Bears

Smokies outfielder Guyer overcoming misfortune

Smokies outfielder Guyer overcoming misfortune

Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2010
9:50 AM

By Kevin Czerwinski
CSNChicago.com

Bad fortune certainly seems to be following Brandon Guyer to some degree this season. Yet, the Tennessee outfielder, who sports a gritty, run through a wall-type of attitude, is determined to keep pressing forward despite the fact that at times fate seems to be conspiring against him.

Guyer returned to Smokies lineup Monday night after missing three games with a case of conjunctivitis pink eye. The inflammation in his eyes left him unable to put in his contact lenses, rendering him unable to play. While the three games he missed waiting for the problem to subside wouldnt normally be an issue a little break in August never hurt anyone Guyer was in the midst of his hottest streak of the season.

The former fifth-round 2007 pick from Virginia was riding a 16-game hitting streak at the time his eyes went wacky. He returned to the lineup against Chattanooga, though, and collected three hits to extend his streak to 17 games, two shy of the longest streak in the Southern League this season. Hes hitting .477 during the 17 games with four homers and 22 RBIs.

I would have been able to play if I could have put my contacts in, said Guyer, 24, who has pushed his season average to .331, second best in the Southern League. That was one of the more frustrating things about it. I felt like I didnt lose too much of my timing, though and I was glad I could get back out there.

It wasnt the first time Guyer missed action this season. He missed two weeks in late April and early May after injuring his shoulder, a recurrence of an injury he suffered at the University of Virginia in the weeks leading up to the draft. Guyer slid head first into second base against Birmingham and jammed the shoulder on April 28.

Guyer was hitting .283 at the time but when he got back into the lineup on May 10, he played in only two games before missing two more weeks. When he returned in early June his average slumped and he spent a month working toward getting his stroke back. He finally began to come around in July and believes the current streak on which he finds himself is more of an indication of who he is as a player than the one who struggled for much of June.

I felt better when I came back but it took time to get comfortable again, he said. Im just getting up to the plate now and keeping it simple. KISS. Keep it simple stupid. If I have a bad at-bat I just say KISS, KISS over and over. I dont go up there and try to do too much. I just want to keep it simple and hit line drives.

Tennessee won the first-half title in the Southern Leagues North Division and appears headed to repeat in the second half. It holds a three-game lead over West Tenn heading into Wednesdays action at Mississippi and Guyers play of late has been a big reason why. Hes anxious to finish what he and the Smokies have started.

First off, were in a playoff hunt and Id like to finish this off and get a ring, he said. Id also like to keep on the roll that Im on and end the season the best possible way I can. Other than that, I cant think about anything else. I feel that if I go out and do what I can do, that other stuff promotions will happen naturally.

Should Guyer continue to play the way he has been, a trip to Iowa may be in the offing. The I-Cubs are in the midst of a playoff chase as well and would likely welcome the help. Guyer has been demonstrating an ability to hit all pitches to all fields, an ability he says he didnt possess when he came out of college. Hes spraying the ball more, though, using the whole field now and the results speak for themselves.

I feel like have more to work on but this year I have made huge strides, he said. Maybe I need to be more patient at the plate in certain situations, maybe hit for some more power. Stealing bases, Id like to get better at that.

Deep down, though, I always knew I could produce at this level. Its all been about hard work and confidence.

Oh, and overcoming a bit of misfortune.
Kevin Czerwinski can be reached at ktczerwinski@gmail.com.

5 players the Bears can target to replace Prince Amukamara

5 players the Bears can target to replace Prince Amukamara

The Chicago Bears released veteran cornerback Prince Amukamara on Friday in a move that was expected in order to free up salary-cap space in advance of free agency this March.

By moving on from Amukamara, the Bears will have an additional $9 million to spend on the open market, which could ultimately be used on his replacement. It could also be shifted to other positions of need along the offensive line or on that pesky veteran quarterback who's sure to rile up the fan base.

There's also the Allen Robinson contract extension that eventually needs to get hammered out.

The good news for Chicago is there are several viable options who will be available in free agency and the NFL draft that can replace Amukamara in the starting lineup. Here's a look at five of them:

5 players the Bears can target to replace Prince Amukamara

Michael Kopech's back on the mound, scary comebackers and all

0907-kopech-sox.jpg
USA TODAY

Michael Kopech's back on the mound, scary comebackers and all

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Everything is going according to plan for Michael Kopech.

Except for the part where he almost got drilled in the face with a line drive.

Kopech faced a scary comebacker off the bat of Matt Skole during live batting practice Friday at Camelback Ranch, one that forced him to get out of the way and one that, according to Kopech, felt like it might have even grazed his ear.

It's not the kind of sight anyone wants to see for a pitcher who hasn't thrown in any game above instructional league since September 2018, just now returning from his lengthy recovery after Tommy John surgery.

But, hey, you want to get back in the swing of things? This is what you get.

"I haven’t seen that kind of real-time feedback in a long time, and that’s about as real-time as it gets," Kopech said with a chuckle after practice. "That’s what you want to experience, to see if you can get somebody or if he can get you. And he got me."

Fortunately for the White Sox, Skole didn't "get" Kopech any worse.

Kopech is an important part of the team's long-term plans, and while the exact specifics of the plan for Kopech this season haven't been formally announced, it sounds like there's a good grasp on them, per manager Rick Renteria, though the skipper wouldn't reveal exactly where Kopech will begin the 2020 regular season.

"I think that we are very optimistic about where he’s at," Renteria said. "I think that the plan that the organization has in terms of how we want to start him off is probably pretty consistent in terms of where he’ll be. And then we will allow him to continue to pitch and get some innings under his belt. And I’m sure, first year after coming from the surgery, that there are parameters I’m sure we want to stay within.

"It will be still a very optimistically guarded approach to where he’s at."

So, no, we don't yet know whether Kopech will begin the campaign pitching for the big league team or pitching at Triple-A Charlotte in an effort to manage his workload in his first year back on the mound.

Though the competitor in him probably wants to be on that 26-man roster heading back to the South Side for the March 26 opener at Guaranteed Rate Field, Kopech is willing to do whatever is necessary for him to be a part of a playoff push, pitching in meaningful games down the stretch.

"At the end of the day, it’s me trying to fit into a plan to make the team better collectively. And if that’s not starting with the team right away, then I’m OK with that, too," Kopech said. "I just need to do what’s the best interest of me and the team.

"Ultimately, my goal is to be able to go deep into games for 30 starts a season. Now obviously, I haven’t had the experience of doing that to the extent that I want to, especially at the big league level. But I think that’s the point of what my entire rehab process was, to build me up to where I’m going to be able to take that kind of workload."

The White Sox have been adamant about their vision that Kopech will one day soon be an integral part of the big league rotation. For those wondering if this slow-play has anything to do with health effects from his surgery, it doesn't. He's healthy and pitching without restriction. But considering even before the procedure the most innings he'd thrown in a season were the 134.1 he logged in 2017, it's understandable the White Sox wouldn't want to overtax his arm.

The plan this spring is slow moving, as well, with Kopech still unsure when he's going to get into Cactus League action, which begins Saturday. So there's some question marks still this spring, as there are for the regular season.

"Right now, we have a plan of when I’m going to throw live BPs and when I’m going to throw bullpens. The question mark is still about when I’m getting into a game. But I think I have a plan to go at the beginning of March, around there anyway. I’m just trying to work my way up to that.

"It’s been pretty much day to day. We’re trying to really focus on spring right now and make sure my workload gets managed properly. And then by the time we get to the season, hopefully I’m ready to break with a team, whether it’s Charlotte or Chicago."

Every detail of the plan might not be public knowledge. But the plan is in place, and everything seems to be running smoothly.

Though it probably wouldn't hurt to cut down on the number of liners heading for Kopech's face...

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.