November 2012

11/15 Happy holidays

The Cubs will celebrate the holiday season with the return of The Rink at Wrigley, scheduled to open Nov. 23. There also will be a toy drive and holiday tree lighting ceremony led by outfielder David DeJesus and family on Nov. 30.

* The Rink at Wrigley is located in the Cubs’ parking lot at the corner of Clark and Waveland streets, and will be open until March 3, Mondays through Thursdays from 2-8 p.m. CT, and Fridays from 2-10 p.m. CT; Saturdays from 12-10 p.m. CT; and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. CT. Admission is $5 per adult and $3 per child Monday through Thursday; $10 per adult and $6 per child Friday through Sunday. Season passes are available for $60. Skate rentals will be available for an additional fee of $5 Monday through Thursday, and $10 Friday through Sunday. All proceeds help offset the cost of the rink.

* This year, Chicago Cubs Charities will feature day-long festivities Nov. 30 to kick off the holiday season. Fans can help support deserving children during the holidays by bringing an unwrapped gift to the administrative entrance at Wrigley Field, Nov. 25-29 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. CT, and Nov. 30 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.  CT. All fans who donate a toy will receive a pass for one free skating session at the Rink at Wrigley. Toys will be donated to Jennifer Hudson’s Julian D. King Gift Foundation.

* The Holiday Tree Lighting ceremony will kick off at 5 p.m. CT under the Wrigley Field marquee. DeJesus and his family will help light the tree. The ceremony will feature free hot chocolate with a guest appearance from Santa.


11/15 Rizzo walk-a-thon Dec. 9

There’s still time to register for Anthony Rizzo’s first “Walk Off for Cancer,” to be held Dec. 9 in Parkland, Fla., at Pine Trails Park. Rizzo has taken part in breast cancer walks and other fundraisers ever since losing his grandmother to cancer, and also has first-hand experience, having survived Hodgkins Lymphoma.

“Anthony was talking about wanting to do something, and we both said, ‘Let’s do a walk in Parkland,'” Rizzo’s mother Laurie said Thursday.

So far, 300 people have registered for the walk, and the Rizzos are hoping to get 1,000 involved. For more information, go to

— Carrie Muskat

11/15 Garza gets go-ahead

Matt Garza was given the go-ahead to resume his normal offseason routine in preparation for Spring Training after getting a clean scan on his right elbow, the team announced Thursday. Garza, who turns 29 on Nov. 26, was shut down after his July 21 start because of a stress reaction in his right elbow. He underwent a scan this week which revealed he was healing as expected, and was cleared by team orthopedic specialist Dr. Stephen Gryzlo to resume his workouts. Fans did their best, sending get well wishes, and the right-hander tweeted his thanks. Garza tweeted: “I’m still getting ready for February!! Slow and steady is gonna win this race! #can’twait”

In 18 starts, Garza was 5-7 with a 3.91 ERA. His return is needed as the Cubs head into the 2013 season with Jeff Samardzija and Travis Wood healthy, and are counting on recently acquired right-hander Scott Baker, who is coming off Tommy John surgery. The Cubs are in the market for at least one more starting pitcher.

— Carrie Muskat

11/14 Garza to be examined

The Cubs expect an update this week on Matt Garza, who was sidelined with an elbow injury. Garza made 18 starts before he was shut down in July with a stress reaction in his right elbow. He was to have a scan done on his arm. The Cubs signed Scott Baker on Tuesday, and are in the market for at least one more starter.

“We’re pursuing pitchers across the spectrum,” Theo Epstein said. “[We’re looking at] some guys who might be classified as buy low, there might even be ‘buy high’ guys, some multi-year deals, some trades. We’re looking for pitchers who can step in and improve our rotation. If there are sound investments out there, whether they’re big or small, we’ll pursue them and try to sign them.”

— Carrie Muskat

11/14 AFL update

Rubi Silva had two hits, Matt Szczur scored two runs and was 1-for-4 and Logan Watkins scored another run but it wasn’t enough as the Mesa Solar Sox lost 10-8 to Surprise in Arizona Fall League play on Tuesday. Silva and Szczur each hit RBI singles in the loss. On Wednesday, Mesa travels to Scottsdale for a night game. First pitch scheduled for 6:35 p.m. MT.

— Carrie Muskat

11/13 Cubs sign Baker

The Cubs began adding to the rotation by signing right-handed pitcher Scott Baker to a one-year contract. Baker, 31, signed for $5.5 million with another $1.5 million possible in performance bonuses.
The right-hander has pitched all or part of seven seasons with the Twins, from 2005-11. He has totaled 28 or more starts in three straight seasons, 2008-10.
The Twins’ Opening Day starter in 2010, he was limited to 23 appearances in 2011 because of a right elbow injury that eventually required Tommy John surgery. He did not pitch last year.
Baker leaves the Twins ranked among the club’s all-time leaders in several categories, including winning percentage (.568, fourth, minimum 100 decisions), starts (11th with 159), wins (11th with 63) and strikeouts (11th with 770).

— Carrie Muskat

11/13 AFL & Winter ball updates

* Logan Watkins drew three walks and scored one run but it wasn’t enough as the Mesa Solar Sox lost 8-4 to Salt River on Monday in Arizona Fall League play. Other Cubs prospects to play included pitchers Nick Struck, who gave up one earned run in one inning, and Tony Zych, who also gave up a run in one inning. On Tuesday, the Solar Sox play host to Surprise at HoHoKam Park, starting at 12:35 p.m. MT.

* Junior Lake was 2-for-2, scoring two runs and driving in another, for Estrellas de Oriente in Dominican Winter League play on Monday. Lake was batting .365. Esmailin Caridad has a 1.93 ERA in 15 games for Yaquis de Obregon in the Dominican. He’s struck out 23 and walked six over 18 2/3 innings.

— Carrie Muskat

11/12 Cubs name Mainville top trainer

The Cubs have hired PJ Mainville, who was the Diamondbacks’ assistant athletic trainer the last two seasons, as the team’s head athletic trainer, replacing Mark O’Neal, who is staying in a new role as a medical administrator. Mainville, 37, worked in the Diamondbacks’ Minor League system from 2007-10 before he was named assistant athletic trainer to the big league team. He was a Minor League trainer in the Orioles’ organization for nine years before joining Arizona. O’Neal has been the Cubs’ head athletic trainer since 2004.

— Carrie Muskat

11/12 Getting back on track

After being hit with a 50-game suspension for violating MLB’s drug program, Marlon Byrd is now playing for los Tomateros de Culiacan in the Mexican Winter League. Byrd was batting .333 in 26 games with nine home runs, four doubles and 21 RBIs. He’s played right field in all but one game and was batting third. Byrd began the 2012 season with the Cubs but was dealt to the Red Sox after going 3-for-43 in 13 games. He batted .270 in 34 games with Boston, but was designated for assignment and then released in June. On June 25, Byrd was hit with the suspension.

Michael Bowden, whom the Cubs got from the Red Sox for Byrd, recently joined Aguilas in the Dominican Republic, and had a tough outing in his second start Nov. 7 when he gave up five earned runs and five hits over 1 1/3 innings. He gave up four hits over four innings in his first start Nov. 2.

— Carrie Muskat

11/12 Rookie of the Year

Anthony Rizzo did win NL Rookie of the Month in July, but he won’t win NL Rookie of the Year, to be announced tonight on MLB Network. The Baseball Writers Association of America released the names of the three finalists for the award last week, and they include the Nationals’ Bryce Harper, the Reds’ Todd Frazier and the Diamondbacks’ Wade Miley. However, expect Rizzo to get a few votes. Rizzo finished his rookie season batting .285 with 15 home runs, 15 doubles and 48 RBIs. His 48 RBIs dating to June 26 led all NL rookies, and his home run totals were second-highest.

* Speaking of Rizzo, he will host his first “Walk Off for Cancer” walk-a-thon on Dec. 9 at Pine Trails Park, Parkland, FL. For more information go to

— Carrie Muskat