The Rockies claimed left-handed pitcher Chris Rusin off waivers from the Cubs. In 24 big league games over three seasons, Rusin was 4-9 with a 4.97 ERA. A fourth-round pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, Rusin was 8-13 with a 4.31 ERA in 23 starts for Iowa this year, including a no-hitter in May against New Orleans. He has a 38-41 record and 3.84 ERA in six Minor League seasons.
Jacob Turner gets the start Sunday as the Cubs close the regular season at Miller Park against the Brewers. Here’s the lineup:
It’s been a frustrating final month of the season for Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro, who will head home to the Dominican Republic after Sunday but plans to continue his rehab at the team’s facility in Mesa, Ariz. Castro, who injured his left ankle on Sept. 2 when he slid awkwardly into home plate, was examined Saturday by team orthopedic specialist Dr. Stephen Gryzlo at Miller Park. All the shortstop has been able to do is rehab and watch.
“It’s big time frustrating,” Castro said Saturday. “It’s tough for me because I worked really hard to come back for one game or two. It’s not going to happen but I’m not going to get frustrated. It’s a really important season next year and I’m going to be healthy.”
If there was some way he could get on the field for one more play, he would, but Castro is still wearing a supportive boot on his left foot.
The 2014 season was Castro’s fifth in the big leagues, and he finished as the top hitting shortstop in the National League (.290) ahead of the Dodgers’ Hanley Ramirez. This is the first time in the last four seasons that Castro will not lead the NL in errors. He made 15 in 133 games for a .973 fielding percentage, the highest in his young career.
“I think he’s grown up,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. “I think he took a lot upon himself. As the season progressed, he was more accountable to himself and to his teammates. I think he worked very, very hard to overcome a lot of real and or perceived deficits in this game. He also became, as far as I could tell, a much better teammate. I think everybody started to gravitate to him. I think it’s been a positive season for him.”
Castro will spend time this offseason with Cubs strength coach Tim Buss to prepare for the season.
“I’ll just try to be healthy,” Castro said. “That’s a really important goal for me. I’ll try to do my full Spring Training without injuries. I’m prepared for that. When that happens, it’ll be better season.”
He sees a bright future for the Cubs. Castro has had plenty of time to watch young players like Javier Baez, Jorge Soler and Arismendy Alcantara.
“We see a lot of good things here,” Castro said. “Those kids, those young guys, we have good communication. We’ll show next year that we can fight, we can fight with whatever. We can play baseball to win. I think we’re pretty close.”
– Carrie Muskat
Tsuyoshi Wada makes his final start Saturday as the Cubs play their penultimate game of the season. Here’s the lineup:
* Javier Baez went 4-for-41 with 20 strikeouts on the Cubs’ final homestand, and leads the Major Leagues in strikeouts this month. And Theo Epstein isn’t that surprised.
“It’s gone very much as expected,” Epstein said Friday of Baez’s first two months in the big leagues.
“His confidence is high,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said of Baez. “Just like everyone, he understands he needs to make adjustments and knows he needs to do better.”
Renteria is quick to remind everyone that Baez is just 21 years old. Epstein said Baez is aware of what he needs to do, adding that sometimes it just takes an offseason to make those adjustments. Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro both did that after struggling in 2013; both had All-Star seasons this year. What’s encouraging, Epstein said, is that Baez is open to making adjustments.
“It’s like getting comfortable in the big leagues — you can’t just tell someone, ‘Get comfortable,'” Epstein said. “He readily admits he’ll be more comfortable in the big leagues than he is now. Sometimes you have to just experience it for yourself and the light goes on with one swing or one video session or one offseason when you can take a deep breath and come back differently.”
* Asked if Renteria will return to manage in 2015, Epstein said “absolutely.” However, there could be changes with the coaching staff. Epstein and Renteria said they expected to announce something Tuesday.
* Jacob Turner will start Sunday in place of rookie right-hander Kyle Hendricks, who is being shut down after reaching 183 innings. Hendricks totaled 102 2/3 innings in 17 starts at Triple-A Iowa, and 80 1/3 innings in 13 starts with the Cubs.
* Edwin Jackson has accepted the late season switch to the bullpen but Epstein said Friday the right-hander needs to come into next year and show he can be counted on. This year is the second year of Jackson’s four-year, $52 million deal, and it hasn’t gone that well. He led the National League in losses last season with 18, and is third this year.
“I think Edwin’s aware that he needs to turn his Cubs career around and work hard and show better form that he’s someone who can be counted on,” Epstein said Friday. “I think the default position is that given the competition we’re going to have, guys will have to need to pitch well to have a spot.”
– Carrie Muskat
Rookie Eric Jokisch gets the start Friday as the Cubs open their final series of the regular season. There are three more to go at Miller Park vs. the Brewers. Here’s the lineup:
This will be Jokisch’s first Major League start, and fourth appearance. He’s had three relief appearances.
“For me, it was good to get the first three outings in, get my feet wet, and not jump straight into a start,” Jokisch said Wednesday. “I’m going to take it like every other start. I’ve got my routine. I’m going to go after them. It’s the same game. That’s what [Iowa pitching coach] Bruce Walton said to me all year. When you go to the big leagues, it’s a big huge game with a bunch of fans and lights but you just play the little game of pounding down in the strike zone. I’m going to focus on that and make sure I breathe and just go out and pitch.”
Walton was very instrumental, Jokisch said.
“I had some struggles early on in Iowa and we made some huge adjustments and a huge mentality change in how to approach pitching, and he’s such a good guy and really cares about the players,” Jokisch said. “For it to pay off and me to be here at all, a lot of credit goes to him.”
This will be Jokisch’s last outing for 2014.
“Any day I can spend in the big leagues, I’ll take that,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun up here and it’s a joy to come to work every day. It’s also been a long season. I was talking with [Kyle] Hendricks — we both had our first Spring Training that started in February and it’s our first time through September, too. We’re definitely dragging a little bit and it’s part of the grind, and it’s good to get used to it now because hopefully we can do that for a long time is pitch into September and October. I’m a little tired but I’ll take any day in the big leagues that I can.”
– Carrie Muskat
I asked three Cubs players for one word to describe Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, and say why they picked that word.
“In 2011, I faced him in New York. We went back to Toronto, and to go to the clubhouse there, you have to go past the hitting cage. It just so happened he was walking in the same time I was coming in. I was starstruck — it’s Jeter. The guy just spoke to me like one of his peers. He remembered that I punched him out in the first at-bat — I think I threw a 3-2 changeup. He kind of smiled; I guess he was surprised. He mentioned it, he said, ‘Man, that was a good pitch you threw me that first at-bat of the game.’ I’ve played with a lot of superstars and some of their egos are a little up there more than you would want them to be, but this guy was so much about what you want the game to be. I don’t think I have as much respect for any opposing hitter than I have for him. A guy who conducts himself the way he does, the way he has for so many years in such a difficult city to play in, it’s an example I wish every player could see and follow. It doesn’t compare when everybody says it, but the respect, even not knowing him and seeing how he conducts his business, no showmanship, none of that stuff. Just winning and doing things the way you’re supposed to, and spend time enjoying the game. It’s something I don’t think we’ll see as good as he’s done it for such a long time. He respects the game.”
“He’s one of the greatest players who I’ve watched since I was a little kid. It’s how he plays baseball, how he controls the situation on the biggest stage with the Yankees. Not everybody can take that big responsibility to be a captain on the biggest team like that. It’s also how he plays the game, how his teammates respect him. Not everybody can do that. We won’t see that for a long time, everybody doesn’t have that kind of respect. In the world, we have a lot of Hall of Famers and great players, but to be captain on one team like the Yankees, not everybody can do it. Respect. That’s the most important thing. Everybody who plays on the Yankees, everybody respects him, everybody does what he says in a good way. He’s awesome. Everybody pays attention to him, and everybody listens to him because they respect him, and not only the players but the coaches, everybody.”
“I think about No. 2, and the reason I think about No. 2 is because it’s the perfectly appropriate number for Derek Jeter because I think he’s the best player of all time. He’s gone through the steroid generation and never been in trouble and stayed relevant as baseball has improved. At the same time, he always takes a back seat to his team. No. 2 for me is the perfect number for Derek Jeter because he’s the best player who doesn’t want everyone to see him as the best player and it makes him the best teammate. No. 1 would be inappropriate because it would be selfish. No. 2 is perfect.”
– Carrie Muskat
Whether you’re a Derek Jeter fan or not, you have to admit the Yankees shortstop could not have scripted a better ending to his last home game on Thursday at Yankee Stadium. Hitting a walk-off RBI single in the ninth for the game-winner was perfect. Here are some reactions from Cubs players posted on Twitter after the game:
* Justin Ruggiano:
“Thank you #Jeter, for teaching all of us how to carry ourselves on, and off the field. #RESP2CT”
* Anthony Giansanti
“That’s about right. Congratulatins Cpt. Thats the only way to end your Yankee Stadium career. Thank you for everything #RE2PECT #TearyEyed”
* Kris Bryant
“Jeter with the walk off in the 9th?! #FingersCrossed #FarewellCaptain”
“Oh my Derek Jeter!! What a way to go out! An incredible ending to an incredible career! #FarewellCaptain”
* Justin Grimm
“Derek Jeter. #RE2PECT Absolutely awesome!!”
* Neil Ramirez
“Wow … wouldn’t have expected anything less #RE2PECT #FarewellCaptain”
* Shawon Dunston Jr
“Never was a huge Jeter fan since I’m from the west coast, but what a great career, and role model every athlete should want to be like”
The Class A South Bend team announced Thursday it is changing its name to the South Bend Cubs. Team owner Andrew Berlin made the announcement during a news conference in South Bend.
“We are now The South Bend Cubs,” Berlin said. “Affection for and loyalty to the Chicago Cubs goes back generations in this community. We’ve listened to fans throughout the region, and this is a name that we know they are thrilled about.”
Berlin also unveiled a new logo for the team that he described as the model that the team expects to use in the design of new uniforms, apparel and other South Bend Cubs branded items.
“We’re moving fast,” Berlin said. “Officials gave South Bend a special waiver so that we could show you this today, but something as important as a logo needs to be approved by the league and by the Chicago Cubs. So, I can’t call it official yet, but it is what you’re likely to see on all our uniforms, apparel, advertising and merchandise from now on.”
Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein attended the news conference.
“We’re thrilled to begin this partnership with South Bend and we’re looking forward to working with everyone here,” Epstein said. “It is important to have first-class facilities not only at the big league level, but also throughout our farm system. South Bend provides exactly what we were looking for both as a community and as a farm club.”
Players will have a new 15,000-square foot facility in South Bend next year that will include batting cages. There also will be a new fitness center and clubhouse for the players.
The Cubs’ Class A team had been at Kane County the last two years, and won the Midwest League championship this season under manager Mark Johnson.