7/25 Trade rumors

FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported Friday the Cubs may hang onto Justin Ruggiano and Luis Valbuena at the Trade Deadline even though both have drawn interest and could help a contending club. On Wednesday, Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein told Chicago media that they are evaluating the current roster and trying to decide who to keep. What they want to determine is which players now will help the next generation make the transition.

“There’s value to keeping players who have roles here for the sake of continuity and leadership and performance on the field,” Epstein said at Wrigley Field. “We’re not in any rush to make trades for the sake of making trades.”

– Carrie Muskat

7/25 Maddux memories

Rick Sutcliffe remembers when Greg Maddux first joined the Cubs in 1986 and watching the skinny right-hander pitch. There was one game in Maddux’s first year when someone hit a ball that should’ve resulted in a triple but the hitter stopped at second. That seemed puzzling to Sutcliffe. Maddux had been struggling, and Sutcliffe had experienced something similar his second year with the Dodgers. Apparently, Maddux was tipping his pitches, and the runner at second could send a message to his teammates.

Sutcliffe, Maddux and pitching coach Dick Pole figured out what was happening, and obviously, the young pitcher developed a plan.

“When the next season started, Greg would show the runner at second his change-up, and then he’d change it to a fastball,” Sutcliffe said Friday. “You’d see people in the opposing dugout, saying, ‘What’s going on?’ It turned everything around for him.”

Maddux went on to win 355 games, strike out 3,371 batters, win four Cy Young awards, and on Sunday, he’ll be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame induction ceremony will air on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. CT live on MLB Network and simulcast on MLB.com and the At-Bat app.

The Cubs have a contingent in Cooperstown to help celebrate Maddux’s induction, including chairman Tom Ricketts.

Maddux wasn’t just a good pitcher, he was a great teammate. Sutcliffe recalled the July 1987 game when Padres pitcher Eric Show hit Andre Dawson in the head with a pitch as pay back. Maddux was pitching that game, and had every intention of hitting the first batter he faced the next inning. But Maddux knew before the game that he was headed to the Minors if he didn’t win that day.

“He says, ‘I don’t care if I ever get another win, I’m hitting the first guy,’” Sutcliffe said. “He hit Benito Santiago at 95 miles an hour. I don’t know if he ever threw a pitch any harder than that. he gained the respect of everyone he played with by doing that.”

Maddux lockered next to Sutcliffe, who said it eventually got to the point where the young pitcher was teaching Sutcliffe things about the game.

There is one thing, though, that always irked Sutcliffe.

“It used to make [Ryne] Sandberg and I so mad — we’d go out to the parking lot and people would go crazy [for autographs],” Sutcliffe said. “Greg would put on that Mickey Mouse hat of his and walk right through the fans to his apartment. They’d say, ‘It’s the bat boy — I’m not going to bother the bat boy.’ Shoot, you’re talking about a Cy Young winner there.”

– Carrie Muskat

7/25 Minor matters

Javier Baez and Josh Vitters each homered to back Eric Jokisch and lead Iowa to an 11-2 win over New Orleans. Jokisch gave up two runs over 5 1/3 innings and struck out five. Baez finished with three RBI. Mike Olt had two hits, including a bases-clearing double. It was the first game that Baez, Kris Bryant and Jorge Soler played in together, batting 3-4-5.

Pierce Johnson gave up two hits over six shutout innings in Tennessee’s 4-2 win over Mississippi. In his first game with the Smokies, Lars Anderson was 2-for-4 with a double and one RBI.

Daytona and St. Lucie were postponed because of rain, and will try to play a doubleheader Friday.

Jacob Rogers hit his 11th home run to help Kane county beat South Bend, 5-3. Jen-Ho Tseng gave up three runs over 5 2/3 innings for the win. Shawon Dunston had two hits, a stolen base, and one RBI.

Danny Canela and Justin Marra each homered to help Boise beat Everett, 7-3. David Bote had two hits.

Mesa blew a 5-1 lead and lost 7-6 to the Athletics. Kevonte Mitchell had two hits, including a triple, and one RBI.

7/25 Cubs lineup

Travis Wood takes the mound Friday as the Cubs open a three-game homestand against the Cardinals, who are battling for the top spot in the NL Central. Emilio Bonifacio gets the day off and still no Justin Ruggiano, who has been slowed by tightness in his groin. Here’s the lineup:

Coghlan LF
Alcantara 2B
Rizzo 1B
Castro SS
Valbuena 3B
Castillo C
Sweeney CF
Schierholtz RF
Wood P

7/25 Hey, hey

It’s Jack Brickhouse day at Wrigley Field on Friday. The first 10,000 fans at Friday’s Cubs vs. Cardinals game will receive a Jack Brickhouse Bobblehead with an audio chip of Brickhouse calling Ernie Banks 500th home run, presented by Advocate Health Care. Pat Brickhouse, Jack’s widow, will toss a ceremonial first pitch and sing the seventh inning stretch. Jack Brickhouse broadcast Cubs games on WGN-TV from 1948-81, and received the Ford C. Frick Award from the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1983. He died in August 1998.

7/24 Cubs vs. Cardinals

Looking ahead to the Cubs series this weekend against the Cardinals, here are the pitching matchups:

Friday: LHP Travis Wood (7-9, 5.12) vs. RHP Joe Kelly (2-1, 2.84)
Saturday: RHP Jake Arrieta (5-2, 2.12) vs. RHP Shelby Miller (7-8, 4.25)
Sunday: RHP Kyle Hendricks (1-0, 2.77) vs. RHP Adam Wainwright (12-5, 2.02)

7/24 Cubs lineup

Arismendy Alcantara and Emilio Bonifacio are switching places on the field, with Alcantara starting at second base Thursday in the Cubs’ series finale against the Padres. Edwin Jackson gets the start. Here’s the lineup:

Bonifacio CF
Alcantara 2B
Rizzo 1B
Castro SS
Coghlan LF
Valbuena 3B
Sweeney RF
Baker C
Jackson P

7/24 Minor matters

Dae-Eun Rhee gave up one unearned run over six innings in Iowa’s 13-4 win over New Orleans. Lars Anderson homered, and was then sent to Tennessee to make room for Mike Olt. Anderson, Kris Bryant and Ryan Kalish each had three RBIs. Kyuji Fujikawa struck out two in one inning of relief.

Eduardo Figueroa gave up one run over five innings in Tennessee’s 6-3 win over Mississippi. Stephen Bruno and Christian Villanueva each had two hits and two RBis.

Dan Vogelbach hit two home runs to help Daytona beat Palm Beach, 6-2. It was Vogelbach’s third multi-homer game. Rob Zastryzny threw six shutout innings for the win. Billy McKinney extended his hit streak to six straight games, and now has hit in 11 of his last 12 games since joining the D-Cubs.

Kevin Brown had three hits and two RBIs in Kane County’s 5-2 win over South Bend. Duane Underwood gave up two runs on three hits over five innings, striking out seven. Gerardo Concepcion threw three scoreless innings.

Boise’s game vs. Everett was postponed because of rain.

C.J. Edwards gave up one hit over two innings in his first start since coming off the DL, pitching for the Mesa Rookie League team. Edwards walked one and struck out two. Mesa won, 10-0, over the Rangers. Seven Mesa hitters had two hits apiece.

7/24 40-man realities

There has been plenty of speculation by commenters here about whether or not Jorge Soler or others will be called up in September. On Wednesday, Theo Epstein was asked whether Soler would be promoted because the outfielder was on the 40-man roster.

“The 40-man is a real consideration when it comes to promotions,” Epstein said. “If a player is already on the 40 or has to be protected this winter and has to be added to the roster [because of the Rule 5 Draft], it just makes it easier to call them up than if you have to prematurely add a player to the 40-man just for September.

“We haven’t made those decisions yet,” Epstein said. “We talk about the different possibilities and discuss the pros and cons. We don’t start to focus on it until the last week of August, and even then, we hope that [Triple-A] Iowa will be in the playoffs and we hope they go deep. That affects the calculus if you’re only looking at a couple weeks left in the Major League season.

“Yes, the 40-man does make a difference, and the need to be added for Rule 5 protection, does make a difference.”

For a list of who is on the 40-man roster, you can go to Cubs.com, and click on “Roster.”

– Carrie Muskat

7/23 Extra, extra bases

* With Mike Olt optioned to Triple-A Iowa, Luis Valbuena will get the majority of playing time at third base, manager Rick Renteria said. Valbuena made his 51st start at third on Wednesday; Olt had started 47 games at third.

* Olt will play first base and be the designated hitter while at Iowa. He was batting .139 in 72 games, but did lead all NL rookies with 12 home runs. He also has struck out 84 times in 187 at-bats.

“He acknowledged he’s gotten into a few bad habits at the plate, and bad habits that he couldn’t break out of at the big league level,” Theo Epstein said Wednesday. “I think playing every day down there will be good for him.”

* Cubs pitcher Kyuji Fujikawa, on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Iowa, struck out two of the three batters he faced Wednesday. Fujikawa, who had Tommy John surgery in June 2013, threw 14 pitches, nine for strikes, in his second outing with the team.

* Manny Ramirez, a player/coach at Triple-A Iowa, was placed on the disabled list Wednesday with a right calf strain. Ramirez pinch-hit on Wednesday and was batting .176 (6-for-34) in 11 games with the Minor League team.

– Carrie Muskat


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