Bears

Roenick shares great memories of Tony Amonte

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Roenick shares great memories of Tony Amonte

Jeremy Roenick and Tony Amonte were two of the most beloved Blackhawks of the 1990s and ChicagoBlackhawks.com recently got J.R. to discuss the terrific but underrated career of his good friend in the newest edition of "Blood, Sweat and Cheers."

Roenick remembers pushing Hawks general manager Bob Pulford to pull the trigger on the 1994 trade that landed Amonte from the New York Rangers in exchange for Brian Noonan and Stephane Matteau.

"Ive played a lot of places with a lot of guys, but Tony was the best linemate I ever had. We got along great, we had that sixth sense about where each other would be and when he passed you the puck, it was right there on the button," Roenick said. "Very smart, and a great leader. Everybody in the locker room loved him."

Amonte would go on to play eight more years with the Blackhawks, scoring 268 of his 416 career goals.

"Tony really did it all in the NHL. He became captain of the Blackhawks, which was well-deserved. He played in two Olympics, 1998 and 2002, for the United States. He was in five NHL All-Star Games," Roenick said. "Considering his accomplishments, he could have been in more. But he wasnt the type of guy to call much attention to himself, and as a result, he was underrated, underappreciated. But he never complained."

Roenick also remembers a 1999 game at the United Center when he returned as a visitor with the Phoenix Coyotes and got into a scuffle with his good friend: "I was having some personal problems. I was frustrated and I swung my stick at Tony. He got real bloody, and I got a five-game suspension. Tony was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and I just lost it. Weve stayed friends and we keep in touch."

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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