July 2010

7/26 Geo Soto update

Geovany Soto is day to day after fouling a ball off his left foot in the third inning Monday night.
Soto had another at-bat in the sixth and was then lifted on defense in the Cubs’ 5-2 win over the Astros. He tried to stay in the game but his foot stiffened up and the Cubs athletic trainers decided treatment was a better option. The ball hit him in the arch of his foot.

What about Tuesday?

“Let’s see,” Soto said. “It’s not the bone, it’s not a major thing. It’s in a tough area. If I’m putting some weight on it now after ice, it’s not a big thing.”

Lou Piniella said he felt Soto would definitely be available Friday when the team opens a weekend series in Colorado. Soto was hitting .286 and delivered a two-run double in the second Monday.

— Carrie Muskat

7/26 Cashner feeling better

Cubs reliever Andrew Cashner rejoined the team after staying home Sunday to rest and get treatment for a sore throat. Cashner, who received antibiotics, flew separately to Houston on Monday on a commercial flight. He entered the game in the seventh with two outs and two on and got Carlos Lee to hit into a fielder’s choice.

Cashner is one of four rookies in the Cubs bullpen.

“It’s not easy to have a young bullpen and win baseball games,” Lou Piniella said. “Experience is necessary but our kids compete pretty well. What it forces our offense to do is score quickly because you can’t expect these kids to pitch four, five, six scoreless innings. They’re gaining experience and rather quickly.”

— Carrie Muskat

7/26 Theriot's home run

Ryan Theriot’s home run with one out in the sixth inning was his first since June 29, 2009, when he connected off the Pirates’ Zach Duke. Theriot had gone 700 at-bats between homers, the longest active streak in the Major Leagues. He now has hit 15 home runs in his career.

— Carrie Muskat

7/26 Soto out with injured foot

Cubs catcher Geovany Soto left Monday’s game after six innings with a bruised left foot. Soto fouled a ball off his foot and tried to stay in the game. However, it was too painful to play on. His status was day to day.

— Carrie Muskat

7/26 Big Z: "I apologize"

The Cubs had hoped Carlos Zambrano would talk to his teammates before the media but the pitcher made comments Monday to ESPN, saying his tantrum June 25 was sparked by a “moment of frustration.” Zambrano said he was trying to fire up the Cubs after falling behind 4-0 in the first inning against the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field. Three of the White Sox’s runs that inning came on Carlos Quentin’s three-run homer off an 0-2 pitch from Zambrano.

When the pitcher came off the field, he yelled and screamed in the dugout. Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee told Zambrano to shut up, the pitcher said, and Zambrano “got more excited.”

“I apologize from the bottom of my heart,” Zambrano told ESPN. “The last person I would be mad at is D-Lee. He’s a Gold Glover. I was just mad at myself.”

Zambrano said he sent a text message to Lee two days after the incident and they talked.

The pitcher was suspended for three days without pay after the incident and then placed on the restricted list to undergo treatment for anger issues.

“I saw a little bit of it,” Piniella said Monday of Zambrano’s comments. “I’m sure he’s contrite and I’m sure he’s looking forward to coming back but the important thing remains that he talk to his teammates.”

Zambrano has pitched twice for Triple-A Iowa and was expected to rejoin the Cubs Friday in Denver when they open a weekend series against the Rockies. That’s when Zambrano needs to talk to the team, Piniella said.

“I said that time heals wounds and that’s exactly what has happened but I’m sure his teammates want to hear what he has to say and we’ll go from there,” Piniella said. “With time, you tend to forgive and forget.”

Zambrano said he does not want to leave the Cubs, saying he “came on a mission, and I want that ring.”

He also said the therapy sessions have helped.

“A lot of people have told me I need to change if I want to be successful,” Zambrano said. “Thank God the Cubs have sent me to the doctor for anger management. I’ve had three sessions already … doing exercises. I have to write down every time I get mad.”

Zambrano has yet to pitch in back to back games but Piniella said he didn’t think that was necessary.

“He’s probably chomping at the bit to get back into the fray,” Piniella said, “and hopefully he’ll come back and help us win some baseball games.”

“I’m really looking forward to being back with the team,” Zambrano said. “I’m not liking Triple-A too much.”

— Carrie Muskat

7/26 Vitters has season-ending injury

Josh Vitters’ season appears to be over. Vitters suffered a broken middle finger after he was hit by a pitch Sunday in Tennessee’s game against Mississippi. Braves starter Jacob Thompson hit Vitters in the fifth inning and the third baseman immediately came out of the game.

Vitters was headed to Chicago to be seen by the team’s hand specialist either Monday or Tuesday.

“It’s a shame,” Cubs player development director Oneri Fleita said Monday. “He stepped up, he was hitting in the middle of the lineup, hitting third. You could see he was on the come to finish strong, in the middle of the action on a team palying outstanding baseball. His defense was improving and he was giving quality at-bats.”

The Cubs’ No. 1 pick in 2007 — and third overall — Vitters began the year with Class A Daytona and was bumped up to Double-A after 28 games with a .291/.350/.445 line. Although he’s batting .223 overall, he was hitting .303 in his last 10 games.

Vitters missed time in 2008 with an injury to his left hand.

— Carrie Muskat

7/26 Ramirez NL Player of the Week

The Cubs’ Aramis Ramirez was named National League Player of the Week for July 19-25. Bank of America, the official bank of Major League Baseball, is the presenting sponsor for the award. Ramirez btted .360 (9-for-25) in six games and was tied for the Major League-lead with four home runs while his 10 RBIs were second. He had a .393 on-base percentage and an .840 slugging percentage during the week.

Last Tuesday, Ramirez hit three homers for the fourth time in his career and tied a career high with seven RBIs in a 14-7 win over the Astros. It was the second multi-homer game of the year for the Cubs third baseman. This month, Ramirez was batting .351 with 24 RBIs and a Major League-high nine home runs.

Other nominees for the weekly award included Starlin Castro (.407) and Derrek Lee (.423).

— Carrie Muskat

7/25 Words of wisdom

Orel Hershiser, ESPN analyst and former big league pitcher, stopped by Carlos Marmol’s locker Sunday to talk to the right-hander. Hershiser’s advice? Finish your piches. Marmol admitted that Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild tells him the same thing. But to hear it from Hershiser was special.

“He’s a great pitcher,” Marmol said of Hershiser. “I appreciate him coming here.”

— Carrie Muskat

7/25 Minor matters

Brad Snyder hit a two-run homer in the 13th inning to lift Iowa to a 4-2 victory over Round Rock Saturday. It was Snyder’s 15th homer. Micah Hoffpauir also homered for the Iowa Cubs, his 14th. Thomas Diamond started the game and threw six shutout innings, giving up two hits. He struck out six.

Tennessee’s game against Mississippi was postponed because of rain.

Daytona romped 10-3 over St. Lucie. Michael Brenly had two hits and one RBI, and Ryan Flaherty hit a homer and drove in two runs. David Macias had three RBIs.

Frank Batista struck out 10 over 4 2/3 innings but it wasn’t enough as Peoria lost, 3-0, to Lake County. Batista gave up two runs on one hit.

Matt Szczur extended his hitting streak to 16 games with two hits in Boise’s 6-5 loss to Yakima. He’s batting .415 in that stretch.

Dustin Harrington had three hits in Mesa’s 7-2 win over the Angels.

— Carrie Muskat

7/25 Leadoff home runs

Tyler Colvin has a long way to go to take over the Cubs lead in leadoff homers. Alfonso Soriano holds the team record with 22. Here’s the list:

Most Lead-off Home Runs by Cub (career)

1. Alfonso Soriano  22

2. Jimmy Ryan 20

3. Rick Monday 17

4. Abner Dalrymple & Brian McRae, 8

6. Stan Hack 6

— Carrie Muskat