April 2014

4/30 Minor matters

Iowa’s game Tuesday against Omaha was postponed because of inclemente weather.

Tennessee was to face two-time Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw, who was scheduled to make a rehab assignment for the Dodgers’ Double-A Chattanooga team.

Daytona totaled two hits in a 7-0 loss to Lakeland. Dan Vogelbach and Marco Hernandez each singled.

Jacob Hannemann had three hits, including a double and a triple, and drove in a run in Kane County’s 2-1 win over Cedar Rapids. Will Remillard had three hits.

* Double-A Tennessee placed right-handed pitcher C.J. Edwards on the disabled list, retroactive to April 25. Edwards was 1-0 with a 2.61 ERA in four starts this season. Ranked No. 4 on MLB.com’s list of top 20 Cubs prospects, Edwards underwent an MRI on Friday in Chicago which revealed some fatigue and inflammation in his right shoulder. There was no structural damage. The plan was for him to rest, then resume his throwing program.

4/30 Cubs lineup and more

Hopefully, it stays dry for the Cubs and Reds as they wrap their rain-shortened series tonight at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. Here’s the lineup:

Bonifacio CF
Lake LF
Rizzo 1B
Castro SS
Olt 3B
Schierholtz RF
Castillo C
Barney 2B
Jackson P

* The Cubs are 8-17 this month; they were 10-16 in the first month last year.

* Jason Hammel’s four April victories are the most for a Cubs pitcher since both Ryan Dempster and Carlos Zambrano had four apiece in the first month of 2008. The last Cubs hurler to have more victories in April was Greg Maddux (five in 2006).

* Cubs hurlers enter Wednesday’s game with a 3.78 ERA (95 ER/226 1/3 IP). Cubs pitchers had a 3.78 ERA (97 ER/231 IP) through April of last season.

* Chicago’s batters have hit .231 (197-for-851) thus far, four points lower than their .235 average (208-for-885) in April of last season.

* In case you missed it, Cubs manager Rick Renteria was ejected Tuesday night less than three minutes after the Cubs and Reds resumed play following the third rain delay. Renteria was unhappy with home plate umpire Alan Porter regarding his calls during Joey Votto’s at-bat against the Cubs’ Zac Rosscup.

“He tossed me because you can’t question balls and strikes, obviously,” Renteria said. “And that’s what I was doing.”

* Looking ahead to the Cubs’ series against the Cardinals, here are the pitching matchups:

Friday, 1:20 p.m. CT: LHP Travis Wood (1-3, 3.52) vs. RHP Adam Wainwright (5-1, 1.20)
Saturday, 12:05 p.m. CT: RHP Jake Arrieta (0-0, 0.00) vs. RHP Michael Wacha (2-2, 2.48)
Sunday, 7:05 p.m. CT: RHP Jason Hammel (4-1, 2.08) vs. RHP Lance Lynn (4-1, 3.60)

— Carrie Muskat

4/29 Cubs vs. Reds

Monday’s rainout was the Cubs’ first since a game was postponed May 1, 2012, also in Cincinnati.

Updated pitching matchups:

Tuesday: RHP Jeff Samardzija vs. RHP Alfredo Simon
Wednesday: RHP Edwin Jackson vs. LHP Tony Cingrani

* Jeff Samardzija looks to end an 11-start winless streak, dating to Aug. 30 last season. He has a 3.72 ERA in that stretch. The Cubs have averaged 2.7 runs in Samardzija’s last 11 starts. His 1.53 ERA this season ranks sixth in the NL.

4/29 Minor matters – Monday’s games

Javier Baez hit a three-run homer to back Eric Jokisch who posted his third quality start and help Iowa beat Omaha, 6-3, on Monday. Lars Anderson and Luis Flores combined for five hits and three RBIs. It was Iowa’s sixth straight win, and the Cubs have outscored opponents, 48-15, in that stretch. Jokisch struck out eight and gave up two earned runs on six hits. Baez connected in the first, his first homer since April 10. He also walked twice. Anderson homered in the fourth.

Corey Black, named the Southern League Pitcher of the Week on Monday, gave up one earned run over six innings in Tennessee’s 4-1 win over Huntsville. Black struck out five and walked one, scattering three hits. Kris Bryant hit a run-scoring double to extend his on-base streak to 24. John Andreoli and Rafael Lopez each had two hits.

Black, 22, was honored after throwing six no-hit innings April 23 against Birmingham. He was acquired from the Yankees in the Alfonso Soriano deal last July.

Jeimer Candelario had two hits, including a grand slam, and finished with six RBIs but it wasn’t enough as Daytona lost 11-10 to Lakeland. Candelario also hit a two-run double. Bijan Rademacher had three hits. Rob Zastryzny took the loss, giving up eight runs on eight hits and four walks over four innings. Arodys Vizcaino pitched one inning in relief, and has a 1.13 ERA.

Paul Blackburn gave up one run on three hits over five innings in Kane County’s 1-0 loss to Cedar Rapids. The game was shortened to six innings because of the weather. Blackburn struck out four. Kane County totaled three hits.

4/28 Arrieta to face Cardinals – UPDATED

Reports out of Cincinnati are that Jake Arrieta will return to the Cubs rotation. He was scheduled to start Wednesday but because of Monday’s rainout, the right-hander now will start against the Cardinals this weekend. Arrieta was slowed this spring because of tightness in his right shoulder. He threw 44 pitches over two innings on Saturday for Double-A Tennessee. He’ll replace Carlos Villanueva in the rotation, and Villanueva will switch to the bullpen. The corresponding roster move will be made when needed.

4/28 Minor matters – Sunday’s games

Iowa’s game at Colorado Springs was postponed because of high winds and freezing temperatures. The game will be made up as part of a doubleheader on June 26.

Dustin Geiger hit a solo home run to help Tennessee beat Huntsville, 2-1. Pierce Johnson gave up one hit but walked eight over four innings. Armando Rivero picked up the save.

Wilson Contreras delivered a walkoff RBI single to lift Daytona to a 2-1 victory over Brevard County. Gioskar Amaya had three hits and Jeimer Candelario had two hits, including a double, and one RBI.

Jen-Ho Tseng struck out seven over five innings in Kane County’s 10-2 win over Wisconsin. Will Remillard had three hits, including a home run, and three RBIs. Jacob Hannemann had three hits and four RBIs.

4/28 Looking ahead to the Draft

MLBPipeline.com reporter Jim Callis was asked if there are any college or high school bats the Cubs might consider with the fourth overall pick in the First-Year Player Draft. His answer:

“If the Cubs drafted purely on need, they’d take a pitcher at No. 4. Their system may have more high-ceiling position players than any other, starting with shortstop Javier Baez, third baseman Kris Bryant and outfielders Albert Almora and Jorge Soler. Chicago did place two arms on MLBPipeline.com’s Top 100 prospects list in C.J. Edwards and Pierce Johnson but it will need more help on the mound.

“However, teams almost never draft purely on need at the top of the Draft. The Cubs certainly didn’t in 2013 when they used the second overall choice on Bryant rather than flame-throwing right-hander Jon Gray.

“In all likelihood, Chicago will take a pitcher with the fourth selection because that’s the strength of this year’s Draft. It’s possible that seven of the first eight picks will be pitchers. The only hitter I could see the Cubs considering would be California high school catcher/outfielder Alex Jackson, but I bet they wind up with Aiken, Hoffman, Kolek or Rodon instead.”

The players he listed above are:

California high school LHP Brady Aiken
East Carolina RHP Jeff Hoffman
North Carolina State LHP Carlos Rodon
Texas high school RHP Tyler Kolek

4/28 Cubs lineup

Here is Monday’s Cubs lineup for the first game of their series against the Reds in Cincinnati:

Bonifacio CF
Kalish RF
Rizzo 1B
Castro SS
Valbuena 3B
Castillo C
Sweeney LF
Barney 2B
Samardzija P

Here are the pitching matchups:

Monday: RHP Jeff Samardzija (0-2, 1.53) vs. RHP Alfredo Simon (3-1, 1.30)
Tuesday: RHP Edwin Jackson (1-2, 5.02) vs. LHP Tony Cingrani (2-2, 2.86)
Wednesday: RHP Carlos Villanueva (1-5, 10.42) vs. RHP Homer Bailey (1-2, 6.15)

4/28 Trading chips – UPDATED

Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija have both posted quality starts in each of their outings this year, and Hammel improved to 4-1 with a win Sunday over the Brewers. But their success has made them attractive to several other teams. A Cubs spokesman said Monday they have not received calls about the two right-handers or lefty Travis Wood. The trio will likely draw interest leading up to the July 31 Trade Deadline. Samardzija (1.53) and Hammel (2.08) rank seventh and 12th, respectively, in the NL in ERA, while Wood has posted quality starts in three of his five outings and has a 3.52 ERA.

Hammel signed a one-year contract in February before pitchers and catchers reported to Spring Training. He has said since camp started that every pitcher wants to stay with one team. Would he consider an extension if the Cubs offered one?

“That’s crazy to even bring that up,” Hammel said after Sunday’s win in Milwaukee. “Every player wants to stay in a place for a long time but I’m not thinking about that.”

He’s not thinking about being traded either, but that’s been the Cubs’ trend the last two summers. Last year, it was Scott Feldman and Matt Garza who were dealt by the Trade Deadline.

Hammel is focused on the Cubs right now.

“I just want to win,” Hammel said. “We’re learning how to do that now.”

— Carrie Muskat

4/27 Cubs 4, Brewers 0

* Jason Hammel wrapped up a stellar April with another quality start in the Cubs’ 4-0 win over the Brewers. He had a no-hitter through five innings, and then Carlos Gomez doubled with one out in the sixth. What happened? Hammel said he forgot the signs.

“He forgot,” catcher John Baker said of Hammel during Gomez’s at-bat. “We were laughing about it, and so of course, he gave up a hit. It cost me a watch. I should’ve figured out a way to use my mind to give him the signs with telepathy but that didn’t work.”

The last Cubs no-hitter was at Miller Park when Carlos Zambrano shutdown the Astros in September 2008.

“This is a tough ballpark to throw a no-hitter in,” said Hammel, whose career best is a one-hitter. “The ball flies in deep parts of the field. I was thinking about it, but the ‘W’ is first and foremost.”

Manager Rick Renteria agreed. How much did the Cubs need this win?

“A lot. Absolutely,” Renteria said. “You need a little bit of a confidence boost to let yourself know that hey, you’re still in there, you can still play, you can still win ballgames, you can still go out there and execute and still go out there and put yourself in a position to have a chance to win, and today we did.”

* Starlin Castro provided the offense, hitting a pair of solo home runs. He now has four homers this season, and has hit them in two games.

“I’m really happy because I think I have my mind really strong after last year,” Castro said. “I feel happy when I go to home plate and I trust myself. That’s the reason didn’t [have success] last year. Now I go and trust myself.”

* The win snapped a four-game losing streak for the Cubs.

— Carrie Muskat