April 2015

#Cubs Baez to play for Iowa

Javier Baez will make his 2015 debut Thursday, playing for Triple-A Iowa. The Iowa Cubs are scheduled to play host to Oklahoam City on Thursday in Des Moines. Baez has not played this season, and was on the bereavement list following the death of his sister, Noely. She was 21.

Iowa manager Marty Pevey said Baez will play second base and bat third.

“We’re here as a team to help Javy out as much as we possibly can,” Pevey told the Des Moines Register.

#Cubs Maddon likes Meat Loaf

You have to be culturally aware to keep up with Cubs manager Joe Maddon. After Wednesday’s 8-1 loss to the Pirates, which ended a four-game winning streak, Maddon was somewhat up beat.

“They got us, but any time you ‘Meat Loaf’ the other team in a series, you’ll take it,” Maddon said, referring to the 1977 song “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad.”

“Meat loaf tastes good all season long,” Maddon said. “By the end of the season, it might be your favorite meal of all time.”

The Cubs did take two out of three against the Pirates. Last season, Pittsburgh won 14 of 19 meetings. So far this year, the Cubs have won four of seven.

— Carrie Muskat

#Cubs Minor League report: Wednesday games

Wednesday’s games

Iowa had Wednesday off, and returns to action Thursday against Oklahoma City. Dallas Beeler was scheduled to start.

Kyle Schwarber hit a double to extend his hitting streak to eight games in Tennessee’s 3-1 loss to Oklahoma City. Felix Pena started but did not get a decision. He gave up one run over seven innings, striking out seven.

Myrtle Beach rallied in the eighth to beat Wilmington, 2-1. Mark Zagunis had two hits and one RBIs, Billy McKinney had two hits, and Jonathan Martinez gav eup two hits over six scoreless innings. Gerardo Concepcion picked up the save.

Gleyber Torres hit a game-winning two-run triple in the eighth to lift South Bend to a 2-0 victory over West Michigan. Torres went 2-for-3. Jeremy Null threw 5 2/3 scoreless innings, striking out six.

Final #Pirates 8, #Cubs 1

Gerrit Cole gave up one unearned run on three hits over six innings to help the Pirates beat the Cubs, 8-1, on Wednesday in the series finale. Andrew McCutchen hit a two-run triple in a four-run sixth. Kyle Hendricks took the loss, giving up two runs over five innings. Miguel Montero had three hits, including a RBI single for the Cubs. The loss ended Chicago’s win streak at four games.

Despite the loss, the Cubs will finish April with a 12-8 record. It’s their first winning April since going 17-10 in 2008.

Up Next: After an off day Thursday, the Cubs play host to the Brewers in a three-game series. Here are the pitching matchups:

Friday: LHP Jon Lester (0-2, 6.23) vs. RHP Wily Peralta (0-3, 5.04)
Saturday: RHP Jake Arrieta (3-1, 2.03) vs. RHP Mike Fiers (0-3, 5.79)
Sunday: RHP Jason Hammel (2-1, 3.55) vs. RHP Jimmy Nelson (1-2, 3.63)

O’s vs Sox game makes #Cubs Maddon take time to appreciate fans

Seeing the White Sox and Orioles play without anyone in the stands in Baltimore on Wednesday made Cubs manager Joe Maddon stop to say thanks to the fans outside of Wrigley Field.

“When I walked in today, I made sure to stop and sign every autograph on my way in,” Maddon said. “That game really emphasizes and reveals the role of the fans in our game. And sometimes it could be taken for granted.

“To play a baseball game with nobody in the stands would be very not fun,” Maddon said. “I wouldn’t want to do it. What would be the appeal? … I think that game, more than anything, today illustrated the importance that fans play in our game. That was my takeaway from watching that was that one particular point and I’d like to hope or believe that the players stop and reflect on that a little bit because I think sometimes we do get a little bit negative in that regard.”

Maddon has spent plenty of time in the Minor Leagues, playing in front of small crowds.

“I think I have a great appreciation of the fans, but I hope now I have a greater appreciation for our fans and all baseball fans based on that event today,” he said.

— Carrie Muskat

#Cubs injury updates: Grimm, Ramirez, La Stella

Cubs reliever Justin Grimm, on the disabled list since April 2 with inflammation on his right forearm, threw a bullpen on Tuesday and could pitch in either a simulated game or an extended Spring Training game this weekend. Reliever Neil Ramirez, on the DL with right shoulder inflammation, has been playing catch but has yet to throw off the mound.

Infielder Tommy La Stella, sidelined with a strained left side, has yet to resume hitting, but has been able to throw and was doing a lot of his rehab in the pool at the Cubs complex in Mesa, Ariz.

Tsuyoshi Wada, who has made two Minor League rehab starts for Triple-A Iowa, threw a bullpen on Wednesday at Wrigley Field, and will rejoin the Minor League team. He began the season on the DL with a strained left groin.

Albert Almora, ranked No. 5 on the list of top Cubs prospects by MLB.com, was placed on the disabled list Tuesday with a concussion after a diving catch for Double-A Tennessee.

— Carrie Muskat

#Cubs partying like it’s playoff time

Kris Bryant didn’t expect disco balls, smoke and bright lights after games in the big leagues, but that’s what happens in the Cubs clubhouse after a win.

“Every time we win, it’s like we won a World Series,” Bryant said Wednesday. “There’s disco balls and smoke every where — it’s a lot of fun. It’s something I’ve wanted to be a part of.”

He’d heard about Major League pitching, not Major League partying.

“I didn’t expect it,” Bryant said. “We just put some new lights in here and a new disco ball. I guess it’s against tradition. Usually when you win, you just expect it. Here, we’re celebrating every win. There’s nothing wrong with it.

“Guys here want to have fun, I want to have fun,” he said. “It’s much more fun when you win.”

Cubs GM Jed Hoyer gave manager Joe Maddon and the players his blessing.

“It is hard to win games, there’s no doubt,” Hoyer said. “I like the fact that they have a lot of fun. We have a young team so it adds some new life to it. Joe and Davey [Martinez, bench coach] really encourage it. [Anthony Rizzo] may be the ringleader. It’s a lot of fun and hopefully they’l have a lot of chances to continue it. If it starts to break the budget, I guess it’s a good thing.”

Maddon feels it’s important to celebrate.

“I think the more you celebrate, obviously, there’s that camaraderie component that goes with it and then furthermore you’re looking forward to celebrating again tomorrow night,” Maddon said. “It’s a lot of fun. So I don’t know why other teams don’t do it. They think it’s non-professional; I think it’s very pro. Actually. I’m pro-pro that.”

The loud celebration does let players “cherish the moment,” Maddon said, “because it’s not easy to win a Major League baseball game and to win them 90-plus times is very difficult in the same season.”

Bryant compared it to Little League games when players were rewarded with snacks after each game.

“If we go out there and pretend to be in Little League, we’ll win a lot of ballgames,” Bryant said.

— Carrie Muskat

#Cubs Minor League report

Tuesday’s games

Arismendy Alcantara hit a home run and a triple in Iowa’s 7-1 win over Colorado Springs in the first game of a
doubleheader. Donn Roach picked up the win, giving up one run over six innings. In the second game, Alcantara homered again to help Iowa win, 6-3, and complete the sweep. Eric Jokisch started and gave up three runs over 3 2/3 innings.

Jacob Hannemann, Kyle Schwarber and Bijan Rademacher each homered in Tennessee’s 7-6 win over Chattanooga. Schwarber finished with three RBIs. Hannemann’s homer came in his first at-bat for the Smokies; he was promoted from Myrtle Beach.

Myrtle Beach lost, 3-2, to Wilmington in 10 innings. Jen-Ho Tseng gave up one run over five innings.

South Bend lost, 8-5, to West Michigan. Jake Stinnett gave up five runs over 2 2/3 innings. Charcer Burks had three hits.

#Cubs lineup vs Pirates

Kyle Hendricks closes the Cubs three-game series against the Pirates. Here’s the lineup:

Fowler CF

Soler RF

Rizzo 1B

Bryant 3B

Montero C

Castro SS

Coghlan LF

Hendricks P

Herrera 2B

* The Cubs look to win five in a row for the third time since the end of the 2013 season. With a win Wednesday, they could move six games over .500 for the first time since 83-77 entering play on the final day of the 2009 regular season.

* Chicago’s bullpen has thrown 11 scoreless innings in last four games. Pedro Strop has thrown 9 1/3 shutout innings. Zac Rosscup has given up one ER in 8 2/3 innings

* Since going 0-for-4 in his debut, Kris Bryant is batting .378 (14-for-37) with a .511 OBP and 10 RBIs in his last 10 games. He has more walks (nine) than strikeouts (seven) in that stretch

* Hendricks has allowed 17 base runners over 15 2/3 innings this season. Opposing batters are hitting .421 with runners
on base vs. the right-hander.

— Carrie Muskat

#Cubs cleared of tampering charges

Major League Baseball announced Wednesday it has concluded its tampering investigation regarding Joe Maddon’s departure from the Rays and his subsequent hiring as manager of the Cubs. MLB said its investigation produced no finding of a violation of Major League Rule 3(k) on tampering.

— Carrie Muskat