LaHair, Beliveau Honored By Cubs

LaHair, Beliveau Honored By Cubs

Tuesday Sept. 20, 2011
Posted: 7:00 p.m.

The Cubs announced infielderoutfielder Bryan LaHair and left-handed pitcher Jeff Beliveau were named the organizations Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year, respectively.

Beliveau and LaHair were honored tonight during an on-field ceremony prior to the Cubs contest at Wrigley Field against the Milwaukee Brewers.

LaHair, 28, was named the 2011 Pacific Coast League Most Valuable Player after leading all of minor league baseball with an Iowa franchise-record 38 home runs. He also led the PCL with 76 extra-base hits, 303 total bases, a .664 slugging percentage, a 1.070 OPS and was tied for first in the league with 109 RBI. In addition to PCL Most Valuable Player honors, LaHair was named to the all-PCL Team and was named Iowa Cubs MVP. LaHair was also a mid-season PCL All-Star and participated in the Triple-A Home Run Derby.

The sluggers 38th home run set the Iowa franchise record, surpassing Joe Hicks in 1984, and he joined Mel Hall (1982) as only the second player in franchise history with at least 30 homers and 30 doubles in the same season. LaHair became only the seventh PCL player in the last 15 seasons to record at least 300 total bases. LaHair is the second Iowa Cubs player to earn Pacific Coast League MVP honors in the last five seasons, joining Geovany Soto (2007).

Beliveau, 24, combined to go 6-2 with five saves and a 1.57 ERA (13 ER74.1 IP) in 53 relief appearances between Single-A Daytona and Tennessee, which was his first career stint at Double-A. The lefthander combined to strike out 89 batters and issue only 19 walks in 74.1 innings, an average of 10.8 strikeouts and only 2.3 walks per nine innings, and limited opponents to a .192 batting average against.

The 6-foot-1, 215-pound Beliveau began the season with Daytona, where he went 0-1 with two saves and a 0.52 ERA (1 ER17.1 IP) in 12 relief outings to earn the promotion to Double-A. Beliveau went 6-1 with three saves and a 1.89 ERA (12 ER57.0 IP) in 41 relief appearances to help the Smokies to the Southern League championship round. With Tennessee, Beliveau limited opponents to a .183 batting average, including a .169 mark by lefties and a .191 by righties.

Originally selected by the Cubs in the 18th round of the 2008 Draft out of Florida Atlantic University, the Providence, R.I. native is 17-9 with 10 saves and a 2.69 ERA (81 ER270.2 IP) in four professional seasons in the Cubs organization. Beliveau will pitch for Team USA this fall.

Bears In-Foe: Vikings defense is Purple People Eaters, Part II

Bears In-Foe: Vikings defense is Purple People Eaters, Part II

It's bad enough that Jay Cutler will be rusty and he may not have Kyle Long and Josh Sitton protecting him. But even if all the Bears' offensive hands were on deck, Monday night's challenge would've been formidable anyway.

The Vikings' defense leads the league in fewest yards allowed (279.5 per game), is tied for the league-lead in allowing fewest points (14.0), third in rushing defense (81.7), fourth in pass defense (197.8), and sixth in third-down defense (34.2 percent). And oh yeah, they lead the league in turnover ratio (plus-11), courtesy of their nine interceptions (tied for second), seven fumble recoveries and 19 sacks (seventh-most in the NFL).

It's nice to have quality and depth up front. That's where that push comes from, especially off the edges, with ends Brian Robison, Everson Griffen and sophomore Danielle Hunter supplying four sacks apiece. That trio combined for 21.5 sacks a year ago (when the Bears totaled 35 as a team). And while injury-prone Sharrif Floyd finds himself sidelined again since the opener, tackle Linval Joseph (three sacks) is back playing at the All-Pro level he was at a year ago before an ankle injury slowed him. And Tom Johnson contributed 6.5 sacks a year ago rotating in with Floyd at three-technique.

[RELATED: Bears In-Foe: Purple a fitting color for Vikings' battered, bruised offense]

Reunited UCLA linebackers Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks are in their second year together in a run the Bears will likely have to deal with for another decade. This is the 11th and final year they'll see Chad Greenway, who's more leader than playmaker now in the middle of that defense.

Ryan Pace, Vic Fangio and position coach Ed Donatell must also be jealous of the Vikings' deep defensive backfield. Top cover man Xavier Rhodes, last year's top pick Trae Waynes and Andrew Sendejo have two picks each. Waynes still hasn't taken a job away from ageless 37-year-old Terence Newman. The Vikes were trying to upgrade on Sendejo, who answered the challenge and should be able to play Monday after departing the Eagles game with an ankle injury he suffered almost taking an interception to the house. It's almost unfair that second-round rookie Mackensie Alexander can't even surpass fourth cornerback Captain Munnerlyn for playing time.

But we must not forget Harrison Smith. The humble Golden Domer, humorously nicknamed "Gangsta White Boy" by Adrian Peterson, became the NFL's richest safety by inking a five-year, $51 million deal this summer, is coming off a first Pro Bowl that probably would've come sooner if not for a couple injuries. Two of his four career pick-sixes have come against the Bears, and Pro Football Focus has him as the only safety to grade positively in coverage, run support, and pass rush over each of the last two seasons.

Special teams

Just as Robbie Gould fell under the microscope of the current Bears brass with last season's rough finish, the strong-legged Blair Walsh probably feels a few more eyes on him after missing the 27-yard game-winning attempt in the frigid playoff loss to Seattle. He's 10-of-13 on field goals this season, 11-of-13 on extra points.

But while the Vikings' kickoff coverage was burned by Josh Huff's return Sunday in Philadelphia, the Bears coverage units have to be disciplined and smart against Cordarrelle Patterson and Marcus Sherels. Both have burned the Bears more than once before. With more than his seven kick returns, Patterson's 29.9 average would lead the league. Sherels' 14.6-yard return average on punts ranks third in the NFL. He's already returned two for touchdowns this season after burning the Bears at Soldier Field a year to the day short of Monday's contest.

Blackhawks get a point but Kris Versteeg wins it for Flames in shootout

Blackhawks get a point but Kris Versteeg wins it for Flames in shootout

Patrick Kane scored his second goal of the season, but the Calgary Flames were the latest team to punish the Blackhawks’ penalty kill in their 3-2 shootout victory on Monday night.

Kris Versteeg won it in the seventh round of the shootout, waiting long enough for Corey Crawford to be out of position, then slipping the puck past him.

Gustav Forsling was hit along the glass by Lance Bouma in the second period and did not return. An update on his status was not immediately known.

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Brian Campbell scored his first of the season early in the third period, tying the game at 2. Richard Panik looked to have the game winner in the waning seconds, but Brian Elliott stopped the puck with his right skate.

Crawford stopped 29 of 31 in the loss. Elliott stopped 31 of 33 in the victory.

The Blackhawks looked sluggish for a good part of this one, and then their penalty kill once again let them down. Sam Bennett scored the Flames’ first power-play goal just 39 seconds into the advantage. In the second period Sean Monahan buried a rebound for another power-play goal, this one also 39 seconds into the opportunity.