June 2013

6/30 Chance of trade: 50-50

Asked if he expected the Cubs to make a deal before the All-Star break, Theo Epstein, president of baseball operations said Sunday the chances are “50-50.”

“Judging by the amount of calls that are going on, I would say the number of pieces we potentially have available and the opportunities that might present themselves for us to get better, yeah, I’d say 50-50,” Epstein said.

Matt Garza and Scott Feldman are drawing interest for teams looking for another starter, while teams also have inquired about closer Kevin Gregg, who blew his first save opportunity in 13 opportunities on Saturday. The interest — and rumors — will continue up until the July 31 Trade Deadline.

There also have been reports that teams are inquiring about Nate Schierholtz but Epstein may be hard pressed to part with the outfielder, who has moved into the No. 3 spot in the lineup.

“He’s exceeded our expectations with the overall quality at-bats,” Epstein said of Schierholtz. “To hit him in the three-hole, he does a nice job. He can handle different kinds of pitching, give you a tough at-bat. He’s a threat to go deep if they make a mistake, runs the bases well, he’s been really reliable defensively. He’s done a nice job.”

— Carrie Muskat

6/30 Cubs lineup

Valbuena 3B
Castro SS
Schierholtz RF
Soriano LF
Rizzo 1B
Navarro DH
Bogusevic CF
Barney 2B
Castillo C

E. Jackson P

6/30 Sweeney has fractured rib

Cubs outfielder Ryan Sweeney has a fractured left rib, suffered when he crashed into the outfield wall at Safeco Field on Saturday, and will not be able to do any baseball activities for four to six weeks. Sweeney was injured after catching Kendrys Morales’ fly ball for the second out in the third inning.

“It’s unfortunate because we started to get things going with the offense and now we lose a big piece of that,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Sunday. “It’s unfortunate for him, too, because he’s trying to get his career going and play everyday. It stinks when those things happen to guys like that who are good players and getting a chance and all of a sudden it’s taken away for a couple of months.”

Sweeney was batting .295, and had taken over in center field after David DeJesus sprained his right shoulder crashing into the outfield wall at Citi Field on June 14.

“The wall is harder now because they put in a new wall,” Sweeney said of Safeco Field. “It felt like a brick wall when I hit it. I grabbed my side because I felt it jolt a little. I feel like I’ve hit that way before and it wasn’t that hard. It must have just hit me in the right spot. I came out of the game and was hoping I maybe bruised it and tried to swing and couldn’t swing.”

X-rays were negative but a CT scan showed the fracture.

“I knew I didn’t feel great, but obviously, you don’t know if a bone is broken,” Sweeney said.

For now, the Cubs will use Brian Bogusevic in center. Sweeney is headed to the disabled list, but no move was made Sunday. After an off day Monday, they will make a roster move prior to Tuesday’s game against the Athletics. The team could add a pitcher, depending on how overworked the bullpen is.

Sweeney was obviously disappointed.
“It’s frustrating,” he said. “Last year, I got a concussion when I was hitting .350. It seems like it comes at the worse time for me. I play hard so it’s not like I was out of control when I hit the wall. It was just a fluke thing.”

— Carrie Muskat

6/30 Minor matters

Nick Struck gave up three runs over six innings in Iowa’s 8-5 victory over Omaha. Logan Watkins had two hits, including his eighth home run, and one RBIs, and Ty Wright hit a home run, a two-run shot in the eighth.

Eric Jokisch threw 6 1/3 shutout innings in Tennessee’s 13-0 win over Montgomery. Jokisch struck out seven and scattered three hits. Rubi Silva provided the offense, hitting a grand slam in the third. He also hit a double, and finished with a season-high five RBIs. Arismendy Alcantara had two hits and two RBIs. In his first game with the Smokies, John Andreoli had three hits and two RBIs.

Pierce Johnson gave up three runs over five innings in Daytona’s 3-2 loss to Clearwater.

Dan Vogelbach hit his 12th home run and drove in two runs in Kane County’s 10-9, 11-inning loss to Wisconsin. Reggie Golden and Gioskar Amaya each had three hits.

Yaseil Balaguert hit his third home run and Shawon Dunston and David Bote each had two hits in Boise’s 8-6 win over Eugene.

Zak Blair had three hits, including two doubles, and drove in three runs in Mesa’s 8-6 win over the Athletics. Jesse Hodges had three hits, and Victor Garcia picked up the win in relief.

6/30 Looking ahead …

After an off day Monday, the Cubs play their first games ever in Oakland, beginning a three-game series on Tuesday. Here are the pitching matchups:

Tuesday: RHP Scott Feldman (7-6, 3.46) vs. RHP A.J. Griffin (6-6, 3.56)
Wednesday: RHP Matt Garza (3-1, 3.83) vs. RHP Bartolo Colon (11-2, 2.79)
Thursday: LHP Travis Wood (5-6, 2.85)vs. RHP Jarrod Parker (6-6, 4.27)

6/29 Samardzija and Seattle

Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija turned back the clock on himself before the game, watching video of a Notre Dame vs. Washington game from 2005 when he caught eight passes for 164 yards and a touchdown. He notched his 11th quality start, but couldn’t get the win after the Mariners tied it. The right-hander, who ranks among the National League leaders in strikeouts, fanned five.

“The last time I was in Seattle was that game, and I figured I’d watch it and get a little good juju from it and see what happens,” Samardzija said. “It’s kind of funny to watch. It’s kind of funny to see that as I get older. I thought I was still pretty young but that’s changing in a hurry.”

Samardzija did not get a decision in the Cubs’ 5-3, 11-inning win over the Mariners. Seattle attacked him early, so Samardzija switched his game plan and went soft to try to take the Mariners’ aggressivness away.

The right-hander is closing in on the halfway point of his season.

“I think there’s a lot of room to get better,” Samardzija said. “If you look at the work as a whole, it’s been some really good times and a couple rough outings. I don’t qualify myself as a first half of the season type guy anyways. I’m looking forward to the second half of the second. I like where my pitches are at. I’m being more efficient than I was early in the year.”

What about the turn back the clock uniforms from 1909?

“I think I’m undefeated in turn back uniforms going back to Notre Dame,” the former wide receiver said. “We used to pull them out all the time. It’s fun. I
wish they fit you for the uniforms before the games, that would be nice. You kind of go out there feeling like you’re wearing a bed sheet sometimes. The elastic belts don’t do so well either.”

He did wear his socks high.

“I like the high socks,” he said. “I don’t have any calves, but I don’t mind wearing them. We wear pants down because they’re so nice and great to have. Pants up are old school.”

— Carrie Muskat

6/29 Cubs 5, Mariners 3 (11 innings)

For the second straight game, the bullpen imploded, but this time the Cubs overcame the breakdown and may have found a new closer candidate. Alfonso Soriano hit a two-run homer in the 11th inning to beat the pesky Mariners, 5-3, on Saturday night, with Blake Parker picking up his first Major League save.
With the game tied at 3 in the 11th, Nate Schierholtz reached on a bunt single against Oliver Perez, and Soriano followed with his ninth home run. Soriano also hit a RBI single in the sixth, is now batting .386 in 25 career games as the designated hitter with nine home runs and 24 RBIs.

“The DH thing is working,” Dale Sveum said. “A couple days off hopefully helped him get to that form he was doing this time last year when he took off, too.”

Perez struck Soriano out in the ninth inning on Friday in the Mariners’ 5-4, 10-inning victory. Saturday was different. Perez threw two fastballs, then a breaking ball.

“When I saw the breaking ball, it gave me more confidence at home plate,” Soriano said. “I wanted to try to swing at a strike and make good contact, and he threw me a fastball in the middle and I had a good swing.”

At 37, Soriano may be a better suited to be a designated hitter. His name was bantered about last year prior to the Trade Deadline.

“Who knows? I just come to the ballpark every day and just try to do my job,” Soriano said. “I don’t want to put anything in my mind. The last couple years, always trade rumors and nothing happens. I just want to focus day by day and see what happens.”

The Cubs were wearing replica uniforms from the 1909 season, when they won 104 games under manager Frank Chance and finished second in the National League. That year, they were coming off their second straight World Championship, which, at this point, is the last one. They could’ve used Mordecai Brown on Saturday.

Seattle trailed 3-2 in the ninth and rallied with one out against Kevin Gregg as Henry Blanco walked and was lifted for pinch-runner Michael Saunders, who moved up on Nick Franklin’s groundout. Endy Chavez then lined a single to center to tie the game. It was Gregg’s first blown save in 13 opportunities.

“I got the ball up a little bit and he fought it off to get it over second base,” Gregg said of Chavez.

“It wasn’t the greatest pitch selection,” Sveum said.

That left Parker, who totaled seven saves at Triple-A Iowa this year. He had pitched 1 1/3 innings on Friday, but looked fresh and retired the side in order.

“He showed me a lot today,” Sveum said of the right-hander. “That’s a nice asset to know it wasn’t a deer in the headlights in that situation in the big leagues.”

“It’s a position I’m comfortable in for sure,” Parker said. “Going out there in tight situations is where any competitor wants to be. When it’s a close game and for all the marbles and everything’s on the line, usually that’s when most people are at their best. Gregg’s done a great job all year and I’ll go out and compete no matter what role I’m in.”

Before the game, Sveum hinted he may turn to Parker, who admitted he’s still learning how to pitch in the big leagues.

“You’re expected to pitch every day and that’s the approach I took and I got myself ready to pitch and I was ready when my number was called,” Parker said.

— Carrie Muskat

6/29 Sweeney injured

Cubs outfielder Ryan Sweeney had to leave Saturday’s game after the third inning because he injured his ribs crashing into the center field wall. Sweeney was hurt when he hit the wall to catch Kendrys Morales’ fly ball for the second out in the third inning, and suffered left rib soreness. The Cubs expected to know more about the severity of the injury after Sweeney was examined.

Julio Borbon took over in center in the fourth for Sweeney, who has gotten the majority of playing time since David DeJesus sprained his right shoulder colliding with the center field wall at Citi Field June 14. DeJesus is on the 15-day disabled list.

— Carrie Muskat

6/29 Cubs lineup

Alfonso Soriano is the DH Saturday in Game 2 of the Cubs’ three-game Interleague series against the Mariners. On Saturday, the teams will wear uniforms from the turn of the century. The Cubs are 5-1 all-time when wearing throwback uniforms, and previously wore throwbacks June 2 of last year at San Francisco, in a 2-1 setback.

* Ryan Sweeney is batting .429 in 10 Interleague games, third highest mark among NL players. Anthony Rizzo is batting .391, and his 17 RBIs in Interleague play lead the Majors.

* Cubs DH’s are batting .400 (6-for-15) with one double, one home run and three RBIs in four games. Soriano hit his fifth home run as a DH on Friday, extending his franchise record. He’s batting .372 (29-for-78) with eight home runs and 21 RBIs in 24 career games as the DH.

* Here’s the lineup:

Valbuena 3B
Castro SS
Schierholtz RF
Soriano DH
Rizzo 1B
Sweeney CF
Bogusevic LF
Barney 2B
Castillo C

Samardzija P

6/29 Minor matters

Friday’s games

Chris Rusin gave up one run on five hits over seven innings in Iowa’s 5-1 win over Omaha. Logan Watkins was 4-for-5 with one RBIs and Dave Sappelt was 3-for-5 with two RBIs.

The first game of a doubleheader between Tennessee and Jackson was suspended in the second inning because of unplayable field conditions. Game 2 was postponed. On Saturday, Eric Jokisch was scheduled to start. Also, left-handed pitcher Jeff Antigua was promoted from Kane County to Tennessee, while Trey McNutt was placed on the disabled list.

Javier Baez, Wes Darvill and Zeke DeVoss each homered to lead Daytona to a 13-6 victory over Tampa. Baez was 3-for-6 with a home run and two RBIs. It was his 17th home run and he’s now batting .273. DeVoss had two hits and one RBIs and Darvill had two RBIs.

Dan Vogelbach had two hits but it wasn’t enough as Kane County lost, 2-0, to Beloit. Michael Heesch took the loss, giving up one run over seven innings.

Jacob Hannemann, the Cubs’ third round pick in the June Draft, had two hits, including a triple in Boise’s 5-4, 10-inning win over Eugene. Shawon Dunston hit a double, walked twice, and stole a base.

Mesa had Friday off.