July 2013

7/26 Minor matters

Thursday’s games

Jake Arrieta gave up one run on four hits over 6 2/3 innings, striking out eight, in Iowa’s 4-3 win over New Orleans. Josh Vitters was 1-for-2 with one RBI, but had to come out of the game with a hamstring injury. Arrieta was expected to start one of the Cubs’ games Tuesday when they play a makeup doubleheader against the Brewers. Justin Grimm makes his first start for the Iowa Cubs on Friday against Oklahoma City.

Javier Baez hit two home runs, and Rubi Silva and Justin Bour each hit one in Tennessee’s 10-5 win over Huntsville. Baez drove in four runs and now is batting .229. Marcos Mateo picked up the win in relief.

Ivan Pineyro gave up five runs over six innings in Daytona’s 6-5 win over Palm Beach. Ben Carhart had two hits and two RBIs, and Chad Krist had two hits and one RBIs.

Wilson Contreras and Rock Shoulders each homered to help Kane County beat Beloit, 11-8. Albert Almora had four hits, including two doubles, Shoulders finished with three hits and three RBIs and Contreras and Marco Hernandez each had four hits.

Boise lost, 5-4, to Eugene. Yasiel Balaguert had two hits and one RBIs, and Jacob Hannemann drove in two runs. On Wednesday, six Hawks were named to the South Division All-Star team: Lance Rymel, Jacob Rogers, Daniel Lockhart, and Balaguert will start, while Shawn Dunston, David Bote, James Pugliese and Tyler Bremer were voted in as reserves.

Jesse Hodges hit his first home run, a two-run shot, in Mesa’s 7-3 loss to the Athletics. Brett Jackson, who has been sidelined since mid June with a calf injury, started in center field, and was 1-for-4 in his first game.

7/26 Cubs lineup

The Cubs begin the post-Alfonso Soriano era on Friday, opening a three-game series in San Francisco against the Giants. Junior Lake is starting in left and Nate Schierholtz will return to face his former team, batting fourth. Schierholtz has a career .269 average at AT&T Park. It’ll be Edwin Jackson (6-11, 5.03 ERA) against Matt Cain (6-6, 5.00 ERA). Here’s the lineup:

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

7/26 Soriano deal done

The Cubs acquired Minor League right-handed pitcher Corey Black from the Yankees for Alfonso Soriano on Friday. Black, 21, was selected by the Yankees in the fourth round of the 2012 Draft out of Faulkner University. This year, his first full professional season, he is 3-8 with a 4.25 ERA (39 ER/82 2/3 IP) in 19 starts with Class A Tampa. The right-hander has allowed only two home runs in 82 2/3 innings, while striking out 88. He is limiting opposing hitters to a .243 batting average, including a .169 mark by lefties and a .285 mark by righties.

Soriano, 37, leaves the Cubs after nearly seven seasons. He ranks 11th on the club’s all-time home run list with 181 home runs. Overall, he batted .264 (898-for-3,403) with 218 doubles, 13 triples, 526 RBI and 469 runs scored in 889 games.

Soriano returns to the organization with which he began his 15-year career, having spent time previously with the New York Yankees (1999-2003), Texas Rangers (2004-05), Washington Nationals (2006) and Chicago Cubs (2007-13). He ranks seventh among active players with 389 home runs, the most by any active outfielder, and is 11 hits shy of 2,000 in his career.

* Roster move: Expect the Cubs to promote right-handed pitcher Eduardo Sanchez to the big league team. The Cubs claimed Sanchez, 24, off waivers on May 21 from the Cardinals. In two seasons with the big league team, he has pitched in 43 games, and compiled a 3.40 ERA. He appeared in 19 games at Triple-A Iowa and had a 3.70 ERA, giving up 17 hits and walking 17 over 24 1/3 innings.

7/26 Soriano deal

Alfonso Soriano could be in the Yankees lineup Friday night. Soriano was pulled from the Cubs’ starting lineup on Thursday after Theo Epstein called manager Dale Sveum, saying a deal was “99 percent” complete. The 37-year-old outfielder took a red-eye flight to New York after the Cubs’ game Thursday. There were reports Friday that the Cubs will receive right-handed pitcher Corey Black, 21, a fourth-round pick in 2012, in exchange, and that the Yankees will pay a portion of the $24.7 remaining on Soriano’s contract. Major League Baseball had to review the financial terms of the deal.

Note: I will be traveling from Phoenix to San Francisco Friday. Check Cubs.com and MLB.com for updates

7/25 Soriano says goodbye

The deal between the Cubs and Yankees has not been finalized, but Alfonso Soriano took a red eye flight from Phoenix to New York after Thursday’s game so he would be there in case it was done. The Yankees are home Friday against the Rays.

“I’m happy, and I think they’re happy, too,” Soriano said of the Cubs. “I’m happy to go back to New York where I started my career. I think both sides are happy.”

Is he glad the rumors are over?

“Thank God, it happened, so now I have to just concentrate and finish strong, and try to help my new team now to win,” he said. “That’s what I like to do, and everybody knows I like to play this game and I love it.”

Soriano talked to his agent a few hours before the Cubs’ game against the Diamondbacks ended. He then addressed his teammates to say goodbye.

“I just talked to my family and they said they support me and they’re happy I’m back where I started my career,” Soriano said. “I’m happy to go back to New York. … It’s a little uncomfortable, but this is baseball. Sometimes you have to do what’s best for the team, best for me and best for the other organization, too. I’ve been traded before. Now I have to keep moving and do my job in New York.”

What will he remember most about being a Cub?

“The fans,” he said. “They always want to win, they love to win. More important, being with the Cubs, they appreciate when the team wins and the team plays good.”

The fans could be harsh when Soriano made a bad play in the field.

“I respect the fans, I always play hard for the fans,” he said. “They love the team and they like to see the team do well. I always tried to do the best when I play for the Cubs and tried to be a champion here. It didn’t happen, so I hope it happens in the future. Now, I have to think about my new team.”

— Carrie Muskat

7/25 Baez hits 2 home runs

Javy Baez hit two home runs to power Tennessee to a 10-5 victory Thursday over Huntsville. The Smokies trailed 4-0 with one out in the fifth when Matt Szczur reached on an error and John Andreoli walked to set up Baez. He homered for the third straight night to close to 4-3. Rubi Silva homered in the sixth to tie the game, and Justin Bour connected in the seventh. Baez added his second of the game in the eighth. He finished 2-for-5 with four RBIs, and now has hit 25 home runs this season (17 for Class A Daytona).

7/25 What’s next?

How do the Cubs fill the opening in the lineup with the pending departure of Alfonso Soriano?

“You say you’re prepared for it, but I don’t think you’re really prepared to lose somebody of that nature,” Dale Sveum said Thursday. “All the things he brings to a team, the fourth hole, the character, the clubhouse, the leadership and everything. You just don’t replace that.”

Soriano was pulled from Thursday’s Cubs lineup against the Arizona Diamondbacks at the request of president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, and appears to be headed to the Yankees.

Physically, Sveum said he’ll mix and match in the outfield, using rookie Junior Lake as well as Cole Gillespie in left field. Brian Bogusevic, on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring, could return in early August.

The Cubs may decide to add a pitcher when they make a roster move rather than an outfielder because the bullpen has been overworked, and they have a doubleheader coming up on Tuesday.

Soriano, 37, was one of the few veterans in the clubhouse.

“You have [Kevin] Gregg, DeJesus, and other than that, it’s a lot of young guys,” Sveum said. “With the addition of Lake, now we’re getting pretty young.”

The Cubs were busy at the Trade Deadline last year, and this season, have made six deals before July 31. The only players who were on the Chicago roster when Jim Hendry was the general manager are Starlin Castro, Darwin Barney, Welington Castillo and Jeff Samardzija.

The Cubs may find another left fielder, but can’t replace Soriano’s professionalism.

“You don’t replace that,” Sveum said. “Hopefully, down the road you do. You don’t have a Band-aid right now to replace that kind of guy in your clubhouse.”

— Carrie Muskat

7/25 Soriano to Yankees “99 percent” done

Alfonso Soriano appears to be headed to the Yankees. Theo Epstein asked Dale Sveum to pull Soriano from Thursday’s lineup because a deal was nearly completed between the Cubs and Yankees that would send the 37-year-old outfielder back to the team where he began his pro career. Sveum said the deal was “99 percent” done.

The Yankees were 6 1/2 games back in the American League East. Can Soriano help the Yankees?

“He’s going to a place that is obviously one of the better stadiums, and he’s been there before and has performed in that atmosphere before,” Sveum said. “Obviously, they’ve had a lot of injuries, and he’s the guy who can fill that void as [designated hitter] and in left field.”

Soriano has hit 10 home runs in his last 21 games, and was batting .286 in that stretch with six doubles, 21 RBIs and a 1.044 OPS, dating to June 28. He has homered in five of his last 14 games, and ranks seventh among active players in career home runs with 389.

“He’s put together a pretty good run,” Sveum said. “Last year at 36 years old, he hit 32 [home runs] and drove in 108 [runs]. That’s a legacy in itself. he’s a guy who when he’s on the field, he’s lived up to his media guide, so to speak, besides the stolen bases he’s had in his career early.”

This was Sveum’s second season with Soriano, and he was impressed with his professionalism.

“He’s 100 percent completely different than I thought,” Sveum said. “There hasn’t been a day of disappointment in his attitude, his work ethic, what he brings to younger players and his professionalism has been off the charts.”

— Carrie Muskat

7/25 Cubs lineup – REVISED

Alfonso Soriano was scratched from Thursday’s lineup, and apparently is headed to the Yankees. Here’s the new lineup vs. lefty Wade Miley:

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

* The Cubs have hit 39 home runs off left-handed pitchers, the most by any team in the Majors. The Cubs hit 29 homers off southpaws all of last season. Anthony Rizzo has hit six home runs off lefties this year, fourth-most among NL left-handed hitters, trailing only the Rockies’ Carlos Gonzalez (eight), and the Reds’ Jay Bruce and Joey Votto (seven). Dioner Navarro was hitting .515 (17-for-33) with a .610 on-base percentage, a .998 slugging percentage and a 1.519 OPS against left-handed pitchers this season.

7/25 Minor matters

Wednesday’s games

Brooks Raley gave up one run over seven innings, but didn’t get a decision as Iowa lost, 2-1, to New Orleans in 10 innings. Raley struck out six and walked three. Brad Nelson had three hits. Jake Arrieta, who could start one of the Cubs’ games Tuesday against the Brewers, is scheduled to start Thursday against New Orleans.

Dae-Eun Rhee struck out six and gave up one run over five innings in Tennessee’s 6-1 win over Huntsville. Javier Baez, Justin Bour and Rafael Lopez each homered. For Baez, it was his second home run in as many games, and gave him 17 combined this season. Baez also hit a double, and was batting .219 at Tennessee. Tony Zych worked a scoreless ninth, and has not given up a run in his last 10 appearances.

Daytona’s game against St. Lucie was canceled because of rain and unplayable field conditions.

Scott Baker gave up three runs on five hits over three innings in his third rehab start as Kane County lost, 5-1, to Beloit. Baker walked two and struck out two. He’s given up 13 runs on 17 hits over 8 2/3 innings. Rock Shoulders and Reggie Golden each had two hits.

Kris Bryant went 1-for-4, hitting his first double, in Boise’s 5-1 loss to Eugene. Jacob Rogers had two hits and Jacob Hannemann hit a double and scored a run.

Mesa had Wednesday off, and returns to action Thursday against the Athletics.