October 2010

10/26 Mr. Cub campaigns in Mesa

Mr. Cub Ernie Banks joined Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts in Mesa, Ariz., on Monday to campaign for Proposition 420. Banks said he recalled riding a train to the Cubs’ Spring Training facility in 1953 but missed his stop. The team’s traveling secretary, Bob Lewis, was waiting at the depot for Banks and when the train went by with the shortstop still on it, Lewis chased it down with his car.

“They stopped the train,” Banks told reporters in Mesa on Monday. “I didn’t know where I was. I thought, ‘Why am I here?’ Mesa was a very small community. It’s not anymore. It’s grown and changed.”

Next Tuesday is election day in Mesa and voters will decide on Proposition 420. The measure would let the city of Mesa spend up to $99 million on a new Spring Training facility for the Cubs, expected to be located at the Riverview Park site. The money includes $84 million for a stadium and $15 million for infrastructure.

— Carrie Muskat

10/26 AFL update

Brett Jackson went 1-for-3 with two RBIs and Ryan Flaherty added a RBI single in the third Monday but it wasn’t enough as the Mesa Solar Sox lost 8-6 to the Phoenix Desert Dogs in Arizona Fall League play. Cubs pitcher Jake Muyco took the loss in 2 2/3 innings, giving up seven runs on six hits, including two home runs. Jackson, playing his second game with the Solar Sox, hit a RBI single in the second and a sacrifice fly in the sixth. On Tuesday, Mesa travels to Peoria to face the Saguaros.

— Carrie Muskat

10/25 Undercover boss to air Nov. 7

The TV show “Undercover Boss” episode featuring Cubs co-owner Todd Ricketts is scheduled to air Nov. 7. Ricketts apparently was fired on his second day on the job as a Wrigley Field maintenance worker, according to the Chicago Tribune. He also parked cars, was a vendor, worked with the grounds crew and even emptied trash. Todd grew facial hair and wore glasses as part of his disguise. The show features top executives switching jobs.

— Carrie Muskat

10/23 AFL update

Ryan Flaherty was 1-for-4 and Josh Vitters was hitless in four at-bats in the Mesa Solar Sox’s 6-2 loss to the Peoria Saguaros Friday in Arizona Fall League action. The Solar Sox play host to Surprise at HoHoKam Park Saturday night in Mesa. Brett Jackson, the Cubs’ No. 1 pick in 2009, was expected to play Monday for Mesa. He’s been sidelined with a sore heel.

— Carrie Muskat

10/21 AFL update

Josh Vitters went 2-for-3 with a first inning double in the Mesa Solar Sox’s 6-3 loss to Scottsdale Scorpions Wednesday in Arizona Fall League play. Vitters started at third, and now is batting .308. Ryan Flaherty, another Cubs prospect, was hitless in four at-bats. Kyle Smit, whom the Cubs acquired from the Dodgers in the Ryan Theriot-Ted Lilly deal, took the loss, giving up two runs on two hits and four walks in 1 1/3 innings of relief. Smit got into trouble in the fifth. With one out, he walked two batters then gave up a single to A.J. Pollock to load the bases. Smit walked Conor Gillaspie to force in a run, and was lifted. Chris Carpenter, another Cubs prospect, replaced Smit and served up a RBI single to Jordan Pacheco to give Scottsdale a 3-1 lead. The two teams square off again Thursday in Mesa.

— Carrie Muskat

10/20 Cubs leave door open for Ryno

One thing that may have been missed during Tuesday’s news conference re: Mike Quade was that Cubs GM Jim Hendry left the door open for Ryne Sandberg to return to the organization. Sandberg was one of the finalists to be the Cubs manager but was bypassed in favor of Quade, who passed all the tests during a six-week public audition with the team.

“Ryne Sandberg, as great a player as he was, he’s just as good a human being,” Hendry said. “What he did going to the Minor Leagues and the way he carried himself was very, very good. I think Tom Ricketts and his family are very aware of how important it is for ‘Ryno’ long term to be a member of the Cubs family. He’s disappointed [he didn’t get the Cubs job]. I’m sure like a lot of people, you feel like your heart is set on that. Over time, I hope he’s a Cub in some capacity forever.”

Asked if he would welcome Sandberg back to the Cubs’ Minor League system, Hendry said: “Absolutely, absolutely.”

— Carrie Muskat

10/20 AFL update

Josh Vitters was 2-for-5 with an RBI and Ryan Flaherty was 1-for-2 and scored two runs in the Mesa Solar Sox 6-5 win Tuesday over the Peoria Javelinas in Arizona Fall League play. Cubs prospect Jake Muyco started and gave up one run on four hits and two walks over three innings while David Cales, who played for Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa last season, picked up the win, pitching two innings in relief. The Solar Sox face Scottsdale Wednesday night.

— Carrie Muskat

10/19 The Q factor

On Tuesday, the Cubs officially promoted Mike Quade to the big leagues. He signed a two-year contract with the team and after 17 seasons and 2,378 games in such towns as Macon, Scranton, Huntsville and Des Moines, he’s now the Cubs manager.

“I don’t know how anybody could’ve done better than he did,” Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez said of Quade after the regular season finale Oct. 3.

“Q” was picked over Ryne Sandberg, which will upset more than a few Cubs fans who wanted the Hall of Fame second baseman back at Wrigley Field and in the dugout. It’s unlikely Sandberg will be on the Cubs coaching staff.

Others considered for the Cubs job included Eric Wedge, who was named manager of the Mariners, and former Diamondbacks and Mariners manager Bob Melvin. This is the third manager to be named by Hendry, who gave Dusty Baker a four-year contract, starting in 2003, and hired Lou Piniella in October 2006.

Quade, 53, took over for Piniella on Aug. 23 and is the fifth Cubs manager to post a .600 or better winning percentage as a mid-season replacement. Whitey Lockman did so 1972 after replacing Leo Durocher, guiding the Cubs to a 39-26 mark. Others to accomplish the feat include Frank Chance in 1905 (55-33); Charlie Grimm in 1932 (37-18); and Gabby Hartnett in 1938 (44-27).

— Carrie Muskat

10/18 AFL update

Josh Vitters went 0-for-4 in the Mesa Solar Sox’s 4-2 loss Monday to the Peoria Javelinas in Arizona Fall League action. Vitters was the designated hitter in the game, played at HoHoKam Stadium. On Tuesday, Mesa travels to Peoria to face the Javelinas and Cubs prospect Jake Muyco is scheduled to make his second AFL start. Outfielder Brett Jackson, the Cubs’ No. 1 pick in the 2009 Draft, was to join the Solar Sox this week and could play in two to three days. He was with Team USA in the Pan Am qualifying tournament in Puerto Rico and limited to three games because of a sore heel.

— Carrie Muskat

10/18 Robinson stars for Team Canada

Belated congrats to Chris Robinson who went 5-for-6 with a home run and three RBIs in the final game for Team Canada in the Pan Am qualifying tournament in Puerto Rico. Robinson, who played for the Triple-A Iowa Cubs, was named to the tournament’s All-Star team at catcher. He appeared in five games and batted .545.

— Carrie Muskat