Cubs break through the wall with Alfonso Soriano

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Cubs break through the wall with Alfonso Soriano

There is the perception of Alfonso Soriano as the entitled 136 million star, and the reality for those who are around him every day.

Soriano is a flawed player. He doesnt make it look easy. He is 36 years old and cant run the same way he used to. Left field really isnt his natural position.

But Soriano has never shown that he feels the weight of his contract. Always smiling and upbeat, he shrugs off the boos and stands at his locker to face the media. Even if thats not worth 54 million across the next three years, its also not insignificant.

Soriano cant change who he is. But he still wants to improve his defense. He robbed Carlos Gomez during Wednesdays 2-1 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field, charging in and leaning forward to squeeze the ball near the top of his glove as he fell to the ground.

The night before, Soriano made a running catch in left before bouncing off the bricks and ivy. The guy who once said he was almost afraid of the wall stole a hit away from Aramis Ramirez, and chased Gomez back to first base with a strong throw.

This is what new first-base coach Dave McKay has been preaching to Soriano since the start of spring training.

McKay has the credibility of someone who spent 26 seasons on Tony La Russas major-league coaching staff. McKay won rings with the Oakland As (1989) and St. Louis Cardinals (2006, 2011).

I hear the fans (have been) a little hard on (Soriano), McKay said. But a lot of that is the way he played his game in the outfield. (Its) not being aware of how you look sometimes and changing that.

Dont jog to a ball. Get to it and get it in real quick. Dont hold the ball. Theres a cutoff man out there your job is done. Get it to him as quick as you can.

Sorianos speed is gone after a series of injuries quad, calf, knee, hamstring diminished a 40-40 threat. He concentrated on his agility and endurance while training at the Cubs academy in the Dominican Republic during the offseason.

I feel good, Soriano said. My legs feel fresh. Thats the most important thing. I can run and not even think about it.

Heres another pleasant surprise for Cubs fans: Soriano approached McKay on Tuesday and asked to skip the grounders and balls off the fungo bat so that he could practice fielding the line drives hit over his head.

Yeah, from the other side, you dont see how hard he works and how much he cares, McKay said. What a great guy. Gosh, you want him to do well. You (think) if theres a way of helping him get better, it would be great to be able to be a part of that.

The balls in his court. Its all up to the player. You just cant tell him to be better. But I love the guy. (Hes) never backed off a minute working and has come to me about needing to work on (certain stuff).

As manager Dale Sveum might say, this isnt rocket science or reinventing the wheel. Its attention to detail. McKay broke down the video and saw that Soriano was catching the ball four or five different ways.

When McKay teaches the outfielders, he does it in a direct way that tries to simplify things. Its all about increasing your sense of awareness.

Look back every hitter maybe two or three times a hitter and see that warning track, know how large (it) is, McKay said. Dont just be standing out there in one spot and all of a sudden the balls hit and (youre not) sure where the wall is.

Same thing (with the sun). Look up, dont come in the dugout and say, Wow, the ball got right into the sun. Know where it is, look up and have a plan of escape. (When) a right-handed hitter hits a ball, it tails one way. (With) a left-handed hitter, it tails another way, so dont let it come into the sun. (Its) things like that.

Soriano has been open to all these ideas, and the Cubs think he can be a leader in a clubhouse that has seen a lot of turnover.

Sveum has also done a good job of managing expectations. The manager defused Sorianos posing at home plate by calling it a natural habit, and stressing that the streaky hitter will be a big part of this lineup.

Hes been working his butt off every single day, trying to get better, Sveum said. The legs arent going to allow him to do a lot of things (with) speed. But as long as he catches what hes supposed to and throws to the right bases thats all anybody can ask for.

Hes in there for his bat and Daves done a great job working with him and positioning him and making sure nothing gets over his head. Hes (playing) deeper. We keep slugging percentage down that way, to make teams get two and three hits instead of one.

Soriano is rich and famous beyond anyones wildest dreams, but thats not the only way to keep score. He got paid, but still wants to get better. Hell show up ready to work tomorrow.

Yeah, man, every day I put the uni on, its like a new experience for me. Its exciting, Soriano said. I dont feel like I have 12 years in the big leagues. I just feel like this is my first year. I got the same hunger.

Report: Bears agree to terms with free agent quarterback Brian Hoyer

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Report: Bears agree to terms with free agent quarterback Brian Hoyer

The Bears have reportedly agreed to a deal with free agent quarterback Brian Hoyer, according to NFL.com's Ian Rapoport.

The Bears opted not to draft a quarterback with any of their nine selections but will have an experienced backup behind Jay Cutler.

Hoyer, a 31-year-old seven-year veteran, started nine games for the Houston Texans last season. In 11 games he threw for 2,606 yards, 19 touchdowns and seven interceptions. In the Texans' 2015 playoff loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, Hoyer was 15 of 34 for 136 yards and four interceptions.

The Bears will be Hoyer's fifth team. He was drafted out of Michigan State in 2009 by the New England Patriots. He made stops in Arizona, Cleveland and Houston.

Current Bears offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains was the Browns' quarterback coach in 2014 when Hoyer started 14 games in Cleveland.

Stay with CSNChicago.com for more updates throughout the night.

Patrick Nyarko haunts former team, Fire settle for draw against D.C. United

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Patrick Nyarko haunts former team, Fire settle for draw against D.C. United

Patrick Nyarko has made a number of big plays in Toyota Park over the years. He added another one Saturday, but did so for the visiting team.

Nyarko, who played eight seasons with the Chicago Fire, scored on a header following a corner kick in the 65th minute to deny the Fire three crucial points at home.

Jonathan Campbell's first professional goal had given the Fire the lead, but the match finished 1-1.

The Fire (1-2-4, 7 points) needed to get some points before heading into a three-game road trip that will take place over the span of eight days. A draw at home isn't what the team needed heading into that road trip.

Campbell's goal came following an Arturo Alvarez free kick in the 41st minute. Alvarez curled in a quality delivery that Campbell flicked into the goal with the outside of his foot. D.C. (2-3-4, 10 points) goalkeeper Travis Worra got a hand on it, but wasn't able to keep it out.

Nyarko's goal was the only serious threat for either team in the second half.

Entering the match, the Fire had to deal with a number of injuries leading up to the match. David Accam is still out with a knee injury. Rookie Alex Morrell, who was been used as a substitute the past two matches, was ruled out with a calf injury late in the week. On Friday John Goossens suffered a sprained LCL in training and is expected out 1-4 weeks. Matt Polster was a gameday scratch due to a calf injury of his own.

All those injuries led to the Fire having just 15 healthy field players to choose from. Accam made the sub list to fill out the lineup, but was likely never going to play.

With all that working against them the Fire weren't able to hold onto the win in wet and windy conditions. Razvan Cocis returned to the attacking midfield position and Nick LaBrocca made his first start with the Fire. LaBrocca was subbed out for Joey Calistri in the 53rd minute, who had his longest appearance of the season.

The Fire return to action Wednesday, May 11, in Vancouver.

Complete list of 47 Big Ten players selected in 2016 NFL Draft

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Complete list of 47 Big Ten players selected in 2016 NFL Draft

A total of 47 players from Big Ten schools were selected during this year's NFL Draft.

As expected, a large number of those 47 players were Ohio State Buckeyes, with Urban Meyer's program boasting a whopping 12 draftees, five of which were selected in the first round, one off an NFL Draft record.

Every Big Ten school was represented in this year's draft, with all 14 teams claiming at least one draftee.

Here's a complete list of the Big Ten products taken in this year's draft.

First round

3. Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State (Chargers)
4. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State (Cowboys)
8. Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State (Titans)
10. Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State (Giants)
16. Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State (Lions)
20. Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State (Jets)

Second round

43. Austin Johnson, DT, Penn State (Titans)
44. Jihad Ward, DE, Illinois (Raiders)
47. Michael Thomas, WR, Ohio State (Saints)
48. Jason Spriggs, OT, Indiana (Packers)
51. Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State (Jets)
58. Sean Davis, CB, Maryland (Steelers)
61. Vonn Bell, S, Ohio State (Saints)

Third round

65. Carl Nassib, DE, Penn State (Browns)
67. Maliek Collins, DT, Nebraska (Cowboys)
69. Yannick Ngakoue, DE, Maryland (Jaguars)
75. Shilique Calhoun, DE, Michigan State (Raiders)
80. Adolphus Washington, DT, Ohio State (Bills)
85. Braxton Miller, WR, Ohio State (Texans)
86. Leonte Carroo, WR, Rutgers (Dolphins)
94. Nick Vannett, TE, Ohio State (Seahawks)
95. Graham Glasgow, C, Michigan (Lions)
96. Vincent Valentine, DT, Nebraska (Patriots)

Fourth round

99. Joe Schobert, LB, Wisconsin (Browns)
100. Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State (Raiders)
102. Joshua Perry, LB, Ohio State (Chargers)
106. Eric Murray, CB, Minnesota (Chiefs)
115. De'Vondre Campbell, LB, Minnesota (Falcons)
130. Alex Lewis, OT, Nebraska (Ravens)
132. Willie Henry, DT, Michigan (Ravens)
137. Dean Lowry, DE, Northwestern (Packers)
139. Cardale Jones, QB, Ohio State (Bills)

Fifth round

147. Quinton Jefferson, DT, Maryland (Seahawks)
150. Jordan Howard, RB, Indiana (Bears)

Sixth round

176. Andy Janovich, FB, Nebraska (Broncos)
187. Nate Sudfeld, QB, Indiana (Redskins)
189. Anthony Brown, CB, Purdue (Cowboys)
191. Jake Rudock, QB, Michigan (Lions)
197. Dan Vitale, FB, Northwestern (Buccaneers)
198. Derek Watt, FB, Wisconsin (Chargers)
202. Anthony Zettel, DT, Penn State (Lions)
204. Jordan Lucas, S, Penn State (Dolphins)
213. Aaron Burbridge, WR, Michigan State (49ers)
221. Ted Karras, OG, Illinois (Patriots)

Seventh round

224. Donavon Clark, OG, Michigan State (Chargers)
245. Clayton Fejedelem, S, Illinois (Bengals)
248. Austin Blythe, C, Iowa (Colts)