June 2011

6/20 Ozzie on Castro: “He’ll be a good one”

Starlin Castro hit a two-run single and a solo homer but Mike Quade was most impressed with the shortstop’s defense. Ozzie Guillen was impressed, too.

“This kid, you look at the numbers, very impressed, very impressed,” Guillen said. “That kid, he’s got a chance to be a great one. You can see, just the way he comes to the plate, very relaxed. Like I say, and I don’t give too many people credit, but this kid is going to be a good one for the city of Chicago and the Cubs.”

This was Castro’s first homer since April 16, a span of 233 at-bats. He tied a season high with three RBIs.

“I was worried when we were up by three runs and had Castro come to the plate,” Guillen said. “Castro’s been swinging the bat very well, and he showed today how good he can be. This kid has a chance to be an outstanding player. When you’re that young, you chase a lot of bad pitches, but this kid has a chance to be a very good one.”

— Carrie Muskat

6/20 Drop-kick

Ozzie Guillen needed a little anger management after Monday’s game. He punted Geovany Soto’s mask after arguing a call in the sixth.

“It was a swinging bunt and the ball was rolling back toward me and I caught it before it left home plate,” Soto said of the play involving Alexei Ramirez. “The umpire was right over my shoulder and saw it. [Guillen] has got to come out and pull for his player. Stuff happens.”

Soto couldn’t help but smile as Guillen argued and kicked the mask. The Sox manager was ejected.

“It’s one of those things where it’s funny,” Soto said.

— Carrie Muskat

6/20 Cubs vs Sox – Round I

Alfonso Soriano was the Cubs’ DH on Monday and it will be Aramis Ramirez’s turn on Tuesday for the Interleague games against the White Sox. The Cubs will be playing American League rules for the next six games.

“It’s a pleasure,” Mike Quade said of using the DH. “I love the National League rules and much prefer them for a ton of reasons but when you do get these little stints with six games in a row with the DH, you get players involved. Handling your pitching just becomes handling your pitching.”

* Darwin Barney hit off a batting tee on Monday, the first time he’s done so since going on the disabled list June 14 with a sprained left knee. Barney is also waiting to be fitted with a knee brace, which the Cubs medical staff wants him to wear.

* Marlon Byrd says he expects to begin a rehab assignment in one week with Triple-A Iowa. The Cubs have yet to announce whether Byrd is ready to go. He is recovering from multiple facial fractures after being hit in the face with a pitch May 21 by Red Sox pitcher Alfredo Aceves.

“He’s healing and he’s healthy and in a great frame of mind,” Quade said. “After something like that, that’s first and foremost.”

The center fielder, who was batting .308 when injured, is one of the first to arrive at the ballpark.

“The workouts are getting old,” Byrd said. “It feels like Spring Training.”

* Quade took the Red Line to U.S. Cellular Field and said it was a little crowded. He also had a chance to chat with his White Sox counterpart, Ozzie Guillen.

“It was actually kind of neat to talk to him and just good baseball conversation,” Quade said.

Monday is the first round of the Cubs’ home-and-away series vs. the White Sox.

“I always look forward to this,” Quade said. “When you’re grinding through a season, these kind of things pick everybody up, even off the Yankee [series]. I have the same buzz.”

— Carrie Muskat

6/20 Lou & Jack

Jack McKeon is back managing at the age of 80. What about Lou Piniella?

“I’m a young guy,” Piniella said Monday from his Tampa, Fla., home. “I’m young in comparison — I’m only 67. Jack’s a young 80. He’s a lifetime baseball guy. He’s got the cigar in his mouth and he’s chomping on it and he’s good for the business. It’s an interim job and I think that’s great. I think he’ll help stabilize things for the Marlins. He’s got the experience, the knowledge and the energy. He’s a young 80.”
Piniella said the travel and the Florida heat may get to McKeon. Now that he’s spending the summer in Florida, Piniella admitted he forgot how hot it is.

Does Piniella think about getting back into managing?
“I’m enjoying myself here,” he said. “I’m evaluating the American League for the Giants. That keeps me busy.”
— Carrie Muskat

6/20 Cubs lineup

Alfonso Soriano is the designated hitter Monday for Game 1 of their Interleague series against the White Sox. Since Interleague play began in 1997, the Cubs have used 35 designated hitters, who have combined to hit .275 (114-for-415) with 17 home runs and 70 RBIs in 104 games. Glenallen Hill leads the Cubs’ Dh with three homers and 15 hits. Here’s the Cubs lineup:

RF Fukudome

SS Castro

LF DeWitt

3B Ramirez

1B Pena

DH Soriano

C Soto

2B LeMahieu

CF Campana

— Carrie Muskat

6/20 Extra bases

Since Interleague play began in 1997, the Cubs have used 35 designated hitters, who have combined to hit .275 (114-for-415) with 17 home runs and 70 RBIs in 104 games. Glenallen Hill leads the Cubs’ Dh with three homers and 15 hits.

* According to Elias Sports Bureau, the Cubs have scored five or more runs in an inning 10 times, tying the Rockies for most in the NL. But they’ve also given up five or more in one inning 10 times, the most of any NL team.

— Carrie Muskat


6/20 Minor League report

Bryan LaHair hit his 19th homer, Brad Snyder and Bobby Scales each hit their eighth to lead Iowa to an 8-5 win over Albuquerque on sunday. Blake Parker picked up the win in relief, throwing three scoreless innings.

Steve Clevenger and Ryan Flaherty each had three hits in Tennessee’s 11-6 loss to Chattanooga. Brett Jackson hit his seventh home run, Flaherty his 13th.

Graham Hicks gave up five runs on six hits over 2 1/3 innings in Peoria’s 9-1 loss to Quad Cities. Matt Szczur had two hits and his 16th stolen base.

Jin-Young Kim gave up three runs on four hits over four innings in Boise’s 8-1 loss to Eugene.

— Carrie Muskat

6/19 Minor League report

Iowa gave up 11 runs in the second inning and lost its third straight game, 13-10, to Albuquerque on Saturday. Austin Bibens-Dirkx gave up 11 runs on nine hits in one plus innings. Welington Castillo hit his ninth homer.

Dallas Beeler gave up four runs on eight hits over six innings in Tennessee’s 5-3 loss to Chattanooga.

Matt Cerda hit a go-ahead RBI double in the fifth to drive in Michael Brenly and lift the North team to a 5-3 victory over the South in the Florida State League All-Star Game. Brenly’s dad Bob, the Cubs TV analyst, was there for the game and his son had two hits. Justin Bour won the Home Run Derby and went 1-for-4.

Austin Kirk gave up six runs on eight hits over five innings in Peoria’s 6-1 loss to Quad Cities. Matt Szczur hit his fifth homer, a solo shot.

— Carrie Muskat

6/19 Cubs vs. White Sox

On Monday, the Cubs begin their home and road Interleague series against the White Sox, who lead, 41-37, in their meetings. The Sox also took last year’s series, 4-2. Mike Quade says he hasn’t decided on a DH yet. Aramis Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano handled the duties in Boston against the Red Sox.

This will be Carlos Zambrano’s first game on the South Side since his tantrum last June 25, which led to a three-game suspension and anger management therapy.

“We forgot about it,” Soriano said. “We play one day at a time. I think he’ll do a very good job tomorrow.”

Said Quade:  “I think he’s well prepared. I’ve put all that behind me. I expect him to pitch well and be the guy he’s been for three months, four months. He’ll take the ball and pitch well, that’s what I really care about.”

Here are some Cubs vs. White Sox numbers:

* The Cubs are 21-18 at Wrigley Field, but 16-23 at Comiskey Park/U.S. Cellular Field.

* The Cubs’ last three-game sweep was June 20-22, 2008; and the last time they were swept was June 27-29, 2008. The most wins the Cubs have had is five in 2007, and fewest was one in 1997.

Cubs leaders vs. White Sox:

Batting average: Mark Grace .350

Home runs: Aramis Ramirez, 12

RBIs: Sammy Sosa, 39

ERA: Mark Prior, 2.88

Wins: Carlos Zambrano, five

Saves: Ryan Dempster & Bob Howry, three each

Strikeouts: Zambrano, 66

— Carrie Muskat

6/19 Cubs lineup vs Yankees

DJ LeMahieu and Lou Montanez will start Sunday night for the Cubs in the series finale vs. the Yankees. Here’s the lineup vs. CC Sabathia:

CF Johnson

SS Castro

1B Baker

3B Ramirez

LF Soriano

C Soto

RF Montanez

2B LeMahieu

P Wells

— Carrie Muskat