June 2011

6/30 Zambrano leaves with sore back

Carlos Zambrano had to leave Thursday’s game in the second inning with lower back soreness. His status was day to day. It’s unclear if Zambrano was injured during a crazy acrobatic second inning. Zambrano threw 25 pitches in the first inning against the Giants and walked Nate Schierholtz to start the second. Brandon Crawford then bunted, and Zambrano reached for the ball but couldn’t get to it, so he raced to first to cover. Carlos Pena flipped the ball to the pitcher but it went behind Zambrano’s head. Crawford was credited with a hit. Zambrano then retrieved the ball and threw to second to try and get Schierholtz but his throw was wild for an error.

Miguel Tejada singled to drive in Schierholtz, and Zambrano’s first pitch to Eli Whitesisde was high and 87 mph. Catcher Koyie Hill then went to the mound as did athletic trainer Mark O’Neal and Zambrano was pulled.

For the game, Zambrano threw 34 pitches and gave up one unearned run, two hits and walked two while striking out one. It’s his shortest start since he lasted one inning June 25, 2010, against the White Sox.

— Carrie Muskat

6/30 Extra bases

Marlon Byrd will play for Triple-A Iowa Thursday through Saturday, and was expected to join the Cubs on Sunday for the next road trip. Iowa had Wednesday off and opens a series against New Orleans on Thursday. Byrd is rehabbing from facial fractures suffered when he was hit by a pitch May 21. He’s hit a three-run homer so far for Iowa.

* Andrew Cashner was examined by Cubs orthopedic specialist Stephen Gryzlo on Thursday. If the right-hander gets the go-ahead, he could begin a throwing program Friday. He’s been rehabbing in Mesa, Ariz.

* Kerry Wood will be activated from the DL on Friday, just in time for the Cubs series vs. the White Sox. Wood tested the blister on his right index finger by throwing 15 pitches in a live BP session on Wednesday.

— Carrie Muskat

6/30 Minor League report

Iowa had Wednesday off and will resume play Thursday against New Orleans. Marlon Byrd is expected to play Thursday through Saturday, and join the Cubs Sunday in Chicago. Congrats to Bryan LaHair, Welington Castillo and John Gaub, who were named to the PCL All-Star team.

Brooks Raley celebrated his 23rd birthday with a win as Tennessee beat Carolina, 3-1. Raley gave up five hits over 6 2/3 innings, striking out two. He did not walk a batter. Rebel Ridling had three hits and scored two runs.

Brett Wallach gave up eight runs on 10 hits over 3 1/3 innings in Daytona’s 10-3 loss to Tampa. Logan Watkins, Matt Cerda and Dustin Harrington each had two hits.

Austin Kirk gave up three runs on six hits over four innings in Peoria’s 5-1 loss to Wisconsin at Miller Park.

Reggie Golden had three hits and a stolen base in Boise’s 5-3 loss to Tri-City.

— Carrie Muskat

6/30 The Wood Family Foundation

Kerry Wood, wife Sarah and their three children launched the Wood Family Foundation on Thursday at Wrigley Field. The goal is to help children’s charities throughout the Chicago area. The first official event will be the sixth annual Kerry Wood Strike Zone Celebrity Bowling Tournament, Sept. 18, at 10pin Bowling Lounge in Chicago. Wood said he hopes to build a high school baseball field and donate funds to an oncology ward at a local hospital. You can follow the foundation’s efforts through his Twitter account @KerryWood.

— Carrie Muskat

6/30 Cubs lineup

Blake DeWitt is starting in left field in the Cubs’ series finale against the Giants. Here’s the lineup:

RF Fukudome

2B Barney

SS Castro

3B Ramirez

1B Pena

LF DeWitt

CF Campana

C Hill

P Zambrano

— Carrie Muskat

6/30 One on one with Hayden Simpson

Hayden Simpson, the Cubs’ No. 1 Draft pick in 2010, was at Miller Park Wednesday for Class A Peoria’s game against Wisconsin. The Timber Rattlers won, 5-1. Simpson is 1-5 with a 4.98 ERA in hs first pro season. He answered a few questions for MLB.com on Wednesday:

MLB.com:  How would you describe the way the first part of the season went for you?

SIMPSON: “It started off really slow. It’s coming off of being sick and not really being in the routine that I’ve always been in with the throwing and the working out and it was slow getting back into it. Spring Training was kind of a whirlwind because that was my first experience with pro ball and my first experience being around the guys and stuff like that. But you know, I adjusted to it and got used to it as well as I could and coming in to the year, I actually didn’t know what to expect. All I could do was go off of what I’ve done in the past and what I had been and that’s what we’re still working toward right now. We’re still working to get back to that point but [pitching coach] Jeff [Fassero] is doing a really good job with me and the whole organization is. I feel like we’re making a lot of good progress, we’re not regressing or anything like that. We’re going in the right direction and that’s really all you can ask for.”

MLB.com: When did you feel like you had completely recovered from your bout with mono?

SIMPSON: “It was tough. With the way it is being a virus and everything like that, I started feeling better about four months into it, probably around August or September. But then energy levels weren’t there. In Arkansas it was so hot that summer and so humid so I’m sure that kind of slowed it down a bit but the energy levels weren’t there. I lost a lot of strength, lost a lot of weight and it was tough. Coming back into it and getting into everything my arm feels good, it feels strong. We just keep working and things will work out the way they’re supposed to so we’ll see how it goes.”

MLB.com: What are you working on developing most right now?

SIMPSON: “We’re just kind of working on everything as a whole. Obviously having better fastball command, we’re working on that right now. We’re working on developing my curve ball as more of a 0-0 pitch and not so much as a strikeout pitch, the way it always was in college because I always used my slider as that pitch. You get up to better hitters at the higher levels and they’ll start realizing that and they won’t swing at it so we’re working on that, my two-seamer sinker, we’re working on that, staying on top of that a little more often, throwing it inside the righties on the back knee and stuff like that. It’s kind of everything. We’re going from start-to-start, what pitch was good, what pitch wasn’t good and we’re working on that during the week. That’s where we’re at.”

MLB.com: Fans didn’t have you on their radar for the draft, then you got sick, was there any part of you that was frustrated by it all?

SIMPSON: “That was the frustrating part about all of it. You’re waiting all your life and working so hard for that moment and to have something that you have no control over tell you that you can’t, that’s really tough. But people are always going to talk. I guess as long as they’re talking then you’re doing something right. It’s one of those things where you try to use that as motivation. You try and say, ‘I’m going to show you why’ and this and that. But the problem with me was that I couldn’t go out there and show them that at this point and time this is why you took me. That was extremely frustrating.”

MLB.com: Is that frustration still there and if so is it something you want to use to build off of?

SIMPSON: “Absolutely. It’s something that, I’ve always tried to find little things like that to motivate me and I don’t want to say it’s a chip on my shoulder, but I guess more or less it is. I think that all the athletes have something inside of them that say that they want to prove everybody wrong and they want to prove that they belong. We’re going to try and build on that in the second half of the season. Build off the positives and build off the negatives and try to improve and just try to turn everything around.”

Peoria catcher Micah Gibbs shared this on Simpson:

“Coming from college, and I had to deal with the same thing last year, I had to call a lot of offspeed pitches just because that’s kind of how the college game is,” Gibbs said.  “You can tell his offspeed stuff is well above average, he has some of the best offspeed pitches I’ve caught and he uses that a lot, especially in college. Now they’re trying to get him to use his fastball a little more. But we have to throw probably 75, 85 percent fastballs and it’s definitely a change and he’s definitely getting used to it.”

— Carrie Muskat

6/29 Chiefs lose at Miller Park

Peoria lost 5-1 Wednesday night to Wisconsin in a game played at Miller Park in Milwaukee. Greg Hopkins hit a three-run homer off Peoria’s Austin Kirk in the first inning to lead the Timber Rattlers. Micah Gibbs hit a sacrifice fly in the Chiefs’ fourth for their only run. Kirk gave up three runs on six hits over four innings and took the loss. He did strike out four. The Chiefs now are 3-2 in games at Major League stadiums in their history with wins at Busch Stadium in 1992, Wrigley Field in 2008 and Wrigley again in 2010.

— Carrie Muskat

6/29 Marmol: “I don’t want that win”

When Ryan Dempster started the ninth inning Wednesday, he had not thrown 90 pitches. He had a shutout and had held the Giants to two hits. Mike Quade had decided before the inning started that if Dempster walked the first batter or gave up an extra-base hit, he was going to pull him. And he did. Pinch-hitter Pat Burrell doubled to lead off the ninth and Dempster was pulled. Carlos Marmol then gave up a the tying rn. The Cubs rallied to win, 2-1, on Aramis Ramirez’s pinch-hit RBI single.

“A great win, but man, oh, man, the job Dempster did,” Quade said of the right-hander, who threw 83 pitches. “Did he make 90 pitches? I don’t think so. I wanted to give him a shot but a walk or an extra base hit in that situation and I think I have to get Marmol in the game. A single, and we let him try to pitch through at least another hitter. That’s what ‘Marm’ does. Ramy was nice and relaxed after a day off so that worked out pretty good, too.”

Didn’t Dempster argue? Yes, Quade said.

“It’s a whole different animal if the pitch count is higher than that,” Quade said. “He wants to finish the thing and I want to bring in a guy who is there regularly and deep down I don’t want him losing that game, in spite of the pitch count and everything else. He didn’t get a win but it’s not going to take away from that performance.”

Marmol ended up with the win.

“You don’t want to win that way,” Marmol said. “I want to get three outs. Dempster did a nice job. I feel bad for him. He deserves the win. I don’t want that win. I want to give it to Dempster.”

— Carrie Muskat


6/29 Cashner to see doc Thursday

Andrew Cashner, who went on the DL after his first start April 5 because of a strained right rotator cuff, will be examined Thursday by team orthopedic specialist Dr. Stephen Gryzlo in Chicago. Cashner, who has been rehabbing in Mesa, Ariz., was at Wrigley Field on Wednesday for the game. If he gets the go-ahead, Cashner could start throwing on Friday. There is no timetable for his return.

“We’ll take our time with him,” GM Jim Hendry said. “I’m quite confident he’ll be back pitching this year. We’ll do what’s best for his career and future.”

— Carrie Muskat

6/29 Byrd, Cashner & Colvin

Some news and notes pregame Wednesday:

* Marlon Byrd could be activated before Sunday. He’s rehabbing with Triple-A Iowa.

* Andrew Cashner, on the DL with a strained rotator cuff, will be examined by the team doctor in Chicago. Said GM Jim Hendry: “We’ll take our time with him.”

Added Hendry on Cashner: “I’m quite confident he’ll be back pitching this year. We’ll do what’s best for his career and future.”

* Tyler Colvin is making progress at Triple-A Iowa. Said Hendry: “He’s doing fine. He’s swinging the bat a lot better. We just want to make sure he’s back to where he was last year before he got hurt. He’ll be a big part of our future.”

— Carrie Muskat