April 2009

26th man

The Cubs are carrying an extra outfielder, not an infielder. Have they considered switching that, considering the injuries?

“If [Aramis Ramirez] was healthy and didn’t miss any games, guys would be getting a day rest more here or there,” general manager Jim Hendry said. “Obviously, you want ‘Ramy’ playing at the 140, 145 [game] mark. Obviously, it’s imperative he’s healthy. We never assumed the club we’re going to break with is the 25 you’re going to go with [at the end].

“If there comes a time when we need to go with an infielder and one less outfielder, that may come down the road. Who knows?” Hendry said. “The same thing with 12 pitchers. You’d like to have a stretch where everybody is throwing well down in the pen. You have to let it play out. When we left camp, we knew we wanted to do it this way and if this way doesn’t work, you adjust on the fly.”

— Carrie Muskat

4/30 Lineup

It’s a beautiful night for baseball. Here’s Thursday’s lineup: LF Soriano, SS Theriot, CF Fukudome, 1B Lee, RF Bradley, 3B Fontenot, C Hill, 2B Miles, P Marshall.

— Carrie Muskat

4/30 No DL for Ramirez

The Cubs will continue to play shorthanded because Aramis Ramirez was not put on the disabled list Thursday. Ramirez ran in the outfield with both Lou Piniella and athletic trainer Mark O’Neal watching, and the team decided not to put the third baseman on the DL. If they did, he would not be available until the Milwaukee series, and Ramirez was expected back before then. The team was prepared. Infielder Bobby Scales was at Wrigley just in case.

— Carrie Muskat

4/30 Noteworthy items

According to the Elias Sports Bureau: The Cubs’ 10-0 loss to the Diamondbacks Wednesday was the first time that they were shut out by a double-digit margin since May 26, 2003, when they lost 10-0 to the Pirates at Wrigley Field.

Entering play on Thursday, the Cubs had the Majors’ longest current streak without a double-digit shutout loss. That distinction now belongs to the Dodgers, whose last such loss was in October 2004.

* Ryan Dempster’s 200th career start in the Majors was not one of his best as he lost to the Diamondbacks on Wednesday, allowing five runs in six innings. Dempster, who has also appeared in 225 games out of the bullpen, became the seventh current big-league pitcher with at least 200 games as both a starter and a reliever. The others are Tom Gordon, John Smoltz, Derek Lowe, Miguel Batista, Darren Oliver and Kelvim Escobar.

* Historian Ed Hartig also notes that the last time the Cubs allowed at least 10 walks in a game was Aug. 3, 2007, when they walked 11 in a 6-2 loss to the Mets.

* The tarp is on the field at Wrigley. We’ll keep you posted.

— Carrie Muskat


4/29 Quick hits

In Cubs’ Minor League news, pitcher Evan Anundsen no-hit Daytona on Tuesday, leading Brevard County to a 1-0 win. It was the first no-no at Jackie Robinson Stadium since Daytona’s Carmen Pignatiello and Jared Blasdell combined for a nine-inning no-hitter on July 18, 2003, against Palm Beach.

* Upcoming seventh inning stretch singers at Wrigley Field for the homestand, which begins Thursday, include the Class 8A state champ Maine South football team on Thursday; actress Denise Richards on Friday, Chicago band member Peter Cetera on Saturday; the Chicago Red Stars women’s pro soccer team on Monday, and Roberto Garza and Chris Williams from the Bears on Tuesday. Sunday is to be determined but will be connected to the number retirement ceremony honoring Fergie Jenkins and Greg Maddux.

— Carrie Muskat


4/27 Minor update

The Cubs may not make a roster move prior to Monday’s game in Arizona. Check cubs.com for more info. I’m missing this trip.

* Kosuke Fukudome leads the Cubs with a .371 batting average, 15 RBIs, 13 walks and a .481 on-base percentage. He ranks second in the NL in on-base percentage and is tied for third in the league in batting average.

* Esmailin Caridad gave up three hits over seven scoreless innings in Iowa’s 3-0 win over Nashville. Chris Robinson hit a three-run homer for all the offense. … Making his first start for Tennessee, Marcos Mateo gave up one run on one hit over 3 2/3 innings in a 4-3 win over Carolina. Vince Perkins picked up his first save, pitching two scoreless innings. … Andrew Cashner made his Daytona debut and gave up one run on one hit over 2 2/3 innings in a 5-3 win over Lakeland. … Josh Harrison delivered a two-run triple in the ninth to lift Peoria to a 8-7 win over Cedar Rapids.

— Carrie Muskat

New No. 3 hitter

Lou Piniella may have found the perfect No. 3 hitter. Kosuke Fukudome set a career high with five RBIs on Sunday. He hit a RBI single in the first, a RBI single in the fourth and a three-run homer off lefty Trever Miller in the eighth. Fukudome did not hit a home run off a left-hander last year. It was his fourth homer, second on the team to Alfonso Soriano.

Before the game, Piniella was asked if Fukudome had to change his approach because he was hitting third.

“You don’t have to change your style because you hit second or third in the lineup,” Piniella said. “Once you come up to bat once, it’s to start the game that way. He doesn’t need to change anything. Not at all.”

— Carrie Muskat

4/26 Lee update

Derrek Lee had to come out of Sunday’s game because of neck spasms. His status was day to day. We’ll know more postgame.

— Carrie Muskat

When it rains, it pours …

Derrek Lee had to come out of Sunday’s game after hitting a double in the three-run first inning. As soon as we get an injury update, we’ll pass it on. Losing Lee leaves the Cubs with Koyie Hill and Joey Gathright as the only 100 percent healthy players on the bench. If needed, Carlos Zambrano may have to pinch-hit.

— Carrie Muskat

4/26 Injury roundup

Carlos Marmol was able to throw off flat ground on Sunday, and could be available as early as Tuesday for the Cubs. Marmol had to come out of Friday’s game because of a sprained left knee. Lou Piniella says Aramis Ramirez (sore calf) could return during the upcoming series against the Diamondbacks, which begins Monday. Piniella did check with Milton Bradley on Sunday, but the outfielder wasn’t ready. Bradley has made one start since April 12 and has been bothered by a strained groin.

— Carrie Muskat