June 2010

6/27 Early Sunday notes

The tarp is on the field at U.S. Cellular Field but it’s early …

* The Cubs have scored three or fewer runs in six of the last seven games, and been shutout three times in the last seven games. They’re batting .193 heading in the last five games into Sunday’s contest vs. White Sox.

* Aramis Ramirez’s homer Saturday ended a string of 30-consecutive innings without an extra-base hit. Ramirez now has 194 homers with the Cubs, ninth most in franchise history. Next up is Hank Sauer at 198.

* The Cubs bullpen has a 2.80 ERA in June and has lowered that mark every month. The relievers had a 4.80 ERA in April and 3.96 ERA in May.

* The Cubs have played 28 one-run games, most in the Majors. They are 11-17 in those games.

* When reliever Brian Schlitter makes his ML debut, he’ll be the ninth rookie to appear in a game this year for the Cubs. They used 14 in 2009 and 11 in 2008. The franchise record is 20, done in 1902.

* Looking ahead to the upcoming series vs. the Pirates, the rotation will be:

Monday: Randy Wells vs. Paul Maholm

Tuesday: Ted Lilly vs. Jeff Karstens

Wednesday: Tom Gorzelanny vs. Brad Lincoln

— Carrie Muskat

6/27 Minor matters

Brett Jackson went 3-for-3 with three doubles to help Daytona beat Dunedin, 8-6, on Saturday. Jackson now has an eight-game hitting streak, and is 15-for-30 in that stretch with six doubles, two triples, two homers and seven RBIs. DJ LeMahieu also was 3-for-3 with three RBIs. Mike Perconte picked up the win in relief.

Mitch Atkins gave up two runs on seven hits over seven innings in Iowa’s 13-2 romp over New Orleans. Brad Snyder, Marquez Smith and Jason Dubois each homered for the I-Cubs. Smith was 4-for-4 with three RBIs. Dubois leads the team with 11 homers. Darwin Barney, Snyder and Atkins each had two hits.

Robinson Chirinos had three hits to help Tennessee beat Carolina, 7-6. Hung-Wen Chen gave up six runs on nine hits over six innings but did not get a decision. He’s 8-5 with a 2.70 ERA. Jake Muyco earned the win in relief.

Su-Min Jung threw five scoreless innings in Peoria’s 5-0 loss to Cedar Rapids. The Chiefs totaled three hits.

Austin Kirk gave up five runs on six hits over three innings in Boise’s 9-1 loss to Eugene. Runey Davis hit a solo homer in the second.

— Carrie Muskat

6/26 Silva: "We stick together"

Carlos Silva said he got a different feel from the Cubs on Saturday.

“I felt like today this game was important, especially after what happened [Friday],” Silva said. “We wanted something good to happen and forget about everything.”

What happened Friday was Carlos Zambrano threw a fit in the dugout, upset after what he felt was poor defense. Silva and Zambrano are close, but Silva didn’t try to make excuses for his friend.

“As a pitcher, we make a lot of mistakes,” Silva said. “When we’re on the mound, we become a different person and sometimes we say stuff that we don’t want to say but he said it.

“Carlos is a very good friend of mine but this is my team, too,” Silva said. “If I’m going to have good success, a good year, I need my team. I need to give support to my team. That’s what I’m doing now. We’re a team and we stick together.”

Zambrano’s tirade was directed at everyone but first baseman Derrek Lee was the one who stepped up and defended his teammates and got into a shouting match with the pitcher.

“Derrek Lee is such a good guy — I respect that guy so much,” Silva said. “I don’t know what Carlos was trying to do yesterday, but I think it was the wrong time, the wrong guy and the wrong place, too. I don’t know what happened to him in the past but what happened yesterday was very hard for everybody.”

— Carrie Muskat

6/26 Good pitch, bad result

Paul Konerko’s leadoff homer in the eighth was the difference Saturday night as the White Sox won, 3-2, and took the intracity Interleague series. Konerko connected on a 1-2 pitch from rookie Andrew Cashner. The right-hander said Konerko was late on the 1-1 fastball, so he tried to sneak another one past him.

“The pitch before I was caught in between,” Konerko said. “He had thrown me a couple sliders and I didn’t  get off right on that pitch as far as getting ready so after he had thrown one by me, I threw all my chips in the middle and said, ‘He’ll probably come at it again and if he throws something else, go back to the dugout and let it fly. See it and let it fly.’ He doesn’t give you much time to react. He throws pretty hard.”

Cashner was pretty mad at himself.

“That’s the best stuff I’ve had all year,” he said. “That’s the best breaking ball, best changeup I’ve had, best fastball I’ve had.

“I threw him a fastball up,” Cashner said. “I left it up. He’s a good hitter. I left the ball up and he put a good swing on it.”

“This kid’s got a great arm,” White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said of the rookie. “The ball Konerko hit was 99 [mph]. I like the way he throws the ball.”

— Carrie Muskat

6/26 Dinner with Carlos

Carlos Zambrano had dinner Friday night with White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, who said the Cubs pitcher regretted his actions. However, the Cubs weren’t happy to hear that Big Z was out on the town.

“I’m disappointed in that from Carlos’ perspective,” assistant GM Randy Bush said. “Nothing against Ozzie. I would’ve thought with the events of yesterday that Carlos would’ve gone home, spent some time reflecting on what happened, thought about his career and his teammates and where he was at. I’m disappointed to hear he was out yukking it up at dinner.”

It didn’t appear that Zambrano was taking the incident very seriously. Guillen tweeted: “Having dinner whit carlos and his family. Great dinner a lot of fun and talk”

This isn’t Zambrano’s first run-in, and he’s always come back and apologized. This is his first suspension issued by the team.

“I don’t know if he’s taking it seriously or not,” Bush said. “I thought he would’ve gone home and thought about the events of the day and where his career was at and what his standing was with his teammates and the organization.”

Said Lou Piniella: “I would’ve hoped he would stayed private and reflected on this. That’s just my thought.”

— Carrie Muskat

6/26 Lou asks for feedback & gets it

Lou Piniella asked the players for feedback on his performance during a 15-minute closed door meeting on Saturday and they gave him some. Piniella called a meeting to follow up after Carlos Zambrano’s tantrum on Friday, which resulted in the pitcher being suspended indefinitely.

“Part of [the meeting] was to get their input,” Piniella said. “I told them if they wanted to criticize me as a manager, so be it and that’s the truth. I want what’s best for the organization.”

The only suggestion Piniella revealed was that the players would like to have the lineups posted a little earlier.

“It’s just to see who’s playing the next day,” Piniella said. “That’s basically the crux of it and I told them we could work on that and do that. The whole thing here is to stick together and play hard and be aggressive and take it to the other team.”

Dealing with outbursts in the dugout like Piniella did on Friday is difficult.

“A Major League manager has to handle different situations,” Piniella said. “That’s part of the job. The losing has been tough on me. Something like this [with Zambrano] shouldn’t happen, it shouldn’t happen. There’s really no excuse for it. These guys are trying. I know we’ve struggled, but they’re trying, believe me.”

— Carrie Muskat

6/26 Lineups (although you know by now)

Saturday’s game has started, but here’s Cubs lineup vs. Freddy Garcia:

RF Fukudome

CF Byrd

DH Lee

1B Nady

3B Ramirez

LF Soriano

SS Castro

C Soto

2B Theriot

— Carrie Muskat

6/26 Zambrano to 'pen on his return

When Carlos Zambrano returns to the Cubs, he will be assigned to the bullpen, not the rotation, Lou Piniella said Saturday. Tom Gorzelanny will take Zambrano’s place in the rotation. Is this a short or long term decision?

“It’s not short term, that’s for sure,” Piniella said.

Zambrano was suspended indefinitely after throwing a tantrum in the dugout on Friday, accusing his teammates of not playing well behind him. The Cubs sent a letter to Major League Baseball Friday night, asking for guidelines in the matter. They must play a man short because a suspended player cannot be replaced on the 25-man roster.

Will Zambrano come back?

“I would think at some point, yes,” Piniella said. “There’s some work that needs to be done.”

— Carrie Muskat

6/26 Minor matters

Casey Coleman gave up eight runs on nine hits over five innings in Iowa’s 10-7 loss to Omaha. Micah Hoffpauir, Welington Castillo and Jason Dubois each homered for the I-Cubs. Darwin Barney had two hits for his 27th multi-hit game.

Chris Carpenter took the loss in Tennessee’s 11-4 loss to Carolina. Carpenter gave up three runs on four hits over five innings. Josh Vitters and Tony Thomas both homered, with Vitters’ two-run shot coming in the eighth.

Brett Jackson extended his hitting streak to seven games but it wasn’t enough as Daytona lost 9-3 to Dunedin. Jackson is batting .444 (12-for-27) during the streak.

Ryan Searle gave up one run on six hits over five innings in Peoria’s 4-2 win over Cedar Rapids. Hak-Ju Lee recorded his 22nd multi-hit game and had two RBIs.

Boise lost 9-1 to Salem-Keizer, committing four errors. Joseph Zeller took the loss, giving up four runs on 1 2/3 innings.

Sergio Burruel extended his hitting streak to four games in Mesa’s 7-6 loss to the Giants.

— Carrie Muskat

6/26 Repercussions – update

Carlos Zambrano didn’t just offend his teammates with his tirade on Friday. Expect a roster move on Saturday. The Cubs need to add a fresh arm to the bullpen and Jeff Stevens most likely is headed to Triple-A Iowa to make room. The day off last Monday and complete game by Ryan Dempster on Tuesday helped. But Thursday’s game went 13 innings and on Friday, the Cubs used four pitchers after Zambrano was pulled after one inning because of his outburst.

— Carrie Muskat