September 2010

9/28 Perks of the job

The Cubs are 20-11 under Mike Quade with six games remaining, including Tuesday vs. the Padres. The team has seemed energized and is playing well. What else does Quade have to do to get the manager job for next year?

“Just my job for the next week and that’s the God’s honest truth,” Quade said. “I’m dying to play well these next three days and then go to Houston and play well and take a breather for a week or so and see what happens this winter. The season’s not over until it’s over. It’s not over for the players, whether you’re playing for a pennant or doing what we’re doing. We have to make sure none of us quit, none of us get too comfortable. I’ve said all along, I’m motivated by fear of failure and we’ll just keep grinding right on through Sunday.”

Is it nerve-wracking?

“It’s a light at the end of the tunnel,” Quade said. “Whether I’m sitting in this seat or coaching third or anything else, I’d like to think the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t until late November. We know it’s not.”

He is enjoying the perks of being a big league manager, such as a suite at the team hotel.

“That is one of the perks,” Quade said. “To be honest with you, I was like, ‘Just give me a room.’ I had a friend of mine who called and said, ‘Don’t be an idiot. You spent a lot of years doing what you’re doing and this is what they’re doing and take advantage of it.’  That’s all it took. Yeah, it’s nicer. I should probably invite all you guys because the thing is so [darn] big. You get lost in there. There are some perks that are obviously different from when I was coaching third base.”

When players are called up to the big leagues, they talk about how the balls are whiter and clean and the clubhouse spread is better. It’s the same for managers.

“We used to complain about riding 12 hours or 14 hours from Jacksonville to Memphis [on a bus],” he said. “I’ll be darned if I’ll complain about anything up here.”

— Carrie Muskat

9/28 Cubs lineup vs Padres

Ryan Dempster will be on the mound Tuesday night in Game 2 vs. the Padres. Here’s the lineup:

RF Fukudome
SS Castro
CF Byrd
3B Ramirez
1B Nady
LF Soriano
2B DeWitt
C Hill
P Dempster

— Carrie Muskat

9/27 Mom knows best for Z

Carlos Zambrano’s mother showed up at just the right time. Pitching in front of his mother for the first time in his big league career, Zambrano threw seven scoreless innings to lead the Cubs to a 1-0 victory over the Padres on Monday night. Zambrano (10-6) fanned five to raise his career strikeout total to 1,436 and now is second on the Cubs’ all-time list, passing Charlie Root (1,432). Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins is first with 2,038 K’s.

“One of the greatest pitchers of all time said he’d rather have a sinker and movement than velocity and that was Greg Maddux,” Zambrano said of the four-time Cy Young winner and former Cubs pitcher. “It’s good to pitch with velocity but for me, like Maddux says, it’s good to have movement and have all your pitches look like each other. My sinker looks like my split-finger. That confuses the hitters.”

He got some help from his defense. With a runner on first and none out in the Padres’ second, first baseman Xavier Nady made a leaping catch to snare Chase Headley’s line drive and then stepped on the bag for a double play.

His mother was finally able to see her son in person. She got a visa this month so she could leave Venezuela and come to the United States.

“I knew she was there and she inspired me,” Zambrano said. “I’ve been pitching here for nine years without my mom and today was special. It was good to see her in the stands and good to get the win.”

Did he hear her at all during the game?

“She’s totally the opposite of my dad,” Zambrano said. “My dad can be in the stands and you’ll know it. My mom is quiet and she’s more calm. If I had a son, I’d be in the stands clapping and doing all kinds of things for him.”

We’ll let you decide who Carlos takes after more, his father or mother.

She is expected to be there for his season finale on Saturday in Houston. Zambrano has looked more like the No. 1 pitcher on the Cubs staff in the last few weeks.

“I don’t want to say he’s re-invented himself,” Padres manager Bud Black said, “but tonight I saw a three-pitch mix with a lot of secondary pitches when he was behind in the count. It’s a credit to him …. Mid-stream, changing his style.”

Zambrano now is 7-0 with a 1.07 ERA (7 earned runs in 59 innings) in his last nine starts dating to Aug. 14. It’s the second-best ERA in the Major Leagues, trailing Seattle’s Felix Hernandez (1.06 ERA).

“He’s pitching now,” MIguel Tejada said. “He does not have the 98 [mph fastball] any more. He’s always been a good pitcher. Now I think he’s throwing the right pitch when he needs it.”

— Carrie Muskat

9/27 To be tossed or not

Mike Quade came close to being tossed for the first time as a big league manager. He disagreed with home plate umpire Greg Gibson, who said Carlos Marmol hit Chase Headley with a pitch in the ninth.

“I didn’t believe it hit him,” Quade said. “There’s nothing that’s going to change by [getting ejected] and at that point in the game, I have my say and get the heck out of there. It’s not going to help [Marmol] or the rest of us if I get run there. I didn’t think it hit him and I had to go out there and say, ‘It didn’t hit him.’ In a younger day, maybe. Hopefully, I’ve matured a little bit.”

— Carrie Muskat

9/27 Ready for anything

Despite having to use six relievers on Sunday against the Cardinals, Cubs manager Mike Quade said
the bullpen is in good shape coming into Monday’s game vs. the Padres. It’s a big game for San Diego, which needs to win to clinch at least a tie for first in NL West.
“You want to have your
ducks in a row so you can try to give them the best effort that you can,” Quade
said. “We’ll see if we can’t make life tough for them.”

Asked if he is doing anything
different knowing this game means something to Padres, Quade said he’ll still go with the young players but plans on using the veterans.

“The funny thing is when you come out
here, the matchups aren’t as prevalent and you don’t have a big familiarity with
this club,” he said. “We’re going to play the [veterans]. They’ve all had plenty of rest.
We’ll try to play them as much as possible to try to be as representative as we

“The kids have been contributing. We were resilient as heck [Sunday] and I
hope we stay the same way and stay in that posture in these four

On Sunday, the Cubs trailed the Cardinals 8-0 and were able to score seven runs.

— Carrie Muskat

9/27 Extra bases – UPDATED

The Cubs have yet to name a starter for Friday. It’ll be either Casey Coleman or Jeff Samardzija. Mike Quade said they wanted to give Carlos Silva a chance to start but he has not been able to build up enough arm strength. Silva has not pitched since Sept. 7. He missed his next scheduled start because of soreness in his right elbow.

* The Cubs finished the home schedule at Wrigley Field with a 35-46 record. They batted .265 at home, 14 points higher than they have on the road. Cubs pitchers compiled a 4.48 ERA at Wrigley, 38 points higher than their 4.10 ERA on the road.

* This season could be the first without a doubleheader, either traditional or split, since 1985. Since the first ever doubleheader in 1880, the only other year besides 1985 in which the Cubs did not play one was in 1881. (Thanks to historian Ed Hartig for the note)

* Carlos Zambrano enters Monday’s game 6-0 with a 1.21 ERA and a .190 batting average against in his last eight starts. It’s the second best ERA in that span, trailing only Seattle’s Felix Hernandez (1.06 ERA).

— Carrie Muskat

9/27 Cubs lineup vs Padres

The Padres need one win to clinch at least a tie for first in the NL West, and they’ll face Carlos Zambrano Monday night at PETCO Park. Marlon Byrd is back after missing two days. He was hit in the right eye by a foul ball, which left a nasty bruise. Here’s the lineup:

RF Fukudome
SS Castro
CF Byrd
3B Ramirez
1B Nady
LF Soriano
2B DeWitt
C Hill
P Zambrano

— Carrie Muskat

9/26 Extra bases – UPDATED

Tom Gorzelanny will get one more start before the regular season ends on Thursday against the Padres. The left-hander lasted 3 1/3 innings on Friday against the Cardinals, his first start since Sept. 1. He had been sidelined after being struck by a line drive by the Pirates’ Jose Tabata. Ryan Dempster (14-11, 3.87 ERA) will start Tuesday and in the regular season finale next Sunday.

* Marlon Byrd’s right eye was still swollen and bruised after taking a foul ball off his face. on “If I needed him today, I’m sure he’d run out and play his heart out,” Mike Quade said of Byrd. “Let’s give him a couple days and we’ll try him in San Diego. In my mind, we’re just having him ready for San Diego tomorrow.”

* WGN Radio broadcaster Ron Santo will not make the team’s final road trip to San Diego and Houston. Santo will host a walk-a-thon to raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation on Oct. 3 in Chicago.

* Cubs players and coaches threw balls and souvenirs into the stands prior to Sunday’s game, the last home game at Wrigley Field. The Cubs have topped 3 million fans for the seventh consecutive year.

“It’s the end of a long grind but we’ll have some fun today and enjoy the crowd and spend some time with the fans,” Quade said. “It’s just phenomenal the support we get. It’s always been from when I was 7 years old to 53 now.”

* The Cubs rookies had some colorful costumes to wear on the plane ride to San Diego instead of their normal street clothes. It was rookie hazing day at Wrigley. Thomas Diamond was dressed as a chicken, Andrew Cashner was dolled up as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, while Marcos Mateo had an elaborate Cleopatra get-up. James Russell had an appropriate cowgirl dress.

“I like their taste,” Russell said of whomever selected the costumes. “It’s a little Western wear and I’ve got piece of Texas in me.”

Outfielder Brad Snyder had fishnet stockings, a purple sequined top and purple, green and gold wig.

“I never played dress-up as a kid,” he said.

It’s all in good fun.

* Albert Pujols has hit 25 home runs at Wrigley Field, tied for the most by an active player with Washington’s Adam Dunn. Pujols has 47 homers against the Cubs, the most against any opponent. “Just another park, man,” Pujols said.

* The Cubs bullpen has a 1.51 ERA (nine earned runs in 53 2/3 innings) in the last 18 games dating to Sept. 6.

— Carrie Muskat

9/26 Last home game

Mike Quade used to go to Cubs games as a kid. On Sunday, he was in the dugout for the Cubs’ final home game after taking over for Lou Piniella on Aug. 23. He planned on taking a moment to soak it in.

“Opening Day, closing day, those are all special days, whether your future is known or not known,” he said. “I’m 53, I’ve been doing this 30 years, I’ve had 30 one-year contracts. That’s the norm for us.”

Quade has managed in the Minor Leagues for 17 years and was Piniella’s third base coach since 2007, but never had a multi-year deal. That’s the life of most coaches. Managing is something he had done at Triple-A, most recently as 2006 when he skippered the Cubs’ Triple-A Iowa team.

“I was given a great opportunity to spend six weeks doing something I’ve wanted to do all my life and will hopefully get to keep doing it,” he said about the Cubs job. “It’s made for a lot different six weeks than if I was coaching third. I will take a moment to appreciate that for sure.”

He is a candidate for the Cubs job next year. What would it mean to get a multi-year deal in the big leagues?

“It would be great,” Quade said. “Hopefully, I wouldn’t become a fat cat with a long-term contract. I would love the opportunity to do that. One-year contracts, five-year contracts, you get an opportunity like this — a six-week contract — this is something I want to do and something I want to do for a long time. I’ve always wanted to get an opportunity at this level. To have a chance to do it in this town, that adds to the special nature of this.”

He complimented the Cubs coaching staff and players but also admitted he was proud of himself.

“I’ve always believed in myself,” he said. “You can believe all you want but you have to get here and do it and then self-evaluate the whole thing. Things went well. I’m proud of all the work I did in 30 years to have me ready to do something like this. I don’t like to talk about it much but yeah, it’s been fun and I’m proud of all the work we’ve done.”

And he’s still got one more week to go.

— Carrie Muskat

9/26 Cubs lineup – last home game

Blake DeWitt will bat third for the fourth time in his career in the Majors. He’s there Sunday for the Cubs’ home finale. DeWitt is 1-for-5 in those three previous games, and has scuffled a bit this month, hitting .185. He’s 1-for-3 against St. Louis’ Jake Westbrook. No Marlon Byrd. Here’s the Cubs lineup:

CF Fuld
SS Castro
2B DeWitt
1B Nady
RF Fukudome
LF Soriano
3B Scales
C Castillo
P Samardzija

— Carrie Muskat