September 2010

9/25 Thanks, everybody

The Cubs reached 3 million fans at home for the seventh consecutive season. They are one of five Major League franchises to surpass the mark every year since 2004. Saturday’s crowd of 39,316 pushed the season total at Wrigley Field to 3,024,916.

Fans attending Sunday’s final home game will be in for some surprises. The players are going to give away items both pre- and post-game, Cubs manager Mike Quade said.

“They’re the best,” Quade said of the fans. “Whether they show up in droves on the road — you go into a ballpark and see blue everywhere — or it’s the support here, they’re phenomenal.”

— Carrie Muskat

9/25 Another scary moment

Cardinals pitcher Blake Hawksworth was struck on the right side of his face by a line drive by Sam Fuld with one out in the fifth and knocked out of the game. Hawksworth had started the inning in place of Chris Carpenter. The pitcher fell to the ground after being hit but was able to walk off the field under his own power.

It’s been a scary week for the Cubs. Last Sunday in Miami, Tyler Colvin was hit in the chest by a broken bat. He was home, recuperating and done for the season.

— Carrie Muskat

9/25 Extra bases

Tyler Colvin is doing well, but whether he switches to first base for 2011 has not been determined. Hendry talked to Colvin when the rookie outfielder was hospitalized after being struck in the chest by a broken bat in a freak accident last week in Miami.

“Obviously, he escaped a potential disastrous situation,” Hendry said Saturday. “If you were playing three weeks from now, he could possibly play.”

Colvin was expected to resume the strength program he was on after the 2009 season which helped him gain 25 pounds. He lost about 13 pounds during the season. What about switching to first base?

“We might look into it, depending on how the offseason goes and how we line up at first base and the outfield,” Cubs GM Jim Hendry said. “There are a lot of bridges to cross between now and the middle of February.”

On other topics:

* Hendry has been encouraged by how well the Cubs have played since Mike Quade took over. “Guys are playing hard, the veterans are hanging in there and still going about their business well and I’m real happy with some of the young pitchers who have gotten over the hump,” he said. “I think they’ll all benefit from that.”

* He complimented Sean Marshall for another stellar season as set-up man and expected lefty John Grabow to return strong. Grabow will not need surgery on his knee.

“We’re confident he can come back,” Hendry said. “In fairness to John, after having four, five good years, he had a rough first couple months and probably should’ve been a little more vocal on how much discomfort he was in. He’s not the type who wants to make excuses on his lack of success here.”

— Carrie Muskat

9/25 Probable pitchers

The Cubs head into the final week still tweaking their rotation. Carlos Zambrano (9-6, 3.56 ERA) will open a four-game series agianst the Padres on Monday and will get one last start Oct. 2 in Houston. Ryan Dempster (14-11, 3.87 ERA) and Randy Wells (8-13, 4.28 ERA) will start Tuesday and Wednesday, but Cubs manager Mike Quade wasn’t sure who would go in which game. Dempster may start Tuesday to let him get two more starts and finish the season Oct. 3 against the Astros. Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild was to talk to Dempster and Wells to sort things out and see if either wanted an extra day.

“Once we make that decision, the rest should fall into place,” Mike Quade said. “I should be smart enough to know to use pencil [when writing the rotation].”

— Carrie Muskat

9/25 Cubs lineup vs Cardinals

Marlon Byrd’s right eye is swollen and he has a small cut under his eye after being hit by a foul ball on Friday. Byrd was not in the lineup Saturday for Game 2 against the Cardinals. Here’s the order:

2B DeWitt
SS Castro
RF Fukudome
3B Ramirez
1B Hoffpauir
LF Soriano
CF Fuld
C HIll
P Coleman

— Carrie Muskat

9/25 Brenly withdraws from Cubs job

Cubs TV analyst Bob Brenly said Saturday he is officially withdrawing his name from the job as Cubs manager. Brenly met with GM Jim Hendry prior to Friday’s game.

“I don’t feel that at this particular time, it was a good fit for me,” Brenly said. “For personal and professional reasons, this was not the right time for me.”

Brenly did say he has been in contact with other teams regarding their managerial openings. He wouldn’t elaborate as to why he would consider other teams but not the Cubs.

“It just kind of came to a head in the last few days,” Brenly said.

— Carrie Muskat

9/24 Extra bases

Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro is batting .420 with 10 runs, five doubles and one RBIs in his last 13 home games. He has 133 hits this season, most by a Cubs rookie infielder since Mark Grace totaled 144 in 1988.

* Seventeen of the Cubs’ 20 runs allowed in the last two days have come in the first three innings.

* Aramis Ramirez posted his first two-hit game since Sept. 15. It was the fifth time he’s doubled and homered in the same game this year, the most since 2008 when he did so in seven games. His homer Friday was No. 24 of the year.

* With Adam Wainwright’s win Friday, he is unbeaten at Wrigley Field, going 5-0 in 11 career games (six starts). He has won five consecutive starts since Sept. 19, 2008, posting a 2.81 ERA in that stretch. He won his career-high 20th game on Friday in a 7-1 win.

“It’s always fun to pitch at Wrigley,” Wainwright said, “but to beat the Cubs for your 20th win is an extra treat.”

— Carrie Muskat

9/24 Gorzelanny lobbies for safer game

Cubs pitcher Tom Gorzelanny has had to deal with his share of comebackers this season, including a line drive by the Pirates’ Jose Tabata on Sept. 1 off his left hand. Gorzelanny made his first start since the incident on Friday against the Cardinals.

“It’s one thing you can’t control,” Gorzelanny said of all the flying objects. “Things happen, balls fly, they find people.

“With Tyler [Colvin], it was such a scary thing,” he said of the Cubs rookie, struck in the chest by a broken bat last Sunday. “It’s not shocking because of the way bats are these days. You see it all the time all year and they’re not finding people and the one time it does, bad things happen. You’ve got a guy with a punctured lung at home right now.

“Hopefully, something can be done about that,” Gorzelanny said. “It’s frightening. You don’t think as a guy on base, running the bases, you’re going to get hit. The closest person to getting hit is the pitcher. You’ve got baseballs flying back at you and bats flying back at you. It’s part of the game. You hope the bat aspect, you can control it. The ball, you can’t control.”

— Carrie Muskat

9/24 Ouch – Byrd UPDATE

Marlon Byrd was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital on Friday after taking a foul ball off the right side of his face. Byrd had a small facial cut and bruise after he was hit by the wall in the third inning. He fouled off a pitch from Adam Wainwright that hit the ground, then bounced and struck him on the right side of his face. Byrd stayed to finish his at-bat, struck out, and was lifted defensively in the fourth. He was day to day.

— Carrie Muskat

9/24 Cooking with the Dempsters

Ryan Dempster, wife Jenny and son Brady autograph copies of the Cubs Cookbook at Wrigley Field on Friday. Proceeds from cookbook sales go to the Dempster foundation.