June 2011

6/27 Are Cubs buyers or sellers?

The trade deadline is July 31 but it was a topic posed to some Cubs players after Monday’s 7-3 win over the Rockies. Will the Cubs be buyers or sellers?

“We haven’t been healthy,” third baseman Aramis Ramirez said. “Right now we’re playing better but we’re missing Marlon Byrd and [Darwin] Barney [who are on the DL].”

Pitcher Matt Garza ignores the talk.

“I know what my job is and that’s to pitch and get outs,” he said. “None of that stuff concerns me. If my name gets called, it gets called. I’m just going to keep going out there and keep pitching.”

Carlos Pena has been red-hot lately. Maybe he’ll draw interest? He doesn’t think about such things.

“Not at all,” Pena said. “I’m a Cub. I don’t even look that far ahead. In my mind, I’m a Cub until the end.”

Does he feel the Cubs can still make a run in the NL Central?

“We still have faith in this ballclub,” Pena said. “Everyone here believes we can do it. We undrstand we need to play today’s game today. I think we’re playing great baseball in the last few weeks. Now we have to make the sure the tight ballgames go our way.”

— Carrie Muskat

6/27 Scales to Japan

Infielder Bobby Scales has signed with the Nippon Ham Fighters and is going to play in Japan. Scales was batting .304 in 68 games with Triple-A Iowa with 22 doubles, nine homers and 43 RBIs. Scales, 33, joins another former Cubs player, Micah Hoffpauir, who is currently in Japan with the Nippon team.

— Carrie Muskat

6/27 Twinbill tidbits

Doug Davis will start the first game of the Cubs’ day-night doubleheader Tuesday against the Giants with Rodrigo Lopez in the second game. The alignment was not done because of matchups but to help Mike Quade prepare for the second game. Davis (1-6, 5.01 ERA) will be making his ninth start of the season while Lopez (0-1, 6.59 ERA) will be making his second.

“I want to know where we’re at bullpen-wise going into Game 2,” Quade said. “We want to see exactly what Doug can give us because he’s been giving us length and pitches, and then assess where we’re at for the night game bullpen-wise.”

The extra game was a makeup from a May 15 game postponed by rain. The Cubs have endured 10 rain delays this season with the total delay time 11 hours 48 minutes.

— Carrie Muskat

6/27 Byrd, Barney updates

Marlon Byrd will begin his rehab assignment Monday with Triple-A Iowa while the Cubs are counting the days until Darwin Barney returns from the disabled list. Byrd, sidelined with multiple facial fractures after being hit in the face with a pitch May 21 by Boston’s Alfredo Aceves, was to wear a protective batting helmet that wrapped around the left side of his face. Barney homered on Sunday in Iowa’s 8-3 win over Albuquerque and can be activated Wednesday. He’s been out since June 14 with a sprained left knee.

“Marlon needs a longer stint than Barney because of his time away,” Mike Quade said. “How long that is, I don’t know. This guy might have three, four games there and say ‘Man, I’m locked in and ready.'”

Quade didn’t think the Cubs center fielder would have to deal with any kind of fear factor upon his return.

“[Getting hit] is a part of hitting no matter what the heck happens,” Quade said. “I’m much more concerned about his timing. It’s tough to come back exactly the way you left. It takes time. A good look at his at-bats and his approach and how he’s putting the ball in play are way more of a concern for me than the rest.”

Reliever Kerry Wood is still rehabbing from a blister on his right index finger.

— Carrie Muskat

6/27 Minor League report

Darwin Barney, Bryan LaHair and Welington Castillo each homered to help Iowa beat Albuquerque, 8-3, on Sunday. Marco Carillo threw five shutout innings for the win. LaHair had four hits, including his 21st home run.

Steve Clevenger had two hits in Tennessee’s 6-0 loss to Birmingham. Dallas Beeler took the loss, giving up six runs (five earned) on 11 hits over five innings.

David Macias had three hits in Daytona’s 4-3 loss to Dunedin. Dae-Eun Rhee gave up four runs on seven hits over six innings.

Hayden Simpson gave up four runs — one earned — on 10 hits over 5 2/3 innings in Peoria’s 6-1 loss to Kane County. Elliot Soto had three hits.

Luis Liria gave up one run on two hits over five innings in Boise’s 3-2 win over Spokane. Paul Hoilman had two hits.

Hunter Ackerman gave up one run on two hits over 4 2/3 innings and struck out six in Mesa’s 8-2 win over the Dodgers.

* Roster moves: Esmailin Caridad and Jeff Stevens were added to Tennessee’s roster. Pitcher Patrick Francescon, a 40th round pick in the June First-Year Player Draft, has joined Peoria.

— Carrie Muskat

6/27 Cubs lineup

No more designated hitter. The Cubs play the Rockies Monday in a makeup game. Here’s the lineup:

RF Fukudome

CF Campana

SS Castro

3B Ramirez

1B Pena

LF Soriano

2B DeWitt

C Soto

P Garza

— Carrie Muskat

6/23 Minor League report

Scott Moore drove in two runs but it wasn’t enough as Iowa lost, 3-2, to Memphis in the first game of a doubleheader. Ty Wright had two hits. In the second game, Tyler Colvin and Bobby Scales both homered and Jay Jackson struck out five over six innings in a 8-5 win. Fernando Perez had three hits, colvin had two and three RBIs. Scales finished with two hits and two RBIs.

Justin Bour hit a three-run double to help Daytona end a four-game losing streak with a 6-3 win over Lakeland. Jeff Lorick gave up three runs (two earned) on four hits over six innings and struck out eight. Jae-Hoon Ha hit his eighth home run and drove in two.

Paul Hoilman had two hits and two RBIs in Boise’s 3-2 win over Tri-City. Jose Rosario picked up the win, pitching 3 2/3 innings in relief. Boise also made some roster moves: D.J. Fitzgerald was released, catcher Carlos Romero was sent to Mesa, and infielder Vismeldy Bieneme injured a ligament on his hand and was sent to Mesa to rehab.

Brian Smith gave up three runs (two earned) on five hits over 3 1/3 innings in Mesa’s 6-3 loss to the D-Backs.

— Carrie Muskat

6/22 Barney update

Darwin Barney was expected to test a knee brace on Thursday, and if he passes all tests, he could begin a rehab assignment on Saturday with Triple-A Iowa. Barney is on the DL with a sprained left knee. He has been able to hit in the batting cage and on the field, but can’t take part in fielding drills. The Cubs want him to wear the brace to avoid any problems with lateral movement.

— Carrie Muskat

6/22 A gift for Marlon

Rhiannon Jolliff’s first grade class at Joan Martin Elementary School in Hobart, Ind., sent Marlon Byrd some drawings and get well wishes, including a message from one student that the Cubs outfielder is the “best player in the world.” Byrd, on the disabled list after getting hit in the face with a pitch May 21, was expected to begin a rehab assignment Monday with Triple-A Iowa. Saturday marks the five-week mark since he was hit by Boston’s Alfredo Aceves.

— Carrie Muskat

6/22 Soriano: The fans here are good

Alfonso Soriano has heard his share of boos since coming to Chicago in 2007, just as White Sox slugger Adam Dunn is hearing now. That doesn’t mean Soriano doesn’t like the fans. In a story in the Chicago Sun-Times, Soriano was quoted as saying Chicago fans are the “worst” in baseball. On Wednesday, Soriano denied saying that.

“I think it was a misunderstanding,” Soriano said of his comments. “The fans here are good. At the same time, if you’re going bad, they boo. If you’re doing good, they clap for you. It’s not about the fans. Here, everywhere, Cincinnati, St. Louis, any ballpark that you go to, if you’re not doing good, what are they going to do? They’ll boo you. It’s not like they’re the worst fans in the world.”

So, he didn’t mean that?

“No,” Soriano said. “I feel sorry for Adam Dunn because he’s a great player. I feel sorry for him because every time he goes to home plate and he doesn’t do his job, they boo you. I understand, every player understands that he’s not doing good. The fans, they let us know if they’re not happy. If he hits a homer, the fans will clap.

“I don’t know why [the reporter] tried to say that I don’t like the fans in Chicago,” Soriano said. “I enjoy playing in Chicago and I enjoy playing for the fans in Chicago.”

— Carrie Muskat