August 2010

8/31 Cubs call-ups

The Cubs were not expected to callup any players on Wednesday when Major League rosters can expand but they do have a catcher in waiting. Welington Castillo, who had been with the Triple-A Iowa team, was in Chicago in case he was needed. Cubs catcher Geovany Soto has some swelling in his right knee and the Cubs wanted a backup just in case he was unavailable for an extended period of time.

Because Castillo was with the Cubs until Aug. 22, he is not eligible to be added to the team until Thursday, 10 days after being sent down. However, if Soto had to go on the disabled list, the Cubs could activate Castillo immediately. The Iowa team has a half game lead in the Pacific Coast League Northern Division and there isn’t a need for more players other than another catcher on the big league team.

The Cubs were expected to add six or seven players once the Iowa team is finished in the playoffs. Among the candidates are pitchers Justin Berg, Jeff Stevens, Mitch Atkins, and Jeff Samardzija, and outfielders Sam Fuld and Brad Snyder.

— Carrie Muskat

8/31 Castro 5th among NL hitters

Cubs rookie Starlin Castro now has enough at-bats to qualify for the National League batting title. The shortstop entered Tuesday’s game ranked fifth in the NL at .313.

“He still has plenty of adjustments to make and lots to learn,” Cubs manager Mike Quade said. “The fact that he got off to a good start and had a little down period and recovered very quickly to do what he’s doing now, that’s a really good sign. You go around the league one time and everybody gets a look at you and if you can finish strong after everyone has had the look, that says a lot about your talent at the plate.”

Castro most likely will play in the Dominican Winter League in the second half of the season. His team? Escogido, whose general manager is former Cubs outfielder Moises Alou.

— Carrie Muskat

8/31 Hendry talks to Ryno; Quade keeps working

While Cubs general manager Jim Hendry is in Albuquerque with the Triple-A Iowa team to talk to Ryne Sandberg about the Major League job, Mike Quade is taking care of business in Chicago.

Hendry is in the early stages of the interview process to find a replacement for Lou Piniella, who retired on Aug. 22. So far, Hendry has talked to former Cleveland manager Eric Wedge. Sandberg, currently managing the Triple-A Iowa team, has made it clear he’d like to be the one who replaces Piniella. One option the Cubs may try to sell Sandberg on is being a coach on the big league staff.

Quade has spent 17 seasons as a Minor League manager; Sandberg is in his fourth season. Since taking over for Piniella on Aug. 23, the Cubs have gone 5-2 under Quade.

“The biggest difference to me,” Quade said about managing in the Minors versus the Major Leagues, “has been the crush of information I have to process. You process information at the Triple-A level, you’ve got left-right matchups, but you don’t have the specifics and the sample size and [Alfonso] Soriano has 40 at-bats off somebody [for example].”

Quade used to rely on hand-written notes when he managing in Des Moines and Huntsville and Rockford. Now, he has complicated computer print outs to decipher.

The other switch from being a third base coach to a big league manager has been dealing with the media on a daily basis.

“It’s a lot more fun talking to you guys after a big win, obviously,” Quade said. “It’s all good and you guys didn’t bother me for three, four years so I guess I’m overdue.”

Sandberg, a Hall of Fame second baseman, is in his first year at Triple-A after spending two seasons with Class A Peoria and the 2008 season with Double-A Tennessee. He led the Smokies to the Southern League championship series last year. This year, the Iowa Cubs have a half game lead in the Pacific Coast League Northern Division.

— Carrie Muskat

8/31 AFL roster – UPDATED

The Cubs have seven players who will play in the Arizona Fall League, which begins Oct. 12. The list includes pitchers David Cales, Chris Carpenter, Jake Muyco and Kyle Smit, infielders Ryan Flaherty and Josh Vitters, and outfielder Brett Jackson. They’ll all be on the Mesa Solar Sox roster, which will be managed by Casey Kopitzke.

Vitters has been sidelined with a broken hand after he was hit by a pitch in late July. He began the season at Class A Daytona and batted .291 with three homers and 13 RBIs in 28 games, then was promoted to Double-A Tennessee, where he batted .223 in 63 games.

“Vitters is healthy,” Cubs player development director Oneri Fleita said Tuesday. “He’ll start taking ground balls this week. He starts hitting next week. The plan is to be ready for instructional league on [Sept. 15] when we arrive and he’ll play in the Arizona Fall League. He’ll get the at-bats he missed and then go to our winter program in Arizona and get ready for Spring Training.”

Jackson, the Cubs’ No. 1 pick in 2009, also began the season at Daytona and hit .316 in 67 games with six homers, 19 doubles and 38 RBIs. He was moved up to Tennessee on June 27 and was hitting .274 in 55 games with five homers, 11 doubles, five triples and 23 RBIs. Jackson was hitting .250 in August.

“It’s the first time he’s played 140 games,” Fleita said of the outfielder. “He didn’t get much time off. He’s being challenged. As soon as [the Smokies] get into the playoffs, I’m sure his juices will get going.”

The other Cubs players who will compete for the Mesa Solar Sox in the AFL include pitchers David Cales, Chris Carpenter, Jake Muyco and Kyle Smit and infielder Ryan Flaherty.

Cales has pitched solely in relief, appearing in 35 games at Tennessee and compiling a 2.51 ERA with 11 saves before he was promoted to Triple-A Iowa July 8. A right-hander who was a 24th-round pick in 2008 and “throws from a different angle,” Fleita said, Cales has a 7.43 ERA in 20 games at Iowa.

Carpenter was 8-6 with a 3.16 ERA in 23 games at Tennessee, striking out 100 in 119 2/3 innings. He was moved up to Iowa Aug. 24 and in two starts, did not have a record, and has given up seven runs on 16 hits and six walks over nine innings.

Muyco, a converted catcher, appeared in 40 games, all in relief at Tennessee, posting a 3.67 ERA, and has pitched at Iowa this month, with a 4.91 ERA in 11 relief appearances.

Smit was acquired from the Dodgers along with Blake DeWitt for Ted Lilly and Ryan Theriot. In nine games in relief with the Cubs’ Tennessee team, he’s 4-1 with a 2.25 ERA.

Flaherty has played second, shortstop and third, and batted .288 in 101 games with Daytona, hitting nine homers, 33 doubles and three triples with 59 RBIs. In 23 games at Tennessee, he’s batting .183 with one homer and two doubles.

— Carrie Muskat

8/31 Harry Caray's new home

Harry Caray will officially have a new home base on Wednesday. The Cubs will rededicate the statue of the legendary Hall of Fame broadcaster in a ceremony prior to their game against the Pirates. The bronze is being moved from the corner of Addison and Sheffield streets to Sheffield and Waveland streets near the entrance to Wrigley Field’s bleachers.

Caray’s wife Dutchie will take part in the ceremony, starting at 12:15 p.m. CT. Harry passed away in February 1998. Also, the first 3,000 fans 21 years of age and older entering the bleachers for Wednesday’s game will receive a Harry Caray mask.

Harry’s statue is being moved to make room for a new bronze of Billy Williams, which will be placed at Addison and Sheffield and unveiled on Sept. 7. The statue actually already has been relocated.

Caray joined the Cubs broadcast team following the 1981 season and continued his White Sox practice of leading the home crowd in singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the seventh inning stretch. He was presented the Ford C. Frick award and enshrined into baseball’s Hall of Fame in 1989.

— Carrie Muskat

8/31 Food drive Saturday

The Cubs and Cubs wives will host the eighth annual Food Drive at Wrigley Field on Saturday prior and during the 12:05 p.m. CT game against the Mets at Wrigley Field. The event is presented by Meijer and proceeds benefit the Lakeview Pantry. Since its inception in 2003, the event has helped secure more than 83,000 pounds of food.

Fans making a donation of 10 non-perishable food items or $20 will receive a 5×7 autographed photo of a Cubs player, limited to two photos per person while they last. Donations will be accepted outside Wrigley Field at Gate D at the corner of Sheffield and Addison streets from 10 a.m. until the start of the third inning.

This year, fans are encouraged to bring healthy items, such as low sodium soups and canned goods, and whole grain items, such as brown rice and whole grain pasta. Organic dry goods such as dry beans also are a good item.

Lakeview Pantry, founded in 1970, distributes more than one million pounds of food each year to individuals in need in the Lakeview community. In addition to providing groceries, the Pantry also helps clients address issues that often lead to food insecurity, such as unemployment and housing instability. Every month more than 2,400 individuals are served through its two distribution centers, home delivery program, case management services and clothing distribution.

— Carrie Muskat

8/31 Lineup vs Pirates

Blake DeWitt is back in the Cubs lineup Tuesday night in Game 2 vs. the Pirates. No Geovany Soto — he’s getting an extra day to rest his sore right knee. Here’s the lineup:

2B DeWitt
SS Castro
CF Byrd
3B Ramirez
1B Nady
LF Soriano
RF Colvin
C Hill
P Dempster

— Carrie Muskat

8/31 Minor matters

Jason Dubois, Bryan LaHair and Brad Snyder each homered and each drove in four runs to power Iowa to a 20-9 win over Albuquerque on Monday. Mitch Atkins picked up the win, giving  up two runs on seven hits over six innings and now is 7-3. Sam Fuld had five hits and scored three runs. With the win, the Iowa Cubs maintained a half game lead in the Northern Division.

Tennessee and Daytona had Monday off. The Smokies travel to Jacksonville on Tuesday and Daytona meets Clearwater.

Ryan Searle gave up three runs — one earned — on six hits over five innings in Peoria’s 7-2 loss to Clinton. Jae-Hoon Ha and Hak-Ju Lee each had two hits.

Dustin Fitzgerald gave up one run on three hits over five innings in Boise’s 8-5 win over Spokane. Micah Gibbs had four hits and Elliot Soto had three hits and two RBIs.

— Carrie Muskat

8/30 Extra bases

The Cubs scored seven runs in the fourth inning Monday against the Pirates, it’s the first time they’ve scored seven in a single frame since Sept. 8, 2009, in Pittsburgh. The Cubs scored seven in the first inning of that game and won 9-4.

* The Cubs finished with nine doubles, the msot since they hit nine July 20, 2003, against Florida.

* Aramis Ramirez has four RBIs Monday, the most since he drove in seven runs July 20 against the Astros. In his last five games, he’s hitting .632 (12-for-19) with six runs, three doubles, two homers and 11 RBIs.

* The Cubs’ 14 runs Monday is shy of the team record for a manager’s home debut. On April 29, 1898, the Cubs beat Louisville 16-2 in the home debut for Tom Burns on the West Side Grounds. However, with the 14-2 win, Mike Quade now holds the modern day record for most runs in a managerial debut. The previous mark was 13, set in Frank Chance’s home managerial debut in 1905, a 13-5 win over the Reds on July 1, 1905, also at the West Side Grounds.

* Three different Cubs pitchers — Carlos Zambrano, Thomas Diamond and James Russell — each had an at-bat Monday. The last time that happened was April 4, 2005, in a 16-6 win against Arizona. The pitchers who took a turn that day were Zambrano, Cliff Bartosh and Glendon Rusch. Three Cubs pitchers have had an at-bat twice since that date — but those games were extra inning contests. The last time it happened at Wrigley was July 31, 1999, when Jon Lieber, Terry Adams and Rick Aguilera each had an at-bat in a 17-10 win over the Mets.

* Zambrano is 3-0 with a 1.84 ERA in five starts since returning to the rotation. He struck out seven Monday and is four Ks shy of tying Kerry Wood for third on the Cubs’ all-time strikeout list.

* Starlin Castro leads the Majors with 19 doubles, dating to July 10. He posted his ninth three-hit game and fourth this month.

— Carrie Muskat

8/30 Big Z's big bat

Carlos Zambrano hit his first home run of the season and 21st of his career in the fifth inning Monday night against the Pirates’ Brian Burres. Zambrano connected on a 1-0 pitch to drive in Koyie Hill. It was his first home run since Aug. 25, 2009, when Big Z connected off Washington’s Garrett Mock. Zambrano, who was batting .206 this season with seven hits in 34 at-bats prior to Monday’s game, holds the Cubs record for most home runs by a pitcher. Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins is second with 13.

— Carrie Muskat