Paea, Roach receive Piccolo award

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Paea, Roach receive Piccolo award

When I got to Halas Hall on Tuesday, the first person I saw was Chuck Davidson, veteran cameraman for CBS and a long-time buddy from Platteville days. Chuck was wearing a top from a Brian Piccolo golf outing, and it was from 1994.

That was a quick reminder how long the Piccolo awards have been around and how much theyve meant, created by the Bears in the wake of Brians death from embryonal cell carcinoma in 1970 at age 26.

When Brian died, the cancer was 100 percent fatal. Because of the research and work funded by proceeds from the Piccolo-related endeavors -- 8.1 million since 1971 the cure rate now is more than 70 percent. Now the target of the proceeds and research is breast cancer at Rush Medical Center and the Clearbrook Center in Arlington Heights for the developmentally disabled.

Bears players have voted for one of their own rookies to receive the Piccolo Award since 1971. It was expanded in 1992 to include one veteran winner each year.

So Tuesday celebrated (choice of word intentional) the presentation of the awards for this year: linebacker Nick Roach as the veteran winner, defensive tackle Stephen Paea as the rookie winner.

Hard work, dedication, loyalty and commitment to teammates are the guidelines and the fact that the awards are the result of players voting probably is the best statement about Roach and Paea.

Piccolo was an undrafted free agent coming out of Wake Forest.. So it was maybe even a little more fitting that Roach was this years winner, because Roach was undrafted coming out of Northwestern.

Im just hoping we can be as lucky to have one of those undrafted free agents have the kind of impact on our football team that Brian Piccolo had, coach Lovie Smith said.

For defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, the thing Paea plays it with, and that we look for, is the toughness of mind. Marinelli pointed out that Paea was a second-round draft choice but never complained or pouted while waiting five games before earning a chance on game day.

Paea has seen the movie Brians Song and the thing that he has taken away from it was the caring between roomates Piccolo and Gale Sayers. Paeas selection by his teammates gave him the same feeling, "and thats why were going to win the Super Bowl this year.

The award had a particular poignancy for Roach personally.

The story hit me hard because of a lot of the similarities, Roach said. Piccolo was an undrafted free agent; I was a free agent. Piccolo was 26 when he died; Im 26, Roach said.

And Piccolo died on June 16, which is my birthday.

Roach thanked Smith and the coaches but deadpanned. "The sad thing is that this is my first football trophy so I want to work on that second one for you."

Jaylon Smith taken No. 34 by Dallas Cowboys

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Jaylon Smith taken No. 34 by Dallas Cowboys

Where Jaylon Smith would land was one of the biggest questions heading into the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft, which began Friday night in Chicago. 

We didn't have to wait long for an answer.

The Dallas Cowboys took Smith with the 34th overall pick, just three selections into the second round. Smith, who won the Butkus Award in 2015, isn't likely to play in 2016 after suffering a torn ACL and LCL in the Fiesta Bowl that also contained damage to the nerve in his knee. 

Prior to his injury, and the revelations of nerve damage, Smith was widely projected to be a top-10 pick. A former five-star recruit (and winner of the high school Butkus Award, too), Smith asserted himself as one of the most talented players to ever come through Notre Dame during his three seasons in South Bend. The Fort Wayne, Ind. native totaled 292 tackles and 19 tackles for a loss in his college career, in which he was moved from outside linebacker in Bob Diaco's 3-4 scheme to "Will" inside linebacker in Brian VanGorder's 4-3 defense. 

John Danks to start for White Sox on Wednesday

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John Danks to start for White Sox on Wednesday

BALTIMORE — John Danks will get another turn in the White Sox rotation.

Even though he could have manipulated the team’s rotation with a day off upcoming, manager Robin Ventura said Friday that Danks would start again on Wednesday night at home against the Boston Red Sox. Danks allowed six runs in Thursday’s loss and fell to 0-4 with a 7.25 ERA in four starts.

“You’re sitting there going through it, he was just in the middle of the plate (Thursday),” Ventura said. “I think he has a good changeup, still battles and all that stuff. I know he’s frustrated. But where we’re at, we need him to battle, and at this point, that’s what we’re doing.”

Entering Friday, the White Sox won eight of their past 10 games with their only losses coming in both of Danks’ starts. Danks had his best turn of the season on April 21 when he limited the Los Angeles Angels to two runs over six innings. But he had no fastball command on Thursday and the Baltimore Orioles made him pay. Danks said he’s only focused on his work when he was asked Thursday about the big picture.

“I’ve got enough to worry about here than anything else,” Danks said. “I’ll be ready to go. I’ll work hard. I’m not going to pout or anything. Never have or never will. I guess it’s part of it. It’s not easy, but there’s only one thing to do and that’s work hard and get ready to take the ball.”

After the game, Ventura said the White Sox would work to help Danks, who’s in the final season of a five-year contract. Not only has Danks allowed two home runs per nine innings, his highest total since 2013, he also has walked 4.4 batters per nine, a career-worst.

“We’re trying to make him better and we’re going to continue to work at that and continue to make him better so he can help us,” Ventura said.

Reliever Tommy Kahnle joins White Sox as Daniel Webb goes on DL

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Reliever Tommy Kahnle joins White Sox as Daniel Webb goes on DL

BALTIMORE — Reliever Tommy Kahnle is set to join the White Sox, who placed Daniel Webb on the 15-day disabled list late Friday afternoon.

Webb, who pitched in Thursday’s blowout loss, has right elbow flexor inflammation.

A November trade acquisition, Kahnle had one save, a 3.00 ERA and 12 strikeouts in nine innings at Triple-A Charlotte this season. The White Sox acquired Kahnle from the Colorado Rockies on Nov. 24 in exchange for Yency Almonte.

The move to the DL comes only two days after Webb joined the team in part to cover David Robertson, who went on the bereavement list on Thursday. Webb made his 2016 debut Thursday and struck out three in a scoreless inning. He could be seen wearing an ice pack in the clubhouse before Friday’s game.  

Kahnle was a Rule 5 pick of the Rockies in 2014 off the roster of the New York Yankees. He has a 4.41 career ERA in 90 major league appearances between 2014-15.

The move comes at the end of a busy week for the previously healthy White Sox.

Catcher Alex Avila, who has made good progress, according to Robin Ventura, was placed on the DL on Sunday with a sore right hamstring. His replacement, catcher Kevan Smith, suffered back spasms during warmups Monday only a few hours before he was set to make his major league debut. Smith went on the DL the next day and is in Glendale, Ariz. to rehab his injury.

Though he didn’t go on the bereavement list until Thursday, Robertson knew he’d need three days off, which allowed the White Sox to call up Webb on Wednesday.