June 2010

6/28 Zambrano & Cubs

There may be some resolution Monday regarding the Cubs and Carlos Zambrano’s suspension, issued after Friday’s tantrum. GM Jim Hendry has talked to Zambrano’s agent as well as Major League Baseball officials regarding guidelines for the suspension. More later.

— Carrie Muskat

6/28 Some Cubs-White Sox trivia

On Sunday, the Cubs ended the White Sox’s 11-game winning streak. It was the Sox’s first setback since Ted Lilly and the Cubs beat them on June 13. The White Sox’s 11-game winning streak was the longest in the Majors bookended by losses to the same opponent since 1948 when the Red Sox won 13 straight between losses to the Tigers.

— Carrie Muskat

6/28 Minor matters

Brett Jackson didn’t waste any time. Jackson homered in his first game with Double-A Tennessee on Sunday, going 2-for-5 in the Smokies’ 10-3 loss to Carolina.

Jay Jackson, no relation to Brett, gave up two runs on six hits over six innings in Triple-A Iowa’s 9-2 win over New Orleans. Jackson struck out five. Welington Castillo hit his ninth homer and Micah Hoffpauir went 4-for-4 with a team-high four RBIs. Brad Snyder had three hits and Darwin Barney and Marquez Smith each had two hits.

Chris Archer gave up one run, unearned, on five hits over six innings and struck out six in Daytona’s 15-7 win over Brevard County. Archer is 7-1 with a 2.86 ERA. DJ LeMahieu had three hits, including his first homer. Michael Brenly had three hits and three RBIs.

Rob Whitenack gave up five runs, four earned, on seven hits over five innings in Peoria’s 5-4 loss to Cedar Rapids. Mario Mercedes had four hits.

Arismendy Alcantara hit a solo homer in Boise’s 5-1 win over Eugene. Brandon May had two hits, including a double, and one RBI.

Casey Lambert gave up one run on three hits over two innings in Mesa’s 5-1 win over the Athletics.

— Carrie Muskat

6/27 Colvin has 1st four-RBI game

Sunday was rookie Tyler Colvin’s first career four RBIs game. He had three hits, including a three-run homer and a RBI single.

“He hangs in there well,” Lou Piniella said of the outfielder. “Once Colvin gets a good recognition of the strike zone, the ball jumps off his bat very well and he hangs in there against left-hand pitching very well.

“Does it surprise me? No,” Piniella said. “He’s got good bat speed, the ball jumps off his bat. He’s a confident kid. He believes he can get it done and that’s a big ingredient for young kids.”

Big hits have been tough to come by. Colvin was the last Cubs player to hit a three-run homer, doing so June 18 against the Angels. Before that, you have to go back to May 7 when Castro hit a three-run blast in his first at-bat and Mike Fontenot hit a grand slam in the eighth.

“I’ve tried to stay the same the whole time and not change anything,” said Colvin, who only had two hits in his last 17 at-bats coming into Sunday’s game.

The rookie now is batting .308 with 26 RBIs in his last 48 games. He has noticed a change in pitchers’ approach as they try to determine what he’ll chase.

“I haven’t been missing many pitches against [left-handers],” he said. “I don’t know why.”

“The better he does, the more he’ll play,” Piniella said. “We need offense and whoever is swinging the bat, gets in the lineup.”

— Carrie Muskat

6/27 Ramirez: "You have to move on"

Forget about the Carlos Zambrano incident. The Cubs players are trying to.

“It’s not because of the Zambrano incident that we won today,” Aramis Ramirez said after an 8-6 win over the White Sox. “We’re not going to get hot because of it. No team wants to go through that. You don’t want teammates going after each other, especially in the dugout in front of everybody, the TV and fans. It’s unfortunate but you have to move on.”

The Cubs now are 1-1 since Zambrano’s dugout flareup on Friday but players credit a closed-door meeting Saturday with getting them back on track. Alfonso Soriano said he tried to call Zambrano Saturday night but discovered he had an old phone number.

“He knows what he has to do and I think he’s smart,” Soriano said. “Whatever he did on Friday was because of the emotion of the game. He did it at the wrong time.”

Can the Cubs forgive and forget? Zambrano accused his teammates of not playing well behind him during his rant.

“I have a pretty short term memory,” Ryan Dempster said. “I can’t remember what pitch I threw in the seventh inning.”

Zambrano shouldn’t expect players to welcome him as if nothing had happened.

“We’ll handle that when he comes back,” Dempster said. “Right now, we’re just worried about trying to win a ballgame.”

A pregame meeting Saturday in which players spoke up has helped the Cubs bond.

“The meeting we had yesterday made everybody have more energy,” Soriano said. “The meeting woke up a lot of people on this team. I think some people felt a little down but that meeting gave everybody more motivation and more belief in themselves in the clubhouse.

“Whatever happened on Friday is part of the game,” he said. “We don’t talk about it. We put this team in the front.”

— Carrie Muskat

6/27 Hendry on Z's contract

What happens next regarding Carlos Zambrano isn’t clear. What is certain is the Cubs still owe the right-hander about $45 million from the five-year, $91.5 million deal they gave him prior to the 2008 season. Zambrano did go 14-6 in 2008. But he won nine games last season and was 3-6 with a 5.66 ERA this season.

“There was nothing wrong with the investment,” GM Jim Hendry said Sunday about the contract. “This guy was an outstanding pitcher in the National League, in the game, for the four, five years before that. There was no question that the deal was a solid one in the industry. He certainly would have been one of the hotter tickets on the street if that thing went to the end of the season.

“This guy pitched a lot of innings, won a lot of games, lived in the shadow of [Kerry Wood] and [Mark] Prior for a couple of years. Really, over the body of work, pitched as well as anybody in the National League for a three, four year period. He certainly pitched well enough to earn that contract whether it’s here or somewhere else.”

Hendry would not comment as to whether the Cubs are trying to deal Zambrano following his outburst Friday.

— Carrie Muskat

6/27 Jackson, Wright, Dolis, McNutt promoted

The Cubs promoted four of their Minor Leaguers on Sunday, including outfielder Brett Jackson, the team’s 2009 No. 1 Draft pick, from Class A Daytona to Double-A Tennessee.
Jackson, who will play for the U.S. Team in the All-Star Futures Game, was batting .316 in 67 games with 19 doubles, eight triples, six homers and 38 RBIs.

Also promoted on from Daytona to Tennessee was right-hander pitcher Rafael Dolis, who was 4-5 with a 2.92 ERA in 14 games (13 starts). He has struck out 48 over 71 innings.

Trey McNutt, a right-handed pitcher who is 6-0 with a 1.51 ERA in 13 starts, was moved up from Class A Peoria to Daytona. McNutt has struck out 70 over 59 2/3 innings. In his last start June 16 against Burlington, he gave up one run over five scoreless innings.

Ty Wright, who has 51 RBIs in 73 games, also was promoted, moving up from Tennessee to Triple-A Iowa. He was batting .289 with 21 doubles and 10 homers.

— Carrie Muskat

6/27 Derrek Lee update

Derrek Lee said his back problem was a “non-issue” and apparently was caused by the long flight between Chicago and Seattle.

“It’s a little tight from that airplane trip [to Seattle], a four-hour trip,” Lou Piniella said. “We’re utilizing the [designated hitter] spot to give him a little bit of a breather. After today, you’ve got to play on the field. We’ll ‘DH’ him today and see how he feels tomorrow.”

Said Lee: “I’m fine. I have a little stiffness the last couple days. I’ll take the opportunity to DH and get off the field.”

— Carrie Muskat

6/27 Zambrano update

Neither manager Lou Piniella nor GM Jim Hendry has heard from Carlos Zambrano since Friday’s incident at U.S. Cellular Field. The Cubs were still waiting for word from Major League Baseball regarding guidelines for the team-issued suspension following Zambrano’s dugout tantrum.

“I think until something gets rectified, I think probably the less conversation the better,” Piniella said Sunday.

Hendry said he has talked to Zambrano’s agent, Barry Praver, a few times since the tirade. The Cubs will play with a 24-man roster until the situation is settled.

The next step will be how Zambrano settles matters with his teammates after accusing them of not playing behind him.

“He’ll have some issues to deal with [regarding] his teammates,” Hendry said.

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen gave Zambrano some advice.

“Ozzie’s a good counselor,” Piniella said. “He’s from [Zambrano’s] country. About the only thing I wouldn’t want Ozzie counseling me on is my finances.”

Piniella was joking about Guillen’s role as a financial consultant.

The Cubs were still peeved about Zambrano having dinner with Guillen after Friday’s game. Piniella passed on being with his daughter because he was upset about the incident.

“I hadn’t seen my daughter since I left for Spring Training,” Piniella said. “That was mid February. She got in Friday night from Tampa and I got home to my apartment and my wife and daughter wanted me to go eat dinner with them. I was sick from what happened and I was very tired and embarrassed. They both went out and ate by themselves. I stayed home. That’s all I have to say about that situation.”

— Carrie Muskat


6/27 Lineup & Lee update

The Cubs took advantage of the DH situation and inserted Derrek Lee there. He’s been bothered by some stiffness in his back, aggravated on the team’s recent trip to Seattle. Here’s the lineup:

RF Colvin

CF Byrd

DH Lee

1B Nady

3B Ramirez

LF Soriano

C Soto

2B Baker

SS Castro

— Carrie Muskat