Bears

Word on the Street: New Bull Butler takes physical

Word on the Street: New Bull Butler takes physical

Thursday, March 3, 2011
CSNChicago.com

Butler takes physical, doesn't practice

As expected, Rasual Butler met with the Bulls on Thursday to undergo a physical, however he did not practice with the team. The official signing is expected to be officially announced Thursday afternoon. Butler, 31, averaged 5 points in just under 20 minutes per game with the Los Angeles Clippers before being bought out by the team earlier this week. (ChicagoBreakingSports)

Dukes accused of hitting pregnant woman

Former Rays and Nationals outfielder Elijah Dukes was arrested on Wednesday on accusations of aggravated battery of a pregnant woman. Dukes, who was also arrested for driving with a license that has been suspended or revoked as well as a contempt of court warrant, is currently being held without bond. (Hardball Talk)

Harris thanks Bears fans with ad

Tommie Harris, who was at the center of controversy at times during his Bears career, took out a full-page color ad in Thursday's Chicago Tribune, thanking Bears fans for their support.
Harris went to three Pro Bowls in his first four seasons, but was released by the Bears on Monday.

"Words cannot express my heartfelt appreciation for your support throughout my seven seasons with the Chicago Bears," the ad reads. (ChicagoBreakingSports)

Hawk flies right back to the Packers

Less than 24 hours after being cut, linebacker A.J. Hawk is right back where he was before. Hawk signed a 5-year deal with the Packers on Thursday, reportedly worth between 6-7 million per year; considerably less than the 10 million he would have been owed next year by his previous contract. (USA Today)

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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