April 2011

4/18 Minor League roundup

Ramon Ortiz gave up three runs on seven hits over three innings in Iowa’s 7-5, 11-inning loss to Memphis on Sunday. Bryan LaHair hit two home runs and drove in five runs. Chris Robinson had his third multi-hit game of the year and Bobby Scales’ hitting streak is now at nine games.

* Brooks Raley gve up six runs, two earned, on seven hits over five innings in Tennessee’s 13-3 loss to Montgomery. Jim Adduci had two hits and two RBIs. Brett Jackson extended his hitting streak to 10 games.

The Smokies announced Trey McNutt was activated from the disabled list. He had been sidelined with a blister. However, outfielder Ty Wright was placed on the DL.

* Rob Whitenack gave up one run, unearned, on three hits over six innings in Daytona’s 3-1 win over Clearwater.

* Peoria scored four runs in the seventh to beat Wisconsin, 7-6, in the first game of a doubleheader. Micah Gibbs reached base four times, going 2-for-2. In the second game, Graham Hicks threw six scoreless innings but Wisconsin won, 2-1.

— Carrie Muskat

4/18 Cubs lineup vs Padres

It will be chilly Monday night at Wrigley Field when the Cubs open a nine-game homestand against the Padres. Here’s the lineup:

SS Castro

2B Barney

CF Byrd

3B Ramirez

1B Pena

LF Soriano

RF Fukudome

C Soto

P Zambrano

— Carrie Muskat

4/17 Demp: “I’m better than that”

Ryan Dempster has given up at least four runs in each of his four starts. That’s not a good trend. He was clearly frustrated after Sunday’s game, in which he served up five runs on seven hits over five innings.

“I’m sick and tired of this,” Dempster said. “I’m better than that. I’ve got to do a better job of giving the team a chance to win than that. I’ve got to do a better job of pitching than that.”

He now has an ERA of 6.84 and ranks among the NL leaders in home runs allowed. And he can’t pinpoint what the problem is.

“I’ve got to do a better job of making pitches and getting people out,” he said. “It’s getting really old. I know they’re professional hitters on the other side and you have to tip your cap to them sometimes but when you throw the ball over the middle of the plate too much, you don’t tip your cap to anybody. You look in the mirror and do a better job.”

Mike Quade wasn’t as upset.

“He’s still feeling his way,” Quade said of Dempster. “It’s not the ‘Demp’ we’re accustomed to seeing. His effort after the first inning was excellent. It seems like there’s one inning. He isn’t sharp overall but then there’s an inning and it was the first today.

“I’d be a lot more concerned if it was a young kid,” he said.

— Carrie Muskat

4/17 Dempster’s day

A rough first inning led to Ryan Dempster’s early exit on Sunday against the Rockies. Dempster was pulled with the game tied at 5 after giving up five runs on seven hits over five innings.

He threw 104 pitches, and now has topped 100 pitches in three of his four starts. The one game he didn’t reach the century mark was April 6 against the D-Backs when he threw 94 pitches. Sunday was his shortest outing of the season and his ERA is now 6.84 ERA.

In the Rockies’ first, Dempster struck out Dexter Fowler but walked Jonathan Herrera, who scored on Carlos Gonzalez’s double. One out later, Todd Helton hit a RBI single, which prompted a visit from pitching coach Mark Riggins. The Cubs starter then served up Seth Smith’s homer off a 2-1 pitch to give the Rockies a 4-1 lead. Dempster threw first-pitch strikes to two of the seven batters he faced that inning, Fowler and the last batter.

— Carrie Muskat

4/17 Cashner, Wells to be examined

Andrew Cashner and Randy Wells, both on the disabled list with shoulder and forearm problems, respectively, will be examined on Monday in Chicago to update their progress. Both were scheduled to see team orthopedic specialist Dr. Stephen Gryzlo.

Neither pitcher has any pain or discomfort. Cashner, who has a strained right rotator cuff, and Wells, who has a strained right forearm, were placed on the disabled list April 7 and told they could not pick up a baseball for two weeks.

“I’ve picked one up,” Wells said Sunday. “I haven’t thrown one.”

There’s no timetable for their return.

— Carrie Muskat

4/17 Cubs extra bases

Starlin Castro matched his career high with four hits and fell a triple shy of the cycle on Saturday night. He leads the Majors with 25 hits, and since the All-Star break last season, he ranks among the National League elite in total hits (111) and batting average (.336).

“He knows what he’s doing and this big stage doesn’t get to him at all,” Colorado’s Troy Tulowitzki said of Castro. “You have guys who come up, and I was once there myself, and the game sped up on me a little bit. The first time I saw him, it didn’t seem like it sped up very much. He was very calm. … To be at the age that he’s at and to be able to slow the game down like that is very impressive.”

On this road trip, Castro is batting .395 (15-for-38) with a home run, double, four RBIs, two stolen bases and has scored six runs. In five games as the leadoff man, he’s 15-for-28 (.536) with one homer, two triples, a double, six runs and four RBIs. He now has three two-hit games, four three-hit games and one four-hit game. And it’s only April.

* Sean Marshall made his 163rd appearance on Saturday to pass Frank DiPino for eighth place for most appearances by a lefty in franchise history.

* Alfonso Soriano leads the Cubs with five home runs. Last year, he did not hit his fifth until May 2 in his 24th game of the year. The key? He’s healthy.

“Every year, my goal is to stay healthy,” Soriano said. “If I’m healthy I’ll produce more. If I can’t play 100 percent, I’m not the same player.”

knees/work with Rudy in cage
legs aren’t tired/has more power to stay back.

* Looking ahead to the series against the Padres, it will be Carlos Zambrano on Monday, James Russell on Tuesday and Matt Garza on Wednesday.

— Carrie Muskat

4/17 Minor League report

Bryan LaHair had three hits to help Iowa beat Memphis, 4-3, on Saturday. Bobby Scales extended his hit streak to eight games, and is batting .394 in that stretch. Esmailin Caridad notched the save.

* Ryan Flaherty hit two home runs and Josh Vitters and Jim Adduci each added one to help Tennessee beat Montgomery 11-7 in the first game of a doubleheader. Alberto Cabrera picked up the win, giving up three runs (two earned) on seven hits over six innings. Flaherty hit a solo homer in the second and a three-run shot in the fourth.

In the second game, Ty Wright hit a solo homer to help the Smokies complete a sweep with a 3-1 victory. Brett Jackson extended his hitting streak to nine games and is batting .467 in that stretch. David Cales picked up the save.

* Matt Cerda had three hits, including his first homer of the year, and two RBIs but it wasn’t enough as Daytona lost 9-6 to Lakeland. Michael Brenley had three hits. Brent Ebinger took the loss, giving up seven runs on eight hits over three innings.

* Peoria’s game against Wisconsin was postponed because of rain and the game will be made up at O’Brien Field since the Chiefs do not return to Wisconsin this half. The two teams play a doubleheader Sunday. Cam Greathouse and Graham Hicks are slated to start.

 — Carrie Muskat

4/16 Russell to start Tuesday

Mike Quade says James Russell will get a second start on Tuesday when the Cubs face the Padres but the lefty still could pitch Sunday in relief if needed. Before Saturday’s game, Quade said it would be either Russell or Jeff Samardzija on Tuesday. Russell got one out in the 8-3 win over the Rockies, facing pinch-hitter Todd Helton. Samardzija threw in the bullpen.

“It was a flip of the coin, really,” Quade said about the decision. “I decided we’d let [Russell] start and think about a tandem again. The more I talk about the fact that we’re asking a couple bullpen guys to give us innings and start for us, the more I think they’re bullpen guys. If something arises where we need one of those guys to get us outs to win a game here and probably [Sunday] would be the last day, then we’ll do it.”

The Cubs have decided to stay in-house rather than dip into the Minor Leagues to fill Andrew Cashner’s spot while he rehabs from a strained right rotator cuff.

— Carrie Muskat

4/16 Casey’s night vs. the Rockies

What was the key for Casey Coleman Saturday night? He wasn’t afraid to pitch inside against the Rockies.

“The  plan was to establish inside,” Coleman said after the 8-3 win over Colorado. “I hit a few guys. In the situation, it was all right. I didn’t mean to, obviously. In the jams, I had to settle down and make some pitches. This team has a great offense and I know they’re going to come out swinging. You can’t just lay it in there. I got lucky with a few — the 3-0 [pitch] to [Tulowitzki], I got away with that one. It’s just throwing pitches down in the zone and getting some movement and getting outs.”

He didn’t think about the Rockies’ red-hot streak or the fact they have the best record in the Major Leagues.

“My goal was to throw strikes,” he said, “and I didn’t really do that but at the right time, you had to come up with men on second and third and bear down and be able to throw your changeup against some of the bigger lefties and establish inside. We made some great plays. Darwin [Barney] and Carlos [Pena] made some great plays that saved some innings. It was a lot of fun and great playing those guys.”

The Rockies went 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position.

“They’re not going to do that the next time you face them,” Coleman said. “It was an off night for them.”

And Troy Tulowitzki’s take on Coleman?

“He’s a pitcher,” the Rockies shortstop said. “He uses both sides of the plate.  Solid.  He doesn’t have overpowering stuff, but he pitches.  I have a lot of respect for him after facing him.  Three, four, five different pitches.  Pitches in, pitches away.  He did a good job.”

— Carrie Muskat 

4/16 Coleman pulled in 6th

Casey Coleman was pulled from Saturday’s game in the sixth inning after taking a line drive off his leg by Rockies’ Chris Ianetta. Coleman was making his second start in place of Randy Wells and the first of his career against the Rockies. He helped himself in the fifth when he singled with one out and moved up to third on Starlin Castro’s double. Coleman then scored when Darwin Barney grounded out to first baseman Jason Giambi.

With one out and one on in the Rockies’ sixth, Ianetta hit a comebacker that deflected off Coleman’s leg. He was able to pick up the ball and throw Ianetta out but Cubs athletic trainer Mark O’Neal then went to the mound to check on the right-hander. Coleman was lifted after giving up one run on four hits and three walks over 5 2/3 innings. He had throw 97 pitches at that point.

— Carrie Muskat