March 2009

3/29 Patton, Gaudin, Lee and Reed

Rule 5 Draft pick David Patton wants a big league job. He pitched the eighth on Sunday against Cleveland, and struck out two of the three batters he faced. The right-hander has a 0.84 ERA so far, and will pitch again Tuesday.

“He’s not stumbling,” Lou Piniella said of Patton, who has not pitched above Class A ball. “He keeps throwing strikes. He’s showing that good curveball. He’s pitching like he wants a job. I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen. I can tell you this, the kid’s hungry and he’s looking for a Major League job. He’s made it very difficult. Good for him.”

Chad Gaudin did not fair as well. He now has a 10.54 ERA after giving up three runs on three hits and one walk Sunday.

“He’s not pitching aggressively,” Piniella said. “He’s getting behind on the hitters.”

Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild has worked with Gaudin on the backfield in an attempt to get the right-hander to stay on top of the ball, but he cant seem to take that into games.

  • Derrek Lee was lifted from the game after hitting a single in the fifth because his right quad is still tender. He may need more rest, although Lee said it wasn’t a problem.
  • Reed Johnson delivered a pinch-hit, two-run homer on Sunday. “He didn’t come here this spring to share a job,” Piniella said. “He came here to take a job. I’m telling you, he’s doing his part.”

— Carrie Muskat


De-Ro update

Mark DeRosa just doubled off the backdrop in center field off Ted Lilly with two outs in the Indians’ fifth. The Cubs can only hope Lilly doesn’t pitch when the two teams meet in Interleague play June 19-21.

— Carrie Muskat


Mark DeRosa and Ted Lilly were teammates on the Cubs and on Team USA in the World Baseball Classic but on Sunday, DeRosa definitely had the upper hand. The former Cubs infielder hit the first pitch from Lilly over the left field fence for a two-run homer, and in the third inning, he launched a 2-1 pitch high off the scoreboard at HoHoKam Park in left to open a 3-0 lead.

— Carrie Muskat

3/29 Quick hits

Some news from the Cubs’ Minor League camp: left-handed pitcher Mark Pawelek, the No. 1 Draft pick in 2005, was released. So was outfielder Ryan Harvey, who was the team’s top selection in 2003.

Other notes:

  • Lou Piniella had a chance to say hello to former Cub Mark DeRosa before the game. “Mark looks wonderful,” Piniella said. “He’ll do a good job for Cleveland. He’s a professional.” Piniella saw former Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood about a month ago at a Phoenix area restaurant. “Both guys are outstanding guys and they’ll do well for Cleveland,” Piniella said of DeRosa and Wood. DeRosa celebrated his return by hitting the first pitch from Ted Lilly over the left field wall for a home run.
  • Reed Johnson’s hand is fine after he was hit by a pitch. He did not start Sunday because he played in Tucson on Saturday.
  • Friday’s game in New York will be broadcast on the MLB Network, while Saturday’s game will be on Comcast Sports.

— Carrie Muskat

3/29 Roster moves

The Cubs reduced the spring roster to 30 players on Sunday. Right-handed pitchers Kevin Hart and Randy Wells were optioned to Triple-A Iowa. Catcher Mark Johnson, infielders Andres Blanco and Esteban German and outfielders Brad Snyder and So Taguchi were assigned to the Minor League camp. The spring roster now includes 16 pitchers, three catchers, six infielders and five outfielders.

— Carrie Muskat

And the Cubs' closer is …

… Kevin Gregg. Lou Piniella made the announcement Sunday, picking Gregg over Carlos Marmol. “I couldn’t go wrong either way,” Piniella said. Marmol admitted he was disappointed at the news. Gregg, who has saved 61 games the last two seasons with Florida, has not given up a run this spring in 8 1/3 innings. Marmol has pitched in seven games, and given up four runs on six hits and one walk while hitting five. Both have struck out 10.

— Carrie Muskat

3/29 Lineup

Former Cubs Kerry Wood and Mark DeRosa are both expected in Mesa for Sunday’s game between the Cubs and Indians at HoHoKam Park. DeRosa will start at third and bat second. The Cubs will counter with LF Alfonso Soriano, SS Ryan Theriot, 1B Derrek Lee, RF Milton Bradley, 3B Aramis Ramirez, 2B Mike Fontenot, C Geovany Soto, CF Joey Gathright and P Ted Lilly.

Expect a decision on who will be the closer Sunday before first pitch.

— Carrie Muskat

Something to think about

While driving back from Tucson Saturday night on I-10, shortly before reaching Picacho Peak, the discussion turned to So Taguchi vs. Joey Gathright. It was prompted by a play in the eighth inning when Colorado’s Ryan Spilborghs tripled to right. Two runs scored, but what will not show up in the box score was the way that Taguchi, who was playing in left, ran in to backup at third base. Taguchi, 39, who signed a Minor League free agent contract with the Cubs, is batting .263 this spring and is fundamentally sound. Maybe he should be the extra outfielder?

“I’ll tell you the guy who’s had a heck of a spring is Taguchi,” Lou Piniella said after Friday’s game, totally unprompted. “He gives you a very professional at-bat and has done a really nice job. I don’t know if there will be room, but what a professional young man he is and the way he approaches things and the way he works. I’ve been very impressed.”

Gathright is batting .244 so far after an 0-for-4 game Saturday. A left-handed hitter, he batted .254 with 21 stolen bases last year for the Royals, missing time because of a bone bruise in his right shoulder. He has a career .263 average against right-handed pitchers, and a .288 average with runners in scoring position.

Taguchi, a right-handed bat, hit .220 in 88 games with the Phillies last season, is a career .281 hitter against lefties (but just .184 last year), and .278 hitter vs. right-handers. He has a career .332 average with RISP.

Both can play the corners. Gathright can help in center, but the Cubs already have Kosuke Fukudome and Reed Johnson. There’s been a lot of talk about needing more left-handed bats, but if the Cubs take Micah Hoffpauir, they should have enough.

Between Taguchi and Gathright, who can help the Cubs more? We’ll see.

— Carrie Muskat

3/28 Ouch

Talk about tough. Cubs outfielder Reed Johnson was hit by a pitch on his right hand in the first inning Saturday, yet stayed in the game and made two perfect throws for two outfield assists. Teammate Ryan Dempster appreciated Johnson’s efforts.

“It was a grind out there today but I got through it,” said Dempster, who gave up four runs on eight hits and three walks over six innings. “Plus, I had Reed Johnson throwing everybody out.”

Johnson left the ballpark with a precautionary ice pack on his right hand.

— Carrie Muskat

3/28 Quick hits

Cubs manager Lou Piniella missed Saturday’s game because he was feeling ill. A flu bug has been going around several of the camps this spring. Bench coach Alan Trammell was in charge for the Cubs game against the Rockies.

Other notes:

  • Sean Marshall and Chad Gaudin each had side sessions in Mesa. Chad Fox, Kevin Gregg and Luis Vizcaino pitched in a Minor League game at Fitch Park.
  • Mike Fontenot started at third and Aaron Miles at short on Saturday. Trammell said both need more than one game to get comfortable on the left side of the infield. “You need to get tested,” Trammell said.
  • Yes, that was first base coach Matt Sinatro wearing No. 80. He forgot his jersey in Mesa.
  • Former Cubs pitcher Jason Marquis will be either the third or fourth starter for the Rockies.

— Carrie Muskat