May 2010

5/31 Left-hander notes

The Cubs now have four left-handers in the bullpen in Sean Marshall, John Grabow, James Russell and Tom Gorzelanny. According to Cubs historian Ed Hartig: The last time the Cubs used four lefties out of the pen:

Sept. 9, 2007: The Cubs used eight pitchers, including four lefties, in a 10-5 loss in
Pittsburgh. The lefties were Carmen Pignatiello, Sean Marshall, Scott Eyre and Will Ohman.

But that was in September when rosters expand. The last time the Cubs used four lefties out of the pen (and before rosters expanded) was April 26, 2005, in an 11-9 loss to the Reds. The Cubs used seven pitchers, including southpaws Glendon Rusch, Mike Remlinger, Will Ohman and Cliff Bartosh.

* Only once in the last 60 years did the Cubs use five lefties in the same game.  On May 11, 2000, the Cubs lost to the Mets 14-8 at Wrigley going through six pitchers (Scott Downs, Daniel Garibay, Brian Williams, Andrew Lorraine, Mark Guthrie and Felix Heredia). Brian Williams was the right-handed pitcher for the Cubs in the game.

— Carrie Muskat

5/31 Minor matters

Casey Coleman gave up two runs on six hits over six innings in Iowa’s 5-3 win over Nashville Sunday. Jason Dubois hit a double, a homer and scored three runs. Chris Robinson had three RBIs, including a game-winning RBI double in the eighth.

Tennessee’s game was rained out and will not be made up.

Brooks Raley gave up three runs on seven hits over 5 1/3 innings but it wasn’t enough as Daytona lost, 4-1. Ryan Flaherty extended his hitting streak to 13 games and is batting .404 in that stretch.

Trey McNutt gave up one run on four hits over five innings in Peoria’s 5-4 win over Beloit. McNutt struck out six and now is 4-0 with a 1.70 ERA. Greg Rohan and Charles Thomas each had three hits.

— Carrie Muskat

5/30 Gorzelanny: "I'm here to do my job"

Tom Gorzelanny was in the Cubs’ bullpen on Sunday in case he was needed. He found out before the game that he was switching roles, moving from the rotation to the ‘pen.

“It is what it is,” Gorzelanny said. “I’ll do my job there and see what happens.”

The Cubs need to make room for Carlos Zambrano who returns to the rotation on Wednesday in Pittsburgh. Gorzelanny was 2-5 with a 3.66 ERA in nine starts, and has primarily been a starter in his career. He made it clear after his last game that he didn’t want to go to the bullpen.

“We didn’t expect [Gorzelanny] to be happy about it and he wasn’t,” Lou Piniella said. “At the same time, we impressed upon him that he can be very helpful to us. [Sean] Marshall is a perfect example of that.”

Piniella’s right. The lefty wasn’t pleased at the news. Does he still want to be a starter?

“That’s what I am,” Gorzelanny said. “This is a decision they made. I’m here to do my job, whatever it is. Put me in the pen. That’s fine.”

— Carrie Muskat

5/30 Change is in the air

Lou Piniella hinted after Sunday’s game that he’s going to make some changes to the lineup. That could mean Mike Fontenot (.337) and Tyler Colvin (.310) start Monday in Pittsburgh. Fontenot was 5-for-7 on the homestand with two RBIs and three triples, while Colvin was 2-for-7 with a home run, a double and two RBIs.

The team hasn’t come through with big hits. On Saturday in a 7-1 win over the Cardinals, the Cubs were 4-for-11 with runners in scoring position. In the three games prior to that and Sunday, the Cubs are 5-for-33 with RISP.

— Carrie Muskat

5/30 Minor matters

Thomas Diamond gave up one run on five hits over six innings but Nashville scored four runs in the ninth to beat Iowa, 5-3. Diamond struck out five and notched his third quality start in a row. He’s now 3-1 with a 1.95 ERA. Chad Tracy had three hits and extended his hitting streak to five games. Andrew Cashner, expected to be called up this week to the big league team, worked a scoreless eighth inning.

Hung-Wen Chen threw 6 2/3 scoreless innings to help Tennessee beat Montgomery, 3-0. It was Chen’s fourth consecutive quality start.

Smaily Borges hit his second homer in Daytona’s 5-4 loss to Jupiter. Chris Rusin gave up four runs on six hits over 4 2/3 innings. Also, Brett Jackson, Rafael Dolis and Aaron Shafer were named to the Florida State League All-Star team.

Nick Struck gave up two hits over 5 2/3 scoreless innings in Peoria’s 3-2, 12-inning loss to Beloit. Jae-Hoon Ha hit his first homer, a solo shot. Greg Rohan had two hits, his 13th multi-hit game of the season.

— Carrie Muskat

5/30 Cashner update

Andrew Cashner will join the Cubs this week but not Monday in Pittsburgh. Lou Piniella was correct in saying Cashner will get called up this week but no date has been set. The Cubs’ 2008 No. 1 Draft pick has made two relief appearances for Triple-A Iowa and Piniella wants another right-hander to balance out the ‘pen makeup. With Tom Gorzelanny shifting from the rotation to the ‘pen, the Cubs will have four lefties in Gorzelanny, John Grabow, Sean Marshall and James Russell.

— Carrie Muskat

5/30 Next time, watch your step

Players may think twice before they pounce on someone at home plate after he hits a game-winning hit. Kendry Morales of the Angels suffered a broken foot after he hit a walkoff grand slam on Saturday.
“That’s unbelievable,” Lou Piniella said about Morales. “That’s something you never envision seeing. That’s such a fluke, fluke thing. It’s sad and tragic because a really ecstatic moment becomes saddened.”
Alfonso Soriano has hit his share of game-winning hits.
“It’s sad because we don’t expect to get hurt in a celebration,” Soriano said. “It’s very sad — it’s a great moment, grand slam, win the game and everybody celebrates at home plate. Sometimes you have to be careful with celebrations.”
Will he think twice the next time he goes to celebrate?

“We can celebrate, but just be careful,” Soriano said. “You never know if you will step on somebody’s foot. You have to be careful. You never even think about it. You just want to celebrate.”
— Carrie Muskat

5/30 Lineup & Ramirez

Aramis Ramirez was in the Cubs lineup Sunday, ready to test some changes made to his bat and to his grip. He’s been bothered by a sore left thumb.

Here’s the lineup:

RF Fukudome

2B Theriot

1B Lee

3B Ramirez

CF Byrd

LF Soriano

C Soto

SS Castro

P Dempster

— Carrie Muskat

5/30 Z, Gorzelanny & Cashner update

It’s official. Carlos Zambrano will start on Wednesday for the Cubs against the Pirates. The other news of the day Sunday is that Andrew Cashner, the 2008 No. 1 pick, will join the team in Pittsburgh, too, and be inserted into the bullpen. That will give the Cubs an even number of right-handers and left-handers. Tom Gorzelanny is going to the bullpen to make room for Zambrano in the rotation, and that would give the Cubs four southpaws: Gorzelanny, Sean Marshall, John Grabow and James Russell. The next roster move will be made Monday.

Cashner made his second relief appearance on Saturday for Triple-A Iowa, throwing 13 pitches (10 strikes) in one inning. He gave up one hit and struck out one. He was 3-0 as a starter for the Minor League team.

— Carrie Muskat

5/30 Pre-game news & notes

The Cubs did not list their rotation for the upcoming series against the Pirates in Sunday’s game day notes. We should find out pregame from Lou Piniella. Tom Gorzelanny or Randy Wells could start Monday, followed by Ted Lilly, then Carlos Zambrano. Lou indicated post-game Saturday that Zambrano will likely go at the “tail end” of the Pirates series.

Some other tidbits:

* Aramis Ramirez was going see how his left thumb felt Sunday before deciding if he can play. He has added a donut and some padding to the handle of his bat in hopes of alleviating the discomfort.

* Carlos Silva is now 7-0 in 10 starts for the Cubs after a win over the Cardinals on Saturday.  According to Elias Sports Bureau, he’s the first pitcher in Cubs history to go 7-0 (or better) in his first 10 starts for the team. The last Major League pitcher to do that for any team was CC Sabathia for the Brewers in 2008 (8-0).

* Tyler Colvin has four game-winning RBI this season, second-most among all rookies behind Atlanta’s Jason Heyward (six). Colvin and Starlin Castro have combined to bat .307 with seven homers and 25 RBIs in 64 games.

* Rookie reliever James Russell has a 2.33 ERA in 17 relief appearances and his ERA is fifth lowest among big league rookie relievers with at least 19 innings of work.

— Carrie Muskat