Tagged: Koyie Hill

2/5 Extra bases

Some former Cubs in the news:

* The Indians have signed Bryan LaHair to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training. LaHair, 31, will compete for at-bats as a DH and possible role player off the bench. He has hit .289 against right-handed pitching. LaHair spent last season in Japan.

* Carlos Zambrano gave up three runs on two hits over 5 1/3 innings in Venezuela’s 6-3 win Monday over Mexico in the Caribbean Series. Zambrano, 32, was 1-2 with a 4.93 ERA in 42 innings for Navigantes this winter.

* Catcher Koyie Hill has signed a Minor League contract with the Nationals that includes a Spring Training invite.

As for up and coming Cubs, today, Feb. 5, is Shawon Dunston Jr.’s 21st birthday. The outfielder is one of the Cubs’ top prospects. How time flies.

— Carrie Muskat

6/2 Glove story

When Johan Santana threw the Mets’ first no-hitter on Friday, catcher Josh Thole was using Koyie Hill’s glove. Here’s the story: Hill gave Cubs bullpen catcher Andy Lane one of his All-Star model gloves last year. Lane and Thole worked out together this offseason, and Thole liked “The Koyie” so much, he switched with Lane. On Saturday, Lane exchanged text messages with Thole and found out it was Hill’s glove. Hill said he thought he recognized it watching highlights of Santana’s game.

“Your stuff looks familiar to you,” Hill said.

Hill does have a no-hitter to his credit, catching lefty Lindsay Gulin’s no-no at Triple-A in 2004.

— Carrie Muskat

5/19 Castillo hurt; Hill back

Welington Castillo has a mild sprain of the MCL in his right knee, and was expected to miss four to seven days, depending on how he responds to treatment. Castillo had an MRI on Saturday to determine the injury. The Cubs are already short-handed at catcher with Geovany Soto going on the disabled list Friday because of a tear in the meniscus in his left knee. He underwent arthroscopic surgery on Friday and was expected to be sidelined at least three weeks. Rookie Blake Lalli, who was hitting .178 in 20 games at Triple-A Iowa, was added to the roster on Friday from Triple-A Iowa but he’s the backup. On Saturday, the Cubs acquired Koyie Hill, 33, from the Reds for cash consideration. Hill was playing for Double-A Pensacola, batting .195 with one home run and five RBIs in 14 games. He played for the Cubs from 2007-11. Steve Clevenger, the Cubs’ backup catcher, is currently on the DL with a rib cage injury and was to start taking batting practice on Saturday or Sunday. He was ahead of schedule in his rehab but wasn’t expected to be ready until after the Cubs next road trip.

— Carrie Muskat

12/12 Hill now free agent

The Cubs have non-tendered catcher Koyie Hill but did tender contracts to the other arbitration eligible players, Jeff Baker, Blake DeWitt, Matt Garza, Geovany Soto, Ian Stewart, and Randy Wells. The deadline for tendering contracts to any arbitration eligible players was 11 p.m. CT Monday. Because Hill was non-tendered, he is now a free agent. The 32-year-old catcher batted .194 in 46 games, including 38 starts. The Cubs were 22-16 in games in which he started. The team could look internally for a backup with both Welington Castillo and up and coming Steve Clevenger as options.

— Carrie Muskat

12/12 Arbitration deadline

The deadline for tendering contracts to any arbitration eligible players is 11 p.m. CT Monday. For the Cubs, this will mean decisions on seven players: Jeff Baker, Blake DeWitt, Matt Garza, Koyie Hill, Geovany Soto, Ian Stewart and Randy Wells. If a team decides to non-tender a player, he would become a free agent.

* Baker, 30, batted .269 with three homers and 23 RBIs in 81 games (42 starts), including a .314 average against left-handed pitchers. He was 4-for-30 as a pinch-hitter. He made $1.175 million in 2011.

* DeWitt, 26, hit .265 in 121 games with five homers and 26 RBIs in 121 games in his first full season with the Cubs. Acquired from the Dodgers on July 31, 2010, in the Ted Lilly deal, DeWitt batted .406 against lefties. He made $460,000 this year.

* Garza, 28, went 10-10 with a 3.32 ERA in 31 starts in his first season with the Cubs. Acquired on Jan. 8 from the Rays in an eight-player deal, he was the hard-luck pitcher. He left a game with the lead but did not factor in the decision seven times. Garza made $5.95 million in 2011.

* Hill, 32, batted .194 in 46 games, including 38 starts. The Cubs were 22-16 in games in which he started. Hill made $850,000 this year. He may be the only one non-tendered, and the Cubs could look at Welington Castillo as a backup catcher.

* In his fourth full season, Soto, who turns 29 on Jan. 20, batted .228 with 17 homers, 26 doubles and 54 RBIs in 125 games. If Soto stays on the same pace, he should have a stellar season in 2012. In ’08, he won National League Rookie of the Year, batting .285, and followed that with a disappointing .218 season in ’09. In 2010, he hit .280, and his average dropped this past season. He received $3 million in 2011.

* Wells, 29, missed nearly two months with a strained right forearm, which he felt after his first start April 4. The right-hander did not return until May 28, and went 7-6 with a 4.99 ERA in 23 starts, giving up a career-high 23 home runs. His best month was August when Wells was 4-0 with a 3.32 ERA in six starts. He received $475,000 in 2011.

* Stewart, 26, is the newest Cub. Acquired on Thursday from the Rockies for Tyler Colvin and DJ LeMahieu, the third baseman made $2,228,750 this season.

— Carrie Muskat

6/5 Marmol’s best pitch

Carlos Marmol’s best pitch is his slider but Cubs catcher Koyie Hill called for a fastball on a 2-2 pitch to Ryan Theriot. Marmol shook him off, and Hill went to the mound. The catcher’s objective is to make sure the pitcher believes in his pitch. Marmol did, and threw a slider. But it cost the Cubs, as Theriot hit a RBI double in the ninth to tie the game at 2. Albert Pujols hit a walkoff homer for the second straight game to complete the Cardinals’ sweep over the Cubs.

“You’ve got your big guy on the mound to close games and he’s really good at it,” Hill said of Marmol. “If he wants to throw something he believes he wants to throw, I’m all for it. The oldest thing in the book is to sit back and say ‘You should’ve done this, you should’ve done that.'”

After the game, Carlos Zambrano criticized Marmol’s pitch selection, saying everyone knows Theriot can’t hit a fastball.

“‘Z’ critiquing Marmol’s approach? I could care less,” Cubs manager Mike Quade said when told of Zambrano’s comments. “Everybody’s always [ticked] when he gets beat with a fastball. I’m just [ticked] when we get beat.”

And Marmol’s take?

“I made a mistake,” Marmol said. “I threw it down the middle and that’s what [Theriot] was looking for. I missed. I missed with my best pitch and he got a hit. What can you say? I decided to go with my best pitch and it didn’t work out.”

— Carrie Muskat

3/21 Catching on

Welington Castillo is 12-for-17 this spring, and granted, that’s not very many at-bats, but he has opened some eyes.

“He’s played well, he’s a talented kid — he’s got a shot,” Mike Quade said of the young catcher. “But that’s where these kind of conversations [Tuesday] get in-depth as far as what’s best. [Geovany] Soto’s our starting catcher, period. I’m expecting big things and we’d love to see him even better.”

On Tuesday, Quade will meet with the Cubs front office to discuss some of the roster spots.

“This guy’s got a bright future,” Quade said of Castillo. “The decision on him will be based on that. [Should he be] sitting on the bench at Wrigley or getting at-bats every day. To me, I have a good feel for what I think can happen.”

The Cubs’ backup catching options include Castillo, Koyie Hill, and Max Ramirez.

— Carrie Muskat

1/14 Geovany Soto signs

Cubs catcher Geovany Soto avoided arbitration and signed a one-year, $3 million deal Friday night. Soto batted .280 last season with 17 homers and 53 RBIs in 105 games. The 2008 National League Rookie of the Year, Soto struggled in ’09 and batted .218. The Cubs now have avoided arbitration with Soto, Jeff Baker and Koyie Hill. The arbitration eligible players remaining include Sean Marshall, Carlos Marmol, Matt Garza and Tom Gorzelanny.

— Carrie Muskat 

1/12 Hill avoids arbitration

The Cubs avoided arbirtration with catcher Koyie Hill on Wednesday and signed him to a one-year, $850,000 contract.

“In the bottom of my heart, I would probably scrape every penny I have to pay for a chance to do this,” Hill said. “Contract negotiations is something that’s part of the game, but I’m happy its over, I’m happy I’m a Cub and I’m happy the Cubs organization thinks enough of me to want to have me back.”

Hill, 31, made 60 starts last season and batted .214 with 13 doubles, one triple, one homer and 17 RBIs. Since 2007, the team has an 84-72 record in games he has started.

Catcher Geovany Soto and pitchers Matt Garza, Carlos Marmol, Sean Marshall, and Tom Gorzelanny are the Cubs’ remaining arbitration eligible players. Jeff Baker, 29, also was arbitration eligible but he renewed Dec. 2 on a $1.175 million contract.

— Carrie Muskat

1/7 Cubs Caravan

The Cubs announced the players, coaches and front office personnel who will take part in next week’s Cubs Caravan. There will be two tour groups. On Wednesday, group No. 1 will include Randy Wells, Justin Berg, James Russell, Bob Dernier, DJ LeMahieu, Chris Carpenter, Oneri Fleita, Ivan DeJesus and Dave Keller. Bob Brenly and Dave Otto will take part in the morning sessions, and Len Kasper will join the tour in the afternoon.

Tour No. 2 Wednesday will include Mike Quade, Sean Marshall, Andrew Cashner, Koyie Hill, Jay Jackson, Lester Strode, Randy Bush and Mark Riggins. Kasper will take part in the morning session and Otto will cover in the afternoon.

On Thursday, Tour group No. 1 will include Pat Hughes, Blake DeWitt, Berg, Wells, Hill, Jackson, Carpenter, Fleita, Strode, Riggins, Dernier, and Keller. Group No. 2 will include Quade, Sean Marshall, Kasper, Bush, DeJesus, Russell, Cashner, LeMahieu. Elio Benitez will join the group at Strode School.

— Carrie Muskat