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8/17 Kris Bryant update

Kris Bryant was undergoing an MRI on his left big toe on Sunday in Des Moines. Bryant had to come out of Saturday’s game because of some discomfort. He apparently injured his toe a couple days ago, and aggravated it on Saturday. An X-ray taken Saturday was inconclusive.

– Carrie Muskat

8/17 Hail, Szczur

Matt Szczur’s father was in Des Moines this weekend to help his son pack some of his belongings. Szczur has spent the season at Triple-A Iowa, and with the year winding down, the plan was for his father to make a stop at the Iowa State Fair on Saturday, then load up the car and drive to New Jersey. But plans changed.

“I called him and said, ‘You might want to come back — we’re packing up for a different reason now,'” Szczur said.

On Sunday, Szczur was recalled from the Minor League team and joined the Cubs at Citi Field, where he played once before in a workout for Major League scouts. When he gets in a game, he will be the seventh player to make his Major League debut with the team this season.

“To be honest, I didn’t even think I’d be playing baseball,” said Szczur, who was a star wide receiver at Villanova. “I thought I was going to go to the NFL and play football. It happened my opportunity was better at the time to play baseball.

“I just wanted to work hard and get to the hardest level,” he said. “It’s been a great journey. There have been struggles but there are struggles everywhere and you learn from your struggles.”

Szczur knows first-hand about struggles. He donated blood cells to a leukemia patient who had a 1-in-80,000 chance of finding a match. He missed 10 games in 2010 because of side effects from the medication he had to take.

A fifth round pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, Szczur has impressed the Cubs organization with his work habits. He doesn’t just stand in the outfield during batting practice, he “power shags” and chases after balls hit as if it’s a game situation.

“It’s helped me a lot,” Szczur said. “What helped get me here is being a defensive help in the outfield.”

Iowa manager Marty Pevey broke the news to Szczur in a light-hearted way. Szczur was called into Pevey’s office before Saturday’s game.

“He asked if I was hitting off the curve ball machine today,” Szczur said. “I said, ‘Yeah, I planned on it.’ He said, ‘Well, you’re not going to hit it with us, you’re going to the big leagues. I was excited, everybody else was excited. They see the hard work I put in and they were happy for me.”

Even if Szczur’s father won’t make it to Citi Field — he’s driving Matt’s car to Chicago — there will be plenty of family in the stands. He grew up in Cape May, N.J., although Szczur admitted he was a Phillies fan as a kid.

Manager Rick Renteria wanted to give Szczur time to get familiar with the outfield before putting him in the lineup but will try to take advantage of his speed. Szczur had 30 stolen bases at Iowa; the Cubs have 49 as a team.

“He did a nice job for us in the spring, he’s a nice defensive player, he had some really good at-bats, runs the bases well,” Renteria said.

He arrived in New York shortly after midnight Saturday. Was he excited about the call-up?

“I couldn’t sleep at all last night, there was no way,” Szczur said. “It’s exciting. You have to realize it’s your job and you have to go out there and work. Once you make it, [the work] doesn’t stop. You have to just keep it up.”

– Carrie Muskat

8/17 Cubs lineup

Jake Arrieta gets the start Sunday as the Cubs face the Mets in the third game of their four-game series. Luis Valbuena is back after missing two games because of a sinus infection. Here’s the lineup:

Coghlan LF
Baez 2B
Rizzo 1B
Castro SS
Valbuena 3B
Alcantara CF
Sweeney RF
Baker C
Arrieta P

8/16 Szczur to get call up

After Saturday’s game, the Cubs made it official — Matt Szczur will be added to the big league roster on Sunday. The outfielder was promoted to take Dan Straily’s spot on the 25-man roster. Straily was headed back to Triple-A Iowa after his Cubs debut at Citi Field. He gave up seven runs — five earned — over 5 1/3 innings. It’ll be a homecoming for Szczur, 25, a Cape May, N.J., native. He was batting .261 in 116 games at Iowa with 16 doubles, one triple, one home run, 24 RBIs, and 30 stolen bases. He was hitting .292 in 14 games this month after batting .275 in July.

– Carrie Muskat

8/16 Kris Bryant – UPDATED

Top prospect Kris Bryant left Saturday night’s Triple-A Iowa game in the third inning with a minor foot injury, and was taken to a Des Moines hospital for X-rays, which were inconclusive. A Cubs spokesman said Bryant was to undergo an MRI on his left big toe on Sunday. He apparently aggravated a minor foot injury suffered a few days ago.

– Carrie Muskat

8/16 Extra bases

* Luis Valbuena expected back in the lineup on Sunday. He’s been battling a cold that’s spreading through the clubhouse.

* It’s been a struggle this season for outfielder Junior Lake, who the Cubs are hoping can get back on track playing every day at Triple-A Iowa. Lake was optioned to Iowa to make room on the 25-man roster for pitcher Dan Straily, who started Saturday against the Mets. The outfielder was batting .216 with 102 strikeouts in 98 games. He hit .114 in July.

“We’ll try to get him back on his feet again,” manager Rick Renteria said. “It’s tough for me to have him here. The window right now is just right [for him to go to the Minors].”

Lake was told he would be back with the big league team when rosters expand on Sept. 1.

* Dan Straily is the 10th starting pitcher used by Cubs this season. Last year, they used nine. In 2012, they used 12.

8/16 Szczur expected to get call up

The Cubs would not confirm it, but outfielder Matt Szczur was expected to get called up to the big league team on Sunday. Dan Straily was added to the 25-man roster on Saturday to start, and Junior Lake was optioned to Iowa. But Straily was expected to return to the Minor League team after his spot start. The Cubs are short-handed on the bench.

– Carrie Muskat

8/16 Cubs lineup

Dan Straily makes his Cubs debut on Saturday night against the Mets. Straily, acquired from the Athletics on July 4, will be the 10th starting pitcher used by Cubs this season. Last year, they used nine. Here’s the lineup:

Coghlan LF
Baez 2B
Rizzo 1B
Castro SS
Ruggiano RF
Alcantara CF
Castillo C
Valaika 3B
Straily P

8/16 Minor matters – Friday’s games

Iowa totaled four hits in a 2-0 shutout to Las Vegas. Eric Jokisch took the loss, giving up two runs on nine hits over six innings. Rafael Lopez had two of the hits, both singles.

Pierce Johnson threw four shutout innings in Tennessee’s 2-0 win over Huntsville. Johnson struck out seven. Stephen Bruno had two hits and one RBI.

Billy McKinney hda two hits and one RBI in Daytona’s 7-2 loss to Tampa. McKinney has posted multiple hits in 10 of his last 28 games. Dan Vogelbach hit two doubles, and drove in his team-leading 66th run.

Jacob Rogers, Cael Brockmeyer and Trey Martin each homered to help Kane County beat Wisconsin, 7-2. Jonathan Martinez picked up the win, giving up two runs over five innings. For Martin, it was his second home run in as many games.

Dillon Maples gave up three runs over 3 1/3 innings in Boise’s 5-4 loss to Hillsboro. Justin Marra hit his eighth home run, a solo shot in the second.

Mesa had the day off, and was scheduled to play the Mariners on Saturday.

8/15 Lake optioned to Iowa – Updated

Junior Lake will finally get some regular playing time, but it will be at Triple-A Iowa. The Cubs decided to option the struggling outfielder, who was batting .216, to Iowa to make room on the active roster for Dan Straily, who was scheduled for a spot start Saturday against the Mets.

Lake, who batted .284 in his rookie season last year, has not looked like the same hitter, and his at-bats have been limited.

“This gives him an opportunity to go down there and get some at-bats for the next two and a half, three weeks,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said after Friday’s game.

“We tried to do everything we could throughout the course of the season, especially early, to put him in a decent place,” Renteria said. “Obviously, it’s very difficult for the young man. Right now he’s a little disappointed but I think he’ll catch a breath of fresh air, play again, get some at-bats, have some fun again, and we’ll see him here soon.”

Lake has struck out 102 times in 98 games, and hit just .114 in 19 July games. The young outfielder is popular on the team, and Cubs catcher John Baker brought him a beverage post-game for a toast.

“I need to play,” Lake said. “I don’t know if [going down] is good. Everybody wants to play here. I need more [at-bats]. That’s what I think — I need to play.”

Lake was told he’ll be back in 15 days when Major League rosters expand.

Renteria said he and the Cubs staff have discussed what to do to get Lake on track.

“I think we have a window here, and we have a need for a spot right now,” Renteria said.

The Cubs will be short-handed on the bench for Saturday’s game. The addition of Straily to the roster will give them
14 pitchers.

– Carrie Muskat

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