From Comcast SportsNetPHILADELPHIA (AP) -- The Philadelphia Eagles have interviewed former Ravens coach and current Fox analyst Brian Billick for their coaching vacancy, a person familiar with the meeting told The Associated Press on Sunday.Billick, who led Baltimore to a Super Bowl title in the 2000 season, met with the Eagles last Monday, according to the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to discuss it.The Eagles are known to have interviewed eight other candidates, including three high-profile college coaches who decided to stay at their schools. They were Notre Dame's Brian Kelly, Oregon's Chip Kelly and Penn State's Bill O'Brien.Philadelphia fired Andy Reid on Dec. 31, a day after finishing 4-12 in his 14th season.Billick hasn't coached since 2007. He was 80-64 in nine seasons with the Ravens, leading them to two division titles and a 5-3 record in four playoff appearances.CSNPhilly.com first reported Billick's interview.The 58-year-old Billick began his NFL coaching career in Minnesota as a tight ends coach in 1992. After two seasons, he was promoted to offensive coordinator and helped the Vikings set a then-record 556 points in 1998.Billick became the second coach in Ravens history in 1999 and guided them to a Super Bowl victory over the New York Giants in his second season.Known for having a dynamic offense in Minnesota, Billick never come close to matching it in Baltimore. His offense never ranked higher than 14th in total yards and cracked the top 10 in points just once.Of course, talent had a part in that. The Vikings had Randall Cunningham and Daunte Culpepper as their quarterbacks, along with star wide receivers Cris Carter and Randy Moss and running back Robert Smith.Billick's Ravens were built on strong defenses led by Ray Lewis and Co. They finished in the top six in total yards in eight of Billick's nine seasons.Billick assembled quite a coaching staff in Baltimore. Six of his assistants became head coaches, including Mike Smith (Atlanta), Marvin Lewis (Cincinnati), Rex Ryan (New York Jets), Mike Singletary (San Francisco), Mike Nolan (San Francisco) and Jack Del Rio (Jacksonville).The Eagles have an interview scheduled with Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden on Monday and are expected to interview Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians this week.They met with Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley on Saturday, according to two people familiar with the meeting. Seattle lost to Atlanta on Sunday, so the Eagles are free to hire Bradley if he's their choice.Owner Jeffrey Lurie, general manager Howie Roseman and president Don Smolenski interviewed former Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith on Thursday. They previously met with Atlanta assistants Nolan and Keith Armstrong and Denver offensive coordinator Mike McCoy.
A strong work ethic is one reason the White Sox are very excited about the possibilities that Eloy Jimenez presents.
Not only is the Double-A Birmingham outfielder extremely talented, he accompanies it with nonstop work. Jimenez’s Winston-Salem teammates and coaches praised the youngster for the serious effort he puts forth in the batting cage. One White Sox staffer watched Jimenez in batting practice last Sunday — he slugged more than 850 feet worth of home runs the night before — and noted how the No. 7 prospect in baseball was working on hitting curveballs. Jimenez said cage work is a vital part of his everyday routine.
“The most important thing before the game for me is to get in the cage, do my work, do my thing,” Jimenez said. “That is the biggest thing for me. I think that has worked for me in the game. That’s why I’m working hard every day in the cages.
“It’s time to go to work. I joke outside the cage but inside the cage I’m just thinking what I’m going to do. What is the spot I do damage? What is the spot I need to work more? That is the time for that I feel.”
Jimenez said his parents — mother Adelaida Solano, father Luis Jimenez and “baseball dad” Amauris Nina — instilled in him a strong work ethic. Though he believes he’s talented, Jimenez thinks it would only take him so far and wants to do everything he can to become a major leaguer.
“My dad all the time says if you want to be the best you need to work like you want to be the best,” Jimenez said. “All the time my mom said if you’re going to do something, do what you love and work hard for that.
“(Amauris) says you need to work like you don’t have anything, like nobody knows you. Work like that. No matter what they tell you outside the field, you need to work every day.
“If God gave me the opportunity I’m not going to throw it away. I’m just going to work hard to be one of the best players in baseball.”
Clarkin keeps busy
Winston-Salem pitcher Ian Clarkin hopes to return sooner than later from a strained right oblique that has kept him sidelined since July 23. Acquired from the Yankees on July 18, Clarkin has been on the disabled list since Aug. 1.
Along with his rehab work, one way the right-hander — the No. 23 prospect in the organization — has kept busy by growing a mustache. Clarkin has also paired up with Dash outfielder Jameson Fisher, the No. 26 prospect, to receive tips on how to grow and maintain it. Fisher has an 80-grade mustache on the 20-80 scouting scale and the two have lockers next to one another. But Clarkin isn’t very satisfied with his soup strainer, which has been growing for three weeks.
“This is a weird phase I’m going through,” Clarkin said. “Nothing growing in the middle, I need to do something.
“I gotta figure out what we’re doing. I like it, but we’re in a weird phase.”
Say, that’s not …
Jake Peter has done his best Yoan Moncada impersonation since he was promoted last month, including wearing the White Sox second baseman’s No. 10 at Triple-A Charlotte. Peter entered Sunday hitting .306/.358/.495 with five home runs and 15 RBIs in 120 plate appearances at Charlotte. He was the organization’s co-minor league player of the month in July with Jimenez.
“He’s a great ballplayer,” Double-A manager Julio Vinas said of Peter. “He’s a grinder and he gives you everything he has got. He was having quality AB s and he’s got so many tools. What’s great about him is anywhere you put him he plays solid defense.”
Peter is in his fourth season with the organization after the White Sox drafted him in the seventh round in the 2014 draft out of Creighton. He’s excited by the influx of talent and said it should create good competition with the players who were already here.
“We’re seeing all the great players coming in, and all of the great players we’ve already had it’s just going to make us better because it will create more competition and make us push each other,” Peter said.
Polo on the mark
Don’t overlook Tito Polo because he was the third minor leaguer to come over in the Yankees deal and currently isn’t part of MLB.com’s top-30 organizational prospect list. That’s the advice of Double-A announcer Curt Bloom, who calls Polo a strong defender, and Clarkin, who played with the center fielder for part of the 2016 season at Single-A Tampa.
“Tito has an unbelievable amount of talent and people are going to be surprised what he has in store,” Clarkin said. “He’s a good hitter, he can hit for power, he runs really well, he has a great arm and he’s a good defensive player, which everyone saw in the WBC. He’s going to surprise a lot of people with his talent.”
It didn’t take long after Christian Dean was traded to the Chicago Fire for him to see significant playing time.
Dean was acquired by the Fire in a trade from Vancouver on Aug. 9, the last day before trade deadline, and has already made two appearances totaling 175 minutes. He was thrown into the deep end in Montreal after Joao Meira went down with an injury five minutes into that game, which took place a week after the Fire traded for him.
On Saturday, Dean made his first start with the Fire. He played all 90 minutes in the 3-1 loss to Toronto FC, in which he had the assignment of defending national team striker Jozy Altidore.
Despite jumping straight into the mix in a playoff race and getting playing time right away, Dean said the transition hasn’t been difficult.
“It’s actually been very easy,” Dean said. “The guys are very welcoming. I think the coaches are welcoming, the staff is welcoming so I really enjoy it here.”
Dean was added to give the Fire extra depth at center back. Before he arrived the team had only three, Meira, Johan Kappelhof and Jonathan Campbell. Dean got the starting nod ahead of Campbell on Saturday.
“He’s a player that we have eyed and scouted for a long time,” general manager Nelson Rodriguez said on Tuesday. “Sometimes it just doesn’t work in a certain environment and we know Vancouver put a lot into Christian and had high hopes for him and worked hard with him, but he had a rash of injuries that probably hurt his time there, but he’s still very young. We still believe he has a lot of high level qualities. He’s very good on the ball, he’s a very good decision maker. He’s got great athleticism. He has a hunger for the game and he’s a good person. Time will tell. We didn’t acquire him with just six months in mind, but how long that extends will in large part be determined by how we interpret his performance.”
Dean, 24, was the No. 3 pick in the 2014 draft. Playing time was limited in Vancouver, partially due to injuries. A broken bone in his foot cost him the entire 2016 season. Another foot injury, this time a stress reaction in the fifth metatarsal of his left foot suffered in training on April 25, kept him out of the rotation for the Whitecaps after he started three of the team’s first five games this season.
“I’m feeling really good right now,” Dean said. “This is the most healthy I’ve felt in the past two years. I’m just trying to take my opportunity.”
Soccer wasn’t always the focus for Dean. As he put it, he grew up in a basketball family. His half-brother, Josh Huestis, plays in the NBA for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
At 6-foot-3, Dean stands out on a soccer field due to his size. When asked if he can dunk, Dean responded with a laugh, “Oh yeah.”
Despite playing a lot of basketball growing up, Dean made the decision to focus on soccer.
“I think when I was like 16 I realized I really actually wanted to play soccer,” Dean said. “I went into college thinking I was just going to enjoy my time playing in college and I started playing well there and got opportunities.”
After three years at Cal, Dean got a Generation adidas contract, making him an early entry player into the draft.
Dean said he fits into coach Veljko Paunovic’s style, which, as he described it, is to play the ball out of the back and through midfield.
His move to the Fire has given him a fresh start and another chance to get regular MLS minutes.
“I’m very, very happy that the club wanted me,” Dean said. “It seems the players really want me.”