August 2010

8/28 Open audition

Mike Quade isn’t the only one auditioning for a job. So are Andrew Cashner and James Russell, and the two kids made a good impression Saturday night. It’s been a rough go at times for the pair, two of five rookies in the bullpen.

“They’ve got the stuff, that’s not the question,” birthday boy Randy Wells said of Russell and Cashner. “It’s just gaining experience and getting confidence. This game is all about confidence, I don’t care what anybody says. I’m a prime example of when your confidence gets a little busted, it’s tough and you start doubting your stuff and doubting your abililities and wondering if you’re supposed to be here. That’s a tough thing to overcome.

“These guys are beaming with confidence and they have their swagger going and I think they’re going to be really good pitchers for a long time to come,” he said.

Russell did give up a single but struck out the side in the seventh, including Joey Votto, who had homered leading off the fourth off Wells. Cashner got three quick groundouts in the eighth.

The Cubs have counted on Sean Marshall and Carlos Marmol all season but are looking for some of the rookies to emerge. Russell and Cashner did that.

“You hope you can bring them in in a clean inning and they don’t have to do too much,” Quade said. “They make your decisions easy or tough and they played well tonight and made it easy for me.”

Cashner admits it hasn’t been smooth sailing.

“I definitely hit a little bump in the road,” Cashner said. “I’ve never really been beat this bad before. Lately, I’ve been throwing the ball well and I’ve got a lot of confidence and I’m throwing it at guys and saying, here it is, go ahead and hit it.”

Which means no more nibbling.

“I’ve got five weeks to make the team,” the right-hander said. “I don’t feel like I’ve made the team for next year. I’ve got five weeks to prove I can pitch here and help the team next year.”

Quade can say the same.

“You guys asked me if it’s an audition for me,” said Quade, now 4-1 since taking over for Lou Piniella on Monday. “Absolutely. Any time you show up here, it’s an audition. Whether or not you pitch your way into this or that or the other thing is determined by your performance. … Every one of these kids is absolutely auditioning. It’s a great opportunity but you’re being watched and evaluted daily as am I.”

Wells cast his ballot for Quade for 2011.

“Lou was great and obviously he had some stuff to deal with and Quade stepping in, I think he’s the right guy for the job,” Wells said. “He’s seen a lot of us, we’ve played for him in Triple A [Iowa]. He’s a personable guy. I’m sure he’s auditioning, too.”

— Carrie Muskat

8/28 Leadoff man

Blake DeWitt led off Saturday night, the fifth time he’s done so for the Cubs and sixth time in his career. Mike Quade says he’ll use Kosuke Fukudome in the No. 1 spot as well. The Cubs haven’t been able to settle on a leadoff man all season.

“And it continues,” Quade said.

DeWitt and Fukudome just want to play, so Quade said he’ll mix and match the two. If he wants more punch at the bottom of the order, he’ll switch the order.

— Carrie Muskat

8/28 Zambrano & Silva updates

Carlos Zambrano rejoined the Cubs on Saturday, did his normal side session and is on schedule to start Monday, opening a three-game series against the Pirates. Zambrano (5-6, 4.64 ERA) had returned to Venezuela to be with family and attend to a nephew who was ill.

“He came back feeling like things were better,” Cubs manager Mike Quade said Saturday. “It’s still on his mind.”

The Cubs got a good report on Carlos Silva’s rehab outing Friday night with Class A Peoria. Silva (10-5, 3.92 ERA) gave up back to back singles in the second inning of a 2 2/3 innings, 50-pitch outing. He will throw on the side Sunday, then make another rehab start Wednesday for Peoria against Kane County.

“His velocity was very good,” Quade said of Silva, whose fastball registered between 91 and 94 mph. “We’ll find a way to use that arm.”

Where they will slot Silva has yet to be determined. Quade will sit down with pitching coach Larry Rothschild and map out a plan once they’re convinced Silva is healthy. The right-hander is coming back from a procedure to correct an abnormal heart rate.

— Carrie Muskat

8/28 Castro update

Since July 10, Cubs rookie Starlin Castro has more hits than any other player in baseball and is tied for the most doubles in the game since that date. Castro has 63 hits since July 10. Next up is a four-way tie between the Tigers’ Austin Jackson, Twins’ Joe Mauer, the White Sox’s Juan Pierre and Pirates’ Jose Tabata, who each have 58 hits.

Castro has 17 doubles since July 10, which is tied for the most in baseball with the Giants’ Andres Torres. Mauer and the Phillies’ Jayson Werth each have 16 doubles in that stretch.

Castro also is four plate appearances shy of qualifying for the National League leader board in batting average. His .311 average would rank sixth in the NL. In case you were wondering, the Cubs’ rookie record for top batting average is .352, set by Hack Miller in 1922.

— Carrie Muskat

8/28 Lineup & B-days

Tyler Colvin is in left field and Kosuke Fukudome in right for Saturday night’s Cubs game against the Reds and Bronson Arroyo. And Saturday not only is Lou Piniella’s birthday but also starting pitcher Randy Wells’ and strength coach Tim Buss’ special day. Here’s the lineup:

2B DeWitt

SS Castro

CF Byrd

3B Ramirez

1B Nady

LF Colvin

RF Fukudome

C Hill

P Wells

— Carrie Muskat

8/28 Minor matters & Silva update

Jay Jackson gave up three runs on six hits over six innings in Iowa’s 9-8 win over Omaha. Robinson Chirinos, Bryan LaHair, Jason Dubois and Brad Snyder each homered for the I-Cubs. Snyder leads the team with 22 homers. Jeff Gray picked up the save, giving up one hit in the ninth.

* Rafael Dolis gave up two runs on eight hits over six innings in Tennessee’s 5-2 win over Birmingham. Steve Clevenger had three hits and is batting .680 (17-for-25) in his last seven games. Dolis is now 4-0 with a 2.22 ERA in five home starts. The Smokies reduced their magic number for clinching the Southern League Northern Division second half to two with the win.

* Daytona pitchers combined to strike out 17 — including 10 Ks by Alberto Cabrera — but lost 5-1 in 11 innings to Lakeland. Ryan Flaherty had two hits. Kyler Burke tied the game with a RBI single in the seventh.

* Carlos Silva gave up two hits — back to back singles in the second — over 2 2/3 innings in his rehab start for Class A Peoria. The Chiefs beat Cedar Rapids, 3-1. Jae-Hoon Ha and D.J. Fitzgerald each homered for the Chiefs. Fitzgerald’s blast, a two-run homer in the sixth, proved to be the difference. Silva threw 50 pitches, striking out one.

“It’s almost like I didn’t have to worry about my arm,” Silva said after the game. “The main thing was to throw and not think about what was going on, just let it go. That’s what I did.”

Silva is on schedule in his rehab from an abnormal heart rate.

“The plan today was to throw 50 pitches,” he said. “Right now, I’m looking to get back on track. I wanted to use every pitch and I did.”

Silva said he will likely throw on the side Sunday and make one more rehab appearance with the Chiefs Wednesday in Kane County.

* Cam Greathouse gave up two runs on six hits over 4 1/3 innings, striking out nine, in Boise’s 3-2 win over Tri-City. Pin-Chieh Chen had three hits and three RBIs in Mesa’s 8-7 loss.

— Carrie Muskat

8/28 Who's on first?

Tyler Colvin worked out with the infielders at first base on Friday and came very close to getting into a Cubs game there during the Nationals series. Colvin has been practicing at first since Derrek Lee was dealt to the Braves on Aug. 18. The rookie thought he’d see some action there Monday in Washington but Mike Quade and his staff decided to wait. However, in the Cubs’ 5-4 win Tuesday over the Nationals, Quade said they were looking ahead to a possible pinch-hit situation. If the Nats had tied the game, and the Cubs needed to insert a hitter, Colvin would’ve switched to first.

“He’s done it before — why not?” Quade said.

For the time being, Colvin will start in the outfield but Quade didn’t rule out the rookie getting some action at first.

— Carrie Muskat

8/27 Gorzelanny: "Nothing worked"

Cubs pitcher Tom Gorzelanny had served up seven home runs in his 25 other games this year, so the three long balls off him by the Reds were a surprise.

“I focus on trying to keep the ball down and get guys to ground out and haven’t given up too many long balls,” he said.

Jay Bruce connected on a hanging slider in the third inning and a “fastball that decided to stay right in the middle of the plate” in the fifth, Gorzelanny said. Rookie Chris Valaika also hit his first home run off the Cubs lefty in the fifth.

“Good hitters hit those balls and you can’t always get away with bad pitches,” Gorzelanny said, talking more about Bruce’s blasts. “You make mistakes and you pay, especially in this league.”

In Gorzelanny’s last four starts against the Reds, the lefty had given up seven earned runs over 26 2/3 innings but on Friday, they scored six off him in five innings.

“Nothing worked for me today,” Gorzelanny said. “I made bad pitches and got behind guys and didn’t execute my pitches. It’s just a real bad outing.”

— Carrie Muskat

8/27 Carlos Silva update

Carlos Silva threw 50 pitches over 2 2/3 innings in his rehab start Friday night for Class A Peoria. Silva gave up two hits, both singles, and struck out one. The right-hander, who is 10-5 with a 3.92 ERA, has not started for the Cubs since Aug. 1 when he came out of a game against the Rockies after four batters because of an abnormal heart rate. He underwent a procedure to correct that.

— Carrie Muskat

8/27 Lineup vs Reds

Blake DeWitt is leading off Friday night in Game 1 of the Cubs’ three-game series against the Reds. Here’s the lineup:

2B DeWitt
SS Castro
CF Byrd
3B Ramirez
1B Nady
RF Colvin
LF Soriano
C Soto
P Gorzelanny

— Carrie Muskat