UPDATE


Quiet off-season for Reds so far, but winter meetings loom

Published: Tuesday, December 05, 2017 @ 1:11 PM
Updated: Tuesday, December 05, 2017 @ 4:32 PM

Reds starter Homer Bailey pitches against the Nationals on Sunday, July 16, 2017, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. David Jablonski/Staff
Reds starter Homer Bailey pitches against the Nationals on Sunday, July 16, 2017, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. David Jablonski/Staff

Maybe it was the uncertainty surrounding the status of Miami slugger and National League Most Valuable Player Giancarlo Stanton.

Maybe it was the pursuit of Japanese do-it-all superstar Shohei Ohtani.

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Whatever the reason, the Major League Baseball off-season has been quiet with the annual winter meetings scheduled to start in Orlando on Monday. Dick Williams, the Reds’ general manager, is and isn’t surprised.

“I’ve given up on trying to predict the pace of off-season activity,” Williams said Friday during Redsfest. “It’s been quieter than the last few offseasons so far. I guess it’s due to Ohtani and Stanton, but it always seems like there are big guys out there. I don’t know why it would have such an effect this year.

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“I can just say, for us, it’s been quieter.”

That doesn’t mean Williams and his staff have been idle since the end of the regular season. The Reds were maneuvering to get into position to pursue Ohtani, but they also were exercising due diligence in other areas while preparing for the four-day winter meetings.

»RELATED: Team awards handed out at Redsfest

“We’re open for business,” he said. “We kind of divide and conquer. We’ve got some people spending a lot of time making sure we’re on top of the process with (Ohtani). It has not affected our ability to react to other stuff. We’ve been engaged in free-agent discussions. We’re starting conversations with our own guys about arbitration and extensions — normal business.”

The Reds didn’t make any major deals before the 2017 season until January, when they traded right-handed pitcher Dan Straily to the Miami Marlins for three players, including right-hander Austin Brice, and signed starting pitcher Scott Feldman and reliever Drew Storen to one-year contracts as free agents.

»HAL MCCOY: Why former Red Aaron Boone will succeed as Yankes manager

Williams wasn’t sure the Reds needed to make any major moves to show improvement over the last two seasons, both of which ended with 68-94 records. He believes the team would have taken a step forward in 2017 if not for the loss of starting pitchers Homer Bailey, Anthony DeSclafani and Brandon Finnegan with injuries for all or most of the season.

The injuries allowed young starters such as Luis Castillo, Sal Romano, Robert Stephenson and Tyler Mahle to get plenty of big league starts. They responded well, especially at the end of the season. Getting Bailey, DeSclafani and Finnegan back for full seasons would be like adding players through trades or free agency.

“I’m very optimistic that we’re going to see improvement this year,” Williams said. “Last year, if not for those three injuries, we would have seen steps forward with the record. This year, we’ll be in an even better position to have some stability and show some improvement.”

Williams believes the fans have the same sense.

“I think I’m getting some pretty good feedback,” he said. “Now with social media, I feel like I get a feel for the pulse. I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback on our drafts, the signings on the international market, the trades we did, the waivers claims. A lot of those moves have paid off.

“We feel like we’re seeing positive momentum. The second half of the year, the performance of the pitchers gave us a boost.

“We had the youngest roster in baseball Opening Day last year,” he added. We’ll be even younger this year, depending on the off-season activity, but right now pro forma, we’d be a pretty young team. We like that. We have a lot of guys with options. We have a lot of guys looking to make an impact in the big leagues. Joey (Votto) and Homer are our only two 30-and-over veterans.”

Williams joked that the Reds would schedule another Redsfest if they succeeded in signing Ohtani, but that didn’t seem likely after reports surfaced Monday that Cincinnati wasn’t on the player’s list of favored North America landing spots.

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New Bengals linebacker gets his old jersey number at surprising cost

Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 3:18 PM


            ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 01: Preston Brown #52 of the Buffalo Bills celebrates stopping the Atlanta Falcons on fourth and one during the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on October 1, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 01: Preston Brown #52 of the Buffalo Bills celebrates stopping the Atlanta Falcons on fourth and one during the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on October 1, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

When Preston Brown walked through the Bengals locker room for the first time after signing a one-year, $5 million contract, he noticed his number — 52 — already was assigned to Brandon Bell.

“I’ll have a talk with him and see what we can work out,” Brown said.

But that conversation never happened.

›› Bengals RB Mixon hoping Baker Mayfield doesn’t end up in Cleveland

“When I showed up last week (for the start of voluntary offseason workouts), I already had it,” Brown said.

Bell was just as surprised was Brown, but he said he understood.

“It’s a veteran thing,” Bell said. “I get it. They say we’re still rookies. I don’t mind it too much. It is what it is.”

›› RELATED: Cincinnati Bengals 7-round mock draft

Bell wore 11 in college so he didn’t have an attachment to 52. This year he will wear 51, which belonged to Kevin Minter last year.

Even though Bell didn’t have a say in the swap, Brown said he still plans to thank him.

“I’m going to have to take him out to dinner or something,” Brown said.

›› Bengals 2018 schedule features a number of franchise firsts

“I’ll take him up on that offer,” Bell said. “A nice steak would be great.”

Cordy Glenn, whom the Bengals obtained in a trade with Buffalo last month, also will wear the same No. 77 he wore with the Bills. That number, worn by Andrew Whitworth from 2008-2016, was not assigned to anyone last year.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers will use parrot to deliver 4th-round pick in NFL draft

Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 2:12 PM

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will use a parrot to deliver its fourth-round draft pick Saturday.
Keith Tsuji/Getty Images
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will use a parrot to deliver its fourth-round draft pick Saturday.(Keith Tsuji/Getty Images)

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be winging it during the latter stages of the NFL draft.

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The NFL announced Monday that the Bucs will have a parrot deliver its fourth-round selection from the pirate ship at Raymond James Stadium to an announcer during Saturday’s televised Day 3 draft show.

The parrot, a Catalina macaw named Zsa Zsa, is based at the Florida Exotic Bird Sanctuary in Hudson, Florida.

The bird is not the first animal to participate in an NFL draft. Last year, an orangutan aided in the Colts announcing their fourth-round selection of offensive lineman Zach Banner, the NFL reported on its website. 

Reaction on the Buccaneers’ upcoming pick ranged from humor to squawks of surprise. One website, JoeBucsFan, posted a video of The Three Stooges’ 1936 comedy short, “Disorder in the Court,” where a parrot is figured prominently in the climactic court scene.

Undoubtedly, some fans will post the iconic parrot sketch from “Monty Python’s Flying Circus.”

Regardless, the Bucs will be giving the NFL the bird on Saturday.

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Ex-NFL kicker Jay Feely apologizes for 'joke' prom date gun photo 

Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 10:05 AM

Former NFL Kicker Jay Feely Apologizes For Posing With Gun In Prom Photo

Former NFL kicker Jay Feely said he was trying to be funny when he posed in a Twitter photo standing between his daughter and her prom date holding a pistol, but in the wake of the Parkland shootings in February, social media posters did not appreciate the joke, WFLA reported.

>> Read more trending news

Feely, who played in the NFL from 2001 to 2014 and is an analyst for CBS Sports, apologized Sunday. 

In the photo, Feely has his left arm around his daughter and a pistol in his right hand at his side. Next to Feely is his daughter’s prom date, who is smirking. 

"Wishing my beautiful daughter and her date a great time at prom," Feely wrote, using the hashtag "#BadBoys."

The reaction from some on social media was swift and critical.

“Oh yay -- American dads have kicked off the season of 'let’s pretend I’m going to shoot my daughter’s date for impugning her chastity' pics," tweeted Shannon Watts, who is the founder of the gun control group Moms Demand Action.

“The Stoneman Douglas shooting was 2 months ago,” author Geraldine DeRuiter posted on Twitter. “But sure, let's make jokes about murdering high schoolers.”

The backlash was vocal enough for Feely to issue an apology Sunday on Twitter.

“The prom picture I posted was obviously intended to be a joke. My Daughter has dated her boyfriend for over a year and they knew I was joking," he wrote. "I take gun safety seriously (the gun was not loaded and had no clip in) and I did not intend to be insensitive to that important issue."

Some Twitter users defended Feely’s post, noting that he was referencing the movie “Bad Boys 2.”

“He’s referencing a scene in the movie #BadBoys2,” Twitter user Mike McLeod wrote. “The kid knows it’s a joke -- it’s not pointed at anyone and barely in the picture. I’m sure there’s a picture with his daughter and just the date also. This isn’t anything to blow out of proportion.

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Bengals RB Mixon hoping Browns don’t take Baker Mayfield

Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 1:25 PM


            PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 01: Baker Mayfield #6 of the Oklahoma Sooners celebrates after Steven Parker #10 of the Oklahoma Sooners scores a 46 yard touchdown because of a fumble by Sony Michel #1 of the Georgia Bulldogs in the 2018 College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual at the Rose Bowl on January 1, 2018 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 01: Baker Mayfield #6 of the Oklahoma Sooners celebrates after Steven Parker #10 of the Oklahoma Sooners scores a 46 yard touchdown because of a fumble by Sony Michel #1 of the Georgia Bulldogs in the 2018 College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual at the Rose Bowl on January 1, 2018 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon said he does have any insight as to where his former Oklahoma teammate, Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Baker Mayfield, will get drafted this week.

But there’s one place Mixon is rooting against.

“Hell no I don’t want to play Baker twice,” he said when asked if he hopes Cleveland takes Mayfield.

›› RELATED: Cincinnati Bengals 7-round mock draft

“I want him on my team,” Mixon added. ” I mean, I know it’s not going to work like that, but at the end of the day, wherever he goes I just hope we ain’t playing him. That’s just what I’ve seen in the past. I know it’s a different level, but I’m sure wherever he ends up he’ll make an impact right away and I’m sure he’ll be that ‘it’ factor that team is looking for.”

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