May 2011

5/27 Lopez to start Monday for Cubs

Rodrigo Lopez arrived at Wrigley Field in time to be in the bullpen for Friday’s game but the right-hander was expected to start Monday for the Cubs against the Astros. Lopez, acquired from the Braves for a Minor League pitcher, Ryan Buchter, was 6-1 with a 2.59 ERA in nine games with Triple-A Gwinnett. The 35-year-old veteran will be the Cubs’ ninth starter this season. Casey Coleman was expected to be optioned to Triple-A Iowa on Saturday to make room on the roster for Randy Wells, who will be activated from the DL and start against the Pirates.

— Carrie Muskat

5/27 Minor matters


Right-hander Marco Carrillo was added to Triple-A Iowa’s roster and lefty J.R. Mathes released. Carrillo started the season with Double-A Tennessee and pitched primarily out of the bullpen. In 17 games, he was 4-0 with a 1.21 ERA.
Mathes was in his fifth season with Iowa. He holds Iowa’s franchise record for career wins with 42 which he broke last season on July 23 with a win at Round Rock. In nine starts for the I-Cubs this year, Mathes was 2-4 with a 9.07 ERA.
* The Cubs and the Iowa Cubs have extended their Player Development Contract through the 2016 season. The affiliation started in 1981 and is the eighth-longest current affiliation in professional baseball.
“With these guys, we want to keep them extended as long as we can,” said Cubs player development director Oneri Fleita. “They give us red-carpet treatment 24-7 for our players and our staff. We’re five hours away in Chicago. We’ve got a huge fan base here. Huge Cubs fans. I don’t know if we could ask for anything more.”
* Also, Alberto Cabrera, who was 6-2 with a 5.36 ERA in nine starts at Double-A Tennessee, was expected to be promoted to Iowa on Monday.
— Carrie Muskat

5/27 Minor League report

J.R. Mathes gave up five runs on eight hits over five innings in Iowa’s 6-3 loss to Las Vegas on Thursday. Mathes now is 2-4 with a 9.07 ERA. Brad Snyder and Steve Clevenger each had two hits.

* Justin Bour hit his 13th home run in Daytona’s 6-4 win over Bradenton. Matt Cerda, Evan Crawford and Michael Brenly each had two hits.

“Last year, he led our organization in on-base percentage,” Cubs player development director Oneri Fleita said Friday of Bour. “We just didn’t see the power numbers. He’s a great big kid and came into camp in great shape and he’s running better. He hits to all fields and now we’re seeing power. He’s been a great surprise this season.”

* Hayden Simpson, the Cubs’ No. 1 Draft pick last year, picked up his first pro win on Thursday in the second game of a doubleheader with Wisconsin. Simpson gave up two hits over five innings and struck out seven in a 4-1 victory. In the first game, Pierre LePage homered and drove in two runs in a 6-4 completion of Wednesday’s game.

— Carrie Muskat

5/27 Big Z’s milestones

Carlos Zambrano went 3-for-3 and allowed two runs over six innings to earn the win in the Cubs’ 9–3 victory Thursday over the Mets.  According to Elias Sports Bureau, it was the eighth game in which Zambrano recorded three or more hits and was the winning pitcher, the highest total since Bob Gibson retired in 1975 with eight such victories.

Zambrano also has the most such wins in modern Cubs history (that is, since 1900), with two more than Grover Alexander or Mordecai Brown.
Still not impressed?  Zambrano has three more such wins than Babe Ruth, who posted a 94–46 record, primarily for the Red Sox in the teens, but had three or more hits in only five of them.

— Carrie Muskat

5/26 Cubs add Lopez

Expect some roster moves on Friday with the Cubs making a change late Thursday. They acquired Rodrigo Lopez from the Braves in a Minor League deal and the right-handed pitcher was to arrive at Wrigley Field on Friday. What his role will be is yet to be determined, GM Jim Hendry said.

The Cubs have been patching together the rotation because of injuries to Randy Wells, Andrew Cashner and Matt Garza and inconsistent outings by Casey Coleman. Wells was on schedule to be activated from the disabled list and start Saturday against the Pirates. Lopez, 35, was signed to a Minor League contract by Atlanta in the offseason and was 6-1 with a 2.59 ERA in nine starts with Triple-A Gwinnett.

— Carrie Muskat

5/26 Wednesday Minor League report

Ramon Ortiz gave up three runs on six hits over seven innings and struck out eight in Iowa’s 7-3 win over Las Vegas. Bryan LaHair hit his 12th home run and Brad Snyder had three hits and one RBI.

Rebel Ridling had three hits, including his ninth homer, and three RBIs to help Tennessee beat Mississippi, 10-6. Brooks Raley gave up three runs on five hits over 5 1/3 innings for the win.

Daytona won its eighth straight game for the second time, beating St. Lucie, 5-0. Nick Struck threw six shutout innings, giving up seven hits and striking out eight. Rubi Silva hit his second homer and Junior Lake extended his hitting streak to 10 games.

Peoria’s game against Wisconsin was called after three innings because of rain. The seven-inning game will resume Thursday at 5 p.m. CT, and the regularly scheduled game will follow. The game from April 16, which was to be Game 2 of Wednesday’s doubleheader, now will be made up as part of a twinbill June 15.

— Carrie Muskat

5/25 Where’s the power?

Entering Wednesday’s game against the Mets, Darwin Barney and Starlin Castro were tied with Alfonso Soriano for the Cubs’ RBI lead with 23 each. Usually, the top RBI guy is the big bopper. Castro and Barney have one home run each.

“We’ll always take the homers,” Cubs manager Mike Quade said. “Power doesn’t hurt at any given time. Just putting together quality at-bats, and if they’re not home runs, a double here or there [is fine].”

The emphasis should be on good swings, patience at the plate.

“And understand [the pitcher is] the guy in trouble, not the guy in the batter’s box,” Quade said. “That’s what [hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo] is working toward, that’s what they’re all working toward. We were able to string some stuff together last night. If we have quality at-bats in RBI situations, we’ll do enough damage to win games.”

What’s been strange is the HR drought by Soriano and Aramis Ramirez. Soriano has not homered since May 2; Ramirez since April 6.

“It’s a little bit of a surprise and I think a little more with Ramy because he’s been so consistent over the years,” Quade said. “I’m a past performance guy. I believe it will get better.”

* Jeff Baker was available to pinch-hit in an emergency, Cubs manager Mike Quade said Wednesday. Baker has a strained left groin, injured Sunday during an at-bat.

* Lou Montanez has yet to catch up on all the text messages and phone calls he’s received since being called up to the Cubs on Tuesday. He admitted to feeling a little “overwhelmed” by all the messages. “It always feels good to get some love,” he said.

* Rookie Welington Castillo was behind the plate Wednesday. Quade said he likes the way Castillo is able to control the running game. He’s also improved at the plate. How does the manager know? He was the one throwing batting practice to the young catcher. “You’d be surprised what you can learn doing that,” Quade said. “I actually thought his swing looked a lot better and his approach was better. He’s going to hit and hit for power. Given the injury [to his hand] and down time, I didn’t think he was near as sharp offensively this year as he was last year when he arrived.”

— Carrie Muskat

5/25 Extra bases

Some facts and figures heading into Wednesday’s game against the Mets:

* The Cubs have scored at least five runs in one inning nine times this season. That’s the most in the Majors (the Blue Jays are second with six innings of at least five runs).

* On Opening Day, the Cubs had two rookies on the active roster in Darwin Barney and Marcos Mateo. Now, they have four: Barney, Tony Campana, Welington Castillo and Scott Maine. Five players who were on the Opening Day roster are on the disabled list: Marlon Byrd, Geovany Soto, Andrew Cashner, Randy Wells and Matt Garza.

* Lou Montanez made his Cubs debut nearly 11 years after he was selected in the 2000 Draft. It’s not the longest wait by a Cubs Draft pick. Chuck Crim, who was selected in 1979 but did not sign, made his Cubs debut almost 15 years after he was drafted in April 1994.

* Have you cast a ballot for Barney for the NL All-Star team? You can write him in at second base. Barney is the top rookie in the Majors in hits (54), multi-hit games (19), and batting average (.318). He also ranks third among NL players who have the fewest strikeouts per plate appearances. And he has no fear. Barney has a .286 average with two strikes on him, which is fifth highest among NL hitters, trailing Pablo Sandoval, Matt Holliday, Prince Fielder and David Freese.

— Carrie Muskat

5/25 Tuesday’s Minor League games

Robert Coello gave up four runs on eight hits and five walks over 5 1/3 innings in Iowa’s 4-1 loss to Las Vegas. Brad Snyder had two hits, including a solo homer, his seventh.

Alberto Cabrera gave up three runs on six hits over seven innings in Tennessee’s 10-5 win over Mississippi. Cabrera now is 6-2 with a 5.36 ERA. Ryan Flaherty extended his hitting streak to nine games with his 11th homer and Jae-Hoon Ha added a solo homer.

Justin Bour had three hits, including his 12th homer, and two RBIs in Daytona’s 9-7 win over St. Lucie. Junior Lake and Jake Optiz also homered. Optiz finished with four RBIs.

Su-Min Jung gave up nine runs on 10 hits over 3 2/3 innings in Peoria’s 10-2 loss to Wisconsin. Greg Rohan and Richard Jones had two hits each.

* Minor League notes: Tyler Colvin went 0-for-4, and was batting .292 since joining the Iowa Cubs. He missed hitting for the cycle on Sunday by a home run, then homered on Monday. “Mechanically, I’m fine,” Colvin told the Des Moines Register. “It’s just about getting my timing back.”

Geovany Soto will join Double-A Tennessee Thursday and Friday. He’s been on the DL since May 11 with a strained left groin. Outfielder James Adduci had a broken bone in his hand surgically repaired and may miss the rest of the season.

— Carrie Muskat

5/25 Dempster hosts Casino Night July 20

Ryan Dempster and his wife Jenny will host the second annual Casino Night on July 20 at the Palmer House in downtown Chicago to benefit “Strike Out 22q” and raise funds to support the Ryan and Jenny Dempster Family Foundation. The Casino Night fundraiser will feature a night on the town to mingle with Cubs players as well as local musical guest, Chicago’s own, John Vincent.  Each of the celebrities from the sports and entertainment worlds will serve as guest dealers at the casino tables.  Guests will be able to bid on one-of-a-kind auction packages, experiences, and sports memorabilia.

Sponsorship opportunities, as well as VIP and general admission tickets, are now available online.  Tickets are available on the Foundation website at Click on Casino Night button at the top of the page. 

“We are proud to announce our second annual Dempster Family Foundation summer fundraiser, Casino Night,” Jenny Dempster said.  “The funds we raise through the event will support our grant cycle this fall for both children and families affected by 22q11.2 deletion, and other select local children’s charities.  We look forward to seeing everyone out that evening to help raise money to support children here in Chicagoland.” 

The Ryan and Jenny Dempster Family Foundation is dedicated to raising awareness of 22q11.2 Deletion (DiGeorge Syndrome/VCFS) and reaching out to families with children with the disorder, and the charities that support them, to help them deal with difficult situations they face each day.

 — Carrie Muskat