richardson, and they were knocking on the door last year.

The Lions have been building for two years under (general manager) Bob Quinn and (new coach) Matt Patricia, who lines right up with the general manager — the two of them worked together in New England. They really believe that Matthew Stafford is ready to take the sort of jump that Matt Ryan made in Atlanta a few years ago, where you see that mid-career breakthrough from a quarterback that we see sometimes now.

It’s one of the toughest divisions in football, and every team in the division believes that it’s in the position to contend right now.

Moon: We didn’t see a lot of Mitch Trubisky — 12 games — so it sounds possible that the Bears could improve and still lose ground.

Breer: The Lions were pretty good last year. The Vikings were in the NFC Championship game. And who knows where the Packers would’ve been if Rodgers hadn’t broken his collarbone. The biggest change is that Aaron Rodgers will be back, and that’s the best player in the league. It was a really good division last year, and you’re adding back in a Hall of Fame quarterback.

As far as the Bears, there’s going to be questions where the organization is going. It’s been seven years since they were in the playoffs. I think they certainly got the coach hire right. This is a guy who I know other organizations liked quite a bit and was going to be a head coach sooner or later.

And I think he matches up well with Mitch. I think the Bears are in a good spot, but as you said, they’re competing in a difficult environment, so it may not show up in their record.

Moon: A lot of love for the Vikings after they get to the NFC Championship and then add Kirk Cousins.

Breer: A lot of people look at Minnesota and think Kirk Cousins’ll be a huge improvement. And maybe he will be. I think he’s a very good quarterback, top dozen in the league. But Case Keenum played really, really well last year, so it wasn’t like they weren’t getting anything out of that position last year.

The NFC right now is clearly the strength of the league. If you picked the top 10 teams in the league, you could make a case that seven or eight of them are in the NFC. I think there will be NFC teams that miss the playoffs who could be in the Super Bowl coming out of the AFC. There’s a little bit of an imbalance there.

Moon: Trubisky projects as part of a wave of new quarterbacks league-wide, a sea change in the NFL.

Breer: The interesting thing is that this is probably as stable as the league has been at quarterback in a long time. There’ve been questions where the next great quarterbacks will come from, but I don’t know that there’s a team right now in the NFL like you looked at the Jets or Browns last year, where you say that team is definitely drafting a quarterback in 2019.

Everyone either has a big-money veteran or former first-round pick on their roster. One team that doesn’t is the Cowboys, but they’ve got Dak Prescott who’s played really well. Every team in the league has some stability at the position. I think the position is as healthy as it’s been in a long time, and you’ve got a lot of good young prospects.

A significant first practice goes well for three Bears critical to 2018 success

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USA TODAY

A significant first practice goes well for three Bears critical to 2018 success

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. — It’s a major Bears story until it isn’t, and in Friday's first practice of training camp ’18, the story was that Leonard Floyd, Kyle Long and Allen Robinson weren’t the story. 

Not even the weather was a story, as coach Matt Nagy continued the two-hour practice without interruption despite repeated torrential downpours. Whether this represented a soggy, wet chapter of Nagy’s campaign of physical practices and getting his team “calloused” is a question, but “It's just a part of what we wanted to do,” Nagy said, with a bit of a smile. “We weren't going inside. We were coming outside unless that (lightning/tornado) horn went off. So it was a good day. The guys fought through it.”

Getting through it was of franchise-grade import for three linchpins coming off significant injuries that cost them all or part of their 2017 seasons. All had been largely held out of minicamps and training camps, making Friday a de facto shakedown cruise for three players the Bears need at the elite levels projected for them.

Floyd practiced without the large brace he’d worn during minicamp work and which he admitted was an impediment to performance. Bears medical and training staff and Floyd have been pointing to this moment as the first step toward full health for the regular season.

“I basically, this whole offseason, I've been working on getting my leg right,” Floyd said on Friday. “I’m not really looking into who's playing where. I've been looking to get back healthy. ... Yeah, I'm able to go full force.”

Floyd’s pursuit speed was noteworthy as he ran down several offensive players with the football.

Players were not in pads, but Robinson similarly flashed, at one point making a difficult catch of a ball slightly behind him as he was tumbling to the ground. If he was holding anything back, it was not apparent in his cuts, routes and runs after catches.

“I feel great,” Robinson said. “It's been a process that we've taken a little bit slower, but I think that was for the best. It just was all about getting me ready for this time right here, so I feel great. I feel 100 percent.”

Long has been buffeted by injuries requiring surgeries over the past two years. The setbacks have taken him down from the Pro Bowl level at which he played his first three seasons.

But he turns 30 in December and is entering his sixth NFL season having missed 14 games the past two years after just one the first three.

“I’m feeling great,” Long said. “It’s really a lot of fun to get out here with my teammates and start camp without any limitations and be able to contribute from Day 1. It feels good. I spent a lot of time with our training staff. I got to know Andre Tucker really well, our new head trainer. He has done a tremendous job.

“You know, it’s Day 1 and I was out there at practice, and I got to hit other guys, and that was fun. I don’t look much into psychological hurdles. But a physical hurdle? Yes, it was. I had a lot going on this offseason. I’m just really happy to be out here.”

All was not good news physically for the Bears as inside linebacker Danny Trevathan and cornerback/special teamer Sherrick McManis were held out of practice after hamstring issues surfaced in their pre-camp physicals. Nagy said neither was considered serious but gave no timetable for their returns.