June 2009

The rest of the story

Mark DeRosa is back in the National League Central, but with the Cardinals, who acquired the versatile player from the Indians Saturday night for reliever Chris Perez and a player to be named later. The Cubs did talk to the Indians about re-acquiring DeRosa, whom they dealt to Cleveland for three Minor League pitchers on New Year’s Eve. But the Cubs felt the Indians’ asking price was too high. Cubs GM Jim Hendry won’t be in Chicago Sunday to address the matter; he had planned a trip to meet with one of the team’s Draft picks. Good news for DeRosa fans is he’ll be in Chicago July 10-12 with the Cardinals.

— Carrie Muskat 

6/27 Bradley update

Lou Piniella said he was right in what he did, but not in what he said to Milton Bradley on Friday. The two met prior to Saturday’s game and the manager apologized to the outfielder for comments he made in the clubhouse. Bradley was in the lineup and batting third.

On Friday, Bradley threw his helmet and one of the water coolers after a bad at-bat, and Piniella told the outfielder to go home. He left after the sixth inning. Piniella then followed Bradley into the clubhouse, and the two exchanged words. 

“I don’t want problems with players,” Piniella said Saturday. “I don’t want problems with anybody. This job is tough enough to have confrontations. It was only for a few seconds — it wasn’t long.”

What was also bothersome to Piniella and several of the Cubs players was that the comments the manager made were leaked.

“We have the sanctity of a clubhouse here,” PIniella said. “I’m disappointed that something like that gets out. There are a lot of heated things that are said in the clubhouse at times and they should stay there.”

Bradley spoke to a handful of reporters prior to Saturday’s game.

“The last time somebody called me a piece of [expletive], I tore my ACL,” Bradley said, referring to an incident when he was with the Padres and got into an argument with umpire Mike Winters. “I know how to deal with that.

“It’s Lou Piniella, you know what I’m saying?” Bradley said. “To me, Lou Piniella is somebody. If it’s a motivating tactic and he’s taking a different switch — people were saying he didn’t have fire — then I understand. I heed what he has to say. It matters. I take it to heart. I’ll be better for it.”

Bradley said he’d never had a manager tell him to leave a game. He tried to put the matter behind him.

“My head’s fine,” Bradley said. “I never had a problem mentally. Sometimes I react bad about things but I”m an extremely intelligent individual. I don’t see why my head wouldn’t be clear.”

Does he feel as if he’s being singled out?

“Like I’ve said, I don’t have the same set of rules as other people,” Bradley said. “I’ve made mistakes in my past, so you don’t get the leeway that other people might get. Considering the circumstances, I guess it’s fair.”

Piniella said he was worried someone could get hurt when Bradley — or anyone — hurls objects in the dugout.

“I’ve broken three or four helmets,” Bradley said. “It’s nothing drastic.”

Can he still have a relationship with Piniella?

“I don’t have a problem with Lou at all,” Bradley said. “It’s hard for me to get upset with a teammate. He’s the manager, he’s more than a teammate. Initially, I was just kind of shocked at how everything just happened suddenly.”

Bradley was surprised Piniella followed him into the clubhouse.

“He told me to get out of here, so I left,” Bradley said. “Then he continued to yell at me some more.”

Bradley signed a three-year, $30 million contract with the Cubs this past offseason, but has struggled at the plate, and was batting .237. He’s frustrated with his performance, and may lead the National League in helmets broken. Others on the Cubs have had fits — Carlos Zambrano took a bat to the Gatorade cooler at Wrigley Field and Ryan Dempster punched it with his left hand. On Friday, Carlos Marmol threw one of the Gatorade coolers, too.

But Bradley has topped them all in terms of repeat offenses. Piniella had enough.

“This has been going on for awhile,” Piniella said of Bradley’s tantrums. “I’ve talked to the other people, too. The first thing is you don’t want people getting hurt. I’ve talked to a couple other people here rather strongly about it. Yesterday, I was right in doing what I did. I probably should’ve just stay in the dugout. I heard him mumbling some things and I followed him up. I’m sorry it happened and I wish it hadn’t. That’s all I can say.”

— Carrie Muskat

Pedal pushers

Ted Lilly and Ryan Dempster got their cardio work done after Friday’s game against the White Sox by riding their bikes back to Wrigleyville from U.S. Cellular Field. The two pedaled along Chicago’s lakefront. Dempster probably drove Saturday — he’s starting for the Cubs in Game 2 of the crosstown rematch.

— Carrie Muskat


Jake Fox trivia

On Thursday against Detroit, rookie Jake Fox went 3-for-4 with a home run against the Tigers. On Friday, he had three hits and a home run in the Cubs’ victory over the White Sox. Over the last 40 years, only one other Cubs’ rookie has produced three hits and a home run in back to back games, and that was Ryne Sandberg in 1982. Thanks to Elias Sports Bureau for the info.

Fox has fallen a triple shy of hitting for the cycle in his last two games, and is batting .395.

— Carrie Muskat

Milton Bradley has left the building

Lou Piniella and Milton Bradley had an ugly confrontration in the clubhouse Friday, and the manager told the Cubs outfielder to leave U.S. Cellular Field before the game ended.

“I told him to take his uniform off,” Piniella said. “He threw his helmet and smashed the water cooler and there was water flying all over. I told him to take his uniform off and go home. I followed him up to the clubhouse and we exchanged some words. I don’t like when those things happen, but I was tired of watching it.”

Bradley had struck out in his first two at-bats, and then flew out to left in the sixth. He threw his helmet and tossed one of the Gatorade coolers. Then, Piniella yelled at him.

Cubs GM Jim Hendry said he would talk to Bradley.

“We’ll have a conversation, that’s for sure, before tomorrow and hopefully we’ll move forward and put some of our troubles behind us,” Hendry said.

Alfonso Soriano said he’d never seen a player and manager fight the way Piniella and Bradley did.

“I hope he comes back and he can help the team to win,” Soriano said of Bradley. “If he’s not that way, we don’t need him. We have 25 players, we have to be on the same page. If he’s not 100 percent to help the team to win, we don’t need him. If he’s 100 percent and he comes and wants to play, he’s more than welcome.”

— Carrie Muskat

6/26 Bradley update

Milton Bradley was pulled from Friday’s game after apparently exchanging some words with Lou Piniella in the dugout. Bradley was replaced in right field in the sixth by Ryan Freel. Bradley was called out on strikes in the first, struck out swinging in the fourth, and flew out to left in the sixth.

Piniella originally wanted to sit Bradley against White Sox starter Jose Contreras because of the switch-hitting outfielder’s struggles from the left side. He entered the game batting .205 against right-handed pitchers.

— Carrie Muskat

6/26 Geovany Soto

Geovany Soto’s revelation that he tested positive for marijuana during the World Baseball Classic surprised Lou Piniella, who didn’t know until a few days ago. Soto found out in early April but was waiting for the International Baseball Federation to make the announcement.

“If I had been aware, truthfully, I would’ve encouraged Geo to speak of this much much sooner to get it off his chest,” Piniella said. “I think it’s really a negative effect on his performance.

“I would’ve encouraged the player to come out and say, ‘Look, this is what’s going to come out, this is what’s happened, I’m embarrassed about it, it’s not going to happen again and I’m done with it.’ And that would’ve been the best approach as far as I’m concerned.”

The positive test does not affect Soto at all as far as Major League Baseball games.

Piniella admitted he “smoked dope one time in my life and it didn’t do a [darn] thing for me and I never tried it again.”

“I do know young people make mistakes at times, and they learn from their mistakes,” Piniella said. “I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life personally and I’ve learned from them.

“I read his comments, he knows what he did was wrong and it’s over with as far as I’m concerned.”

— Carrie Muskat

No. 1 pick Jackson signs

Brett Jackson, the Cubs’ No. 1 Draft pick, passed his physical and officially signed his contract on Friday. He was headed to Arizona to workout at the team’s facility there before joining Class A Boise.

An outfielder for the University of California Berkeley, Jackson signed a contract, reportedly worth $972,000. He was the 31st player taken overall. Jackson was ranked as the second-best overall athlete among all available college players in the 2009 draft class by Baseball America and named to the 2009 All-Pac 10 team after hitting .321 with eight homers, 17 doubles, 41 RBIs his junior season.

A left-handed hitter, Jackson opened the season with a career-high 18-game hitting streak, batting .408 with eight doubles, a triple, four home runs and 14 RBIs. He turned in a career-best effort May 12 against Sacramento State when he went 4-for-6 with a grand slam, three-run triple, and RBI single to total eight RBIs.

— Carrie Muskat

Bradley in lineup

Rather than give Milton Bradley a day off on Friday, the outfielder was in the Cubs’ lineup vs. the White Sox and Jose Contreras.

“I’ve got him in there today and hopefully he gets hot with the bat,” Lou Piniella said.

Bradley was 4-for-12 lifetime vs. Contreras with one homer and three RBIs. Instead, Ryan Theriot was given Friday off.

Hitting coach Von Joshua has spent a lot of time with Bradley, specifically on his swing from the left hand side. He’s batting .205 against right-handed pitchers, and .327 against lefties.

“Hopefully, he gets hot with the bat and starts swinging the way we expected him to,” Piniella said.

— Carrie Muskat

6/26 Lineup

Milton Bradley is back in the Cubs’ lineup for Friday’s game vs. the White Sox but Ryan Theriot is getting the day off. It’ll be LF Soriano, CF Fukudome, RF Bradley, 1B Lee, DH Hoffpauir, 3B Fox, 2B Fontenot, C Soto and SS Blanco.

— Carrie Muskat