October 2013

10/26 Winter ball update

* Marcus Hatley picked up his third save on Friday, pitching for the Tomateros in the Mexican Winter League. The right-hander, who pitched for Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa last season, now has a 1.35 ERA in seven games in relief, giving up one earned runs over 6 2/3 innings. He’s got 10 strikeouts.

* Hector Rondon, the Cubs’ Rule 5 pick who compiled a 4.77 ERA in 45 games, has given up one hit while striking out three in two innings of relief for Leones del Caracas in the Venezuelan Winter League.

10/26 Cubs Inbox

The Cubs mailbag is back. Got a question about the team? Send it to CubsInbox@gmail.com, and please include your full name and hometown. Don’t send any resumes for the manager’s job.

– Carrie Muskat

10/26 AFL – Friday’s results

Jorge Soler hit his first home run and Kris Bryant had three hits, including two doubles, and a RBI to lead the Mesa Solar Sox to a 7-5 victory over Peoria on Friday in Arizona Fall League action. Soler, sidelined most of this season because of a stress fracture in his left leg, hit a two-run shot with one out in the eighth. Bryant is batting .429, and his two doubles give him six, which leads the AFL. He also is first in RBIs with 14. Cubs pitching prospect Armando Rivero gave up one run on one hit and struck out one in one inning in relief. The Solar Sox — or Soler Sox, if you prefer — play host to Surprise at HoHoKam Stadium in Mesa on Saturday.

10/25 Cubs to interview Wedge

The Cubs plan on adding former Mariners and Indians manager Eric Wedge to the list of candidates. Sources confirmed the Cubs will talk to Wedge, 45, next week about the vacant manager’s job. Wedge managed the Indians from 2003-09, and compiled a 561-573 record, and was 213-273 with the Mariners from 2011-13.

The Cubs have already talked to Manny Acta, Dave Martinez, A.J. Hinch and Rick Renteria about the manager’s job.

On Friday, there were reports the Nationals were going to hire Matt Williams as their next manager. The Reds did not take much time in promoting pitching coach Bryan Price to manager, replacing Dusty Baker.

The Cubs, Mariners and Tigers are currently in the market for a new manager.

– Carrie Muskat

10/25 Barney, Rizzo Gold Glove finalists

Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney and first baseman Anthony Rizzo are finalists for the Rawlings Gold Glove award, announced Friday. Barney, who ousted Brandon Phillips last year to win his first Gold Glove, is one of three National League finalists along with the Reds’ second baseman and the Dodgers’ Mark Ellis. Barney led the NL in fielding percentage. Phillips won the award in 2008, ’10 and ’11. At first base, the Dodgers’ Adrian Gonzalez is vying for his third Gold Glove and first since 2009 (he also won in ’08). The other finalist is the Diamondbacks’ Paul Goldschimidt.

Winners will be announced on Tuesday at 6 p.m. during a one-hour ESPN2 “Baseball Tonight” show.

10/24 AFL update

Jorge Soler was 3-for-4, hitting a two-run single in the first, to help the Mesa Solar Sox beat the Scottsdale Scorpions 7-4 on Thursday in Arizona Fall League play. Three Cubs prospects pitched in the game, including starter Dallas Beeler, who gave up two runs on four hits over four innings. Matt Loosen followed and served up one run on two hits over two innings. Lendy Castillo walked two and struck out one in one inning of relief. On Friday, Mesa faces the Peoria Javelinas at Surprise Stadium.

10/24 Extra bases

* Cubs prospect Christian Villanueva was 2-for-4 with a double, a home run and one RBIs in Yaquis de Obregon’s 8-3 loss to Los Mochis in Mexican Winter League play on Wednesday. It was Villanueva’s second homer of the winter league season.

Second baseman Arismendy Alcantara was 2-for-5 with a double and scored a run in Licey’s 7-4 win over Estrellas in Dominican Winter League play. Alcantara batted .271 this season for Double-A Tennessee.

* Rays bench coach Dave Martinez, who has interviewed for the Cubs’ job, also is a candidate for the Nationals’ managerial vacancy, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

* According to a survey of 26 music insiders by Rolling Stone magazine, Wrigley Field ranked second among rock stadiums and arenas in the U.S. Pearl Jam, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Paul McCartney, Billy Joel, Elton John, The Police, Jimmy Buffett, Rascal Flatts and Kelly Clarkson have all performed at the ballpark. Madison Square Garden in New York ranked No. 1, and Fenway Park was No. 3. The list is part of a “Venues that Rock” series.

* Got a question about the Cubs? The Cubs mailbag is back. Send your questions to CubsInbox@gmail.com, and please include your full name and hometown. Don’t bother sending your resume if inquiring about the vacant manager’s job. I’ll leave that to Theo Epstein & Co.

– Carrie Muskat

10/23 AFL update – Wednesday’s game

The Mesa Solar Sox lost, 2-1, in 10 innings Wednesday to Scottsdale Scorpions in Arizona Fall League play. Kris Bryant was the only Cubs prospect who started for Mesa, and was 1-for-5 with a double. Albert Almora entered the game defensively in right. On Thursday, the Solar Sox play host to the Scorpions at HoHoKam Stadium.

10/23 Bryant & AFL update

Kris Bryant was 2-for-4 and Albert Almora drove in a run for the Mesa Solar Sox in a 4-2 loss to Surprise Saguaros on Tuesday in Arizona Fall League play. Bryant is leading the AFL with a .438 average. On Wednesday, Mesa travels to Scottsdale Stadium for a game against the Scorpions.

Bryant also leads the AFL in home runs (four), runs (10), RBIs (13), and slugging (.906). Going from short-season Boise to the AFL is a big jump — most of the players in the Fall League are the team’s top prospects — but Bryant, 21, feels he’s ready. He’s paced himself well. The Blue Jays drafted him in the 18th round in 2010 but he opted to go to the University of San Diego instead of turning pro. This past college season, he led the nation with 31 home runs. The Cubs selected him in the first round of the Draft.

You can’t miss Bryant at the plate. He has a wide stance that seems to stretch beyond the batter’s box. He used to stand more upright but 10 games into his sophomore season in college, a hitting coach suggested he make a change.

“If I widened out and squatted down, the low pitch was easier to hit and my head stays still,” Bryant said. “It’s really been working for me. I know there are some people who think I could do things differently and I’m open to whatever anybody has to say to me. I’ve been doing it this way for a while and I feel comfortable.”

One of Bryant’s best characteristics is his willingness to learn. Many of the Cubs’ Minor League coaching staff described him as a “sponge,” eager to listen and learn.

“Getting to know Kris in the short period of time [he’s been with the Cubs], he’s going to make adjustments when he feels things aren’t right or he feels he needs to make some type of physical adjustment,” said Anthony Iapoce, the Cubs’ Minor League hitting coordinator. “He’ll start making those on his own, or he’ll come and question, and say, ‘Hey, I want to do this.’ He won’t sit there and keep making outs. He’s going to find a way to adjust, or he wouldn’t be the second pick in the Draft.”

The question most Cubs fans now have is when Bryant will be in the big leagues. Will he be in the 2014 Opening Day lineup?

“I can’t say that,” Bryant said. “I would love to, but it depends on how I play, and that’s what it goes back to. I’m just going to play as hard as I can. If I’m doing well, things will take care of themselves.”

(For more on Bryant, check out my story on Cubs.com, which will be posted later today)

– Carrie Muskat

10/22 Manager search

With Jim Leyland announcing his resignation on Monday, there is now another team looking for a new manager besides the Cubs, who have talked to Dave Martinez, Rick Renteria, A.J. Hinch and Manny Acta. Those four are believed to be the only ones the Cubs have interviewed. Leyland, 68, told the Tigers in September that he wanted this to be his last season; he will remain in that organization in another capacity. He’s not an option for the Cubs.

The Tigers now join the Cubs, the Mariners and the Nationals who are in the market for a new skipper. The Reds were expected to name pitching coach Bryan Price as their manager on Tuesday. There were reports that Theo Epstein wanted to interview Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo, 48, who Boston manager John Farrell felt was ready for a promotion. Lovullo’s name also was mentioned as a possible successor in Detroit. Epstein hired Lovullo to manage the Red Sox’s Triple-A Pawtucket team in 2010.

MLB discourages teams from making announcements during the World Series, so the Cubs most likely will not be having a news conference at Wrigley Field any time soon to reveal the team’s 53rd manager. The only deadline Epstein has set is to have someone in place by Nov. 11 when the GM meetings are held.

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