Bengals sign defensive tackle with alleged effort issues

Published: Wednesday, March 07, 2018 @ 7:37 PM

ORCHARD PARK, NY - OCTOBER 22: Chris Baker #90 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers sits on the field after being injured during the second quarter of an NFL game against the Buffalo Bills on October 22, 2017 at New Era Field in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
ORCHARD PARK, NY - OCTOBER 22: Chris Baker #90 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers sits on the field after being injured during the second quarter of an NFL game against the Buffalo Bills on October 22, 2017 at New Era Field in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

The Cincinnati Bengals got a head start on free agency Wednesday by signing veteran defensive tackle Chris Baker, according to the team’s website.

The deal, first reported by the NFL Network, is for one year and worth $3 million.

Because Baker, a 6-foot-2, 300-pounder, was cut by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Feb. 20, he was eligible to sign with another team before free agency officially begins with the start of the new league year at 4 p.m. next Wednesday.

The reason for Baker’s release in Tampa Bay, according to ESPN’s Jenna Laine, is similar to another castoff the Bengals signed earlier this year, former New York Giants offensive tackle Bobby Hart.

According to Laine’s report, Baker’s lack of effort in practice was a constant issue.

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The 30-year-old Baker entered the league with Denver in 2009 as an undrafted free agent. He played one season for the Broncos and one for Miami before signing with Washington. After one season on the practice squad in 2011, Baker appeared in 76 games in five seasons from 2012-16.

He signed a three-year, $15.8 million deal last offseason with Tampa Bay, but the Buccaneers were willing to part ways after just one season.

>> Bengals say all options on table when it comes to QB situation

“I’m back with people who believe in me. Happy to move forward,” Baker told ESPN’s Josina Anderson.

Baker’s move to Cincinnati reunites him with defensive line coach Jacob Burney, who worked with him in Washington from 2011-14. Bengals linebackers coach Jim Haslett also was on the Redskins staff at the time.

The addition gives the Bengals some more depth on the interior defensive line with the Bengals expected to let 10-year veteran Pat Sims leave in free agency.

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Baker is expected to compete with 2016 fourth-round pick Andrew Billings, 2017 fourth-round pick Ryan Glasgow for the spot alongside Pro Bowler Geno Atkins.

Defensive end Chris Smith also played inside at times, but he is set to become an unrestricted free agent next week.

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Blue Jays reliever Roberto Osuna suspended 75 games 

Published: Saturday, June 23, 2018 @ 5:11 AM

Toronto Blue Jays reliever Roberto Osuna was suspended for 75 games.
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images
Toronto Blue Jays reliever Roberto Osuna was suspended for 75 games.(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

Toronto Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna was suspended for 75 games without pay, retroactive to May 8, for violating baseball’s domestic violence policy, the New York Daily News reported.

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Osuna, 23, an All-Star in 2017, was charged with one count of assault in Toronto and was put on administrative leave, the Daily News reported. The right-hander has not pitched since May 6. 

Osuna has nine saves and a 2.93 ERA in 15 games.

The suspension will cost Osuna $2.54 million of his annual $5.3 million salary, the Daily News reported. He will participate in an evaluation and treatment program, which is confidential and supervised by the joint policy board of Major League Baseball and the players’ association, the newspaper reported.

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Sorting through some 2026 World Cup questions

Published: Saturday, June 23, 2018 @ 2:41 AM

Xherdan Shaqiri of Switzerland shoots past Dusko Tosic of Serbia during the Friday's match at the World Cup in Russia.
Clive Rose/Getty Images
Xherdan Shaqiri of Switzerland shoots past Dusko Tosic of Serbia during the Friday's match at the World Cup in Russia.(Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Soccer’s international governing body, FIFA, voted last week to play the 2026 World Cup in the United States, Mexico and Canada.

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And while the announcement raised much excitement in North American soccer circles, it left questions that won’t be fully answered for years. Here are some of them.

WHICH CITIES WILL HOST MATCHES? 

Sixteen North American cities -- at least 10 in the United States -- will be chosen by FIFA in 2020 or 2021 to host matches. Those 16 choices will come from 23 “candidate cities.” FIFA will have negotiating leverage in whittling the number.

The U.S. host cities will be chosen from among these candidates: Atlanta (Mercedes-Benz Stadium), Baltimore (M&T Bank Stadium), Boston (Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts), Cincinnati (Paul Brown Stadium), Dallas (AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas), Denver (Broncos Stadium at Mile High), Houston (NRG Stadium), Kansas City (Arrowhead Stadium), Los Angeles (Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, California, or the new NFL stadium under construction), Miami (Hard Rock Stadium), Nashville (Nissan Stadium), New York (MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey), Orlando, Florida (Camping World Stadium), Philadelphia (Lincoln Financial Field), San Francisco (Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California), Seattle (CenturyLink Field) and Washington (FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland.) 

In addition, current plans call for matches to be played in up to three cities in Canada (Edmonton, Montreal and Toronto) and up to three in Mexico (Guadalajara, Mexico City and Monterrey). 

"We are blessed with 23 really world-class stadiums -- some iconic, some brand-new cutting-edge and everything in between," U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro said. "I think it will be a very difficult decision to make … when we have to determine the final 16 cities. But it’s a high-class problem.”

Under current plans, 60 matches will be played in the U.S., 10 in Canada and 10 in Mexico. 

WHAT IS THE COST OF HOSTING? 

It helps that no new stadiums will have to be built in North America for the event, but the costs of security, transportation and other requirements will be considerable in any host city. 

“We’ve been told during the bid process it is on the level of (hosting) a Super Bowl,” said Dan Corso, president of the Atlanta Sports Council and chairman of Atlanta’s World Cup committee. “We have not gotten into too much detail on that yet, but we will during this next phase of the process.” 

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Reds top Cubs for fifth straight win

Published: Friday, June 22, 2018 @ 10:30 PM


            CINCINNATI, OH - JUNE 22: Eugenio Suarez #7 of the Cincinnati Reds celebrates in the dugout after hitting a two-run home run in the fifth inning against the Chicago Cubs at Great American Ball Park on June 22, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Cincinnati defeated Chicago 6-3. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - JUNE 22: Eugenio Suarez #7 of the Cincinnati Reds celebrates in the dugout after hitting a two-run home run in the fifth inning against the Chicago Cubs at Great American Ball Park on June 22, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Cincinnati defeated Chicago 6-3. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

While the 2018 season has been, at best, disappointing for the Reds, it has been disastrous when they were matched against their National League Central Division partners.

The Reds went into this weekend’s four-game series against the Chicago Cubs 8-23 against Central Division teams and 20-22 against the rest of their schedule.

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“Our players look at it like a challenge and a hurdle we have to overcome,” interim manager Jim Riggleman said before Thursday’s series-opener. “We’ve got to start winning some of these games in our division against the Cubs and Cardinals. Milwaukee’s playing very good baseball. The Pirates we’ve held our own against, but we’ve got to step it up against these better Cubs.”

Cincinnati has gotten off to a good start on that quest. After coming from behind on Jesse Winker’s first career grand slam on the way to a 6-2 win on Thursday, the Reds got a go-ahead two-run home run from Eugenio Suarez in the fifth inning, helping them to a 6-3 win before a crowd of 25,885 at Great American Ball Park on Friday.

Billy Hamilton, Joey Votto, Adam Duvall and Alex Blandino also drove in runs to help Luis Castillo snap a four-start losing streak and earn his first win since May 24. Four Cincinnati pitchers limited Chicago to four hits as the Reds earned back-to-back wins over Chicago for the first time since June 30-July 1 of last season. They extended their current winning streak to five games, their longest since winning a season-high six straight from May 8 through May 13.

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“We’re playing really good baseball right now,” Suarz said. “When you play like that, good things can happen.”

Cincinnati’s three relievers – Kyle Crockett, David Hernandez and Raisel Iglesias – teamed up to retire the last 10 Cubs batters.

“That was one of our cleaner ballgames of the season,” Riggleman said. “We played a good ballgame – offensively, defensively, ran the bases well, timely hitting.”

Castillo (5-8) faced one batter over the minimum through three hitless innings before the Cubs reached him for three runs with two outs in the fourth. Javier Baez drove in Ben Zobrist from third with a squeeze bunt, and Middletown-native Kyle Schwarber smacked Castillo’s next pitch into the visitors’ bullpen in left-center field for his team-leading 15thhomer of the season and third in four games.

»RELATED: Winker talks batting gloves, spikes

The homer was the eighth allowed by Castillo in his last six games and 18thof the season. He went into the game having given up a National League-leading 17 home runs.

The Cubs got runners to first and second with two outs in the sixth, but the left-handed Crockett – promoted from Triple-A Louisville before Thursday’s game – came in to get Schwarber looking to end the inning. Hernandez posted three strikeouts in two perfect relief innings, setting up Raisel Iglesias’s 12thsave in 14 opportunities.

“Castillo did a nice job,” Riggleman said. “In the sixth, we wanted nothing more with Schwarber than to keep him in the ballpark. Crockett was able to come in and strike him out, and that might be as good a two innings from Hernandez this season.”

“We’re a family,” Castillo said of the rejuvenated pitching staff, which has allowed a combined 4.23 earned-run average in June after figures of 5.32 in April and 4.64 in May. “Starters, relievers, we’re all a family. When somebody does good, we’re happy for him. When somebody isn’t as good, we have his back.”

Jose Peraza, who has reached base at least once in 22 consecutive games, started the three-run fifth with a single and stolen base, setting up Votto’s one-out RBI single. Suarez, who extended his career-high hitting streak to 12 games with a first-inning single, followed with a two-run shot to center field, his 16thhomer of the season.

“I put a good swing on a changeup,” Suarez said. “In my first at bat, he threw me a changeup and I rolled it over to the shortstop. After that, I said, ‘I have to be ready for anything.’”

Peraza tied Jesse Winker for Cincinnati’s longest on-base streak of the season. He also stole second base three times, his third one in the ninth setting up Blandino’s RBI single.

The bottom of the Reds order produced a 1-0 lead in the second against Cubs’ starter Jose Quintana (6-6) on Curt Casali’s one-out double, Castillo’s single up the middle – his fifth hit of the season – and Hamilton’s opposite-field single to right, extending his hitting streak to five games.

The Reds went on to load the bases with two outs, but Quintana struck out Votto looking to end the threat.

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Ohio House of Representatives honors Chaminade Julienne baseball team

Published: Thursday, June 21, 2018 @ 4:09 PM

HIGHLIGHTS: Chaminade Julienne rallies to beat Wapakoneta

The Ohio House of Representatives honored the Chaminade Julienne High School baseball team on Wednesday, 18 days after the Eagles won the program’s first state championship in 48 years.

Chaminade Julienne beat Wapakoneta 3-1 in the title game June 2 at Huntington Park in Columbus.

» CJ COVERAGE: Wissman stars in title game

Jack Huffman, the son of state representative Steve Huffman, R-Tipp City, started for the Eagles. He was the designated hitter during the two state tournament games and drove in a run in a 2-1 victory against Tallmadge in the state semifinals.

Here’s the full text of the resolution honoring the team:

“WHEREAS, Known as a driven and spirited squad, the Chaminade Julienne Catholic High School baseball team has developed into an efficient group of athletes whose skill on the diamond is equaled only by their astounding display of teamwork. Through their rigorous preparation in pursuit of the title, the Eagles admirably overpowered a formidable Wapakoneta squad with a score of 3-1 to win this year’s Division II State Championship crown; and

WHEREAS, Under the astute guidance of Coach Mike Barhorst, the Chaminade Julienne Catholic High School baseball team has set a remarkable precedent with its state championship victory. By collaborating to best a rigorous schedule, the members of the squad have prevailed over numerous adversaries and have learned much about dedication, self-discipline, leadership, and perseverance, and their first-place finish reflects their strong commitment to the sport; and

WHEREAS, The unparalleled achievements attributable to the athletic prowess of the Chaminade Julienne Catholic High School baseball team are a justifiable source of pride not only for its members but also for their families, their coaches, and their community. The journey to securing the state title has been a valuable experience that is sure to benefit the players as they follow in the tradition of excellence that has been established by their school’s athletic programs; therefore be it

RESOLVED, That we, the members of the House of Representatives of the 132nd General Assembly of Ohio, in adopting this Resolution, look with optimism to a promising future for the Chaminade Julienne Catholic High School baseball program and salute the members and coach of the 2018 team on its Division II State Championship; and be it further

RESOLVED, That the Clerk of the House of Representatives transmit a duly authenticated copy of this Resolution to the Chaminade Julienne Catholic High School baseball team.

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