April 2010

4/25 Fan incident at Miller Park – update

Ryan Theriot didn’t see the fan who fell onto the field at Miller Park during batting practice Sunday but did see dirt flying up from the ground where he hit. The fan, dressed in Cubs gear, was trying to catch a ball during batting practice and reached over the railing. He fell about 14 feet, near the left field foul pole.

“I was very shaken up,” Theriot said. “I’m looking around the stadium and thinking there has to be something to prevent that. That’s just, wow. I guess it could happen to anybody going for a ball. It was very scary.”

The fan was taken to a Milwaukee hospital.

“We’re praying for him and hopefully he’ll be fine,” Theriot said.

— Carrie Muskat

4/25 Hit parade

Here’s some tidbits from Sunday’s 12-2 win over the Brewers:

* The four home runs and 18 hits were both season highs.

“Everybody chipped in,” Lou Piniella said.

* Every Cubs starter had a hit — including pitcher Randy Wells — and three players had at least three hits. Ryan Theriot led the charge with five hits, which tied a career-high. He also had five hits Aug. 30, 2006, at Pittsburgh.

“I’m trying to talk Lou into letting me hit fourth,” Theriot said. “I like to hit first, it gives me more at-bats and I can do more things. Wherever I hit, it’s the same thing — try to get on base and score more runs.”

* The consensus was that Derrek Lee’s two-run homer in the fourth was the longest of the four. It landed in left-center in the Harley-Davidson seats.

“I thought he was going to win a Harley,” Theriot said. “I was trying to talk him into giving it to me if he did.”

— Carrie Muskat


4/25 Wells & Theriot benefit Aug. 4

Randy Wells and Ryan Theriot combined on Sunday to help the Cubs romp over the Brewers, and they’ve joined forces to host the Red Dirt Bash on Aug. 4 to benefit Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago. The concert will feature Brandon Jenkins, Randy Rogers and Stoney LaRue, and be held at Joe’s Bar on Weed Street. As Wells likes to say, tell your friends, tell your family — be there.

— Carrie Muskat

4/25 Thinking outside the box

Lou Piniella has had to be creative since coming to the Cubs. Moving Carlos Zambrano from the rotation to the bullpen is his latest experiment.

“What are we supposed to do? Put the burden every day on four young kids?” Piniella said. “Is it fair to them? Is it fair to us? I’m trying to win baseball games here. The new owner wants to win baseball games here. You’ve seen what happens here the first two weeks of the season and that wasn’t going to change overnight.”

What happened the first two weeks is the Cubs struggled to score runs and the young pitchers found themselves entering games without any room for error. Nine of the first 12 games were decided by two runs or less. This season, the Cubs have been outscored 20-12 in the eighth inning.

Angel Guzman and Esmailin Caridad, both expected to be key contributors in the pen, are  on the DL. James Russell, Justin Berg, Jeff Samardzija and Jeff Gray have been asked to grow up quickly.

“You have to bring young pitchers along the right way,” Piniella said. “You throw them into the fire and they don’t respond the right way, you’ll get more adversity than success. I like these kids who are here — I’ve said that coming out of Spring Training. But not in a 2-2 ballgame in the eighth inning or a 2-1 ballgame in the eighth inning. It’s not going to work.

“It could work six weeks from now if they’re brought along the right way,” he said. “Right now, it’s expecting too much. It’s like bringing a kid up from the Minor Leagues and having him hit fourth and bringing up another kid and having him hit fifth. You’re not going to get the consistency that those positions demand.”

Piniella has one goal.

“I’m trying to win baseball games, that’s all I’m trying to do,” Piniella said. “My job description is to win baseball games, as many as I can, and at the same time to do what’s best for the baseball team. That’s all I’m doing and that’s all I’m trying to do. You better be able ot think outside of the box.”

Zambrano and Alfonso Soriano are the two highest paid players on the Cubs’ payroll. But Piniella isn’t making decisions based on their salaries.

“They’re high-paid players who have had a lot of success and I recognize that,” Piniella said. “But the payroll of the team doesn’t change one way or another if you use them one way or another. The payroll stays the same. They should pay the manager more for doing these things.”

Was Piniella asking for a raise?

“Yeah, I want a raise,” he said, laughing. “I said that jokingly, obviously.”

— Carrie Muskat

4/25 Cubs lineup & Byrd

The Cubs’ lineup for Sunday’s game includes rookie Tyler Colvin in center field. Marlon Byrd has been the hottest hitter lately but Lou Piniella promised to give players a breather now and then.

“We said we’d rotate our outfielders a little bit and that’s what we’re doing,” Piniella said. “This is like two days off because you play Saturday and you play Monday night. I think it’s making our outfield a whole lot better. I said we’d give everybody an opportunity and some at-bats and playing time and that’s what we’re doing.”

Byrd has four straight multi-hit games and all but two of his team-high 14 RBIs have come with two outs. Piniella told the center fielder Saturday night about sitting.

“He said, ‘You know, I feel pretty good,'” Piniella said. “I said, ‘I know that.’ It’s good that players like to play. I want players who want to play every day as opposed to guys who are happy that they’re not playing.”

Here’s the lineup:

SS Theriot

RF Fukudome

1B Lee

3B Ramirez

CF Colvin

LF Soriano

2B Fontenot

C Soto

P Wells

— Carrie Muskat 


4/25 Zambrano to go every other day

Don’t expect to see Carlos Zambrano come out of the bullpen on Sunday. Lou Piniella said he wants to give the right-hander three or four appearances before he uses him back to back in his new job as set-up pitcher. Big Z could be back in action Monday night when the Cubs play host to the Nationals at Wrigley Field.

Zambrano was sharp in his debut Saturday night, giving up one run in 1 1/3 innings of relief.

“I’ve said I’m appreciative that he’s doing this for us,” Piniella said. “It’s best for our baseball team. As long as he goes out there and gives us the best effort, that’s all we can expect.”

— Carrie Muskat


4/25 Fan falls onto field at Miller Park

A young man fell about 14 feet from the stands onto the field in the left field corner at Miller Park during the Cubs’ batting practice on Sunday. Cubs athletic trainers Mark O’Neal and Ed Halbur rushed over to help, along with several of the players, including Sean Marshall, Tom Gorzelanny and Carlos Silva. The fan, believed to be in his 20s, was conscious when he was taken off the field in a medical cart. According to witnesses, the fan was reaching over the railing to try and catch a ball during BP and tumbled over the fence.

— Carrie Muskat

4/25 Minor matters

Only one of the Cubs’ Minor League teams got to play Saturday night because of the rain — and it was quite a game. Dae-Eun Rhee gave up one hit over six innings in Daytona’s 1-0 win over Brevard County. Nelson Perez hit a third inning solo homer for all the offense.

Other Minor League news:

* Tennessee placed Jeremy Papelbon on the DL because of a tender elbow.

* Russ Canzler is now the fourth catcher on the Tennessee roster. He’s started at first, third and right field so far and will add catching to his resume. This spring, the Cubs talked to Canzler about switching positions and he played a few innings behind the plate in Mesa.

* The Class A Peoria Chiefs have to miss Ted Lilly. He treated the players to steak and lobster tails after his rehab outing last Monday.

— Carrie Muskat


4/25 Zambrano: "I feel good"

Carlos Zambrano chose not to talk after Saturday’s game, which was his first appearance as a relief pitcher since 2002. We’re hoping he chats on Sunday. Big Z did say, “I feel good. That’s it.” Guess he’ll let his pitching do the talking.

“It’s unbelievable that him being the stature that he is says, ‘Hey, whatever for the team,'” Marlon Byrd said. “You have to absolutely love that. It’s a team — 25 men. We go out there together.”

Zambrano had made 241 starts since his last relief appearance on June 28, 2002, including throwing a no-hitter at Miller Park on Sept. 14, 2008, against the Houston Astros in a game relocated because of a hurricane. This was the ninth time in his career that he has thrown 1 1/3 or more innings of relief. His career-high is 2 1/3 innings, Aug. 20, 2002, against Cincinnati.

“Having a guy like that coming in the eighth inning, knowing you’ve got [Carlos] Marmol next, that’s great for the team,” Aramis Ramirez said. “Every winning team has to have that in the pen to be a championship caliber team.”

It doesn’t hurt that the new set-up man also can hit. He came through with a sacrifice fly in the eighth.

“I think he enjoyed that,” Cubs manager Lou Piniella said of the at-bat.

— Carrie Muskat

4/25 Ramirez: "I have to do the job"

Aramis Ramirez ended an 0-for-21 skid with a bloop RBI single in the sixth inning Saturday night but says he still has a lot of work to do. Ramirez was back in the starting lineup after missing two games to work with hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo. He went 1-for-4 in the Cubs’ 5-1 win over the Brewers, and is batting a very un-Ramirez like .134.

“Rudy’s good,” Ramirez said, “but I’m the one who has to do the job out there. I used to be a good hitter and now I can’t hit.”

He was kidding, folks. Often a bloop single like the one Ramirez got can help a hitter get out of a slump.

“I only went 1-for-4 but I felt a lot better,” Ramirez said. “I think I made good swings. I didn’t swing and miss much tonight — I didn’t used to do that until this season. I’m working on it.”

Marlon Byrd wasn’t too worried about Ramirez.

“He’ll get his .300, 30 [home runs], 100 [RBIs] at the end of the season,” Byrd said. “Nobody’s worried about him. That’s going to be one of many for him.”

— Carrie Muskat