June 2009

6/20 DeRosa scratched

Indians outfielder Mark DeRosa was scratched from Saturday’s lineup because of a bruised left hip suffered when he crashed into a metal phone box along the left field wall in Friday’s game. DeRosa was chasing a foul pop up by Cubs pitcher Rich Harden in the third inning when he collided with the wall.

DeRosa did take batting practice on Saturday, and was in the original lineup. He was scratched after BP.

— Carrie Muskat

6/20 Lineup

Mike Fontenot is back at third base and Kosuke Fukudome in center against right-hander Tomo Ohka and Geovany Soto is getting the day off. The Cubs lineup will be LF Soriano, SS Theriot, RF Bradley, 1B Lee, 3B Fontenot, CF Fukudome, C Hill, 2B Blanco and P Lilly.

— Carrie Muskat 

A day in the Minors



Double-A Tennessee manager Ryne Sandberg discusses a call with an umpire Friday night. In the background is Smokies outfielder Tyler Colvin.

A day at the movies

If you go see the new Johnny Depp movie “Public Enemies,” keep an eye out for one of the Dillinger squad members who gives an update on the Cubs’ game. It’s Keith Schram, who is the press box usher at Wrigley Field. He’s asked the score, and his line is: “Cubs 3-2, top of the seventh.” The scene took 25 takes, but knowing Keith, he’s patient enough to handle that..

— Carrie Muskat

First pitch

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 2:45 p.m. CT

— Carrie Muskat

Welcome back

It was a little weird driving to Wrigley Field Friday morning for Kerry Wood and wife Sarah. They’ve made the trip for 10 years, but now he’s a member of the Cleveland Indians, not the Cubs.

“I was fortunate enough to play in this city for 10 years,” Wood said. “It’s a big part of my career, it’s a majority of my career, but I don’t think my career is over.”

Now, he’s the closer for the Indians and former Cub Mark DeRosa is starting in left field for the Tribe. Both met with the Chicago media near the visitor’s clubhouse. What does DeRosa miss most about being with the Cubs?

“It’s a special place to play, the fans are special,” DeRosa said. “I haven’t been anywhere else that even comes close. To me, it was a huge let down to be moved. I cherished the time I was there and have moved on and I’m fine and comfortable being a Cleveland Indian.”

Wood did stop by the home clubhouse to say hello to his former teammates and the staff. He filed for free agency after the 2008 season and signed with the Indians. Was it disappointing the Cubs didn’t try to keep him?

“I didn’t expect it,” Wood said. “I understood where the team was at and the moves they needed to make to get some left-handed bats. I saw this coming before the All-Star break.”

What does he miss most?

“The atmosphere,” Wood said. “My [Cleveland] teammates now are going to come in and get to play in the best atmosphere you can find which is a weekend series at Wrigley.”

DeRosa had three hits off Ted Lilly in a Spring Training game. On Saturday, they’ll face off again.

“I hope it’s like Spring Training,” DeRosa said. “I’m excited about it, but at the same time, I don’t want it to take place. You never want to face your buddy because deep down you’re going to have to go to dinner with him after it. We’ll compete, we’ll go at it. He’s a fiery guy when he steps across the white lines, too. I’m here to help my team win.”

— Carrie Muskat

Hot corner

The Cubs want to get Jake Fox’s bat in the lineup, so the rookie was penciled in to start at third base for Friday’s series opener against the Cleveland Indians.

“The young man swings the bat,” Lou Piniella said. “We’ve got to find a place for him. We’re going to put him at third base against left-handed pitching and see what he does.

“He deserves a chance to play somewhere,” Piniella said. “He’s swung the bat as well as or better than anybody in our organization, top to bottom. He’s been getting work over there. We’ll give him a chance and see how it goes.”

Fox has definitely been working at third with coaches Alan Trammell and Ivan DeJesus.

“I don’t have a lot of experience there but I’m pretty excited because it’s a new place for me,” Fox said. “I don’t think it’s any different than anywhere else — catch the ball and throw it where it needs to go.”

Third is really the only opening in the lineup until Aramis Ramirez returns.

“It’s been like tryouts every day,” Fox said of his workouts. “‘Tram’ and Ivan have had me out there at least an hour, hour and a half, taking ground balls, getting every look you can possibly see. I’ve been improving a lot. I’m not where I need to be, but I think I’m where I need to be in order to play and hopefully bring another at-bat in the lineup.”

Fox was leading the Pacific Coast League in home runs, average and RBIs, and was hitting .357 so far for the Cubs. He did make one start and that was in right field. When the Cubs play in American League ballparks for Interleague games next week, Fox and Micah Hoffpauir should get more at-bats, either as the designated hitter or in the field.

“I think both of them deserve an opportunity,” Piniella said. “I originally thought we could use the DH spot to rest a regular or two from time to time. We might be able to do that.”

Which means Fox or Hoffpauir could start at first base to give Derrek Lee a break, or one of them could be in the outfield to give Milton Bradley a rest.

Fox was happy to see his name in the lineup.

“I’ve been hoping to get a chance to get in there to play and they told me yesterday after the game I’d be in there,” Fox said. “Hopefully, I can put together a few good at-bats and play solid defense and we’ll see what happens.”

He has had success with hitting coach Von Joshua, who was at Iowa with Fox this season.

“He’s very laid back,” Fox said. “He always has a smile on his face. He preaches, ‘Keep your approach, look for that first pitch you can drive and drive it.’ You don’t have to over-think it, you don’t have to over-analyze it. Just put your best swing on the pitch and hope for the best.”

— Carrie Muskat

6/19 Lineup

Jake Fox is in the starting lineup at third base for the Cubs. It’ll be LF Soriano, SS Theriot, RF Bradley, 1B Lee, C Soto, 3B Fox, CF Johnson, 2B Blanco and P Harden.

“The young man swings the bat and we have to find a place for him,” Lou Piniella said of Fox, who has made one start this season and that was in right field.

And Mark DeRosa is in the Indians lineup, batting second and starting in left field.

— Carrie Muskat

The tarp's on the field …

… but there is a window this afternoon. Bring a poncho if you’re coming to Wrigley for Indians @ Cubs.

— Carrie Muskat

6/18 Quick hits

Von Joshua may be having a good effect already. The Cubs new hitting coach has been stressing to players to hit the ball to the opposite field. Alfonso Soriano did just that with his walkoff RBI single in the ninth Thursday and Derrek Lee’s three-run homer in the eighth also was to right. Lou Piniella said hitters are trying to stay with the ball a little longer, make better contact. Soriano didn’t blame former coach Gerald Perry for his problems at the plate.

“Whatever happened to me is not because of the hitting coach,” said Soriano, who was batting .141 in 23 games prior to Thursday. “Every player has a tough time in this game. I’ve been working with [Joshua] and I think he wants to help me a lot. I have confidence in him.”

* Reed Johnson got things started in the ninth with his pinch-hit leadoff single. He didn’t see Soriano’s hit. Johnson had his head down and was running hard.

“It was an awkward high five at home plate,” Johnson said. “I was going pretty fast and [Ryan] Theriot wouldn’t get out of my way. I didn’t even hear the crowd roar until I got like two or three steps around. I was just listening to see if the ball had fallen or not. I got my head down and I was running on the swing.”

The six runs by the Cubs in the 6-5 win over the White Sox were the most since they scored seven on June 9.

“If it was another 2-1 or 1-0 victory, it’d be different,” Johnson said. “We’d be thinking, well, our offense hasn’t showed up. We showed up today. It took us a while but we were able to get some runs off some really tough pitchers in [Scott] Linebrink and [Matt] Thornton. I think we did a pretty good job late in the game.”

It was the Cubs’ 13th come from behind win and ninth win in their last at-bat.

* Carlos Zambrano did not get a decision but did notch his eighth quality start. He gave up six hits, walked three and struck out three over seven innings.

“How can you fault a pitcher for giving you seven good innings of work?” Lou Piniella said.

The Cubs need to pick it up.

“It’s almost the middle of the season and we need to start turning our engine on and start playing better,” Zambrano said.

* Geovany Soto stole the first base of his career in the fourth. His only other attempt was Sept. 20, 2008, against St. Louis.

— Carrie Muskat