September 2009

9/30 Lineup for Game 2

No Aramis Ramirez in Game 2 for the Cubs vs. Pirates. Here’s the lineup:

CF Fuld

SS Theriot

1B Lee

LF Hoffpauir

3B Baker

RF Johnson

2B Fontenot

C Hill

P Zambrano

– Carrie Muskat

9/30 Lee to play in Game 2

Derrek Lee says he’ll start in the second game of the Cubs’ doubleheader Wednesday night against the Pirates. Lee went for X-rays on his foot after he fouled a ball off it Tuesday.

Aramis Ramirez remained questionable. He’s been bothered by discomfort in his left shoulder. Is Ramirez done for the year?

“I’m not going to say that, but we’ll see,” Lou Piniella said.

Koyie Hill will be behind the plate for Game 2. Piniella planned on taking advantage of the break time between games to do a crossword puzzle and turn in his expense report. He also has to put together a lineup with healthy players

“We’ve got a lot of people banged up here,” Piniella said.

– Carrie Muskat

9/30 3 million and counting

The Cubs topped 3 million fans at home for the sixth straight season on Wednesday. The announced crowd of 34,362 for Game 1 of the doubleheader against the Pirates pushed them over the mark. The Cubs are one of five Major League franchises to top 3 million every year since 2004 (Angels, Cardinals, Dodgers, Yankees). Through 76 home games, the Cubs have played in front of 3,023,482 with five games remaining.

– Carrie Muskat

9/30 Fuld: .302, 26 hits, 0 RBIs

When Tyler Colvin made his Major League debut on Sept. 21, he got his first RBI in his first at-bat with a sacrifice fly. Bobby Scales waited 10-plus years in the Minors to be called up, but got his first RBI in his 14th at-bat when he delivered a pinch-hit home run in the seventh on May 12.

Sam Fuld is still waiting.

The Cubs outfielder entered Wednesday’s doubleheader against the Pirates without a RBI in 86 at-bats over 61 games.

“It’s like a no-hitter,” Scales said. “We don’t talk about it.”

Fuld has gotten his share of razzing by his teammates.

“I’ve never had any problem driving guys in,” said Fuld, who had 33 RBIs at Triple-A Iowa this year. “I’ve never really thought about it, especially as a top of the order guy. You look more towards how many runs you score rather than RBI.

“Every time I see my name up there on the scoreboard, it hurts,” he said. “You cringe a little. It’s gotten to the point where I think about it too much. Maybe I’m pressing too much. You’d think something would happen. I’ve gotten a few hits with runners in scoring position. They’ve either held them at third, or it’s been really odd.”

It’s not that Fuld isn’t hitting. He’s batting .302. He’s scored 16 runs.

“It’s not in his job description,” Scales said of the lack of RBIs. “He’ll get his share. He’s too good of a player.”

Maybe Fuld needs to slip third base coach Mike Quade a few dollars to wave the runners in when he gets a hit.

“It’s pretty impressive,” Fuld said, able to laugh about it. “Tyler got up there and didn’t have an official at-bat and he got an RBI.”

According to research by STATS Inc., Fuld has the most career at-bats (92) without an RBI among Major League players from 1920 to this year. Doug Saunders is a distant second. He played 28 games for the New York Mets in 1993 and totaled 67 at-bats but no RBIs. That was his only season in the big leagues. Third is Eric Reed, who totaled 61 at-bats in 60 games from 2006-07 with the Florida Marlins and failed to drive in a run.

“I’m trying to set a Major League record with most runs scored without an RBI,” Fuld said, jokingly. “It’s one of those crazy stats.”

He wasn’t in the starting lineup for Game 1 Wednesday against the Pirates. Maybe he’ll start in the second game.

“I like my chances,” Fuld said. “I’m confident it’s going to happen. It’s just a matter of time. I don’t want to think about it all offseason.”

– Carrie Muskat

9/30 Lineup – Game 1

OK, let’s play two. Aramis Ramirez and Derrek Lee both are out of the lineup for the first game of the Cubs’ doublheader vs. the Pirates:

SS Theriot

CF Fukudome

3B Baker

1B Hoffpauir

LF Fox

RF Scales

C Soto

2B Blanco

P Lilly

– Carrie Muskat

9/29 Lou takes a stand

Lou Piniella took offense to a column in the Chicago Sun-Times on Tuesday which said he was “disinterested” and suggested the new ownership group should remove him as the Cubs manager.

“I’ve been in it from the first day I’ve been here to the last day I leave here,” Piniella said. “I take pride in the team winning and playing well to please our fan base, which to me is the best in baseball. We work exceedingly hard here as a staff. If you want to stick around and be here until 1 o’clock, 1:30 in the morning when the parking lot is closed, and we’re having meetings on how we can get the team better, you’ll see we’re very interested and have a lot of pride.”

The column described Piniella as “tired, cranky and disinterested.” Not true, Lou said.

“I take exception to that,” he said. “I can take criticism, believe me. invariably in this business here, you’re going to have to be able to take criticism and you’re going to have to have a thick skin. But at the same time, at least be correct in your assumptions.”

Piniella is one win away from becoming the first manager since Charlie Grimm in 1933-37 to have winning seasons in his first three years as the Cubs skipper.

– Carrie Muskat

9/29 Lineup

Aramis Ramirez was given Tuesday off because of discomfort in his left shoulder, and it was unclear whether he’ll play again this season. Derrek Lee did return to the lineup after missing three games because of neck spasms.

SS Theriot

RF Fukudome

1B Lee

LF Hoffpauir

3B Baker

2B Fontenot

C Soto

CF Fuld

P Dempster

– Carrie Muskat

9/29 Gregg shutdown for season

Cubs pitcher Kevin Gregg lost his argument with Lou Piniella and the medical staff, and will be shutdown for the rest of the season because of a crack in his rib cartilage. Gregg appeared in 72 games in his first season with the Cubs and the right-hander totaled 23 saves.

“They pay me to be ready for 162 [games],” Gregg said Tuesday. “I want to pitch, I want to go out there. Even if you’re not 100 percent, you still want to give it a chance.”

Gregg had an MRI on Monday, which revealed the crack.

“I thought I could deal with it, could pitch,” Gregg said. “They want to make sure nothing else comes out of this.”

A free agent after this season, Gregg may be looking for a new team in 2010. Piniella has already tabbed Carlos Marmol as the Cubs closer next year.

– Carrie Muskat

9/29 A little trivia

Remember the last time the Cubs and Pirates played a doubleheader at Wrigley? It was Sept. 27, 2003, and Chicago swept the twinbill. Mark Prior and Matt Clement were the winning pitchers and the wins, plus the Astros’ loss to the Brewers that day, helped the Cubs clinch their first division title since 1989.

– Carrie Muskat

9/29 Sing along

Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins was scheduled to lead the crowd in the seventh inning stretch at Wrigley Field Tuesday night. Cubs TV broadcaster Len Kasper will sing for the first game of Wednesday’s doubleheader, followed by Wayne Messmer in the night cap. Bob Brenly will do his best rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” on Thursday, followed by Ron Santo on Friday, Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg on Saturday, and the Wrigley groundscrew on Sunday.

– Carrie Muskat

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