July 2013

7/30 Extra bases

Updates on Arrieta, Baker, Lake and Rizzo

* The Cubs recalled right-hander Jake Arrieta from Triple-A Iowa, and he will be the 26th man for Tuesday’s doubleheader against the Brewers. Arrieta will make his Cubs debut, starting the second game of the twinbill. Arrieta, 27, was the Orioles’ Opening Day starter in 2012. He was acquired from Baltimore as part of the Scott Feldman deal on July 2. In five starts at Triple-A Iowa, Arrieta was 1-2 with a 4.03 ERA.

* Tuesday’s day-night doubleheader was the Cubs first at Wrigley Field since June 28, 2011, when they played two against the Giants. Chicago did play a twinbill in Cincinnati last Aug. 18.

* Scott Baker can take his time rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. The Cubs had hoped the right-hander would start this year, but there isn’t as much of a need as last season when they were scrambling to find starters. In his fourth rehab start on Monday, Baker gave up two runs, one earned, on three hits and two walks over 3 1/3 innings for Class A Daytona against Fort Myers. Baker threw 65 pitches, struck out two, and served up a solo home run to Matt Koch in the fourth. In three previous rehab outings with Class A Kane County, Baker was charged with 13 runs on 17 hits and six walks over 8 2/3 innings.

Dale Sveum said Tuesday that Baker’s velocity was a little better in Monday’s outing.

“Sixty five pitches in 3 1/3 innings, that’s 20 pitches per inning again,” Sveum said. “He’s still not getting quick outs and what you want done in a 65-pitch outing.”

The Cubs have dealt two-fifths of their rotation — Matt Garza and Scott Feldman — but were better prepared this season to fill the gaps, inserting Carlos Villanueva and promoting lefty Chris Rusin. Jake Arrieta, acquired from the Orioles in the Feldman deal, started the second game of the Cubs’ doubleheader Tuesday.

“We’re not too concerned [about Baker] because right now, we don’t have a need right now, and we’re OK with everything,” Sveum said. “It’s just kind of a slow development for him right now. We don’t have a big need right now for a starting pitcher and we’re OK with things progressing at a slow rate.”

* The best way for Junior Lake to learn how to play the outfield is by playing. Lake, who had been an infielder primarily coming up through the Cubs system, has played only in the outfield since he was promoted July 19.

“You can’t replace the reps in a game in center field and the outfield,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “You can kind of simulate infield because of ground balls but the outfield. It’s very difficult to simulate balls over your head and in the gap and other outfielders running for the same ball. Outfield is a lot of reps to get going out there.”

The Cubs are hoping Lake gets more playing time in the outfield in winter ball. Sveum wouldn’t rule out having the athletic Lake switch to third if needed.

“He’s the kind of guy you want covering a lot of space,” Sveum said. “It looks like he can go get ’em.”

* Anthony Rizzo will host his first “Cook-Off for Cancer” on Aug. 14 at Cafe Brauer in Chicago. Notable Chicago chefs will prepare ballpark food as only they can, and the dishes will be served by Cubs players. Guests will vote for their favorite chef by tipping their Cubs server. All tips and event proceeds will benefit pediatric cancer research, care and support. The event will take place from 6-10 p.m. CT. Among the chefs participating are Giuseppe Tentori of GT Fish and Oyster; Tony Priolo of Piccolo Sogno; Nate Henssler of Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab; Cosmo Goss of Publican; Jimmy Bannos of the Purple Pig; Mark Sparacino of Proseco; and David Burns, Wrigley Field’s executive chef. Tickets are $200, and available on Cubs.com/cook.

Rizzo also will celebrate being cancer free for five years when he hosts his second Walk-Off for Cancer on Dec. 15 in Parkland, Fla., at Pine Trails Park. The walk will begin at 9 a.m. ET.

— Carrie Muskat

7/30 Samardzija rumors “far fetched”

The Trade Deadline is Wednesday at 3 p.m. CT, and manager Dale Sveum doesn’t expect Jeff Samardzija to be doing anything but prepping for his next start with the Cubs. Rumors continue to swirl about the Cubs listening to offers for Samardzija.

“If somebody asks, sure,” Sveum said on whether the Cubs were keeping an open mind. “That’s not my job, so I don’t know what goes in those kind of meetings. It’s not realistic [to deal Samardzija].”

The Cubs would have to be offered a lot to part with the 28-year-old right-hander who is under team control for two more years.

“This is me speaking, but I would think it’s very, very far-fetched to think that you have a guy under control for that long and possibly a No. 1 guy to do anything with him,” Sveum said. “Those are things that pop up and somebody will say, sure you’ll listen. But are you going to want to trade half your team [to get Samardzija]?”

Meanwhile, Kevin Gregg and Nate Schierholtz wait to see if they will stay with the Cubs past the deadline.

“It is a compliment to be rumored,” Sveum said. “Some people get to be part of a pennant race and get to the playoffs and do some fun things.”

— Carrie Muskat

7/30 Cubs lineup – Game 1

Carlos Villanueva takes the mound Tuesday at Wrigley Field in the first game of a makeup doubleheader. Here’s the lineup:

DeJesus CF
Lake LF
Rizzo 1B
Schierholtz RF
Castro SS
Valbuena 3B
Barney 2B
Castillo C
Villanueva P

7/30 Minor matters

Brooks Raley gave up two runs over 6 2/3 innings in Iowa’s 4-3 loss to Oklahoma City. Ty Wright hit a solo home run in the fourth. Logan Watkins and Edgar Gonzalez each had two hits.

Dae-Eun Rhee gave up two runs over 6 1/3 innings in Tennessee’s 8-4 win over Birmingham. Rafael Lopez had two hits and two RBIs. Brett Jackson was the DH, and went 1-for-4, and scored a run.

Scott Baker gave up one earned run over 3 1/3 innings in his fourth rehab start, pitching for Daytona in a 5-0 loss to Fort Myers. Baker walked two and struck out two. Zeke DeVoss had three hits, including two doubles.

Jose Rosario gave up 13 runs on 13 hits over 4 2/3 innings in Kane County’s 14-1 loss to Peoria. Dan Vogelbach hit his 16th home run, a solo shot, in the sixth.

Kris Bryant hit a double and picked up another RBI in Boise’s 5-2, 11 inning loss to Spokane. Tyler Skulina gave up two hits over three innings, striking out two.

Mesa had Monday off.

7/29 Brewers 5, Cubs 0

The Brewers scored five runs in the ninth to take the first game in this four-game, three-day series. What’s lost was a solid outing by Jeff Samardzija, who gave up three hits over seven shutout innings, striking out seven. This marks the third straight game a Cubs starter has gone seven innings and not given up an earned run since Aug. 3-5, 1971, when Bill Hands, Milt Pappas and Juan Pizarro did so.

The Cubs have said from the start of the season that the kid gloves are off Samardzija, who has 144 innings. He was shut down after throwing 174 2/3 innings last year. His goal this year is 200 innings and to make every start.

“Not that I’m a big goals guy,” he said, “but going into Spring Training that was No. 1 on my list, to pitch every fifth day and be healthy and even when you’re not healthy [to still] pitch, and be a guy on this team that hey, every fifth day, that name is in the lineup and he’s pitching, and we have a chance to win that day. It’s been my No. 1 goal from the start of the season was to pitch and be strong every game. I like where I’m at right now.”

He also likes where the team is at.

“We’re making a good late run and I feel good physically and my arm feels good, and I really feel like I’m improving as a pitcher, too, which feels really good to go out there and make some pitches in the game and know you made the right choice and get the right result,” he said.

The Cubs have stayed competitive despite losing two-fifths of their rotation in trades. How does Samardzija view the way Dale Sveum has handled things?

“‘Sveumer’ is a consistent dude,” Samardzija said. “Everytime he comes to the park, he has one goal in mind and that’s fielding a lineup that has a chance to win the game. He does a great job instilling that confidence in every player that that’s our goal. On top of that, with this roster we have, there’s a lot of scrappy guys who can play the game. With those two things combined, I feel every day we show up and we’re ready to win a ballgame in any form necessary.

“We’ve had a few games that have taken a different route, where the pitching’s been great, or the hitting’s been great,” he said. “We know we’re going to be in every game, they’re going to be tight. We need to figure out a way to pull them out. I really like the way we’ve played these teams in the top of the division, to tell you the truth. I know San Fran isn’t up there, but they’re the defending world champs, Arizona is at the top of their division, and Colorado has one of the most potent offenses in the league. We come to play against these guys.

“That’s exciting and it says a lot about this team and this roster from top to bottom,” he said. “These guys come to work every day and that’s all you can do. You come to play every day and everyone knows how good it feels to win as opposed to losing. That’s the first thing that’s on everyone’s mind is do what it takes to win this day.”

* EXTRA BASES: Junior Lake snapped an 0-for-14 stretch with a single in the third. He has five multi-hit games in his first 11 big league games. … The Cubs were 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position, and are 9-for-84 (.107) with RISP since the All-Star break. … Chicago is 15-29 vs. the NL Central.

— Carrie Muskat

7/29 Lake effect

When Junior Lake arrived at Wrigley Field for his first home game on Monday, his gear was stowed in a prime space. Lake was given Alfonso Soriano’s locker in the Cubs’ clubhouse. Lake has been in Chicago before but never played at Wrigley until Monday. The young outfielder opened the season on fire, with 15 hits in his first 30 at-bats, but is 0-for-13 since an infield single in the sixth last Thursday. Manager Dale Sveum said they aren’t worried.

“No, we’re not going to panic over an 0-for-13 [stretch],” Sveum said. “He had to face [Tim] Lincecum, [Madison] Bumgarner and [Matt] Cain, so you’re facing Cy Young’s and guys that have done a lot of good things in their careers.

“Those are the things that, for a kid like him with the ability that he has, is the experience we talked about,” Sveum said. “That’s why you want some guys to be here a little bit earlier sometimes to get that taste and see Major League pitching on an everyday basis sometimes and have to make those adjustments.”

With the departure of Soriano via trade, Lake has taken over in left field, and will start in center against left-handed pitchers. Outfielder Brian Bogusevic is rehabbing in Mesa, Ariz., from a strained left hamstring. Will Lake stay the remainder of the season? Sveum said there’s been no discussion about sending Lake back to Triple-A Iowa.

“As far as I’m concerned, he’s going to be in there pretty much every day unless I feel he needs a day off,” Sveum said.

— Carrie Muskat

7/29 Welcome to the Cubs

Jake Arrieta will make his Cubs debut on Tuesday in the second game of a doubleheader against the Brewers. The right-hander was acquired from the Orioles on July 2 in the Scott Feldman deal along with right-hander Pedro Strop.

“I think it’s a very good change for me,” Arrieta said Monday.

He had three stints with the Orioles this season, going 1-2 with a 7.23 ERA in five starts. The right-hander was Baltimore’s Opening Day starter in 2012, and has had a lot of expectations.

“It was almost like a weight off my shoulders, really,” he said of the deal. “I felt like I was able to do a lot of good things over there but there were some things that kept me from being able to do it on a consistent basis. My time there was great, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. There came the point where they felt a move needed to be made to better their team and better this team as well.

“I’ve got a lot to offer,” he said. “I feel I’m a guy who can go out there and be a bulldog and pitch deep in games and I know I can do it on a consistent basis, so it’s just a matter of finally going out there and doing it.”

The problem this season has been not being on a consistent schedule. He’s shuttled between the big league team and the Minors, and been in the bullpen. As he said, his routine was thrown out of whack.

“I need to get out there every five days and continue to battle,” he said. “I think my career is as a starter, and I’m going to show I can keep it that way.”

Arrieta has been pitching for Triple-A Iowa. As of now, he’s scheduled to make Tuesday’s start, and that’s it.

“I think the performance will do the speaking, that will determine whether I stay here or go back to Iowa,” he said. “I don’t plan on going back. I plan on making it tough for them to decide and just go from there. I just think first and foremost, it’s great to be here. First time in Wrigley, and as soon as I walked up those [dugout] steps, I got some chills. It’s a park that I’ve heard about and knew a lot about as a kid. It’s just special. I’m thankful for this opportunity.”

— Carrie Muskat

7/29 Playing to win

The Cubs are 30-25 since May 26, the fourth best record in the National League in that span, trailing the Dodgers, Cardinals and Pirates. Chicago is 48-55 overall. What would it mean to finish this season with a .500 record?

“Well, I mean it’s a number,” manager Dale Sveum said. “We’re trying to obviously get the whole organization healthy and all of that so, you know, it’s a number that, coming from where we were, and obviously now we see a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel to possibly get there in the next two months, it’s something to shoot for. It’s a goal that you want to have, but it’s not a goal that we want to have with this organization because I think those kind of things hold things back, too. ‘Oh, as long as we get to .500, yipee,’ but you’re still going home like everybody else who’s not in the playoffs.”

— Carrie Muskat

7/29 Frank Castillo

Sad news out of Arizona: Frank Castillo died at the age of 44. He drowned in Bartlett Lake in Arizona on Sunday. Authorities say he went swimming with a friend but did not come back up out of the water.

The Cubs drafted him in 1987, and he pitched for the team from 1991-97, compiling a 47-62 record and 4.29 ERA in 166 games (161 starts). He spent at least one year as the Mesa Rookie League team’s pitching coach.

Castillo’s family issued a statement through KVIA in El Paso, which was his hometown:

“Frank Castillo died on Sunday in a drowning accident while with his family at a lake near his home. Frank was a wonderful son, terrific brother, and an extraordinary father to his two beautiful girls. Everyone who knew Frank loved Frank. We are devastated by this loss. It is impossible to express in words the level of sadness we feel due to this tragedy. All of those who counted Frank as a personal friend, and to all those wonderful fans who cheered for him during his Major League career, we genuinely appreciate your prayers and kind words during this extremely difficult time. While we may not be able to thank each of you in person, it is very comforting to know that you are with us in spirit.”

7/29 Minor matters

Sunday’s games

Nick Struck gave up four runs over 5 1/3 innings in Iowa’s 4-3 loss to Oklahoma. Ty Wright had three hits, all doubles, and one RBIs.

Javier Baez hit two home runs but it wasn’t enough as Tennessee lost 8-5 to Birmingham. Eric Jokisch gave up six runs over five innings and took the loss. Rubi Silva, John Andreoli and Matt Szczur each had two hits.

C.J. Edwards struck out the first seven batters he faced in his Cubs debut, helping Daytona beat Palm Beach, 2-1. Edwards finished with eight Ks over five innings and gave up one hit and walked one. Taiwan Easterling and Brad Zapenas each had two hits.

Juan Paniagua gave up three runs over two innings in Kane County’s 6-3 win over Peoria. Rock Shoulder had two hits and three RBIs. Albert Almora had two hits, and has hit in five straight games.

Dillon Maples gave up one run over five innings in Boise’s 3-1 win over Spokane, Maples struck out five and did not walk a batter. Kris Bryant homered for the second time in three games, driving in all of the Hawks runs with his blast.

Charcer Burks hda two hits in Mesa’s 12-3 loss to the Diamondbacks. Mesa gave up nine runs in the first three innings.