April 2012

4/22 Minor League report

Casey Coleman struck out seven and gave up two runs on five hits over six innings in Iowa’s 12-7 loss to Memphis. Dave Sappelt homered and Brett Jackson had two hits. Anthony Rizzo had two hits and three RBIs. Coleman did not get a decision. The Cubs were short-handed, pitching-wise, and first baseman/catcher Blake Lalli and infielder Alfredo Amezaga each chipped in on the mound, with Lalli getting two outs and Amezaga one.

Nick Struck gave up two runs on four hits over five innings in Tennessee’s 4-2 win over Chattanooga. Jae-Hoon Ha had three hits. Marcus Hatley picked up his first save.

Eric Jokisch gave up two runs on seven hits over 5 2/3 innings in Daytona’s 13-2 win over Tampa. Nelson Perez had three hits, including a home run, and drove in three runs.

Michael Jensen gave up two runs on two hits over seven innings, striking out six, in Peoria’s 2-1 loss to Great Lakes. Paul Hoilman and Oliver Zapata each had two hits.

— Carrie Muskat

4/22 Perfection

Ryan Dempster watched the highlights of White Sox pitcher Philip Humber’s perfect game. The TV cameras kept showing Humber sitting by himself in the dugout.

“I always laugh at how a guy gets a no-hitter or a perfect game going, and nobody talks to him [in the dugout] so he starts to go, ‘Why is nobody talking to me? Oh wait, I must have something going here,'” Dempster said. “It was pretty impressive. I know he’s always had the talent to do something like that.”

So, if Dempster ever gets close, does he want players to talk to him?

“When I go out there for the ninth inning, I want somebody to say, ‘Hey, you’ve got a perfect game going,'” he said. “I could only be so lucky.”

Dale Sveum watched the end of the game on television while having dinner with his wife. Sveum came close to playing in a perfect game but said Rangers manager Ron Washington broke it up with a hit after 8 2/3 innings.

“I remember when David Cone threw his, it was only 88 pitches and to throw a perfect game and end up with 96 [pitches], that’s a pretty efficient day,” Sveum said of Humber’s outing. “To finish it off in the last inning on a 3-2 slider on the first hitter and have enough savvy to throw another 3-2 slider with a perfect game on the line was pretty impressive and it ended up working out. I’m happy for him.”

— Carrie Muskat

4/22 Jackson close but not ready yet

With the Cubs trade of Marlon Byrd to the Red Sox, there naturally is speculation that Brett Jackson, the Cubs’ No. 1 pick in 2009, would get called up. Not yet, Dale Sveum said.

“It’s just the plan we want to stick with and develop him,” Sveum said Sunday. “He still needs to develop. He’s still striking out a little too much. He needs to be more conscious and a little bit better in that situation. If you’re striking out that much in Triple-A, it’ll be that much more against big league pitching. Until you get those 500 at-bats at Triple-A, it’s something the organization and Theo [Epstein] want to impress on our young guys is you’ll stay and play and develop.”

Epstein has made it clear he wants young players to get their work in the Minor Leagues. Jackson began this season with 1,133 total Minor League at-bats, including 185 at Triple-A Iowa.

“I think sometimes we rush kids too quick and it’s not for anybody’s benefit,” Sveum said. “We’ve all been part of when kids have been rushed and they’ve done really well but it doesn’t happen very often.”

In 16 games this year with Iowa, Jackson, 23, was batting .254 with a team-leading 21 strikeouts.

— Carrie Muskat

4/22 Cubs lineup

Tony Campana was starting in center field on Sunday as the Cubs begin life after Marlon Byrd. Dale Sveum says he’ll rotate Campana, Reed Johnson and Joe Mather in center for now. Randy Wells starts in place of injured Ryan Dempster. Wells was 1-0 with a 9.42 ERA at Triple-A Iowa in three starts. Here’s the lineup:

RF DeJesus

CF Campana

SS Castro

1B LaHair

LF Soriano

3B Stewart

C Soto

2B DeWitt

P Wells

— Carrie Muskat

4/21 Hoyer: No Jackson yet

Trading Marlon Byrd will naturally create expectations that Brett Jackson is coming to Wrigley Field. Not yet, GM Jed Hoyer said. Jackson will stay at Triple-A Iowa for now. In 15 games, Jackson was  batting .242 with two homers, five doubles, two triples, two stolen bases and eight RBIs.

“Brett’s playing hard and all the reports on what he’s doing in Iowa are good,” Hoyer said. “He’s still early in his Triple-A career. He hasn’t had that many plate appearances down there. He still has work to do. We feel he’s a big part of our future but I wouldn’t read into anything as far as timing.”

The Cubs did add outfielder Tony Campana to the roster on Saturday when they placed pitcher Ryan Dempster on the disabled list and will use him in center as well as Reed Johnson and Joe Mather.

Byrd, 34, was hitting just .070 over his first 43 at-bats. He did not play Saturday in the Cubs’ win over the Reds.

“The slow start didn’t play any part at all,” Hoyer said. “We had talked about a deal [with the Red Sox] at the end of Spring Training. Our feeling was we’ve been trying to acquire relief pitching since the end of the winter. We felt like an area we have some surplus with young players we want to play is in the outfield, so that was a big part of it.”

The Red Sox were in need after injury to Jacoby Ellsbury.

The Cubs, who are already paying a large part of Carlos Zambrano’s contract since he was traded to the Marlins, will cover a significant portion of Byrd’s $6.5 million salary for 2012. It’s the final year of a three-year, $15 million contract.

The Cubs receive reliever Michael Bowden plus a player to be named later, which will be selected from a designated list. It will most likely be a pitcher, Hoyer said.

— Carrie Muskat

4/21 Byrd to Red Sox official

The Cubs acquired right-handed pitcher Michael Bowden and a player to be named from the Red Sox for Marlon Byrd and a cash consideration. Bowden, 25, began the 2012 season on Boston’s Opening Day roster, posting no record and a 3.00 ERA in two relief appearances before being designated for assignment on April 15. He has a 3.91 ERA (10 ER/23.0 IP) in 16 Major League appearances since the start of the 2011 campaign.  Bowden is a 2005 graduate of Waubonsie Valley High School in Aurora, Ill. In 2011, he reached Major League highs in several categories, including 14 appearances (tied with 2010), 17 strikeouts, 20.0 innings pitched and nine games finished.

Byrd, 34, is batting .075 (3-for-43) with two RBI in 13 games with the Cubs this season, his third campaign since signing a three-year contract with the club prior to the 2010 campaign.  Byrd was named a National League All-Star in his first season with the Cubs, batting .293 (170-for-580) in 152 games for the club in 2010, while hitting .276 (123-for-446) in 119 games with the Cubs last year.

— Carrie Muskat

4/21 Minor League report

Edgar Gonzalez and Afredo Amezaga each had two hits in Iowa’s 5-4 loss to Albuquerque on Friday. Frankie De La Cruz started and gave up three runs on three hits over three innings.

Brooks Raley gave up two runs on three hits over six innings in Tennessee’s 3-2 win over Chattanooga. The Smokies totaled 13 hits. Alberto Cabrera converted his first save.

Austin Kirk gave up one run on five hits over seven innings in Daytona’s 9-2 win over Tampa. Greg Rohan homered and drove in five runs. Ronald Torreyes was 3-for-3 with two doubles and a triple.

Willengton Cruz gave up five runs on seven hits over 5 2/3 innings in Peoria’s 7-5 loss to Great Lakes. Pin-Chieh Chen had two RBIs.

— Carrie Muskat

4/21 Dempster to DL; Campana up

The Cubs placed Ryan Dempster on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to April 18, because of a strained right quad and recalled outfielder Tony Campana from Triple-A Iowa. Campana, who will wear uniform No. 1, was available for Saturday’s game against the Reds. He was batting .304 (17-for-56) with one double, one home run and three RBIs in 14 games with Iowa this season.  He leads the Pacific Coast League with eight stolen bases.

Dempster is 0-1 with a 1.33 ERA in three starts for the Cubs. He is tied for the National League lead with 23 strikeouts. The right-hander last started on April 17 in Miami and did not give up an earned run over six innings. He did not get a decision in the 5-2 loss to the Marlins.

Randy Wells was expected to make Sunday’s start for Dempster in the series finale against the Reds at Wrigley Field.

— Carrie Muskat

4/21 Byrd to Red Sox

Marlon Byrd appears to be headed to the Red Sox. The Boston Globe first reported the deal Saturday. The Red Sox have been looking for help after Jacoby Ellsbury injured his shoulder. Byrd, 34, is off to a slow start with three singles and a walk in 47 plate appearances. He hit .276 last season. This is the last year of a three-year, $15 million contract that will pay him $6.5 million this year. He was not in the Cubs lineup Saturday.

— Carrie Muskat 

4/20 Minor League report

On Thursday, Anthony Rizzo hit two home runs but it wasn’t enough as Iowa lost 4-3 to Albuquerque. Rizzo now has seven homers and 16 RBIs for the season. Travis Wood took the loss, giving up four runs on nine hits over 6 1/3 innings.

Nate Samson was 4-for-4, including two doubles and a home run, and drove in three runs in a 9-7 loss to Huntsville. The Smokies did rally from a 5-0 deficit to tie the game in the sixth at 5. Justin Bour, Ty Wright and Michael Brenly each had two hits.

Eduardo Figueroa gave up four runs — one earned — on six hits over five innings in Daytona’s 5-2 loss to Tampa. Nelson Perez had two hits, including his first homer of the season.

Ben Wells gave up 10 runs — six earned — on nine hits over 4 2/3 innings in Peoria’s 11-4 loss to Great Lakes. The Chiefs committed four errors in the game. Oliver Zapata had three hits.

— Carrie Muskat