December 2011

12/30 Buckner new Boise hitting coach

Bill Buckner is back with the Cubs. Buckner, 62, was named the Class A Boise hitting coach on Friday. He returned to coaching last season as the manager of the Brockton Rox, leading the team to a 51-42 record in the independent CanAm League. Buckner replaces Desi Wilson, who was named the hitting coach for the Cubs’ Class A Daytona team.

Buckner rejoins the Cubs for the first time since playing for the big league team from 1977-84. He won the 1980 National League batting crown and earned a spot in the 1981 All-Star Game. A 22-year veteran, he was the White Sox’s hitting coach in 1996 and ’97, and also was a hitting coach in the Blue Jays Minor League system. Buckner played for the Dodgers, Cubs, Red Sox, Angels, and Royals, hitting .289 with 174 career home runs and 1,208 RBIs. He played in two World Series: 1974 with the Dodgers and 1986 with the Red Sox.

— Carrie Muskat

12/30 Cubs sign Cuban prospects

The Cubs have reportedly signed Cuban prospects Yasiel Balaguert and Carlos Martinez. Baseball America’s Ben Badler reported the signings on Friday. Balaguert, who turns 19 in January, is an outfielder, while Martinez, 20, is a right-handed pitcher who has worked mostly in relief.

— Carrie Muskat

12/29 Garza hot topic

Could the Cubs deal Matt Garza? They are apparently still listening to teams interested in the right-hander. The Cubs are most likely looking for a package similar to what the Padres received from the Reds for Mat Latos and what the Athletics received from the Nationals for Gio Gonzalez, which means a lot of talented prospects. According to reports, the Blue Jays and Yankees may be the front-runners. What makes Garza attractive to the Jays and Yankees is his 23-15 record, 3.34 ERA in 56 career games vs. the AL East. Plus, he’s 7-4 with a 3.83 ERA in 19 games against the Red Sox.

Chicago helped its system by dealing Sean Marshall to Cincinnati for Travis Wood and two other players. Theo Epstein, Cubs president of baseball operations, has said Garza is “exactly the type of pitcher we want to build around” but is willing to listen as the team re-tools. They’d have to be overwhelmed to move Garza, who is under team control through 2013. Gonzalez, 26, and Latos, 24, will be under team control for at least four years.

— Carrie Muskat

12/29 Winter league update

Bryan LaHair belted his 15th homer this winter to help Magallanes beat Zulia, 12-4, in Venezuelan Winter League play on Wednesday. LaHair went 2-for-4, and was batting .271.

— Carrie Muskat

12/28 Small fire at Wrigley extinguished

A small electrical fire at Wrigley Field was quickly extinguished Wednesday. The Chicago Fire Department received a call at 6:30 a.m. CT, and one hour later, fire fighters had packed their gear, department spokesman Will Knight told the Chicago Tribune. The fire was in an office at the ballpark at 1060 W. Addison Street. No injuries were reported.

— Carrie Muskat

12/28 Winter league update

Carlos Zambrano gave up one run on six hits and three walks over 4 1/3 innings Tuesday night in Caribes’ 2-1 win over Zulia in Venezuelan Winter League play. Zambrano struck out two of the 20 batters he faced. In five starts, he has struck out 15 and walked 10 over 22 innings, and given up six earned runs on 17 hits.

Bryan LaHair went 1-for-2 with two walks in Magallanes’ 6-1 loss to LaGuaira in Venezuela.

— Carrie Muskat

12/27 Winter league update

Austin Bibens-Dirkx gave up three runs on four hits over 6 2/3 innings and took the loss in Zulia’s loss to Caribes on Monday in Venezuelan Winter League play. He had given up four runs over 42 1/3 innings in his previous seven starts.

Bryan LaHair is batting .263 for Magallanes in Venezuela with 14 homers and 28 RBIs in 44 games.

Cubs prospect Marco Carillo gave up one unearned run on three hits over six innings and struck out five in Obregon’s 4-2 win over Culiacan in Mexican Winter League baseball.

— Carrie Muskat

12/24 Happy holidays

Thanks to all who click on Best wishes for the holidays, and here’s to a happy, healthy, prosperous and winning 2012.

Carrie Muskat

12/24 Cubs spread holiday cheer

The Cubs have done their part to spread holiday cheer in the community and give back to children and families across Chicago. Among their holiday efforts are:

* Cubs Holiday Tree

On Dec. 3, the Cubs and the Ricketts family hosted the first-ever tree lighting ceremony at Wrigley Field. A 30-foot fir is now on display at Clark and Addison. In an effort to promote environmental sustainability, the tree is adorned with energy-efficient lights and has a root ball at the base, so it can be replanted at the end of the holiday season. Several neighborhood groups have donated ornaments and students at Inter-American and Greeley Elementary Schools made baseball-shaped ornaments for the tree.

* The Rink at Wrigley

The tree ceremony was part of The Rink at Wrigley grand opening. This is the third consecutive year for the ice skating rink, which will be open through Feb. 26.

* 23rd District Town Hall Police Station Holiday Party

On Dec. 3, Cubs associates volunteered at a holiday party to provide cheer to some of Chicago’s neediest children at the 23rd District Town Hall Police Station. Santa dropped by for a surprise visit and the children received holiday gifts, as well as hats and mittens and delicious holiday snacks.

* South Side Toy Donation

The Cubs teamed up with Santa to deliver Christmas toys for children on the South Side. Chicago Cubs Charities donated $10,000 to help purchase gifts for hundreds of less fortunate families. Marlon Byrd joined Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and several other elected officials for a toy giveaway at A. Finkl & Sons Steel on Dec. 17. The Cubs also participated in the 16th Annual Christmas in Englewood Toy Giveaway with Alderman Latasha Thomas.

* Goethe School Book Program

The Cubs have adopted the 7th and 8th grade classes at Goethe School in Logan Square for Operation Santa. Cubs associates have provided more than 150 books from a holiday wish list sent by Goethe students. The books were gift wrapped and delivered to their classrooms.

* Chicago Chargers Youth Football Donation

The Cubs donated $2,500 to the Chicago Chargers youth football team to help send them to their National Youth Championship Game in New Orleans this month. This trip was the first opportunity for many of these youth to leave the city limits of Chicago.

* 23rd Chicago District Thanksgiving Meal

On Nov. 17, Cubs associates joined the 23rd Chicago Police District to serve hot Thanksgiving meals to 200 senior citizens in the Lakeview community. The group shared turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and desserts.

* The National Runaway Switchboard Thanksgiving Meal

The National Runaway Switchboard and the Cubs partnered for the sixth consecutive year to serve a Thanksgiving meal to runaway and homeless children. St. Luke Church on West Belmont Avenue hosted the event, with more than 100 youth benefitting from the meal. 

* Cubs Players Visit Arizona Hospitals

Cubs players participated in two local events in Mesa, Ariz., to benefit deaf and sick children. On Nov. 16, Cubs players visited Sequoia School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing to run a free baseball clinic. Players also visited sick children at Cardon Children’s Medical Center to spread Thanksgiving cheer.

— Carrie Muskat

12/23 Winter league update

Bryan LaHair keeps on hitting. LaHair hit a pair of solo homers, including a tie-breaking blast in the eighth inning, to help Magallanes beat La Guaira, 5-4, in Venezuelan Winter League play on Thursday. LaHair, who led all Minor Leaguers in 2011 with 38 homers, now has 14 in Venezuela. Cubs prospect Rebel Ridling went 2-for-3 in the game.

— Carrie Muskat