Tennessee Remains Smokin' Hot At Jacksonville

Tennessee Remains Smokin' Hot At Jacksonville

Saturday April 23, 2011
Posted: 9:40 p.m.

CUBS Tennessee AA
The Smokies have spent the better part of the seasons first month tearing up the Southern League with an impressive offensive performance. Heading into Saturdays game at Jacksonville, Tennessee was leading the league in hitting and was the only team on the circuit batting higher than .300.

Tennessee put on another show against Suns, banging out 13 hits and charging to a 6-2 lead before holding on for a 7-3 victory at The Baseball Grounds. The middle infield provided the spark this time with shortstop Marwin Gonzalez collecting three hits and second baseman Nate Samson going 2-for-4 with a homer and three RBIs.

First baseman Josh Vitters rounded out the infield assault, adding a homer and two RBIs. Brooks Raley started and struggled again, getting chased after 4 13 innings. The Smokies bullpen was brilliant, though, throwing 4 23 shutout innings Hung-Wen Chen earning his first win of the season.
Peoria A
The Chiefs rallied for a pair of seventh-inning runs Saturday afternoon at OBrien Field to earn a surprising 3-2 victory over Beloit and gain a doubleheader split. The Snappers grabbed the opener, 5-2.

Greg Rohans two-run single not only pushed his team-leading RBI total to 14 it capped the big late comeback. Arismendy Alcantara led off the seventh with a single and went to second on Matt Szczurs bunt single. Rohan followed a Pierre LaPage bunt with a single to center to win it. Rohans RBI double in the sixth had cut Beloits lead to 2-1.

Eduardo Figueroa 1-1 pitched 2 13 perfect innings of relief to earn the victory. Starter Graham Hicks tied a career high with eight strikeouts.

Peoria recorded a season-high four errors in the opener, including an opening-inning miscue that led to a pair of Beloit runs. Cam Greathouse 0-1 started and went 4 13 innings, allowing all five runs though only two were earned. Micah Gibbs went 2-for-3 while Greg Rohan drove in his team-leading 11th run with a sacrifice fly.
Daytona A
The Cubs stretched their winning streak to five games Saturday evening, topping Dunedin, 6-2, at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium to remain in first place in the Florida State Leagues North Division.

Junior Lake and Jake Optiz paced Daytona, combining for seven hits. Optiz had three doubles while Lake had a homer, two stolen bases and three RBIs. Jae-Hoon Ha added a pair of hits and has hit safely in nine of his last 10 games, pushing his average to .375.

Nick Struck 2-1 scattered four hits and fanned seven over 5 13 innings. He retired 10 in a row after Scott Podsednik picked up a leadoff single. Ryan Searle pitched 2 13 scoreless innings and has not allowed a run in his 9 13 innings pitched this season.
Iowa AAA
Brad Snyder and Matt Camp combined for five of Iowas seven hits Saturday night and it proved to be not enough as Memphis picked up a 3-2 victory at AutoZone Park.

Camp had three hits and Snyder drove in a run. Ramon Ortiz took the loss after allowing three runs and striking out five over seven innings. In other news, the Cubs called up Justin Berg and optioned Jeff Stevens to Iowa. Berg was 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA in five appearances for Iowa this year.
WHITE SOXCharlotte AAA
Brandon Hynick made one mistake Saturday night and it cost him. The big right-hander severed up a home run ball to Diory Hernandez in the fourth inning and that was the difference as Gwinnett County squeezed by Charlotte, 3-1, at Knights Stadium.

Hynick 0-2 allowed six hits over seven innings and got into trouble in the fourth by allowing back-to-back singles to lead off the inning before Hernandez deposited the ball over the left-field wall. Jordan Danks had an RBI single in the seventh for the Knights, who lost their second straight game and for the eighth time in 10 games. Gwinnetts Mike Minor took a no-hitter into the sixth inning before Lastings Milledge connected for a two-out double.
Winston-Salem A
Jared Mitchell led off the bottom of the eighth inning with a homer Saturday night to give Winston-Salem a 3-2 victory and a doubleheader split with Wilmington at BB&T Park. It was Mitchells second homer of the season and completed a comeback that saw the Dash rally from a 2-0 deficit.

Ian Gacs two-run homer in the sixth knotted the score at 2-2, setting the stage for Mitchells heroics. It was Gacs sixth homer of the season. Ryan Kussmaul 3-0 earned the win with two perfect innings while Addison Reed also pitched two perfect innings in relief of Joe Serafin.

Wilmington scored nine runs over the final three innings of the opener to earn a 10-2 victory. Cameron Bayne, who hadnt given up a run in 14 innings this season prior to Saturday, allowed a first-inning run and then surrendered six more late before leaving following his five innings. His ERA jumped from 0.00 to 3.32. Dan Wagner had a pair of hits and an RBI.
Birmingham AA
Huntsville exploded for three eighth-inning runs Saturday night and stunned Birmingham, 4-3, at Regions Park. Chuck Caufields two-out, two-run double punctuated the inning.

Nate Jones was charged with all three runs in 23 of an inning to suffer the loss. Dylan Axelrod allowed a run on five hits while striking out seven over seven innings before turning it over to Jones.

Kevin Czerwinski can be reached at ktczerwinski@gmail.com.

White Sox pitching staff nearly complete with prospect Zack Burdi headed to Triple-A

White Sox pitching staff nearly complete with prospect Zack Burdi headed to Triple-A

GLENDALE, Ariz. — With Zack Burdi headed for the minors, the White Sox 12-man pitching staff is all but set.

The Opening Day roster won't be finalized until Sunday and the White Sox hypothetically could find an attractive candidate to claim off the waiver wire over the weekend. But barring that, it looks as if veteran Anthony Swarzak and second-year reliever Michael Ynoa have made the team after Burdi said Wednesday morning that he'd start the season at Triple-A Charlotte. 

The No. 7 prospect in the organization, according to MLBPipeline.com, Burdi finished the spring with a 6.75 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 12 innings. Burdi finished his Cactus League on a high note with three strikeouts over an inning on Tuesday, including one of Kansas City four-time All-Star catcher Salvador Perez. 

"Man, it's been crazy," Burdi said. "Coming in and being the young guy in the locker room and then just progressing and showing a little bit more (comfort) around the guys and the veterans and then just being able to pick their brains and go out every day and try to progress. You get to the innings and you are facing guys you've watched your last 10 years of your life. It has been crazy and definitely something I won't forget."

Burdi lasted the longest this spring out of the cache of highly-touted prospects the White Sox brought to big league camp. Prior to escaping a first-and-third, one-out jam Tuesday, Burdi looked like he would allow a run in a third straight game after a hot start to camp (he only allowed a run in one of his first 10 appearances). But Burdi battled back and struck out Perez on three pitches, one of two straight strikeouts to strand both runners.

Pitching coach Don Cooper has been impressed by Burdi throughout the spring. But he also wants to see the Louisville product continue to work on command in the minors.

"You can't not see his stuff," Cooper said. "Everybody gets excited when you see 99, 100, 101. But whether you throw it 101 or 83 like [Mark] Buehrle you have to throw it to the glove with command, change speeds and all that stuff. But he's a big part of our future going forward. He's one of the names."

Burdi said he plans to operate like he has already spring and not pay attention to any of the hype. Though he'd like to play in the majors, Burdi is excited to play alongside the likes of Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Carson Fulmer in Charlotte.

"Once you get a feel for all this stuff and you feel how cool it is to be in the locker room with all these guys and play with them, of course you want to get back up here," Burdi said. "But at the same time, a lot of my really good friends are on Charlotte and I couldn't be more excited to go down there and play with them and make the most of the season down there."

Bears Chairman George McCaskey sets 2017 demands for Ryan Pace, John Fox

Bears Chairman George McCaskey sets 2017 demands for Ryan Pace, John Fox

PHOENIX — When the 2014 season concluded, with all its drama, poor play and internal dysfunction, Bears Chairman George McCaskey passed along the unvarnished mood of Bears matriarch and owner Virginia McCaskey:
 
"She's pissed off," George McCaskey declared.
 
The 2016 season ended worse record-wise (3-13) than 2014 (5-11) but Bears ownership sees arrows pointing up, not down as they appeared after 2014, occasioning the jettisoning of the general manager and coaching staff.
 
"[Virginia] sees the progress, but like any Bears fan, she wants results," George McCaskey said, chuckling at the recollection of relaying his mother's mood. "That's the quote that won't go away."
 
"Progress" and "results" are vague terms, and sometimes relative. But Bears ownership is not setting a public fail-safe point for either general manager Ryan Pace or head coach John Fox to remain in place, although no scenario could presumably consider four wins actual "progress" from three.
 
"We want to continue to see progress, see the building blocks but there isn't any sort of particular threshold," McCaskey confirmed. "We're not on any particular timetable that somebody else is wanting to set for us. We're wanting to see continued progress toward our goal of sustained success."
 
"Sustained success" is not beyond the scope of possibility, assuming that a talent core can be established and includes a quarterback, which the personnel department under Pace believe it is on the brink of putting in place, whether around Mike Glennon, Mark Sanchez or a player to be drafted or traded for later.

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GM Phil Emery adopted the buzz phrase of "multiple championships," but current leadership does sound less grandiose and more grounded. And where Emery drafts proved disastrous, the Pace administration has had clear hits, injuries notwithstanding, as recently as the 2016 class, which McCaskey mentioned in the context of Pace building the roster exactly the way ownership prefers.
 
"We have confidence in Ryan and John," McCaskey said. "We want to build through the draft. Ryan said that in his interview when he said he was interested in coming to the Bears and we like how he's stuck to that plan. We saw it last year when we had three rookies on the Pro Football Writers of America all-rookie team; Cody Whitehair, Leonard Floyd and Jordan Howard.
 
"And that's what we need to keep doing; keep building through the draft. I told Ryan he should get ripped this time of year every year for not being more active in free agency and that's because we're developing our own guys and rewarding our own guys."
 
McCaskey supported the actions, or lack of same, by Pace in the pursuit of max-dollar free agents this offseason. The Bears dropped out of sweepstakes for cornerback Stephon Gilmore and safety Tony Jefferson, among others, when prices spiked far beyond the parameters set by the Pace staff.
 
"I've been very impressed with [Pace] as a leader, as an evaluator of talent," McCaskey said. "And one of the things I've been most impressed by with him is the discipline he's shown just as recently as this free agency period. He didn't want to overpay guys. Too often, I think, you overpay guys who don't come through for you and then you have a big hole in your salary cap and you're behind the 8-ball. So I like the discipline he has shown, the restraint he has shown in free agency."