April 2009

Bradley one on one

Milton Bradley doesn’t want to discuss his past or his injuries. He wants to play, and this isn’t how he wanted to start his tenure with the Cubs. Bradley called me over after Thursday’s game to talk.

“It’s been frustrating,” Bradley said. “You come in here and all [the media] want to talk about is how often you get hurt and your attitude and everything. I’ve given them an example right off the bat. I just don’t feel like getting caught up in all the negativity.

“I’m a positive person, an upbeat person,” he said. “I’m trying to focus on what I’m trying to do here. My teammates are behind me and the more reporters get in my face, the more I talk, the more things get written the way I don’t say them or they’re taken out of context, and that’s when you lose teammates and you lose fans. The best strategy for me has always been to not say anything.

“I can sit here and think about the questions I’m going to get and the perfect answer to come up but when it comes to that time, and somebody throws a question at you, just the way they ask it or the question, might make me look perturbed at the question they’re asking. I just prefer not to talk. I told Peter [Chase, media relations director] and everybody, and they suggested I talk. But I just don’t want to do it.

“When I turn around and people are standing at my locker every time, I’m trying to figure out why because I’ve already told them I don’t want to talk. That’s the only thing — I never had a problem with the media until I started reading stuff that wasn’t what I said.

“I never had a problem in my life until I started playing baseball. All of a sudden, there are all these things. I just want to be me. I just want to be that guy who plays baseball and enjoys his teammates and has a good time. That’s what I do.”

— Carrie Muskat

Ricketts seeking investors

Got some extra cash? The family chosen by Tribune Co. to buy the Cubs in a $900 million deal is seeking investors willing to pay $25 million for a preferred share of the team.

Chicago investment banker Tom Ricketts is seeking investors in an effort to raise at least $100 million toward the team’s purchase price, according to the Associated Press.

Ricketts is founder and chief executive of InCapital LLC and his billionaire family founded the Omaha, Neb.-based, TD Ameritrade Holding Corp. Tribune Co. selected the family’s bid Jan. 22 for exclusive negotiations for the Cubs. The sale would include Wrigley Field and a 25 percent interest in a regional sports network.

Any sale must be approved by baseball owners.

Investors being sought by Ricketts would hold a preferred share in the team and sit on an advisory board, but would not make any management decisions, according to the person familiar with the deal.

Now more than a century removed from their last World Series title, the Cubs were purchased by Tribune Co. from Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. for $20.5 million in June 1981. Tribune Co. put the team on the market on Opening Day 2007, when real estate mogul Sam Zell agreed to buy the media conglomerate.

Tribune filed for bankruptcy in December. The company — owner of the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Sun and other dailies — is selling off assets as it seeks to raise cash to deal with debt.

— Carrie Muskat

4/23 Lineup

Micah Hoffpauir is starting in right field in Thursday’s series finale against the Reds. It’ll be LF Alfonso Soriano, SS Ryan Theriot, CF Kosuke Fukudome, 1B Derrek Lee, 3B Aramis Ramirez, RF Hoffpauir, C Geovany Soto, 2B Mike Fontenot and P Carlos Zambrano.

— Carrie Muskat

Bradley out; Vizcaino gone

Milton Bradley and Lou Piniella had a little talk on Thursday. Piniella said the outfielder will not start until he’s 100 percent healthy. Piniella also said when Bradley returns, he’ll likely bat sixth instead of fourth. Bradley has been bothered by a strained right groin, which forced him out of a game April 12. He made his first start Wednesday, and went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. He has one hit this season, a home run.

Micah Hoffpauir started in right field on Thursday in the series finale against the Reds.

Meanwhile, Luis Vizcaino was designated for assignment to make room for Jeff Samardzija, who was called up from Triple-A Iowa. Samardzija will be used in a role similar to Aaron Heilman and act as a bridge from the starters to the late inning pitchers, Carlos Marmol and Kevin Gregg.

— Carrie Muskat

Tough crowd, part II

It’s been three years since Dusty Baker managed the Cubs, yet he still is booed whenever he steps onto the field during a game. Does he think the Wrigley Field crowd will ever let it go?

“They probably won’t,” Baker told MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon on Wednesday. “They still talk about [former managers] Leo Durocher here and Lee Elia. Hey, I’ve come to expect it.”

Baker has no hard feelings towards Chicago.

“Ain’t nothing is going to spoil my joy and pleasure of life. Nothing. Nobody,” Baker said. “I have a beautiful family, a beautiful job, a beautiful life, a beautiful house. It’s beautiful. And I’m healthy.”
— Carrie Muskat

4/22 Lineup

Here it is: LF Alfonso Soriano, CF Kosuke Fukudome, 1B Derrek Lee, RF Milton Bradley, 3B Aramis Ramirez, C Geovany Soto, SS Ryan Theriot, 2B Aaron Miles and P Ted Lilly. Theriot, by the way, is leading the NL with a .409 batting average.

— Carrie Muskat

4/22 Bradley is back; Samardzija soon

Milton Bradley was back in the Cubs’ lineup Wednesday night for the first time since April 12. He’s batting fourth. No word on his appeal of a two-game suspension.

Also, Jeff Samardzija will be called up from Triple-A Iowa and join the Cubs on Thursday. The corresponding roster move won’t be announced until Thursday, but look for Luis Vizcaino to be gone. Cubs GM Jim Hendry said Neal Cotts is staying in the pen and Sean Marshall is staying in the rotation. Lou Piniella said he’ll use Samardzija as a bridge to Carlos Marmol and Kevin Gregg.

— Carrie Muskat

Wrigley cat update

To anyone wondering what happened to the cat that ran onto Wrigley Field Tuesday night, it was taken to a local vet to be checked. The frisky feline left its mark — it bit at least two of the stadium security staff.

— Carrie Muskat


Tough crowd

Apparently, some people in the crowd of 38,403 at Wrigey Field Tuesday night still held a grudge against former Cubs manager Dusty Baker and booed him each time he made an appearance. Baker guided the Cubs to the Central title in 2003 and they got as far as the NLCS. But in his last year in Chicago, 2006, the Cubs lost 96 games.

“It wasn’t his fault,” Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez said in defense of Baker. “Nobody could manage that team in ’06. We had guys coming from Double-A. [Carlos] Marmol was a starter. We had [Juan] Mateo [in the rotation]. You guys probably don’t remember him. We just had a bad team. It’s not [Baker’s] fault. If you gave Dusty this team, I guarantee we’d be in the playoffs, too.”

Mateo, in case you don’t remember, was 1-3 with a 5.32 ERA in 11 games (10 starts).

— Carrie Muskat


There were some strange Cubby occurrences in the Reds’ fourth inning.

The game was interrupted briefly when a cat ran onto the outfield during Joey Votto’s at-bat. A security guard cornered the feline and lifted it by its tail off the field near the Cubs bullpen. Votto walked. Remember the black cat that circled Ron Santo in the on-deck circle at Shea Stadium in 1969?

One out later, Bruce lofted a ball in foul territory along the left field line. Alfonso Soriano chased it down but a fan caught the ball. Sound familiar? Bruce then hit a single, driving in Votto to tie the game at 2.

— Carrie Muskat