July 2011

7/29 Extra bases

With Kosuke Fukudome gone after being traded to the Indians, Starlin Castro took over the leadoff spot for the Cubs on Friday. It was Castro then Darwin Barney batting 1-2 to open the series against the Cardinals. It’s not a new role for Castro, who has a .369 average in 19 games as the leadoff man.

“We’ll start with those two kids and it will be an evolving thing and maybe not,” Quade said.

* Tyler Colvin most likely won’t be playing first base, at least not now. He played first in Spring Training but stuck to the outfield at Triple-A Iowa. Is the infield experiment over?

“Not necessarily,” Quade said. “When we sent him out [to Iowa] we were concerned with the bat and let him play the outfield and let him work on his bat. [The experiment] is over for the moment.”

* Andrew Cashner, on the DL with a strained right rotator cuff, will throw off the mound on Saturday in Mesa, Ariz. After that, he was expected to join the team in Pittsburgh this week. He’s been on the DL since the day after his first start of the season April 5, has been rehabbing at the Cubs’ facility in Arizona most of the season. There is no timetable for his return.

— Carrie Muskat

7/29 Ramirez not going anywhere

Aramis Ramirez isn’t going anywhere this year. On Thursday, the third baseman said he was willing to consider a trade but on Friday, he repeated his earlier stance, which is that he will not waive his no-trade protection.

“I think I was misunderstood yesterday,” Ramirez said about his comments after Thursday’s Cubs’ game in Milwaukee that seemed to leave a window open. “I haven’t read the paper … but the way it came out was that I wanted to leave and I was ready to go somewhere else and that’s not the case.

“What I tried to say yesterday was I talked to Jim [Hendry, general manager] a couple weeks ago and we’re on the same page,” Ramirez said. “He wants me here and I want to stay here.”

Ramirez has 10-and-5 rights, which are 10 years in the Major Leagues and five with the same team. That gives him the right to veto any deal. Back on July 18, Ramirez said he would do just that if Hendry came to him with a possible trade. At that time, there were reports that the Angels were interested.

“We knew there would be some teams interested in my services and [Hendry] asked me [earlier this month] what I wanted to do and I said I want to stay here and he said, ‘Good, I want you here,'” Ramirez said on Friday.

— Carrie Muskat

7/29 Cubs lineup

Starlin Castro takes over the leadoff spot on Friday for the Cubs, who open a three-game series against the Cardinals. Castro has hit .369 in the No. 1 spot this season so far. Darwin Barney also was moved up from eighth to No. 2. Barney has batted .290 with a .318 OBP in the second spot, and .314 with a .351 OBP in the eighth hole. Tyler Colvin also is starting in right as the Cubs move on without Kosuke Fukudome. Here’s the lineup:

SS Castro

2B Barney

3B Ramirez

1B Pena

CF Byrd

C Soto

LF Soriano

RF Colvin

P Garza

— Carrie Muskat

7/29 July numbers

Some July batting average/RBI numbers:

Marlon Byrd .309/4 RBIs

Aramis Ramirez .299/23 RBIs

Geovany Soto .293/6 RBIs

Darwin Barney, .286/8 RBIs

Starlin Castro .261/7 RBIs

Carlos Pena .228/7 RBIs

Alfonso Soriano .176/9 RBIs

— Carrie Muskat

7/29 Smith, Davis to lead Wrigley tours

Want to see Wrigley Field from Lee Smith’s point of view? How about Jody Davis? The two former Cubs will take part in VIP Living Legend Tours of Wrigley Field, starting next week. Smith, the former Cubs closer, will be giving a VIP Living Legend Tour Aug. 2 and Aug. 4, while Davis, the former catcher, will lead fans around Wrigley on Aug. 8.

For more info, click here: http://atmlb.com/rbITDt

— Carrie Muskat


7/29 Minor League report

Iowa’s game Thursday night against New Orleans was postponed because of rain. The two teams were to play a doubleheader on Friday. The I-Cubs did make some roster moves, adding catcher Steve Clevenger from Double-A Tennessee. Welington Castillo was placed on the DL with a hamstring injury.

Trey McNutt gave up five runs on seven hits over four innings in Tennessee’s 5-1 loss to Montgomery. Rafael Dolis struck out one in a perfect eighth. He has held the opponent scoreless in his last five outings over seven innings.

Jeffry Antigua gave up three runs on seven hits over seven innnings and struck out eight but Daytona lost, 3-1, to St. Lucie. Rafael Valdes had three hits, including a double. It was a tough assignment for Daytona as the Cubs had to face big leaguer Johan Santana, who was making a rehab outing. He gave up two hits, struck out three and hit one batter in three scoreless innings.

Eric Jokisch threw 6 2/3 scoreless innings but Peoria gave up three runs in the ninth to lose, 3-1, to Quad Cities. Taiwan Easterling had two hits and one RBIs.

Pin-Chieh Chen had two hits, including his first home run, in Boise’s 5-4, 10-inning loss to Everett. Kyler Burke, who is converting from outfielder to pitcher, gave up one run one hit over 3 2/3 innings of relief.

Mesa scored four runs in the sixth and added six more in the seventh to beat the D-Backs, 15-7. Marco Hernandez had three hits, including a triple, and drove in four runs.

— Carrie Muskat

7/29 Will Ramy go or won’t he? Who knows?

The agent for Aramis Ramirez told FOXSports.com that the Cubs third baseman does not intend to waive his no-trade protection before Sunday’s Trade Deadline. Ramirez told reporters after Thursday’s game against the Brewers that no one from the Cubs front office has approached him about any possible deals. He has 10-and-5 rights, and would have to approve any deal. Would he change his mind? “We’ll see,” Ramirez said.

Agent Paul Kinzer, however, gave a different version.

“He doesn’t want to go anywhere,” Kinzer told FOXsports.com after talking to Ramirez. “It didn’t come out the way he meant it to.”

As a player with 10 years in the big leagues and five with the same team, the third baseman can block any trade. He maintained two weeks ago that he didn’t want to leave Chicago because of his family. His conversation with reporters after Thursday’s game had a different tone — but his agent said “nothing has changed.”

“He said if they go young, he would do it,” Kinzer told FOXsports.com. “But he doesn’t want to leave Chicago. He isn’t going anywhere. ‘Ramy’ has never wavered as far as wanting to stay in Chicago. If he had his way, he would sign an extension and stay right there.”

Ramirez’s contract with the Cubs ends this year, and the team has a $16 million option for 2012. That option would become guaranteed if he is traded. Kinzer said Ramirez would want the option dropped as a condition of any trade, enabling him to become a free agent at the end of the season.

— Carrie Muskat

7/28 Reed Johnson update

The Cubs will wait until Friday to see how Reed Johnson responds from taking batting practice to see if he’s available. He’s had some discomfort in his back, and was limited to hitting in the cage the last two days. On Thursday, he took BP on the field and did some running. The Cubs would like to have him as an option when they open a series against the Cardinals on Friday.

— Carrie Muskat

7/28 Ramirez on trade talk: “We’ll see”

Aramis Ramirez has maintained that he doesn’t want to leave the Cubs but on Thursday, the third baseman said no one from the front office has asked him if he’d be willing to accept a trade. And instead of saying he didn’t want to leave Chicago, Ramirez said: “We’ll see.”

“When you’re 20 games under .500, there are going to be changes,” Ramirez said Thursday. “Something’s not right. You can’t point to anything — you can’t point to the pitching, offense, defense. I guess that’s the [general manager’s] and the front office’s job. Of course there will be changes because we haven’t played the way we’d like to. We’re 21 games under .500 so there are going to be changes.”

The Cubs took the first step before Thursday’s game when they dealt Kosuke Fukudome to the Indians and called up Tyler Colvin. Ramirez is a 10-and-5 player, and can veto any deal. Now that he agrees with the concept of change, has he changed his mind?

“Nobody has come forward to me from the team to say, ‘We want to trade you,’ or this or that,” Ramirez said. “It’s only [discussed] in the media.

“Nobody has talked to me about if I’m wiling to waive my no-trade clause,” he said. “It’s only in the media speculation that ‘This team wants Ramirez’ or the other team. Coming from the guys upstairs, the people who make the decision, I haven’t heard from anybody.”

So, would he be willing to be traded?

“Nobody wants me, man,” Ramirez said. “They want good players. Nobody wants me. They come to me with a trade, we’ll see, but nobody has talked to me about it.”

There probably are a few teams who would be interested in a third baseman who is batting .293 for the season, and nine homers and 22 RBIs this month. But Ramirez recently said he wanted to stay in Chicago because of his family.

“That’s not a secret,” Ramirez said. “Everybody knows that. But I also understand this is a business. I don’t know which way they want to go. If they’re looking to rebuild, I can’t fit in. We’ll see.”

— Carrie Muskat

7/27 Updated Cubs lineup

Tony Campana is leading off and playing right field as the Cubs close their series against the Brewers without Kosuke Fukudome, who was dealt earlier in the day to the Indians. Here’s the lineup:

RF Campana

SS Castro

3B Ramirez

1B Pena

CF Byrd

C Soto

LF Soriano

2B Barney

P Wells

— Carrie Muskat