May 2011

5/31 Extra bases

The bad news is Alfonso Soriano was placed on the disabled list Tuesday with a strained left quadricep. The good news is that he doesn’t think he’ll need the full 15 days to get healthy. Tyler Colvin was added to take Soriano’s spot on the roster.

“It’s very frustrating,” Soriano said. “The team needs the regular players because a lot of guys are on the DL. Things happen for a reason and I hope when we come back, everybody comes back strong.”

The Cubs now have made 15 roster moves in a five-day span. They’ve placed six players who were on the Opening Day roster on the DL: Soriano, Jeff Baker, Reed Johnson, Marlon Byrd, Andrew Cashner and Matt Garza.

* Garza will throw a side Wednesday and if all goes well, could be back for the Cubs series in Cincinnati next week.

* Colvin may play some center field with Marlon Byrd out. He batted second at Iowa to get more at-bats.

* Mike Quade tweaked the lineup Tuesday and moved Carlos Pena into the No. 4 spot for the third time this season. Pena has reached base safely in 22 of his 24 games, and since May 3 was hitting .278 with seven homers, 18 RBIs and 19 walks. Aramis Ramirez, who has hit fourth most of the season, was 3-for-21 on the homestand and batting .118 (2-for-17) in his last five games.

— Carrie Muskat

5/31 Updated probables

Matt Garza, on the DL with a bone contusion in his right elbow, was to throw a side session on Wednesday and if all goes well, would have another one before possibly being inserted into the rotation for the June 6 game against the Reds. That would set up the Cubs pitching vs. the Cardinals this weekend with Ryan Dempster Friday, Randy Wells on Saturday and Carlos Zambrano on Sunday.

— Carrie Muskat

5/31 Colvin back; Sori to DL – UPDATED

Alfonso Soriano will be placed on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday and Tyler Colvin added to the active roster. Colvin was hitting in the batting cage at Wrigley Field with Rudy Jaramillo early Tuesday. Soriano has a strained left groin, suffered Monday in the first inning. He was not expected to need the full 15-days but the Cubs don’t want to be shorthanded. Colvin began the year with the big league team but was sent down to Iowa after batting .113 in 28 games. He was hitting .260 in 12 games with five doubles, two triples and one home run at Triple-A Iowa.

— Carrie Muskat

5/31 Minor League report

Ramon Ortiz gave up three runs on six hits over eight innings in Iowa’s 8-6 win over Round Rock on Monday. Ortiz now is 3-2 with a 4.55 ERA. Welington Castillo hit his third homer and first since re-joining the Iowa team. He had been with the Cubs until Sunday.

Two errors helped Huntsville beat Tennessee, 4-3. Brooks Raley was the losing pitcher, giving up three runs, none earned, on six hits over six innings. Blake Lalli hit two homers for the Smokies, both solo shots.

Daytona, which boasts a 22-6 record in May, had Monday off.

Matt Szczur hit his second homer but it wasn’t enough as Peoria lost, 7-5, to Cedar Rapids. Cam Greathouse struck out six over 2 2/3 innings but did not get a decision. Ryan Cuneo had four hits, including two doubles, and one RBIs.

— Carrie Muskat

5/30 Soriano out of game

Alfonso Soriano had to leave Monday’s game in the first inning with a left quad strain. He will undergo an MRI to determine the severity of the injury. He grabbed his leg steps after crossing first base trying to beat a throw from third. Blake DeWitt took over in left. If Soriano has to go on the DL, he’ll join a long list. Reed Johnson (back), Jeff Baker (groin), Marlon Byrd (face), Andrew Cashner (shoulder) and Matt Garza (elbow) are already on the DL. And, who comes up? The Cubs tapped into the Double-A roster on Monday, adding DJ LeMahieu to take Baker’s spot. Could Tyler Colvin be back? We’ll see. Soriano was the Cubs’ RBI and home run leader with 29 and 12, respectively.

— Carrie Muskat

5/30 LeMahieu, Baker, Garza & more

Infielder DJ LeMahieu joined the Cubs from Double-A Tennessee on Monday, taking Jeff Baker’s spot on the roster. Baker was placed on the 15-day DL, retro to Saturday, because of a strained groin.

“The first thing we have to do is figure out how to spell his name,” Mike Quade said.

Quade said they couldn’t play short-handed without Baker and Reed Johnson, who was placed on the DL Sunday.

“I wanted to see ‘Bake’ hit the other day and I didn’t think he looked as comfortable as he needed to be,” Quade said. “He’d still suck it up for us and still pinch-hit but that leaves us in a pretty tough situation defensively.”

LeMahieu may be asked to fill in at first base if the Cubs need to give Carlos Pena a day off. That was Baker’s job. The other option is Blake DeWitt.

LeMahieu had been told Sunday he was going to be promoted to Triple-A Iowa, and then went fishing with friends. He got a phone call from player development director Oneri Fleita that there had been a change in plans and he was going to Chicago.

“I was like, ‘Did I get traded?'” LeMahieu said. “[Fleita] said, ‘Have you ever heard of Wrigley Field?'”

His father was in Milwaukee and drove down and his mother flew across the country from California to be at Wrigley on Monday.

“I dreamed about this as a kid, like everyone says,” LeMahieu said. “When you’re playing in Double-A, youknow a call might be coming but I don’t think you can ever prepare yourself for the actual call.”

* Matt Garza, on the DL with a right elbow contusion, threw on flat ground Monday and was expected to throw a side on Wednesday. Could he still be ready in St. Louis? “Not out of the question,” Quade said. “I’d like him back as quick as I can get him back.”

* Geovany Soto said he was able to test his leg in his two Minor League games. He was activated from the DL Sunday after being sidelined with a strained left groin.

“I ran for a little bit and whenever I hit the ball,” Soto said Monday. “It felt good. In my head, I was a little concerned. I didn’t want to [re-injur] it or feel it at all and I never did.”

* Players were wearing special Memorial Day caps.

* It was suddenly summer at Wrigley Field on Monday.

“I just like it hot and comfortable,” Quade said. “The hotter the better for me. I believe when the weather warms up, our offense will be better. It’s just a more comfortable situation. It’s good to see the sun.”

— Carrie Muskat

5/30 Cubs MVP Brady Cox

If the Cubs win on Monday, Brady Cox may have to stick around Wrigley Field for awhile. Cox, 16, is the son of Double-A Tennessee GM Brian Cox, and was the Cubs honorary bat boy on Monday. It’s quite a journey for the teen. At 4 1/2, he underwent a heart transplant. His mother, Cindy, said Brady had a heart defect and needed three surgeries. That was in 1999.

“The new heart got to Wrigley,” Cubs catcher Geovany Soto said.

Brady knows most of the players in the clubhouse — at least the ones who came up in the system. Dressed in his Cubs home white uniform, he got to shag during batting practice and was expected to be put to work during the game.

“When he came off the field, he said, ‘Pinch me, I think I’m dreaming,'” Brian said of his son.

Two years ago, Brady threw out a first pitch before a game at Wrigley. Now he’s the bat boy. What’s next, second base?

“Hopefully,” Brady said.

— Carrie Muskat

5/30 LeMahieu to join Cubs

Add another Cubs player to the DL list. Jeff Baker was to be placed on the disabled list Monday because of a strained groin and infielder DJ LeMahieu to be called up from Double-A Tennessee. LeMahieu was the Cubs’ second-round pick in 2009. He was batting .358 with 15 doubles, two triples, two homers and 27 RBIs with the Smokies. Baker pinch-hit on Saturday but it was obvious he still had trouble running. He was batting .368 overall, .512 against left-handers.

Baker joins Reed Johnson (back), Marlon Byrd (face), Andrew Cashner (shoulder), and Matt Garza (elbow) on the DL. The Cubs did get Randy Wells back on Saturday and Geovany Soto on Sunday.

More info on DJ: He played second and third with the Smokies, and was hitting .459 against left-handers, .310 vs. right-handers. He’s been red-hot this month, batting .419 in 27 games. He hit second and third in the lineup. What should help the Cubs is he was batting .357 with runners in scoring position.

So far, the Cubs have added Tony Campana, Brad Snyder, Lou Montanez, Welington Castillo, Casey Coleman, Scott Maine, Jeff Stevens, Marcos Mateo and Justin Berg from their Minor League system this year plus acquired pitchers Doug Davis and Rodrigo Lopez. And it’s not yet June.

— Carrie Muskat

5/29 Extra bases

Ryan Dempster posted his fifth quality start on Sunday. All five have come in May. He’s 3-1 with a 3.08 ERA this month.

* Darwin Barney is batting .294 with two strikes against him.

* Kosuke Fukudome has a .416 average at Wrigley Field, tops in the NL. He’s batting .312 from the leadoff spot.

* Carlos Pena has six RBIs in his last 13 home games. He’s batting .286 against right-handers, .051 against lefties.

* The forecast for Monday calls for instant summer with temps around 90.

“If what I hear is correct, [Monday] could be really fun,” manager Mike Quade said. “Ninety [degrees]? I’ll have a bathing suit on.”

— Carrie Muskat

5/29 Sunday minor matters

Triple-A Iowa lost, 9-8, to Round Rock on Sunday as Brad Nelson hit a walkoff sacrifice fly in the ninth. The I-Cubs opened a 5-0 lead as Steve Clevenger hit a two-run homer in the first and Fernando Perez and Tyler Colvin each hit RBI doubles and Bryan LaHair added a RBI single, all in the second. Colvin also tripled and scored on a passed ball in the fourth and Jonathan Mota hit a solo homer in the fifth. Alberto Cabrera, making his Iowa debut, threw three scoreless innings before Round Rock scored three runs in the fourth.

* Anthony Giansanti hit two homers and drove in six runs to lead Peoria to an 8-1 win over Cedar Rapids. Giansanti hit a grand slam in the second and a two-run homer in the seventh. Matt Szczur also hit his first career homer. Graham Hicks picked up the win, giving up one run on one hit over five innings and striking out five.

* Pitcher Robert Whitenack has a strained elbow. He left his start Friday after 2 2/3 innings. His status was day to day.

— Carrie Muskat