Author Archive

9/17 Kris Bryant

0917bryant

Top prospect Kris Bryant meets with the media Wednesday at Wrigley Field prior to being honored as the Cubs’ Minor League Player of the Year.

9/17 Bryant, Tseng honored

Before batting practice Wednesday, some of the Cubs players saw top prospect Kris Bryant in one of the suites at Wrigley Field, and yelled at him to come down to join them. Not yet, but maybe next year. Bryant and Jen-Ho Tseng were honored Wednesday as the Cubs Minor League player and pitcher of the year, respectively. Bryant has been the focus since he was selected second overall in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft.

“I feel like I’ve been here the whole year and I haven’t played one game,” said Bryant, who was able to catch up with some of his Iowa teammates, including Logan Watkins, Mike Olt, Javier Baez and Rafael Lopez.

“I guess it’s bittersweet,” he said about being in a jacket and jeans and not in uniform. “It’s always been my dream to play in the big leagues and I hope for that day to come sometime.”

He could only watch as his Iowa teammates were promoted.

“It’s not up to me, it’s up to the guys in charge,” Bryant said. “I’ve always said my job is to make it hard on them and I think I did that this year, and that’s all I’m going to do the rest of my career.”

Since Iowa’s season ended, Bryant said he’s watched several Cubs games on television from his home in Las Vegas. He’s already been named the Minor League Player of the Year by Baseball America and USA Today. The Cubs want to see how the offseason goes before committing to him as the starting third baseman in 2015. Is Bryant prepared if he doesn’t make the big league roster on Opening Day next year?

“Yes,” he said. “I don’t think that will be a problem for me.”

Tseng, 19, went 6-1 with a 2.40 ERA in 19 games (17 starts) that spanned 105 innings with Class-A Kane County. He walked 15 batters and struck out 85, helping to lead the Cougars to a Minor League-best 91 wins and the Midwest League title. The righty, signed as a non-drafted free agent last year, allowed three or fewer runs in 16 of his 17 starts. His goal this season was to stay healthy, which he did. The right-hander was as eager to meet Bryant as some of the fans at Wrigley Field. Was Tseng ready to pitch on Wednesday?

“Yes,” he said, smiling.

– Carrie Muskat

9/17 New Neil Ramirez fans

NRAGSH2

Cubs pitcher Neil Ramirez and new friends he met Wednesday during a visit to the cancer care center at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downer’s Grove. Ramirez met with cancer patients, survivors and staff, and handed out Cubs hats and other goodies.

9/17 Good guy, good cause

NRAGSH3

Cubs pitcher Neil Ramirez visited the cancer care center at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downer’s Grove on Wednesday. Ramirez met with cancer patients, survivors and staff, and handed out Cubs hats and other goodies.

9/17 Extra bases

* With 67 wins, the Cubs have surpassed their 66-win total from last season. They have 11 games remaining, and all but one is against a team in contention for the playoffs. The Cubs also are 37-36 at Wrigley Field.

* Jake Arrieta is the fourth Cubs pitcher in the last 100 years to give up one or no hits with at least 13 strikeouts in a complete game shutout. He joins Lou Warneke (1934), Frank Castillo (1995) and Kerry Wood (1998 and 2001).

According to baseball historian Ed Hartig, Arrieta is the first Cubs pitcher since 1950 to take no-hitters into the seventh inning three times in a season.

* Looking ahead to the Cubs four-game series against the Dodgers, here are the pitching matchups:

Thursday: Tsuyoshi Wada vs. Zack Greinke
Friday: Edwin Jackson vs. Clayton Kershaw
Saturday: Felix Doubront vs. Roberto Hernandez
Sunday: Jacob Turner vs. Dan Haren

9/17 Cubs lineup

Kyle Hendricks makes the start Wednesday as the Cubs go for a sweep of their three-game series against the Reds. Anthony Rizzo is back, too. Here’s the lineup:

Coghlan LF
Baez SS
Rizzo 1B
Soler RF
Valbuena 3B
Castillo C
Valaika 2B
Kalish CF
Hendricks P

9/16 Hail, Szczur

Matt Szczur snared a line drive for the last out of Chris Rusin’s no-hitter on May 7 when the two were together at Triple-A Iowa. On Tuesday night, the rookie outfielder nearly preserved a no-no for the Cubs’ Jake Arrieta. Arrieta had a no-hitter through 7 1/3 innings when Brandon Phillips lined an 0-2 pitch toward the gap in left center that dropped just past an outstretched Szczur for the Reds first, and only hit.

“I was planning on running through the wall if I had to,” Szczur said. “It’s a shame I couldn’t come up with it. I made the best effort.”

He was close.

“He closed the gap on that ball pretty well,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. “I think off the bat, I don’t think anybody thought he had a chance. He must have come within a foot of that. It was a great effort by that young man. That’s one of the traits Szczur brings to the table is that energy and effort, and that’s what carries him a long ways.”

Arrieta could only shrug. It’s the third time he’s taken a no-hitter into the seventh, yet come up empty handed.

“There’s nothing you can do there other than make a little bit better pitch,” Arrieta said. “That’s the way it goes.”

Catcher John Baker and Szczur watched a replay of the near-catch several times after the game.

“I told him that if he was left-handed, he would’ve caught it,” Baker said. “That guy went for it and was disappointed he didn’t get it.”

Szczur was miffed.

“I was going to do anything to try to save that,” Szczur said. “It was no different if he’d given up four or five hits, I would’ve done the same thing. It was close — I was watching on the replay and I was about four inches off. I had a great jump, a great read on the ball. I thought I was going to catch it when I took the first couple steps.”

– Carrie Muskat

9/16 Cubs 7, Reds 0

Jake Arrieta threw a one-hit complete game shutout in the Cubs’ 7-0 win over the Reds Tuesday night. Brandon Phillips broke up Arrieta’s no-hit bid with a one-out double to left-center field in the eighth inning. It was Arrieta’s first complete game and shutout. He struck out a career-high 13 batters. Arrieta is the first Cubs pitcher to toss a complete-game, one-hit shutout since Jon Lieber on May 24, 2001 vs. the Reds. He’s the first Cubs hurler to toss a complete-game shutout since Jeff Samardzija on May 27 of last year at the White Sox. This was the second time this year Arrieta took a no-no into the eighth, and third time he’s done so into the seventh.

* Chris Coghlan hit a three-run double to highlight a five-run sixth. He’s now 14-for-38 in his last 10 games versus the Reds. He tied a season-high with three RBI (previously done, August 23 vs. Baltimore). Coghlan recorded his 24th multi-hit effort of the year with a bases-clearing double in the fifth.

* Jorge Soler had two hits, including his fifth home run. He’s hit safely in 13 of his first 14 big league games, going 19-for-51 (.373) with 11 extra base hits (6 2B, 5 HR). Soler belted his first-career homer at Wrigley, a solo shot to left field in the seventh inning.

* Luis Valbuena has hit safely in six of his last seven games at Wrigley.

* Chris Valaika (0-for-3, R, BB, RBI) gave the Cubs a 2-0 lead when he recorded a RBI with a bases-loaded walk in the sixth inning. Matt Szczur (0-for-3, R, BB, RBI) followed Valaika’s bases-loaded walk with one of his own to pick up his fourth RBI of the campaign.

* The Cubs recorded back-to-back shutouts for the first time since blanking the Brewers in two-straight games Sept. 10-11, 2010.

* The Cubs are 37-36 in 73 games at Wrigley Field this season compared to a 28-44 home mark though 72 contests last season.

9/16 Cubs sign with Myrtle Beach

The Cubs signed a new deal with Myrtle Beach and will move their Class A team to the Carolina League after 22 years with Daytona in the Florida State League.

“The Carolina League, in our opinion, is the best high-A league for development purposes,” Theo Epstein said Tuesday. “These are tough decisions, and in the end, we keep coming back to what’s best for our players. … The Carolina League and Myrtle in particular is the best spot for our players.”

The PDC with Myrtle Beach runs through the 2016 season.

The Myrtle Beach Pelicans have made eight post-season appearances in their 16-season history, including each of the last four seasons as an affiliate of the Rangers. Myrtle Beach joined the Carolina League in 1999 as an affiliate of the Braves, a partnership that would continue through the 2010 season, prior to joining the Rangers in 2011.

“The Cubs are an iconic national brand,” Pelicans GM and vice president Andy Milovich said. “The success of our business is determined by fan interest, the quality of baseball and the impact on Myrtle Beach from a tourism perspective.

“The Chicago Cubs present an incredible partnership in every aspect,” Milovich said. “Cubs fans can now visit their future stars in one of the iconic vacation destination spots in the U.S.”

The Cubs Tuesday also extended their contract with Triple-A Iowa through the 2018 season. Earlier this year, the Cubs announced a four-year extension with Double-A Tennessee that runs through 2018.

They did not renew their PDC with Class A Kane County or short-season Boise. On Sept. 2, Kane County announced that it was making capital improvements to its facilities built to the Cubs specifications.

“They’re good people and making a push here to do some things,” Epstein said. “It comes back to what’s best for the players. We’re looking at the best fit for development purposes. A big part of that is the facilities.”

– Carrie Muskat

9/16 Extra bases

* Anthony Rizzo did not start Tuesday as part of the Cubs’ plan to ease him back into games while Arismendy Alcantara was sidelined with a sore right wrist injured when he crashed into the outfield wall Monday night. Alcantara’s status was day to day.

Rizzo, who had been sidelined since Aug. 26 because of a low back strain, made his first start in 18 games on Monday night
and hit a walk-off home run in the ninth. The Cubs had considered having Rizzo only play seven innings Monday since it was his first game action in 18 games, but went ahead and had him stay for nine. It worked.

“I would say I plan on giving him every other day [off] and will increase his playing time to two days in a row, maybe three,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. “I have to let it play itself out first.”

* Alcantara had an MRI on his right wrist and was wearing a brace on Tuesday. He slammed into the brick wall in right center catching Kristopher Negron’s ball in the eighth inning. The Reds had a runner on and two out, and there was no score in the game.

“Somebody was saying somebody forgot to tell him there’s a brick wall behind the ivy,” Renteria said of Alcantara. “That’s a game-saving play. He gave tremendous effort, [ran a] great line, very smooth, explosive action and got to it and was able to make the catch.”

It was an exceptional play for Alcantara who has primarily played in the infield.

“His immersion into center field was a pretty easy transition, in terms of chasing balls down, reading balls off the bat,” Renteria said. “He’s continued to learn where to throw the ball, how aggressive to be with certain plays. He’s continued to improve. That’s a testament to him because he’s taken on a lot.”

* Edwin Jackson, sidelined with a strained right lat, will make his first start since Aug. 20 on Friday when the Cubs play host to the Dodgers at Wrigley Field. Jackson threw an extended side session as a tune-up. Rookie Eric Jokisch will be available to piggyback because Jackson was not expected to go deep in the game.

– Carrie Muskat

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 261 other followers