May 2013

5/30 Minor matters

Nick Struck gave up four runs on eight hits over five innings in Iowa’s 4-3 loss to Nashville. Iowa had the go-ahead run on in the ninth but couldn’t score. Brooks Raley starts Thursday.

Arismendy Alcantara had three hits in Tennessee’s 6-3 loss to Birmingham. Yeiper Castillo took the loss, giving up five runs over 3 2/3 innings.

Zach Cates threw six shutout innings as Daytona beat Tampa, 3-0. Cates struck out five. John Andreoli and Zeke DeVoss each had two hits.

Pierce Johnson gave up one run over 5 2/3 innings in Kane County’s 2-1 loss to Quad Cities. Johnson struck out seven. Marco Hernandez had two hits.

5/29 Extra bases

* Scott Feldman improved to 4-1 with a 1.64 ERA in five career starts at Wrigley Field. He’s 5-1 in his last seven starts after opening the season 0-3.

“He was able to get through it and manage innings and make big pitches when he had to,” Dale Sveum said. “That’s one thing that he seems to do is get in a little bit of trouble, and you see the wheels come off and, bam, here’s the good stuff and the location in big situations.”

* The Cubs have won three in a row, and seem to be playing better baseball after Sunday’s come from behind win over the Reds.

“All of a sudden, it seems like everybody is having good at-bats and everybody is contributing,” Sveum said. “Everybody is getting a little bit of playing time and doing a nice job.”

* Wednesday’s game drew 31,279, the smallest crowd at Wrigley Field for a Cubs-White Sox game since the Interleague series began in 1997.

“I know our guys have been talking about it prior to this,” Sveum said of the intracity series. “It’s a series that sometimes, when you’re in a little bit of a lull, it gets you going because of the intensity and you know everybody in Chicago is watching and throughout the country sometimes because it is a crosstown rivalry, like the Mets and Yankees type thing. These are the series that get you going back in the right direction because the adrenaline is at another level.”

* David DeJesus is batting .349 in 23 games at Wrigley Field.

* Former Blackhawks coach Denis Savard sang the seventh inning stretch. Several of the Cubs players, including Dioner Navarro, were headed to the game Wednesday night.

— Carrie Muskat

5/29 Cubs 9, White Sox 3

In the sixth inning, Dioner Navarro’s bat went flying into the stands behind the Cubs dugout as he swung at a pitch. Usually players just grab another bat but Navarro wanted that one back, and for good reason. Navarro notched his first career multi-homer game Wednesday, hitting three and driving in six runs in the Cubs’ 9-3 Interleague victory over their intracity rivals, the White Sox. And he used the same bat for each home run.

“He did his best little [Lionel] Messi impression today with the hat trick,” Anthony Rizzo said of Navarro, who is a huge soccer fan and wears a Messi shirt every day before games.

Navarro hit a solo homer in the second, a two-run shot in the fourth, and a three-run blast in the seventh. He set a career-high with six RBIs, and is the first Cubs player to record a three-homer game since Aramis Ramirez did so July 20, 2010, against the Astros. You have to go back to April 17, 1974, for the last time a Cubs catcher hit three in a game. That was George Mitterwald’s big game against the Pirates.

All the offense won’t get Navarro more playing time, though.

“[Welington] Castillo’s our starting catcher,” Dale Sveum said. “Let’s not get carried away with a guy having a great game. … It’s just nice to have a backup catcher doing the things he does and handling the pitchers he handles.”

Navarro’s first two blasts came from the right side of the plate; his third was as a left-handed hitter, and he’s the first to homer from both sides of the plate since the Cubs’ Mark Bellhorn did so Aug. 29, 2002, at Milwaukee. And all with the same bat.

“I’m a really superstitious guy, and I had a good feeling for that bat,” Navarro said.

He had never hit three home runs in a single game.

“I hit two one time in Little League,” he said. “That was about it.”

He’ll be back on the bench on Thursday but using the same bat in BP. What if it breaks?

“I’m going to cry,” he said.

— Carrie Muskat

5/29 Navarro hits 3 HRs

Dioner Navarro notched his first career multi-home run game Wednesday, hitting a solo homer in the second, a two-run shot in the fourth, and a three-run blast in the seventh. He also set a career-high with six RBIs. Navarro is the first Cubs player to record a three-homer game since Aramis Ramirez did so July 20, 2010, against the Astros. He also the first Cubs catcher to collect three home runs in a game since George Mitterwald on April 17, 1974, against the Pirates.

Navarro’s first two blasts came from the right side of the plate; his third was as a left-handed hitter, and he’s the first to homer from both sides of the plate since the Cubs’ Mark Bellhorn did so Aug. 29, 2002, at Milwaukee.

In his only at-bat when he didn’t connect, Navarro drew a walk. But it was important. In the Cubs sixth, Scott Hairston singled and Navarro walked, although he lost his bat as it flew into the stands on a swing. A fan was nice enough to return it — it’s most likely the one he used for the home runs. Both runners moved up on a sacrifice, and one scored on a wild pitch. Pinch-hitter Ryan Sweeney added a RBI single.

— Carrie Muskat

5/29 Cubs lineup

David DeJesus and Luis Valbuena get rare starts against a left-hander on Wednesday as the Cubs play host to the White Sox at Wrigley Field. Here’s the lineup:

DeJesus CF
Castro SS
Rizzo 1B
Soriano LF
Hairston RF
Navarro C
Valbuena 3B
Barney 2B
Feldman P

* Tuesday’s rainout was the second all-time in the Cubs-White Sox series, dating to 1997, and the first at U.S. Cellular Field. The first rainout was June 16, 2009, at Wrigley Field. Tuesday was the Cubs’ third game to be postponed by rain this year.

* The Cubs are hitting .273 in 24 home games, 51 points higher than their .222 average in 26 road games. They also have an .803 OPS at home, 184 points higher than their .619 OPS on the road.

— Carrie Muskat

5/29 Fujikawa done for the season

Reliever Kyuji Fujikawa is done for the season. An MRI revealed ligament damage on his right elbow, and he will have Tommy John surgery.

“It’s the first big injury of my career,” Fujikawa said Wednesday. “I’m trying to look forward and trying to come back strong.”

The right-hander, who was placed on the 15-day DL Monday for the second time this season, felt some discomfort on the first pitch to the Reds’ Joey Votto in the ninth inning Sunday. That was his second inning of work, and Votto was the seventh batter he faced in the game.

“I was definitely disappointed,” Fujikawa said about getting the MRI results. “I gave it my all, and I don’t have any regrets.”

He compiled a 12.46 ERA in five games in April before going on the disabled list April 13-May 10 because of a strained right forearm. When he returned, he looked much sharper, and had given up one earned run over 7 2/3 innings in seven games for a 1.17 ERA. Sunday’s game was his seventh appearance since coming off the disabled list.

GM Jed Hoyer got the news Tuesday night and said the MRI revealed a rupture of the UCL in the right elbow.

“We’re disappointed, obviously,” Hoyer said. “Whenever we start talking about forearms, it concerns you. We were cautiously optimistic because the physical exam was positive. The thing about him saying he felt a ‘pop,’ to be candid, we were hoping
it might be something that was lost in translation. Obviously, he was right.”

The Cubs had MRIs of Fujikawa’s arm before they signed him last Dec. 7, and he was healthy.

“This was something that happened the other day,” Hoyer said. “It’s the nature of pitching.”

The Cubs and Fujikawa have not set a date for the surgery, nor have they picked a doctor. He was expected to have the procedure done in the U.S. The right-hander said he is confident he can come back and contribute to the Cubs.

— Carrie Muskat

5/29 Minor matters & Vitters update

Chris Rusin struck out eight and gave up one run over eight innings in Iowa’s 6-2 win over Nashville on Tuesday. Edwin Maysonet and Brent Lillibridge each homered. Donnie Murphy had two hits and scored a run. It was Rusin’s longest outing of the season.

Note: Josh Vitters was placed on the disabled list Tuesday, retroactive to May 26, with a strained muscle in his rib cage. It’s the second trip to the DL for Vitters, 23. He also missed time April 9-30 because of a lower back strain. In 19 games with Iowa, Vitters was batting .270 with two doubles, three homers and eight RBIs.

Arismendy Alcantara hit his eighth home run to help Tennessee beat Birmingham, 3-2. Kyle Hendricks picked up the win, giving up two runs over 6 2/3 innings. Christian Villanueva hit a double and triple and scored a run.

Javier Baez hit a walkoff home run, a two-run shot, in the 11th inning to help Daytona beat Tampa, 6-4. Baez is batting .268 for the season; it was his seventh home run. Austin Kirk started and gave up three runs over five innings.

Dan Vogelbach hit his seventh home run and drove in three runs in Kane County’s 7-5 loss to Quad Cities in a rain-shortened six-inning game. Dillon Maples took the loss, giving up seven runs over three innings.

5/28 Extra bases

* Kyuji Fujikawa underwent an MRI on his right arm Tuesday but the team did not expect results until Wednesday because their orthopedic specialist, Dr. Stephen Gryzlo, was busy with surgeries. Fujikawa was placed on the 15-day disabled list Monday for the second time this season with a strained right forearm. The right-hander, who was on the DL from April 13 to May 10 with the same problem, had to leave Sunday’s game in the ninth inning after feeling some discomfort. The right-hander has a 5.25 ERA in 12 games this season, giving up seven runs over 12 innings.

* On Tuesday, the Cubs erected mock-ups of the proposed advertising signage in right field and used tarps to represent the 6,000-square foot video screen they want to install in left field. Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts watched from a rooftop on Sheffield Avenue. The Cubs are waiting for final approval from the city planning commission on their $300 million renovation plan for Wrigley Field, which they hope to start this offseason. The proposal includes installing the scoreboard in left and more advertising in right.

* Several of the Cubs plan on attending Wednesday’s Game 7 NHL playoff game between the Blackhawks and Red Wings in Chicago.

“There aren’t too many times a Game 7 comes around, especially being in town at the same time playing a day game,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “You have to do everything you can to go to that game.”

* Cubs wives and girlfriends will do their part to help raise funds for victims of the Oklahoma tornadoes at Wednesday’s game at Wrigley Field. Outfielder David DeJesus and his wife, Kim, are involved in a “mystery ball” event. Tickets are $40 per ball, and all proceeds will go to the families affected by the deadly storm.

Cubs players also will serve as celebrity bartenders on Friday at “American Junkie” in Chicago as part of the “Pour for Moore” fundraiser to support disaster relief. All proceeds will go to the American Red Cross. Tickets are $15 per person for the event, which will run from 6-8 p.m. CT.

* Albert Almora was named Midwest League Player of the Week for May 20-26. The Cubs’ first-round pick in last year’s Draft, Almora batted .538 in his first week with the team. He had to leave Monday’s game with a strained left hamstring, injured while trying to track down a ball in the outfield. His status was day to day. After Monday’s game, Almora tweeted: “No worries! I’ll be back in a day or 2!! Good win boys!!! #slaphands”

* Alex Burnett certainly had an easy first day on the job with the Cubs on Monday. The right-handed reliever, claimed off waivers from the Orioles, arrived at U.S. Cellular Field about half an hour before the first pitch of the Cubs’ Interleague game against the White Sox. He could relax as Jeff Samardzija threw a complete game, two-hit shutout. Burnett, 25, was happy to get a chance to pitch. He appeared in two games with the Orioles this season after spending three years with the Twins.

“I was excited,” he said about his reaction at the news he had been claimed by the Cubs. “It’s a new opportunity and I’m in a great organization and a fresh start and they told me I was coming straight to the big leagues, and nothing better than that.”

Burnett, who knows a couple of the Cubs from the Arizona Fall League, was asked for a scouting report on himself.

“I just go right after guys and let the defense do the work and that’s what I live and die by,” he said.

* Arodys Vizcaino, on the 60-day disabled list rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, underwent an arthroscopic debridement on his right elbow. Vizcaino was feeling some discomfort after his throwing sessions and not recovering well, so he was examined by Dr. James Andrews, who found a calcium buildup and did the procedure. The problem is not related to the Tommy John surgery Vizcaino had, and the Cubs say Andrews found the ligaments were in good shape. The right-hander, who the Cubs acquired at the Trade Deadline last July from the Braves in the Paul Maholm deal, will not pick up a baseball for six weeks.

— Carrie Muskat

5/28 Cubs lineup

Edwin Jackson will start Tuesday in Game 2 of the Cubs-White Sox, four-game, home and road Interleague series. Dioner Navarro is the designated hitter for the Cubs, who must deal with tough lefty Chris Sale. Here’s the lineup:

Borbon CF
Castro SS
Rizzo 1B
Soriano LF
Hairston RF
Castillo C
Ransom 3B
Navarro DH
Barney 2b

5/28 Minor matters

Brent Lillibridge hit his third home run but it wasn’t enough as Iowa lost, 4-3, to Oklahoma City. Brian Schlitter made his first appearance for the I-Cubs and threw two shutout innings in relief.

Ronald Torreyes hit his first home run to help Tennessee beat Huntsville, 8-6. Ty Wright had two hits, including a double.

Daytona had the day off. The Cubs face Tampa on Tuesday.

Dan Vogelbach hit his sixth home run to help Kane County beat Beloit, 8-4. Vogelbach had three hits and is batting .292 for the season. Oliver Zapata had two hits.