April 2010

4/30 Extra bases

The Cubs finally put some runs on the board Friday in an 11-5 win over the D-Backs.

* Randy Wells picked up the win, extending his streak to four straight games. He has not walked a batter in his last two starts.

* Ryan Theriot extended his hitting streak to 10 games, and is batting .468 in that stretch. His career high hitting streak is 13 games July 3-20, 2008.

* Kosuke Fukudome hit his first grand slam in the U.S. Major Leagues on Thursday, and followed on Friday with a solo home run. It’s the first time he’s homered in back to back games since coming to the U.S. Maybe having his hitting coach around is a good thing.

— Carrie Muskat

4/30 Byrd & the birds

Marlon Byrd wasn’t thrilled about sitting Friday against the Diamondbacks but he was called on to pinch-hit in the seventh and delivered. Byrd hit a single in the seventh, then launched his fourth home run in the eighth, a towering shot that cleared the left field bleachers and nearly hit a building across Waveland Avenue that advertises, “Hit me, 1 Fan, $1 million.”

“I thought he was going to win that million dollars,” Lou Piniella said after the Cubs’ 11-5 win over the D-Backs.

“I just want to be in there every single day,” Byrd said. “[Piniella] understands that. I’m always ready. I told him, ‘Whenever you need me, let me know.’ I got ready in the fifth. I ended up having a pretty good one.”

He’s learned from past teammates Ricky Ledee and Carlos Baerga about how to prepare for coming off the bench.

“You have to know how to get ready,” Byrd said.

What Byrd wasn’t quite prepared for was the arrival in late innings of the seagulls that circle Wrigley Field, looking for seed and water.

“That’s crazy,” Byrd said of the flock of white birds that settled in front of him in the ninth. “[Derrek Lee] told me, he said, ‘They know.’ Eighth, ninth innings, they come out automatically. Hopefully, when we have a ‘W’ they’re there a lot more.”

Byrd didn’t shoo them away.

“I’ll give them their spot,” he said. “They were here before I was.”

— Carrie Muskat

4/30 Big Z: "I'm ready for anything"

Carlos Zambrano was called on to pitch in the eighth inning Friday, his first appearance since Monday, which would be a normal break if he was starting and pitching on short rest.

“I used to be a starting pitcher so I’m pretty familiar with the time,” Zambrano said. “I felt good today. I was able to pitch an inning today and keep the score like that.”

Is he ready to go back to back?

“I’m ready for anything,” Zambrano said.

Big Z gave up two hits and struck out one in one inning of relief in the Cubs’ 11-5 victory over the D-Backs.

— Carrie Muskat

4/30 Mesa update

The Arizona state legislature adjourned Thursday without passing legislation the Cubs need to keep their Spring Training site in Mesa, Ariz. However, that doesn’t mean the Cubs are headed to Florida.

The Cubs and Mesa officials signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in late January that provides exclusive negotiation between the team and the city. One of the conditions of the MOU was that the legislature determine some kind of funding by July 12. Although lawmakers ended their session Thursday without a decision, they still could call a special session.

The Cubs are the top-drawing Spring Training team and have been wooed by officials from Naples, Fla., to relocate their facility there.

The Cubs declined to comment Friday.

— Carrie Muskat

4/30 Calling Mike Fontenot

Cubs second baseman Mike Fontenot will appear at the new AT&T store, 260 Danada Squre in Wheaton on Saturday from 6-7 p.m. CT. Fontenot will sign autographs and there will be a drawing for Cubs tickets.

— Carrie Muskat

4/30 Back to back Z's

Carlos Zambrano has not pitched since Monday but Lou Piniella said he has to pick and chose when he uses his new set-up man.

“With Zambrano, I’m caught in a little bit of a bind because when I use him, I don’t bring him back in back to back games,” Piniella said. “We’d like to be ahead using Zambrano.”

Zambrano made the switch from starter to reliever last Saturday, and has made two appearances. He has given up three hits over three innings in his two outings but has yet to pitch in consecutive games. Piniella wants Zambrano to make four or five relief appearances before he feels comfortable going back to back.

— Carrie Muskat

4/30 Lee & Ramirez update

Derrek Lee entered Friday’s game batting .193 while Aramis Ramirez was hitting .159. That’s not going to get the job done, Lou Piniella said. Ramirez did not start in two games one week ago for the Cubs. Maybe Lee needs a day off, too?

“We need Lee and Ramirez to hit and they’re not going to be doing much hitting sitting on the bench,” Piniella said. “We need for them to get hot and start swinging the bats the way they’re capable of. We can give them a breather from time to time.

“The secret for them is let them get their at-bats and their playing time and hopefully they’ll come around quickly.”

Which means letting the two work out their problems in the game.

“They’re my [Nos.] three and four hitters,” Piniella said. “I can see a rest occasionally. I think it does everybody good. You want to keep the middle of your lineup as stable as you possibly can. If they don’t hit, we’re going to have problems scoring runs. I’m very confident that they will [hit]. It’s just a question of how soon and when.”

— Carrie Muskat

4/30 Lineup vs. D-Backs

Tyler Colvin is starting in center field Friday in Game 2 of this four-game series against the Diamondbacks. Here’s the lineup:

SS Theriot

RF Fukudome

1B Lee

3B Ramirez

CF Colvin

LF Soriano

2B Fontenot

C Soto

P Wells

— Carrie Muskat

4/29 Extra bases

Cubs pitcher Ted Lilly gave up three homers on Thursday, the first time he’s served up multiple homers since Aug. 22, 2009, at Los Angeles. He’s the first starter to give up six runs since Carlos Zambrano gave up eight on April 5 at Atlanta in the season opener.

* Ryan Theriot has a nine-game hitting streak, and is batting .488 in that stretch with eight RBIs. He had four streaks of nine or more games last season.

* Despite hitting .159 overall, Aramis Ramirez has hit safely in six straight games, and is .240 in that stretch.

* Kosuke Fukudome’s grand slam in the eighth was his first in two-plus years in the U.S. Major Leagues. It’s his first four RBIs game since July 30, 2009.

— Carrie Muskat


4/29 Lou: "We need production"

It seemed as if the wind was blowing out only during the Diamondbacks’ innings at the plate on Thursday at Wrigley Field.

“We need to get production,” Lou Piniella said after the Cubs’ 13-5 loss to Arizona. “I think if we could do that, everything else would settle down.”

Derrek Lee is batting .193, Aramis Ramirez is hitting .159. That’s not going to get it done.

“Obviously, we’re facing good pitching,” Lee said, “but we can be a lot better than we are.”

Ramirez said he actually feels better at the plate.

“I don’t know what’s going on,” Ramirez said. “Everybody’s working hard, everybody’s trying. We just haven’t gotten it done. We just have to hit. we can’t be playing close games all the time — we all have to start hitting, including myself.”

— Carrie Muskat