7/6 Extra bases
* Last season, the Cubs were careful with Jeff Samardzija, and limited him to 119 innings in his first season as a full-time starter. This year, the right-hander has reached 100 innings before the All-Star break. Any thought to giving him a breather?
“He’s a strong guy,” manager Dale Sveum said Saturday. “Last year, that was the plan we had going in. This year, the kid gloves are off, so to speak. He’ll pitch according to how he feels. He’s a big strong guy and keeps himself in phenomenal condition. He’s a horse. The only thing that gets him in trouble is some frustrations out on the field as well as mechanics. Yesterday his mechanics were all out of whack, and he was missing away, away, away.”
* Sveum says he’s happy with his catching combo of Dioner Navarro and Welington Castillo. Navarro has done better at the plate, batting .291 with eight home runs, 18 RBIs in 42 games, while Castillo was hitting .268 with two home runs and 15 RBIs in 64 games.
“It’s a nice tandem to have,” Sveum said. “It’s not easy to have your backup catcher swinging the bat better than anybody on your team at this point right now.”
Navarro had no lingering problems from Friday’s game when he hit Andrew McCutchen’s bat with his right elbow. Navarro was hit right on the funny bone, which, as everybody knows, isn’t funny, but it hurts. Navarro’s arm went numb.
* Speaking of Navarro, he was excited about the opportunity to meet international soccer star, Lionel Messi, on Saturday. Messi was playing at Soldier Field in an exhibition. Navarro, James Russell, Anthony Rizzo and Hector Rondon were all going to the match. Navarro had at least four shirts and a hat for Messi to autograph.
“My wife said, ‘This is the biggest day of your life,’” said Navarro, who wears a Messi shirt every day before games. “She says, ‘You’re going to see the love of your life.’”
* Looking ahead to the Cubs’ makeup game Monday against the White Sox, Matt Garza (4-1, 3.45 ERA) will start against Hector Santiago (3-5, 3.50 ERA) at U.S. Cellular Field.
– Carrie Muskat