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#Cubs, White Sox to honor Ernie, Minnie

The Cubs and White Sox will honor their legends Ernie Banks and Minnie Minoso, both of whom passed away this offseason, when the two teams face each other for the Crosstown Cup Series at Wrigley Field July 10-12 and at U.S. Cellular Field Aug. 14-16.

On Sunday, the Cubs will wear No. 14 throwback uniforms from 1958 in honor of Banks. The White Sox will wear uniforms from the same era. That season, Banks made the All-Star team and earned National League MVP honors after hitting .313 while leading the National League in home runs (47), RBI (129), slugging percentage (.614), games played (154), at-bats (617) and total bases (379).

On Aug. 14, the White Sox will wear throwback uniforms with Minoso’s retired No. 9 from the 1950s, while the Cubs will wear throwback uniforms from the same era.

Inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame in 1977, Banks was a lifelong Cub who played for 19 seasons. He was a 14-time All-Star and back-to-back National League Most Valuable Player in 1958 and 1959. Banks hit 512 home runs in his career, and his 277 home runs as a shortstop remain a National League record.

#Cubs Lester faces Cardinals and Lackey at Wrigley

Former Red Sox teammates Jon Lester and John Lackey square off Monday night at Wrigley Field when the Cubs and Cardinals open a four-game/three-day series. The Cardinals lead the Central and have their best record through 81 games since 1944 when they finished with 105 wins and won a World Series.

Lester and Lackey spent 4 1/2 seasons together in Boston. It’s their first meeting since Game 1 of the 2009 ALDS, when Lackey pitched for the Angels. The Cardinals right-hander has given up three runs over 14 2/3 innings in a pair of starts against the Cubs this season, both of which came at Busch Stadium. Lackey did lose his only career start at Wrigley in his final outing in 2014.

In his last start, Lester gave up five hits over seven shutout innings. He struck out seven and walked one. The lefty has gone eight consecutive starts without a win, matching the longest such streak of his career. He’s 0-4 with a
3.78 ERA since picking up his last win on May 16.

This will be Lester’s first start with Miguel Montero behind the plate instead of David Ross. Ross was placed on the seven-day disabled list with a mild concussion.

The Cubs rotation has a 5.06 ERA against the Cardinals this season compared to a 3.37 mark against all other teams.

— Carrie Muskat

#Cubs Minor League report: Torrez solid

Sunday’s games

Donn Roach gave up two earned runs over 6 1/3 innings in Iowa’s 2-0 loss to New Orleans. Kyle Schwarber and Taylor Davis collected the only hits for the I-Cubs. Roach picked up his sixth consecutive quality start.

In his first game with Tennessee, Cael Brockmeyer hit a solo home run but it wasn’t enough as the Smokies lost, 9-4, to Birmingham. Jacob Hannemann had two hits, including a triple.

Daury Torrez threw seven shutout innings in Myrtle Beach’s 12-0 win over Carolina. Torrez struck out six. Victor Caratini had two hits, including a home run, and drove in three runs. Mark Zagunis had three RBI.

South Bend lost, 9-4, to Bowling Green. Jason Vosler had two hits, including a solo home run. Tommy Thorpe gave up four runs over four innings and took the loss.

Eugene shutout Vancouver, 6-0. Justin Marra had two hits, including a home run in the fifth, and drove in three runs. Donnie Dewees had two hits, including a double, and one RBI.

Mesa’s game against the D-Backs was postponed because of rain.

Final #Cubs 2, Marlins 0

Kyle Hendricks finally picked up a win at Wrigley Field, holding the Marlins to five hits over 7 1/3 scoreless innings in the Cubs’ 2-0 win on Sunday. Cubs starting pitchers now have a 1.08 ERA over their last six games, giving up five earned runs over 41 2/3 innings. The team is 5-1 in that stretch — but also batting just .178 (34-for-191).

“We’re definitely going to hit,” manager Joe Maddon said. “It’s always good when you go through these stretches that you’re able to win in spite of it.”

Pitching and defense usually win games.

“You’ve got to pitch,” Maddon said. “The game could’ve been called ‘pitching’ as opposed to baseball.”

He’s also not worried about the lack of offense.

“I know it’s going to show up,” Maddon said.  “As long as you can pull some of this magical stuff out while you’re waiting for the offense to come, I’ll take it.”

Is it tougher for the players to deal with such close games?

“I look at it as more fun,” said Chris Denorfia, who delivered a pinch-hit double and scored an insurance run in the eighth. “To be prepared for the postseason, you’re going to need pressure games like this. The more experience we get with these, the more comfortable you are in those situations.”

* Jason Motte converted his fourth save of the season with a scoreless ninth. He has given up one earned run over his last 20 appearances.

* Sunday was the Cubs’ 11th shutout. They now are 9-27 when out-hit by their opponents. The Marlins totaled five hits; the Cubs had three.

— Carrie Muskat

#Cubs notes: Bryant, Soler, Rizzo and Wada

* Kris Bryant wasn’t able to get the ball from his first grand slam on June 17, which came off Indians outfielder-turned-pitcher David Murphy in the ninth inning of the Cubs’ 17-0 win. The fan who retrieved that ball apparently wanted too much in exchange.

But Bryant had the grand slam ball in a case from Saturday night’s game. This one was hit off Marlins’ Jared Cosart in the second inning, and was his second homer of the game. No disrespect to Murphy, but is the second slam more legit since it came off a big league pitcher?

“It was a little more meaningful,” Bryant said of Saturday’s blast, which helped the Cubs beat the Marlins, 7-2. “That other game, what was it, 17-0? We didn’t need the runs there. Any hit counts to me, I don’t care who you hit it off of.”

Said Cubs manager Joe Maddon: “At the end of his career, they all count.”

* Jorge Soler, sidelined since June 3 with a sprained left ankle, was activated from the disabled list on Sunday and outfielder Matt Szczur was optioned to Triple-A Iowa. Soler, who was 2-for-13 in four rehab games with Iowa, was batting .288 in 28 games in May before he was injured. Maddon inserted Soler into the lineup Sunday in right field.

“[His presence] really lengthens out the lineup,” Maddon said Sunday. “You get all the guys cooking, it makes a difference.”

* Anthony Rizzo leads the Major Leagues in getting hit by a pitch, getting plunked 17 times this season. The first baseman got Sunday off to nurse his bruises and take care of the “ball-peening” he’s had, Maddon said, referring to a ball-peen hammer.

“It’s incredible — I know he’s [standing] on the plate and I know they want to pitch him inside — it’s part of who he is as a hitter and the fact that he doesn’t wear any armor,” Maddon said. “I think he’s a little beat up and I thought this was a good day to do it.”

* Tsuyoshi Wada, on the disabled list since June 23 with inflammation in his left deltoid, will make a rehab start on Monday for Double-A Tennessee. Wada had to come out of his last start June 22 after two innings because of cramping in his left shoulder.

— Carrie Muskat

#Cubs Minor League report: Pelicans romp

Saturday’s games

Iowa lost, 7-0, to New Orleans. Frank Batista gave up five runs on 11 hits over five innings and took the loss.

Tennessee lost to Birmingham, 4-1. Felix Pena gave up four runs over six innings. Bijan Rademacher hit a double and drove in the Smokies’ only run.

Myrtle Beach beat Carolina, 16-4. Seven Pelicans had multi-hit games, seven drove in a run and all nine starters reached base safely. Jacob Rogers finished a triple short of the cycle, going 3-for-6 with a double, two-run homer and four RBI. Jeimer Candelario was a home run shy of the cycle, going 4-for-6 with three RBI.

Michael Wagner gave up two hits over six scoreless innings in South Bend’s 1-0 win over Bowling Green. Jeffrey Baez hit a game-winning home run in the fifth.

Andin Diaz gave up two earned runs over four innings in Eugene’s 5-4 loss to Vancouver. Ian Rice had two hits.

Dylan Cease gave up one run on one walk and struck out three over three innings in Mesa’s 5-0 loss to the Indians.

#Cubs Bryant has grand 4th of July

Kris Bryant ignited the fireworks at Wrigley Field a little early in Saturday’s 7-2 Cubs win over the Marlins.

The rookie belted two home runs, including his second career grand slam, and drove in six runs in the first two innings. The effort was Bryant’s second career multihomer game, and he now leads all Major League rookies as well as all Cubs players with 49 RBIs.

“It was him — that was our offense tonight,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “Without that, this game is entirely different. It was nice to get him going.”

Marlins starter Jarred Cosart served up both of Bryant’s homers. The Cubs rookie belted a two-run homer in the first and his slam in the second, then made a brief curtain call before the crowd of 37,898.

“Those are always fun,” Bryant said of the salute to the fans. “It means you’re doing something good.”

This slam had to feel more legitimate than Bryant’s first, which came on June 17 off Indians outfielder-turned-pitcher David Murphy.

“He definitely has grinded it out and gone through some tough stretches and at-bats,” Maddon said of Bryant. “He’s made a lot of adjustments at the Major League level and that’s not easy to do. I’m really impressed. Defensively, offensively, the way he’s being pitched at — for a first-year guy to be pitched at the way he is speaks a lot about what the other team thinks about him.

“He’s going to get like Spring Training hot,” Maddon said. “He’ll do that again at some point this season. It’s just an experience thing. [Rookie] Addison [Russell], too. They’re gaining experience, they’re handling the day properly and it’s really impressive to watch.”

Bryant led the Major Leagues in home runs this spring, belting nine in 40 at-bats over 14 games. He also hit two more in exhibition games that didn’t count.

“I feel that way every time I step up to the plate,” Bryant said of his spring-like feel. “That’s a good feeling to have. Obviously, doing that in Spring Training gives me the confidence I can do it here. I felt really good today and am looking forward to continuing that tomorrow.”

The Marlins have approached Bryant differently in the two games at Wrigley compared to how they pitched him in Miami in June.

“You can’t get behind in the count,” Cosart said. “[Bryant] is a great hitter. You just can’t get behind.”

Bryant tidbits:

* Bryant is the first Cubs rookie to hit two grand slams in a season since Hall of Famer Billy Williams did so in 1961. The only other Cubs rookie with two in one year was Howard Earl in 1890.

* Bryant joins Anthony Rizzo as the only Cubs player this season with two multi-homer games. He’s one of three Cubs players since 1914 with two multi-homer games in their first 70 career games, joining Jorge Soler and Mandy Brooks (1925).

* Bryant is the first Cubs player since Derrek Lee in 2009 with two grand slams in a single season. Four players have hit two such homers in the Majors: Todd Frazier, Kyle Seager, Stephen Vogt and Buster Posey.

— Carrie Muskat

#Cubs Soler to rejoin team Sunday

Jorge Soler, sidelined since June 3 with a sprained left ankle, will be activated from the disabled list on Sunday. Soler played nine innings on Friday for Triple-A Iowa, his fourth rehab game. He was 2-for-13, but manager Joe Maddon said he wasn’t that concerned about the statistics.

“I don’t worry about that stuff,” Maddon said Saturday. “To me, it’s a matter of if he’s healthy and he’s seeing the ball, what does his timing look like, those are the kind of things you’re trying to get from the guys down there.”

The Cubs are hoping Soler can give the lineup some much needed punch. The rookie was batting .265 with four home runs and 19 RBIs in 49 games before he was sidelined. He picked it up in May, batting .288 in 28 games.

— Carrie Muskat

#Cubs Ross to 7-day DL with mild concussion

Unfortunately for Cubs catcher David Ross, he knows too well the symptoms of a concussion. On Saturday, Ross was placed on the seven-day disabled list with a mild concussion, retroactive to Thursday. It’s the third time he’s been put on the DL because of a concussion.

Ross took a foul ball off his mask on Wednesday in New York, and said he’s had a headache, nausea, fatigue, and has been a little irritable since then.

“I was a little off a couple days ago — I’m probably always a little off,” Ross said. “It’s hard to tell what’s normal for me, to be honest.”

The move was precautionary, and the Cubs selected the contract of catcher Taylor Teagarden from Triple-A Iowa.

“The main concern is getting another foul ball [off the head],” Ross said. “I had that happen a couple years ago and it put me out two months.”

Ross was on the disabled list in 2007 for a concussion suffered in a collision, and again in 2013. He tried to rush back after the latter incident.

“I took a couple more foul balls [off my head] and they ended up sending me home to my house in Florida for two months,” he said of the 2013 experience. “I definitely don’t want to go through that again.”

Teagarden, 31, has appeared in parts of the last seven seasons with the Rangers (2008-11), Orioles (2012-13) and the Mets (2014), batting .202 with 21 home runs and 68 RBIs in 172 games. He’s avoided concussions so far.

“I’ve taken lots of foul balls and taken bad swings to the head and I’ve been fortunate enough to not have any chronic symptoms related to that,” Teagarden said. “It is a tough spot for catchers.”

— Carrie Muskat

#Cubs notes: Russell anniversary, roster moves & more

* The Fourth of July means more than fireworks for rookie Addison Russell. It marks the one-year anniversary of when the infielder was traded from the Athletics to the Cubs. Russell, 21, posted on Twitter: “Happy 4th to everyone out there! July 4th is also the day @billy_mckinney and I became Cubbies #WeAreGood #missyabud”

Russell, Billy McKinney and pitcher Dan Straily were dealt to Chicago in exchange for pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. Hammel now is back in the Cubs rotation, and he posted on Twitter: “On this date, 1 yr ago, I was on a plane leaving the @Cubs. Told Theo I’d b back. Wasn’t lying. Thx 4 bringin me back Cubbies! #Happy4thJuly.” McKinney is playing for the Cubs’ Double-A Tennessee team.

A year ago, Russell was playing shortstop for Double-A Midland, and got the news late at night. He flew with the team to Birmingham, Ala., and then joined the Tennessee team.

“It’s been a whirlwind,” Russell said of the past 365 days. “This time last year, I was getting traded at night, and I didn’t know what to expect the next day. A year later, I’m here in the bigs and playing second base. It’s all just a whirlwind.”

* Jorge Soler, sidelined since June 3 with a sprained left ankle, could rejoin the Cubs as soon as Sunday. Soler played nine innings on Friday for Triple-A Iowa, his fourth rehab game. He was 2-for-13, but manager Joe Maddon said he wasn’t that concerned about the statistics.

“I don’t worry about that stuff,” Maddon said Saturday. “To me, it’s a matter of if he’s healthy and he’s seeing the ball, what does his timing look like, those are the kind of things you’re trying to get from the guys down there.”

* The Cubs selected the contracts of left-handed pitcher Clayton Richard and catcher Taylor Teagarden from Triple-A Iowa. Catcher David Ross was placed on the seven-day concussion disabled list, retroactive to July 2, and right-handed pitcher Donn Roach was optioned to Triple-A Iowa.

To make room on the 40-man roster, infielder Tommy La Stella (oblique strain) was transferred to the 60-day disabled list and right-handed pitcher Gonzalez Germen was designated for assignment. Roach, 25, made one start June 27 for the Cubs and gave up four runs over 3 1/3 innings against the Cardinals. He is 7-1 with a 2.29 ERA in 14 starts with Iowa this season. Germen, 27, was 5-1 with four saves and a 3.78 ERA in 24 outings with Iowa.

* Maddon was able to attend Friday’s Grateful Dead concert and Soldier Field, the first time he’s seen the band perform live.

“It was a pretty impressive evening and pretty inspirational, too, to be over 60, as they all are pretty much, and to have that kind of energy and play that long, they were really good,” Maddon said of the band.

— Carrie Muskat


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