#Cubs Bryant, Rizzo, Castro, Montero still in mix in All-Star voting

Rookie Kris Bryant was third, Starlin Castro fourth, and Anthony Rizzo and Miguel Montero both fifth at their respective positions in the latest 2015 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot, released Monday.

The Cardinals’ Matt Carpenter and the Reds’ Todd Frazier are 1-2 in the balloting for third baseman, each with more than 6 million votes, while Bryant is third with 3,559,446 votes. Promoted to the big leagues on April 17, Bryant ranks 15th in the NL with 43 RBIs (second on the team to Rizzo’s 44), and was batting .273 with 10 homers, 13 doubles and two triples. The last Cubs rookie to be named to the All-Star team was Geovany Soto in 2008.

Rizzo has received 2,564,264 votes, and trails the D-Backs’ Paul Goldschmidt, who has more than 7 million votes. The Dodgers’ Adrian Gonzalez was second among first basemen followed by the Reds’ Joey Votto and the Cardinals’ Matt Adams.

Rizzo has posted impressive numbers this season, and ranked fourth in the Major Leagues in OPS (.981) and third in the NL in on-base percentage (.413), sixth in slugging percentage (.568), and 10th in batting average (.304).

“He’s definitely that anchor in the middle of the lineup who you want to build around,” manager Joe Maddon said of Rizzo.

“To envision a lineup without him out there would be very difficult,” Maddon said. “He hits righties, hits lefties, plays a really good first base, has been a really good baserunner. He’s played a really complete game.”

Giants catcher Buster Posey has received nearly 8 million votes, while Montero, a two-time All-Star who was on the NL team last year, had 1,485,095 votes.

Castro, a three-time All-Star, had received 2,185,861 votes, and trailed the Cardinals’ Jhonny Peralta, the Giants’ Brandon Crawford and the Rockies’ Troy Tulowitzki.

The 86th All-Star Game will be played July 14 at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.

Fans can cast their votes for starters at MLB.com and all 30 club sites — on their computers, tablets and smartphones — using the 2015 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot until Thursday at 10:59 p.m. ET. For the first time, voting is exclusively online, where fans may submit up to 35 ballots.

#Cubs activate Ramirez, Wada to DL

The Cubs placed Tsuyoshi Wada on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to June 23, with left deltoid inflammation, and activated right-handed reliever Neil Ramirez from the DL. Ramirez has been sidelined since April 16 with right shoulder inflammation.

“I’m back to where I need to be,” said Ramirez, who made three rehab appearances. “I think the biggest thing was seeing how I recover. I’m fine.”

The rehab did take longer than Ramirez anticipated.

“I felt really good initially and then once we started throwing again, it kind of crept back in, so we had to pump the brakes a little and that’s why it took a little longer,” he said, adding that there were some strength issues that needed to be addressed.

“We did it the right way so I’m back to being where I need to be,” he said.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon said he’ll be careful with the right-hander, who compiled a 1.44 ERA in 50 games last season. Ramirez was expected to be a key piece of the Cubs bullpen this year but was sidelined with the shoulder injury after five April outings.

Wada came out of his last start after two innings with cramping in his left shoulder.

“He’s better, but not where he needs to be,” Maddon said of the lefty. “We’ll give him a little bit more time. We don’t want to run him out there unless he’s feeling 100 percent.”

Donn Roach was promoted from Triple-A Iowa to start Saturday in Wada’s spot, and will stay with the big league club. Roach could be used in relief during the Cubs’ upcoming series against the Mets. With an off day Monday, the Cubs don’t need a fifth starter until next Saturday.

— Carrie Muskat

#Cubs Soler to begin rehab assignment

Cubs outfielder Jorge Soler, on the disabled list with a sprained left ankle since June 3, will begin a rehab assignment Monday with Triple-A Iowa.

“We were thinking about having Soler matriculate at Notre Dame but instead we’re sending him to the University of Iowa and he’ll be playing over there,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said Sunday.

The Cubs do have a Class A Minor League team in South Bend, Ind., where Notre Dame is located.

Soler was batting .265 with four home runs in 49 games before he was injured. At that point, he was leading the National League in strikeouts as well.

Maddon said they did not have a set number of games for Soler to play before he can be activated from the DL.

“There’s no finish line but I think he’s not far off,” Maddon said. “He’s been taking a lot of [batting practice], done a lot of baseball activity.”

— Carrie Muskat

Costas apologizes to #Cubs Strop face to face

MLB Network broadcaster Bob Costas met with Cubs pitcher Pedro Strop on Sunday to apologize for comments he made during Friday’s telecast.

Strop had entered the game in the eighth inning with the Cubs leading 2-1 against the Cardinals. He served up a game-tying lead off home run to pinch-hitter Greg Garcia, then hit the next batter. Matt Carpenter then flew out but Strop walked Jhonny Peralta and was pulled.

As the right-hander walked off the field, he pointed to the sky, something Strop does after every outing.

“I always thank God for everything, for the opportunity,” Strop said Sunday. “I always do that.”

Costas offered his opinion during the MLB Network broadcast.

“Strop is on his way out, pointing toward the heavens,” Costas said. “We can only ask, or wonder, that he is asking some departed relative for forgiveness for this atrocious performance.”

Strop didn’t know what Costas said until he got back to his hotel room and got reaction from fans and friends via Instagram.

“People said, ‘Hey, don’t worry about what Bob said,'” Strop said. “I was like, ‘What’s going on?’ Then I went on Twitter and saw the comments that he said. I felt pretty bad. At the moment, really bad. I didn’t want to talk to him. Somebody told me he wants to apologize to you, and I was like, ‘I don’t want to talk to him.'”

But Costas did meet with the pitcher in the lobby of the Cubs team hotel on Sunday before Strop went to a fundraiser event with teammate Jason Motte.

“I saw him in the lobby and he apologized to me,” Strop said. “We all make mistakes, and I’m not going to judge him because he made a mistake. I feel better now that he apologized. We all do stuff that we have to apologize for.

“I came down and realized he’s a good dude,” Strop said. “A lot of people told me he’s a great guy and he’s a legend and one of the best at what he does. Everybody makes mistakes.”

—  Carrie Muskat

#Cubs lineup vs Cards

Jason Hammel gets the start Sunday night as the Cubs close their series against the Cardinals at Busch Stadium. Here’s the lineup:

Fowler CF

Bryant 3B

Rizzo 1B

Montero C

Castro SS

Coghlan LF

Denorfia RF

Hammel P

Russell 2B

* The Cardinals have won six of eight meetings against the Cubs this season. The Cardinals are on pace for 109 wins. The
Cubs are on pace for 87.

* The Cubs are looking to avoid setting their longest losing streak of the season with a loss on Sunday. They have been
outscored 20-5 during this four-game stretch. Chicago is batting .148 (4-for-27) with runners in scoring position with 35 runners left on base.

* In his last start against the Dodgers on Tuesday, Hammel gave up two hits over 7 2/3 scoreless innings, but did not factor
into the decision. Hammel is 2-0, 2.01 ERA in five June starts. His 0.94 WHIP is fourth in MLB among qualifying pitchers behind Max Scherzer (0.79), Jacob deGrom (0.93) and Zack Greinke (0.93).

* Anthony Rizzo is fourth in MLB with a .987 OPS. The only players ranked higher are Bryce Harper (1.185), Paul
Golschmidt (1.113) and Miguel Cabrera (1.053).

#Cubs Minor League report: Schwarber HR, Jimenez 3 Hs

Saturday’s games

Kyle Schwarber had three hits, including his first Triple-A home run, and missed hitting for the cycle by a triple to help Iowa beat New Orleans, 6-1. Schwarber hit a solo homer in the fifth. Drake Britton benefitted, throwing six shutout innings for the win. Junior Lake was 3-for-3 with one RBI and a stolen base. Mike Olt had one hit, a double, in his fifth rehab game.

“There’s a different aspect of the game here,” Schwarber told the Des Moines Register. “They’re smarter. They know what they want to do here. It was a little bit of an adjustment to make there but all it is, is just getting back and getting my pitch.”

Tennessee’s game vs. Mobile was postponed because of rain. The two teams were expected to play a doubleheader on Sunday.

Jen-Ho Tseng gave up three runs over five innings in Myrtle Beach’s 4-3 loss to Carolina. Jeimer Candelario and Victor Caratini each had two hits and one RBI.

Jake Stinnett gave up four runs over 6 2/3 innings in South Bend’s 6-4 win over Lake County. He struck out four and walked one. Jason Vosler hit a solo homer and Charcer Burks and Gleyber Torres each had two hits and one RBIs. Torres leads the team with 40 RBI.

Eloy Jimenez was 3-for-3 with one RBI to help Eugene beat Tri-City, 7-4. Jimenez now is batting .293. Jae-Hoon Ha picked up the win in relief, throwing two scoreless innings.

Robert Garcia had three hits and four RBI in Mesa’s 11-4 win over the Giants. Wladimir Galindo had two hits, scored two runs and drove in two runs.

#Cubs to add Ramirez on Sunday

The Cubs’ bullpen will get some help on Sunday when reliever Neil Ramirez joins the club.

Ramirez has been on the disabled list since April 16 because of right shoulder inflammation. He made three rehab appearances — two for Double-A Tennessee and pitched one inning for Triple-A Iowa. In the three games, he gave up one hit over 2 2/3 innings while striking out four.

Last season, Ramirez, 26, appeared in 50 games and compiled a 1.44 ERA. He was expected to be a key piece of the bullpen but was sidelined with the shoulder injury after five April outings.

No corresponding roster move was announced Saturday night.

—  Carrie Muskat

#Cubs Minor League report: Batista makes 1st Iowa start

Friday’s games

In his first Triple-A start, Frank Batista gave up one earned run over four innings in Iowa’s 5-0 loss to New Orleans. Mike Olt was 0-for-4 in his fourth rehab game with Iowa.

Tennessee scored six runs in the eighth and ninth innings combined to beat Mobile, 9-4. Stephen Bruno drove in three runs and Albert Almora and Jacob Hannemann had two hits and one RBI each.

Duane Underwood gave up six runs on four hits and three walks in one inning in Myrtle Beach’s 9-2 loss to Carolina. Trey Martin had two hits. Victor Caratini hit a solo home run.

Trevor Clifton threw six shutout innings in South Bend’s 5-2 win over Lake County. Charcer Burks had two hits and one RBI and now has hit in eight straight games.

Oscar De La Cruz threw six shutout innings in Eugene’s 7-1 win over Tri-City. First-round pick Ian Happ had two hits, scored two runs, and stole a base. He’s now batting .300. Tyler Alamo had two hits and three RBI.

Mesa had Friday off, and returns to action Saturday against the Giants.

#Cubs Soler making progress

Jorge Soler, on the disabled list with a left ankle sprain, ran the bases for the second straight day. The Cubs want to see how the outfielder feels after the workout before deciding whether he’s ready for a rehab assignment.

0626soler

Bryant returns to #Cubs lineup

Kris Bryant was back in the Cubs lineup Friday and feeling better. The rookie was pulled from Thursday’s game after two innings because of flu-like symptoms, and said he’s actually been fighting it since the weekend series in Minnesota. Bryant, who was bothered by allergies last year, said he tried to recover by sitting in the weight room between innings Thursday to cool off.

“It kind of just hit me,” Bryant said Friday. “Earlier in pre-game, I felt fine. It hit me really hard. It just came out of nowhere.”

Even though manager Joe Maddon has talked about giving Bryant a day off, the third baseman would prefer to keep playing.

“I’m not too much of a fan of days off,” he said. “I think they’re missed opportunities.”

Bryant didn’t pay attention to the surge of trade rumors that started when he was pulled from Thursday’s game.

“That’s kind of funny,” he said of erroneous reports that he was headed to the Mets.

Some on social media speculated Bryant was out because of a hang over. That wasn’t funny to him.

“I think if you know the type of person I am and my friends and family and everybody in here knows who I am and what I believe in [you wouldn’t say that],” Bryant said. “A trade would be way more believable.”

— Carrie Muskat

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