May 2013

5/27 Cubs 7, White Sox 0

Jeff Samardzija threw a career-best two-hitter Monday night to lead the Cubs to a 7-0 victory over the White Sox Monday night. Julio Borbon smacked his first home run and Anthony Rizzo hit a double, a triple and drove in two runs to back the right-hander, who collected his second complete game and first career shutout.

Samardzija struck out eight. He gave up a leadoff single to Conor Gillaspie in the third, and got Jeff Keppinger to ground into a double play. Alexei Ramirez also singled with two outs in the ninth.

This was the first of four Interleague games to be played between the intracity rivals in a new format in which the Cubs and White Sox will play two games at U.S. Cellular, then two at Wrigley Field.

5/27 DeJesus downplays Cueto pitch

The Cubs did their best Monday to downplay comments Matt Garza made about Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto, who threw a pitch over David DeJesus’ head on Sunday. Cueto had appeared to take exception to DeJesus stepping out of the batter’s box in the first. In the sixth, DeJesus did it again, and Cueto threw a ball over DeJesus’ head. Home plate umpire Bob Davidson issued a warning to both benches.

Garza took exception to Cueto’s actions, and called it “total immaturity.” On Monday, Dale Sveum tried to dismiss the matter.

“Yesterday is over with. It’s people’s prerogative to make a big thing out of something that was no big thing at all. Those are their comments. I’ve got nothing to really comment on something that’s over with.”

DeJesus flew out to right in the at-bat and was laughing as he ran off the field but that’s because he was looking at the Reds’ Todd Frazier, who is a friend of his.

“I’m not really worried about it,” DeJesus said. “It’s great to have guys who back you, your own teammates. You want your teammates behind you, like Garza, who’s a great guy to have. I don’t think this needs to get blown out of proportion. It gave us a spark that we needed yesterday. We were able to come back and win a big game. We come into this series feeling fresh and feeling positive. I think that’s how we need to go. That’s over with, that’s done with and let’s move forward.”

What about Dusty Baker’s comments that Garza and Cueto should duke it out?

“That’s not a way to do it either,” DeJesus said. “It is what it is now, and hopefully, it’s over with, and let’s just move on. It’s not worth putting any more oil in the fire.”

There is no history between Cueto and DeJesus, who is very deliberate at the plate.

“I do the same thing every at-bat, so it’s not like I’m doing it just against him,” DeJesus said. “I have no problem with him, I respect his game, I respect him as a player.”

Soriano knows Cueto well but didn’t think the pitch was mean-spirited.

“I think Cueto was joking around with him because he takes time getting in the box,” Soriano said. “If [Cueto] wanted to hit him, he’d hit him because he has good control. Cueto likes to pitch real quick, and DeJesus is different, he takes his time at home plate.”

— Carrie Muskat

5/27 Fujikawa to DL

The Cubs played Kyuji Fujikawa on the 15-day disabled list Monday with a strained right forearm, which had sidelined him for one month earlier this season.

“We felt he was getting comfortable in his role here,” GM Jed Hoyer said. “We’re all frustrated that it’s happened twice.”

Fujikawa will undergo an MRI on Tuesday to determine the extent of the injury.

— Carrie Muskat

5/27 Cubs claim Burnett

The Cubs claimed right-handed reliever Alex Burnett from the Orioles on Monday and he was expected to join the team to replace Kyuji Fujikawa, who was likely to be placed on the disabled list. Fujikawa had to leave Sunday’s game because of soreness in his right forearm.

Burnett, 25, had appeared in two games with the Orioles this season, giving up three runs on four hits and two walks over 1 1/3 innings. The right-hander made a career-high 67 relief appearances for the Twins last season, going 4-4 with 10 holds and a 3.52 ERA. He led the club in relief innings and his 2.49 ERA prior to the All-Star break ranked fourth among American League relievers.

This season, Burnett was 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA in nine Minor League relief appearances between Triple-A Buffalo and Triple-A Norfolk. He made two relief appearances for Baltimore this month, totaling 1.1 innings, before he was designated for assignment on May 23.

— Carrie Muskat

5/27 Dusty to Garza: Take care of it

Reds manager Dusty Baker was told Monday about Matt Garza’s comments regarding Johnny Cueto’s pitch over David DeJesus. Garza wasn’t happy with Cueto’s actions, and the Cubs pitcher said he’ll take care of things.

“Take care of it then,” Baker told reporters in Cincinnati, including’s Mark Sheldon. “I mean, [Cueto] couldn’t hit Wilt Chamberlain with that pitch. I haven’t talked to Johnny about it. I don’t think there’s any bad blood between them or whatever.”

Baker said Garza should deal with Cueto face to face.

“Johnny ain’t running. Know what I mean?” Baker said. “A guy can say what he wants to say, but it’s better if you go over and say it to his face. … I just wish, just put them in a room, let them box and let it be over with, know what I mean? I’ve always said this. Let it be like hockey. Let them fight, somebody hits the ground and then it’ll be over with. I’m serious about that. I come from a different school. Guys didn’t talk as much. You just did it.

“Guys are nicer now,” Baker said. “They all have the same agents, they all played on certain All-Star teams, they text each other, email each other. Nice game now. They talk before the game about how far you hit one yesterday off me. They’re nice.”

In case you’re wondering, the Cubs play host to the Reds June 10-13 at Wrigley Field. Stay tuned.

— Carrie Muskat

5/27 Minor matters

Barret Loux struck out six and gave up one run on three hits over six innings as Iowa beat Oklahoma City, 2-1, in the first game of a doubleheader on Sunday. Edwin Maysonet had two hits, including his fourth home run. Blake Parker converted his seventh save. In the second game, Logan Watkins and Donnie Murphy each homered in a 4-3 win to complete the sweep. Zach Putnam converted his fourth save.

Eric Jokisch struck out six and gave up two runs over 5 2/3 innings in Tennessee’s 5-2 win over Huntsville. Matt Szczur and Rubi Silva each had two hits and one RBIs.

Jorge Soler hit his seventh home run but it wasn’t enough as Daytona lost, 5-3, to Lakeland. P.J. Francescon took the loss, giving up four runs over six innings. Zeke DeVoss had three hits.

Gioskar Amaya hit his first home run but Kane County lost, 6-5, to Beloit. Tayler Scott gave up four runs over 5 2/3 innings. Albert Almora had two hits, and now is batting .538 over six games.

5/26 Fujikawa hurt – UPDATED

Kyuji Fujikawa had to leave Sunday’s game, and may be headed to the DL again. He had some problems with his right forearm and had to come out of the game in the ninth. He’ll be re-examined on Monday in Chicago. Expect a roster move Monday. The Cubs are already short-handed with Shawn Camp on the DL. Blake Parker has been pitching well at Triple-A Iowa, but he’s not on the Cubs’ 40-man roster. Eduardo Sanchez, recently claimed off waivers from the Cardinals, is. There were reports Monday that Sanchez was not with the Iowa team, and could be headed to Chicago.

— Carrie Muskat

5/26 Garza to Cueto: Grow up

The Cubs were going to let Matt Garza go longer on Sunday than the 80-pitch limit imposed in his first start. He went long enough to get mad. Welington Castillo hit a game-winning RBI double with two outs in the 10th inning Sunday to power the Cubs to a 5-4 victory over the Reds, and snap a six-game losing streak. A Beach Boys concert was planned for after the game. Garza provided the fireworks in the Cubs clubhouse.

There was some friction in the Cubs sixth as Johnny Cueto threw a ball over David DeJesus’ head. Cueto seemed to take exception to DeJesus stepping out of the batter’s box in the first. Home plate umpire Bob Davidson issued a warning to both benches. Garza took exception to Cueto’s actions.

“Cueto should learn, you don’t go after guy’s heads,” he said. “Don’t wake a sleeping dog. I think that’s kind of immature on his part and totally uncalled for. He’s lucky that retaliation isn’t in our vocabulary. You play each game like it’s a new one. That’s [nonsense] on his part — just total immaturity. If he has something to say about it, he knows where to find my locker and I’ll definitely find his.

“I took total disrespect out of that,” Garza said. “[DeJesus] has never done anything wrong, he just plays the game the right way. If Cueto has any problem, he can throw at me, and I’ll definitely return the favor. I didn’t like that one bit. We don’t retaliate. We take it game by game. Hopefully, he learns to grow the [heck] up. That’s totally uncalled for.”

Garza wanted to make sure Cueto got the message.

“I hope he hears this because I really don’t care,” Garza said. “If we want to retaliate, we could’ve and lost a bullpen guy but we don’t need that. We play the game the right way. We’ll take our lumps when we take them and hand them out when we hand them out. I think we responded well to the warning and just play the game well.”

There’s no history between Garza and Cueto.

“I just didn’t like what he did,” Garza said. “I don’t know what happened but the guy is an always down in the zone guy and he threw into the arm side away box and that takes effort. As a pitcher, that takes a lot of effort. I don’t know what the deal is between him and [DeJesus], but he needs to cut it out because I’ll stop it. I’ll stop it. And that’s just the way it goes. He wants to do it like that, so be it.”

Garza said his message could be a warning or nonsense — he wasn’t sure how Cueto would take it.

“If the game was played that way, I don’t like it like that,” Garza said. “You don’t go intently and try to injure somebody. Hopefully the league looks at that. I don’t want him to get suspended or anything. I just want him to learn a lesson. Hopefully, his players will warn him. It is what it is, they run their own show. We’ll see him again down the line.”

Davidson told Cubs manager Dale Sveum that he didn’t feel Cueto was trying to hit DeJesus, but was just miffed at how long the outfielder took in the box.

“I think he was just goofing around throwing up over his head,” Sveum said. “I said, ‘Why don’t you throw him out of the game then?’ [Davidson] said he knew [Cueto] wasn’t trying to hit him.

“It probably woke us up as much as anything,” Sveum said. “It woke our dugout up.”

Back to the game. With the game tied at 4 and two outs in the 10th against J.J. Hoover, Scott Hairston walked. Castillo then lined the ball into the left field corner to score Hairston.

— Carrie Muskat

5/26 Frustrated Castro tries to get on track

This has not been a good road trip for Starlin Castro. The Cubs shortstop entered Sunday’s game 4-for-21 in the five previous games against the Pirates and Reds, and was batting .265 overall, and .250 this month. That’s not very Castro-like. He grounded out in his first at-bat Sunday, then hit a double to left in the fourth for the first hit off Johnny Cueto.

“I feel really good,” Castro said before the game. “I’m working hard. I know it’ll change. It won’t stay like this for the whole year — I feel too good. They’re pitching me the same. If I keep doing my adjustments, keep staying aggressive, I know it’ll change.”

He began the season well, batting .277 in April with a .420 slugging percentage. This month, he has a .304 slugging percentage, zero home runs and nine RBIs.

“The year, I hit 200 hits, that’s how I feel at home plate,” said Castro, referring to the 2011 season when he totaled 207 hits and batted .307. “Sometimes I feel too rushed and I know that’s not me. I have to be a little more relaxed and let your talent go. I feel good. I know it’s coming. I know I can be all right. I trust myself.”

Dale Sveum has said some of the players need to slow down to improve their approach at the plate.

“That’s one of the points is slow down,” Castro said. “[This has] never happened to me, never, and I get a little frustrated. That’s what I need to do is slow down. It’s not me, and good things don’t happen. I feel good, I have a good swing. Let’s see what happens.”

— Carrie Muskat

5/26 Draft day

The Cubs appear to be focusing on four players for the upcoming First-Year Player Draft, to be held June 6: pitchers Jonathan Gray of Oklahoma and Mark Appel of Stanford and third basemen Kris Bryant of San Diego and Colin Moran of North Carolina. The Cubs have the second overall pick in the first round, behind the Astros. Manager Dale Sveum has watched video of the top prospects.

“Now we’re down to the core guys,” Sveum said Sunday. “It’s interesting to keep up with them and watch the video. There’s new video that comes up sometimes. You don’t get to see, like with Bryant, you don’t get to see him taking ground balls and the other day there was nice video of him taking ground balls and showing his arm angles.”

Bryant has hit 30 home runs entering conference tournament play, and played for Team USA over the summer. A right-handed bat, he impressed Sveum as did Moran, a left-handed hitter, considered a better pure hitter than Bryant.

“[Moran] is another polished-type hitter at that age already,” Sveum said. “He has a Robin Ventura-type swing and presence at the plate. He has really good plate disicipline and not really the power numbers that Bryant can put up. Bryant is a big 6-foot-5, some kind of leverage at the plate. Two different hitters, one’s right, one’s left. It’s fun to watch them.”

Sveum also has seen video of Gray and Appel.

“They’re pretty special arms,” Sveum said. “They’re two different guys. Appel is so advanced as far as his secondary pitches and Gray can just power you away with easy life on the fastball. It looks like it’s showing 85 [mph] and it’s 100. They’re both pretty good. I don’t know if one separates from the other one.”

— Carrie Muskat