July 2014

7/31 Russell, Bonifacio to Braves

The Cubs sent James Russell and Emilio Bonifacio to the Braves on Thursday in exchange for 20-year-old catching prospect Victor Caratini, who was batting .279 at Class A Rome.

Russell, 28, has been a workhorse for the Cubs the last three seasons, and had appeared in 44 games this year with a 3.51 ERA. Left-handers were batting .295 off him compared to .103 by right-handers. Bonifacio, 29, was held out of the lineup Wednesday and Thursday. The switch-hitter, who has played second, third and center field, was batting .279 in 298 plate appearances.

“It’s good to have players who are coveted by other clubs,” manager Rick Renteria said. “It’s one of those things that happen at this time of year.”

This was the third straight year the Cubs have dealt two of their starting pitchers at the Trade Deadline. They also traded second baseman Darwin Barney to the Dodgers. Could this be the last year the Cubs are sellers?

“The way the organization has been going and acquiring players and drafting and developing kids in the system, I would hope it comes to the point where it shifts in a different direction,” Renteria said. “All of us are hopeful that will be the case in the near future. That’s been the hope and desire of the organization to get to a point like that. Things happen over the course of seasons and things change. Right now, we’re hopefully moving in the right direction.”

— Carrie Muskat

7/31 Waiting for Trade Deadline to end …


This is John Baker’s art work in the dugout Thursday at Wrigley Field.

7/31 California dreaming

It’ll be a homecoming of sorts for Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks, who makes his fourth big league start Friday in Los Angeles. Hendricks grew up in the area, and was busy trying to find about a zillion tickets for friends and family.

“I went to high school about an hour away from there,” Hendricks said. “My high school coaches, everybody is going to want to be there. It’ll be a lot of fun.”

He actually pitched at Dodger Stadium in a high school showcase.

“That was a long time ago — it’ll be a little different this time around,” he said. “There were two or thee hundred people in the stands then.”

Hendricks went to more Angels games than Dodgers games as a kid. He had an edge in his last start against the Cardinals because he watched the team for two days. This time? Hendricks has a scouting report from March.

“I’ll prepare the same as always, watching a lot of video,” he said. “I actually got to face them in Spring Training so I pitched three innings in a start in Spring Training and faced a lot of their starting lineup, at least for one at-bat. That will help a lot to watch that video, how I pitched them there. Not seeing them won’t be a big deal now.”

— Carrie Muskat

7/31 Bonifacio waits

For the second straight day, Emilio Bonifacio was not in the Cubs lineup as the team tries to move the infielder by the 3 p.m. CT Thursday Trade Deadline.

“He’s doing the best that he can under the circumstances,” manager Rick Renteria said prior to the game. “It’s obvious there might be some things shaking out. We’ll see how it continues to develop during the day.”

Bonifacio has been traded before, so he knows the drill.

“He’s aware of all the possibilities and I think he’s just taking it in stride and doing what he can do,” Renteria said. “He’s making sure he’s available and ready to go.”

Bonifacio has been linked to the Giants, who are looking to upgrade at second base, among other teams.

— Carrie Muskat

7/31 Cubs lineup

Jake Arrieta starts the Cubs’ series finale Thursday at Wrigley Field against the Rockies. Here’s the lineup:

Alcantara 2B
Coghlan LF
Rizzo 1B
Castro SS
Ruggiano RF
Valbuena 3B
Castillo C
Lake CF
Arrieta P

7/31 Extra bases – Trade Deadline day

* The Cubs are 4-5 so far on this homestand with the finale Thursday at Wrigley Field. The Cubs are 6-16 in their last 22 games following a four-game winning streak, June 30-July 4.

* Jake Arrieta gets the start Thursday against the Rockies. He is 5-2 with a 2.18 ERA in 15 starts since making his season debut May 3. He has nine quality starts, and will try to become the first Cubs pitcher with 10-straight quality starts in a single season since Steve Trachsel had 11 in a row from June 5-Aug. 9, 1994.

* Since the start of May, Arrieta has the second-best ERA in the National League and fifth-best ERA in all of baseball. The White Sox’s Chris Sale leads the Majors with a 1.74 ERA since May 1.

* The Cubs have been outscored, 14-2, in the first inning on this homestand, and given up two or more runs in the opening frame in five contests.

* Looking ahead to Cubs vs. Dodgers, here are the pitching matchups:

Friday: RHP Kyle Hendricks (1-1, 2.33) vs. RHP Dan Haren (8-8, 4.49)
Saturday: LHP Tsuyoshi Wada (1-1, 3.38) vs. LHP Hyun-jin Ryu (12-5, 3.44)
Sunday: RHP Edwin Jackson (5-11, 5.79) vs. RHP Josh Beckett (6-5, 2.74)

7/30 Rusin added to roster

Prior to Wednesday’s game, the Cubs recalled lefty Chris Rusin, and optioned Blake Parker to Triple-A Iowa. The Cubs delayed the announcement, possibly because they had hoped to make a deal involving Emilio Bonifacio, which would have opened a roster spot.

7/30 Cubs lineup

No Emilio Bonifacio in the Cubs’ lineup Wednesday against the Rockies. Here’s the starting nine:

Alcantara 2B
Coghlan LF
Rizzo 1B
Castro SS
Valbuena 3B
Lake CF
Sweeney RF
Baker C
T. Wood P

7/30 Here’s what we know …

* The Cubs have acquired left-handed pitcher Felix Doubront from the Red Sox for a player to be named later.

* Emilio Bonifacio is not in the Cubs lineup because of a possible deal. Bonifacio did go out to hit, and pulled at his Cubs’ t-shirt saying, “I’m here.”

* Chris Rusin has joined the Cubs as reinforcements for the bullpen. No corresponding move has been made.

* And the Cubs have acquired Minor League pitcher Jonathan Martinez from the Dodgers to complete the Darwin Barney deal.

— Carrie Muskat

7/30 Cubs get Minor League pitcher

The Cubs will get Minor League right-handed pitcher Jonathan Martinez from the Dodgers to complete the trade for Darwin Barney. USA Today’s Bob Nightengale first reported the transaction Wednesday. The Dodgers confirmed the move in a release. Martinez, 20, was 7-5 with a 3.47 ERA in 19 starts at Class A Great Lakes in the Midwest League. He’s struck out 91 over 106 1/3 innings and walked 19.

The Cubs dealt Barney, a 2012 Gold Glove winning second baseman, on Monday, and he was expected to join the Dodgers on Wednesday. Barney was batting .230 in 72 games with Chicago, and had seen his playing time diminish with the arrival of rookie Arismendy Alcantara.

— Carrie Muskat