June 2011

6/29 Hendry: “No fire sale”

Cubs GM Jim Hendry says there will be no fire sale at the trading deadline and that he’s looking forward to seeing the team whole once injured players like Marlon Byrd and Kerry Wood return.

“I read some things that people assume — they use the word ‘fire sale,'” Hendry said Wednesday. “That’s not going to happen. We’re not interested in trading people at all who will be valuable to us moving forward. People like to float names of your better players which makes no sense to trade. If we make moves, it will be designed to make us better for the future. We still want to see how we play the next month or so.

“Everybody thinks there’s this big automatic, ‘You have to be a buyer or seller’ or ‘It’s fire sale time,'” Hendry said. “We’ve got a lot of young people out there pitching and playing, and people who will be productive for us in a year from now who, when you get ready to put a team together in the offseason, you don’t want to start without them anyhow. As the games go, there’s less and less pitching available every year and less and less talent, for the most part. We’re certainly going to hold onto the people no matter what who we feel will be major contributors down the road.”

That said, Hendry is not content with the way the Cubs have played and expects a better situation when Byrd and Wood come off the DL.

“The bantering that goes on about how many people will be out of here [at the trading deadline] is foolish,” Hendry said. “There’s a lot of people you’re still capable of winning with down the road who are not free agents and you have control of their contracts for years that you’re not interested in trading.”

Hendry said the Cubs can turn things around in a short amount of time.

“We’ve done that before a few times and plan on doing it again,” he said. “You look at people winning now the last couple years who weren’t two or three years ago — people like Texas come to mind. Different clubs are in contention now that weren’t two or three years ago. Unfortunately, we’re on the other side.”

The Cubs began play Wednesday at 32-48.

“It’s obviously extremely disappointing,” Hendry said. “Nobody expected that. There’s no sense in going with excuses — we haven’t played good enough baseball to be in contention. When you lose a couple rotation guys, it puts us right behind the eight ball. I think we’re 8-24 in the fourth and fifth spots in the rotation. That first week of the season when we saw [Randy] Wells and [Andrew] Cashner pitch like that, I don’t think those two at that point in their lives would be 8-24.”

The Cubs also have lost games started by pitchers other than the fourth and fifth starters which they should have won, he said.

“It’s kind of a snowballing effect,” Hendry said. “Now some of the guys who were not swinging in April are swinging better now. We still feel there’s a lot of baseball games. We’re not going to roll over.”

— Carrie Muskat

6/29 Davis released

The Cubs activated infielder Darwin Barney from the DL and Doug Davis was given his unconditional release. Davis was 1-7 with a 6.50 ERA in nine games with the Cubs.

— Carrie Muskat

6/29 Pena homers, June & more

Carlos Pena is the first Cubs player ever to reach 17 home runs before July after hitting none in April. He’s the first Major Leaguer to do so since Juan Gonzalez in 1997 with the Rangers. Gonzalez missed the first month of the season because of injury, and connected on his first homer May 2. Thanks to STATS Inc. and SABR for research.

The last player to accomplish the feat while playing in April of a non strike-shortened season was the Brewers’ Gorman Thomas in 1982. He hit 19 by June 30 after failing to homer in 17 April games. Larry Walker turned the trick with the Rockies in 1995 when the start of that season was delayed because of a strike.

Pena’s 17 home runs have come since May 3 and rank tied for first in that timeframe with the Yankees’ Mark Teixeira.

* Pena has homered in seven of his last 13 games. Eleven of his last 13 hits have been for extra bases.

* The Cubs are 9-18 in June with two games to go. Their 31 home runs this month are tied for the NL lead with the Braves and Brewers, and tied for second in the Majors. Cubs pitchers have a 4.60 ERA in June, including a 5.11 ERA by the starters.

* The Cubs are a season-low 16 games under .500 for the first time since finishing play on Sept. 15 last season at 65-81.

— Carrie Muskat

6/29 Minor League report

Casey Coleman gave up three runs on seven hits over seven innings in Iowa’s 10-4 win over Albuquerque Tuesday. Marlon Byrd, on a rehab assignment, hit a three-run homer. Marwin Gonzalez had three hits and two RBIs. The I-Cubs totaled 17 hits.

Rebel Ridling hit two home runs, and Ryan Flaherty and Junior Lake each added a homer to help Tennessee beat Carolina, 12-11. Ridling had three hits, including a grand slam, and five RBIs. Ryan Searle picked up the win i nrelief.

Juan Serrano gave up two runs on five hits over four innings in Daytona’s 3-0 loss to Dunedin.

Richard Jones hit two home runs to help Peoria beat Wisconsin, 4-1. Jones finished with three RBIs. Brent Ebinger picked up the win in relief, giving up one hit over 4 2/3 scoreless innings. Patrick Francescon converted his first save.

Yao-Lin Wang gave up one run on five hits over 5 1/3 innings in Boise’s 3-2 win over Tri-City. Reggie Golden hit a two-run homer, and has hit safely in eight of 11 games.

Dustin Geiger extended his hitting streak to five games with his second homer in Mesa’s 8-3 win over the D-Backs. Oliver Zapata had two hits and a stolen base.

— Carrie Muskat

6/28 Like father, like son? Not quite

Shawon Dunston Jr., selected by the Cubs in the 11th round of the First-Year Player Draft, is still trying to decide whether to take advantage of a scholarship at Vanderbilt or play baseball. Shawon Jr.’s dad, who was the Cubs’ first-round pick in 1982, said his son has the potential to be a good ballplayer.

“He’s good,” Dunston said of his son. “He has all the skills, but he just needs to play.”

The decision now is school vs. baseball.

“He’s inbetween now,” Dunston said. “It’s 50-50.”

The family will sit down to talk about Shawon Jr.’s future but dad said he wants this to be his son’s decision.

“I’m leaving it up to him,” Dunston said. “He knows education is important, and he knows to be a Major League Baseball player he has to go through the Minor Leagues. We’re going to leave it up to him.”

Shawon Dunston was in town with the Giants. He works now as a coach. Son Shawon Jr. played center field, not shortstop like his dad, at Valley Christian High School in San Jose, Calif. He’s the third of four children in the Dunston family. Older sister Whitney is at Howard University and Jasmine is at Tennessee State. The youngest, Ashley, is in high school.

Shawon Sr. played for Chicago from 1985-95, and returned in ’97. In 18 seasons in the big leagues, he batted .269 with 15 homers, 292 doubles and 62 triples. Anyone who watched Dunston remembers his strong throwing arm and acrobatic leaps at second. And his son?

“He throws pretty good,” Dunston said. “He’s a little more patient than me.”

Does his son have his dad’s arm?

“Not like mine — not yet,” Dunston said, laughing. “He’s good. He has the tools. He has to play.”

— Carrie Muskat

6/28 Minor League report

Tyler Colvin and Jonathon Mota each homered in Iowa’s 6-5, 13-inning win over Albuquerque. Chris Robinson delivered a pinch-hit RBI single for the game-winner. Bryan LaHair had four hits and drove in his 60th run.

Ryan Flaherty, Rebel Ridling and Blake Lalli each had two hits in Tennessee’s 1-0, 13-inning win over Birmingham. Kevin Rhoderick picked up the win in relief.

Jeff Lorick threw six shutout innings in Daytona’s 3-1 win over Dunedin. Justin Bour hit his 20th double and scored a run.

Anthony Giansanti had four hits, including two home runs, and three RBIs in Peoria’s 16-7 win over Wisconsin. Matt Loosen gave up two runs over six innings for the win. Matt Szczur and Richard Jones each had three hits and two RBIs.

Dustin Harrington had three hits and scored two runs in Boise’s 11-7 win over Spokane. Wes Darvill had three hits and Ben Wells picked up the win in relief.

Dustin Geiger hit his first homer but it wasn’t enough as Mesa lost, 4-3, to the Angels. Oliver Zapata had two hits and scored two runs.

— Carrie Muskat


6/28 Extra bases – UPDATED

Darwin Barney went 2-for-3 for Triple-A Iowa on Tuesday and most likely will be in the Cubs’ lineup Wednesday. He’s been on the DL since June 14 with a sprained left knee.  Barney is wearing a knee brace now, and has said it doesn’t hinder his mobility and gives him the support he needs.

* Marlon Byrd hit a three-run homer for Triple-A Iowa on Tuesday, his second rehab game. No ill effects after being hit in the back by a pitch on Monday in his first game.

* Kerry Wood as to throw on the side Wednesday. He’s recovering from a blister on his right index finger.

* Expect to see Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena in the lineup for Tuesday’s second game against lefty Barry Zito.

* Quade has ben impressed by rookie DJ LeMahieu’s defensive play. “I think he’s handled himself extremely well,” Quade said. “He hasn’t been in awe. I’ve really been impressed with him defensively. He’s a big kid, moves around well.”

* Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena hit two homers each in the Cubs’ 7-3 win over the Rockies on Monday. According to Elias Sports Bureau, that’s the first time in the Cubs’ 96 seasons at Wrigley Field that the home team’s starters in the fourth and fifth spots in the batting order both hit multiple home runs in the same game. Ernie Banks and Ron Santo — like Pena and Ramirez, corner infielders — started 969 games together as the Cubs’ fourth and fifth hitters (504 at Wrigley).  But the only time that both players hit two homers in the same game was at County Stadium in Milwaukee in 1965.

 — Carrie Muskat

6/28 Quade named to NL All-Star staff

Cubs manager Mike Quade will join the National League coaching staff for the All-Star Game, to be played July 12 in Phoenix. Giants manager Bruce Bochy made the announcement Tuesday prior to a makeup doubleheader between the Cubs and Giants. Quade, 54, replaces Jim Riggleman, who had been named to the NL staff but resigned from the Nationals last week. Quade took over the Cubs last Aug. 23, and guided the team to a 24-13 record. This year, he’s had to deal with injuries to several key players, including starting pitchers Andrew Cashner and Randy Wells, who were placed on the disabled list after their first starts.

— Carrie Muskat

6/28 Cubs lineup – Game 1

Koyie Hill will be behind the plate for the Cubs in the first game of Tuesday’s day-night doubleheader against the Giants. Aramis Ramirez is 5-for-12 vs. Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong. Here’s the lineup:

RF Fukudome

CF Campana

SS Castro

3B Ramirez

1B Pena

LF Soriano

2B DeWitt

C Hill

P Davis

— Carrie Muskat

6/28 Byrd survives 1st rehab game

Marlon Byrd has not faced live pitching since May 21 when he was hit in the face by a pitch. The Cubs center fielder didn’t have to wait long to see if he’d flinch. In his first rehab game Monday night, he was hit in the left shoulder by a pitch. Byrd was playing for Triple-A Iowa, which needed a game-winning pinch-hit RBI single by Chris Robinson in the 15th to beat Albuquerque, 6-5. Byrd was hit by a pitch in the third. Darwin Barney, rehabbing from a sprained left knee, then singled and both scored on Tyler Colvin’s home run. Byrd played 10 innings and was 0-for-3 with a walk. John Gaub picked up the win, pitching four shutout innings in relief. He struck out seven. Five Iowa pitchers combined to fan 19 to tie a franchise record.

“I thought I’d have jitters but I didn’t,” Byrd told reporters in Des Moines. “I got hit by a pitch. That was something I needed.”

He flew out to left in the first, was hit by a pitch and scored in the third, grounded out to shortstop in the fourth and walked in the seventh, then stole second before scoring on Bryan LaHair’s single. In the ninth, Byrd flew out. He’s wearing a batting helmet with a flap that covers his left cheek.

* Bobby Scales is headed to Japan. Scouts from the Nippon Ham Fighters approached Scales about playing in Japan. His teammate there would be former Cubs prospect Micah Hoffpauir.

“As soon as they told me that, I checked the clock to see what time it was over there,” Scales said. “I waited until a decent time to call ‘Hoffie’ and he told me it’d be a good deal.”

The decision came quickly. Scales settled matters on Monday, and he’s leaving Thursday. Scales, 33, who was playing his 12th Minor League season, hopes to be in the lineup with the Nippon Ham Fighters on Saturday. His wife, Monica, agreed to the move.

“Hopefully, this is a good thing,” Scales said. “If I play the way I’ve been playing all season, I would like to keep playing over there.”

He was batting .304 with 22 doubles and nine homers with Iowa.

— Carrie Muskat