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#Cubs Minor League report

Thursday’s games

Arismendy Alcantara hit his fifth home run and added a triple but it wasn’t enough as Iowa lost, 5-3, to Tacoma. Felipe
Paulino started for the I-Cubs and gave up three earned runs over four innings. Matt Szczur hit a double.

Jeffry Antigua gave up four runs over six innings in Tennessee’s 4-3 loss to Montgomery. Billy McKinney had two hits.

Myrtle Beach lost, 4-3, to Frederick. Mark Zagunis went 4-for-4 with one RBI and a double. Daury Torrez started and gave up
two runs over six innings.

Cael Brockmeyer hit his second home run, a two-run blast in the fourth, in South Bend’s 17-2 loss to Lansing. Trevor
Clifton took the loss, giving up four earned runs over five innings.

#Cubs lineup and notes vs D-backs

Jon Lester makes his first career start Friday night when the Cubs open a three-game series against the D-backs. Junior Lake will start in left field vs. Jason Collmenter. The D-backs are riding a four-game winning streak. Here’s the lineup:

Fowler CF

Bryant 3B

Rizzo 1B

Castro SS

Soler RF

Lake LF

Ross C

Lester P

Russell 2B

* The Cubs have won eight of their last 10 games behind a starting rotation with a 2.57 ERA (19 ER / 66.2 IP) in that
span.

* A win Friday would put the Cubs seven games over .500 for the first time since September 2009.

* Here’s a strange note: The Cubs are hitless in 27 at-bats with runners in scoring position over their last five games. Their last such hit was Matt Szczur’s 12th inning walkoff single last Friday.

* Lester is a perfect 4-0 with a 1.67 ERA (5 ER / 27 IP) in four starts so far in May. He began the year by going 0-2 with a 6.23 ERA in four April starts.

* Kris Bryant is batting .394 (13-for-33) with four homers and 11 RBI during a 10-game hitting streak. Dexter Fowler has a .431 OBP with 10 walks and 15 runs scored during a 13-game on-base streak.

Some laughs with #Cubs Maddon and Jeff Garlin

Comedian Jeff Garlin sat in on Joe Maddon’s pre-game media session in San Diego on Thursday, and revealed that catcher David Ross is under-used, new T-shirts are coming that say the actor is the Cubs manager’s best friend, and he still has a grudge against Steve Garvey.

Asked what he thinks of the Cubs bullpen, Garlin quipped: “I think the same thing Joe thinks.”

OK. Ross has been matched up exclusively with Jon Lester. Is he being playing enough?

“Do I think David Ross has been over-used? No,” Garlin said. “I love David Ross. David Ross is one of the best guys on the team and, as a matter of fact, he’s my favorite pitcher. My favorite pitcher on the Cubs is David Ross, that’s all I’m saying.”

Ross had to pitch one inning in relief May 9 against the Brewers. The catcher did retire all three batters faced.

“He’s perfect — three up, three down, wasn’t he?” Maddon said. “He came in [to the dugout] and said, ‘That’s how to use your fastball.'”

The conversation shifted to the Cubs’ bullpen.

“What do you say about simplicity?” Garlin said.

“Do simple better,” Maddon said.

“When I get with the bullpen guys, that’s all I say is, ‘do simple better,'” Garlin said.

Perhaps Garlin will join the Cubs’ mental skills program?

“I’m just a special guest to get the guys feeling good,” Garlin said. “That’s what I do.”

That does seem to be the goal of the mental skills program.

“I don’t take it that seriously,” Garlin said. “They’ve got you to keep things loose.”

“I try,” Maddon said.

Then Garlin took over the questions.

“What’s it like being better looking than all your players?” Garlin said to Maddon.

“It’s a curse — it’s difficult but I try to downplay it,” Maddon said.

“You have to downplay it — you’re a humble man,” Garlin said. “And you keep it simple.”

Maddon said he lets the players have their moments, then confessed, tongue in cheek: “I’m actually kind of shy.” That got a loud laugh from Garlin.

“By the way,” Garlin said, “in terms of my career, anything [Maddon] wants, carte blanche. I’m going to tell you this right now — I want to do a t-shirt [that says] — this is true — ‘I want to be Joe Maddon’s best friend.’ I’m going to make t-shirts that say ‘I want to be Joe Maddon’s best friend.’ The Cubs took a picture of you and I together and I think they’re going to put it on the background and it’ll say, ‘I want to be Joe Maddon’s best friend.'”

Said Maddon: “I’m going to get a cut of the proceeds you said.”

“Yes, you get a cut of the proceeds,” Garlin said. “Small, you know, but still, the union worked it out. Let me also say, if we do more ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm,’ I promise you’ll be on. You have my word. I will wrestle Larry [David].”

Maddon said he’d be happy just walking behind Garlin in the background.

“I think we’re going to do that — we’ll have you in your Cubs uniform just walking by,” Garlin said.

“It’s just like photo bomb you guys,” Maddon said. “That’s the kind of speaking part I’m looking for.”

Garlin did predict a Cubs win on Thursday over the Padres. He also is still smarting from the Cubs’ 3-2 loss in the 1984 National League Championship Series against the Padres. San Diego’s Garvey was the series Most Valuable Player.

“Any win, by the way, for the Cubs in San Diego still can never make up for what happened here years ago,” Garlin said.

Maddon was aware of the ball between Chicago first baseman Leon Durham’s legs in deciding Game 5, a 6-3 San Diego win.

“I don’t blame [Durham],” Garlin said. “I blame Steve Garvey. He’s much easier to dislike.”

That got a big laugh.

— Carrie Muskat

#Cubs lineup and early notes

Kyle Hendricks gets the start Thursday when the Cubs close their three-game series in San Diego against the Padres. Here’s the lineup:

Fowler CF

Bryant 3B

Rizzo 1B

Castro SS

Montero C

Soler RF

Coghlan LF

Hendricks P

Russell 2B

* A win Thursday would give the Cubs their best 40-game start since opening the 2008 season with a 24-16 record en route to a 97 win season.

* The Cubs have won seven of their last nine games. The bullpen is 4-1 with a 2.84 ERA and six scoreless performances in that span.

* Each of the first two games in this series have been decided by a single run. The Cubs have played an MLB-high 19
one-run games this season (12-7 record).

* San Diego starter Odrisamer Despaigne lost to the Nats on Friday with seven runs allowed in three innings. Despaigne has allowed 15 runs over eight innings in his last two starts, with the Padres having been outscored by a 21-0 margin in those two games. With Brandon Morrow (shoulder) likely nearing a return, Despaigne may be pitching to keep his rotation spot.

* Hendricks took a no-decision against the Pirates on Friday after allowing five runs over 5.2 innings in an eventual 11-10 win in 12 innings. Hendricks is 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA (2 ER / 13 IP) in two career starts against San Diego. He took a no-decision against the Padres on April 18 (2 ER / 6 IP) in an eventual Cubs win. Hendricks owns a 3.31 ERA in 20 career starts.

* Kris Bryant is hitting .414 (12-29 AB) with nine RBI during a nine-game hitting streak. The Cubs are 12-2 this season when Bryant drives in at least one run (just 10-15 when no RBI from Bryant).

* The Cubs have drawn 145 walks this season—tied with the Red Sox for the second-most of any team (Dodgers). They’re led by Bryant (24 walks) and Anthony Rizzo (22 walks).

* Rizzo’s .460 OBP is second-best in the Majors to Bryce Harper. His high OBP has helped boost his OPS to a 1.047 mark—good for third in MLB.

#Cubs vs D-Backs probables

After the Cubs face the Padres on Thursday, they head to Phoenix for a three-game series against the D-Backs. Here are the pitching matchups at Chase Field:

Friday: LHP Jon Lester (4-2, 3.70) vs. RHP Josh Collmenter (3-5, 5.36)
Saturday: RHP Jake Arrieta (4-4, 2.77) vs. RHP Rubby De La Rosa (4-2, 4.08)
Sunday: RHP Jason Hammel (3-1, 2.70) vs. RHP Jeremy Hellickson (1-3, 5.52)

#Cubs Minor League report

Wednesday’s games

Iowa had the day off and will return to action Thursday against Tacoma. Felipe Paulino gets the start, his first for the
I-Cubs.

Wilson Contreras had two RBIs in Tennessee’s 6-4 loss to Jackson. Felix Pena started and gave up four runs on eight hits
over 5 2/3 innings.

Jonathan Martinez posted a quality start in Myrtle Beach’s 6-4 win over Frederick. Chesny Young had two hits and two RBIs.
James Pugliese threw three innings for his third save.

Gioskar Amaya had two hits, including a double, in South Bend’s 8-1 loss to Lansing. Zach Hedges started and gave up seven
earned runs over six innings. Jesse Hodges had two hits, including a double.

#Cubs prospects collide in Tennessee game

Wilson Contreras drove in two runs with two doubles but it wasn’t enough as Double-A Tennessee lost, 6-4, to Jackson on Wednesday. There was a scary moment in the game when outfielders Albert Almora and Bijan Rademacher collided in left center chasing a ball hit by Zach Shank. The two Cubs prospects were able to walk off the field under their own power.

“We’ll know a lot more tomorrow,” Smokies manager Buddy Bailey said about the two players. “It’s nothing that looks like it’s broken or that, it’s just going to be trying to get the soreness out of the muscles, the body tightness and all that stuff. … Hopefully, in two or three days we’ll be able to get one of them, if not both of them, back. But we’ll know a lot more [Thursday] when the training people check them out.”

Felix Pena started for Tennessee, and gave up four runs over 5 2/3 innings.

#Cubs lineup for Wed 5/20

Tsuyoshi Wada makes his first start of the 2015 season on Wednesday when the Cubs face the Padres in the second  game of their three-game series. Here’s the lineup:

Fowler CF

Bryant 3B

Rizzo 1B

Castro SS

Montero C

Soler RF

Coghlan LF

Wada P

Russell 2B

* With Tuesday’s one-run win, the Padres have won 12 of 18 games decided by one or two runs.

* Tyson Ross will make his second start against the Cubs. He did not get a decision April 18 in a game at Wrigley Field, giving up three earned runs over 5 2/3 innings in the Padres’ 7-6 loss. Kris Bryant, by the way, had two walks and a single in three PA vs. Ross. The hit was Bryant’s first ever Major League hit (in his second career game).

* Bryant is batting .423 (11-26 AB) in his eight-game hit streak. He has four home runs in his last 10 games after not hitting a homer in his first 20.

* Wada takes the spot of Travis Wood in the Cubs rotation. He faced the Padres in his second big league start last July 23 at Wrigley Field, and gave up five runs over four innings. He had been sidelined this season with a mild left groin strain.

* Starlin Castro is hitting just .179 over his last 17 games. His 22 RBI are 2nd most among all MLB SS (Brandon Crawford)

* Dexter Fowler has a .363 OBP in 35 games batting leadoff this season and is third among MLB leadoff men with 27 runs scored. Cubs leadoff hitters last year: 27th in MLB with .303 OBP.

Wada, Lake, Baxter join #Cubs

Tsuyoshi Wada, Junior Lake and Mike Baxter joined the Cubs on Tuesday, part of a series of roster moves.

Wada was activated from the disabled list and will make his first start Wednesday against the Padres, taking Travis Wood’s spot in the rotation. Wada replaces Phil Coke on the roster after Coke was designated for assignment. The left-handed reliever posted a 6.30 ERA in 16 games with the Cubs, giving up seven earned runs on 14 hits and three walks over 10 innings. The Cubs had signed the lefty to a Minor League contract on March 5.

Lake and Baxter join the Cubs from the Triple-A Iowa team, and take the roster spots of reliever Brian Schlitter, who was optioned to Triple-A Iowa, and catcher Welington castillo, who was traded earlier in the day to the Mariners for right-handed pitcher Yoervis Medina, who will report to Triple-A Iowa.

Lake was recalled for his second stint with the Cubs. He appeared in four games, going 4-for-14, with the big league team. The outfielder was batting .250 at Iowa.

The Cubs selected the contract of Baxter, 30, who was batting .290 in 34 games at Iowa, and can play outfield and first base.

Schlitter, who has gone 0-2 with a 8.10 ERA in nine games overall with the Cubs, was sent to Triple-A Iowa.

— Carrie Muskat

#Cubs lineup and pre-game notes

Jason Hammel starts on Tuesday night as the Cubs open a six-game road trip in San Diego against the Padres. Here’s the lineup:

Fowler CF

Bryant 3B

Rizzo 1B

Castro SS

Montero C

Soler RF

Coghlan LF

Hammel P

Russell 2B

* Padres pitcher James Shields and Jason Hammel were teammates with the Rays from 2006-08. Shields defeated the Cubs on April 17, allowing four runs – three earned – in six innings. He struck out Kris Bryant three times in his big league debut in that game.

* Bryant, the second overall pick back in 2013, returns to San Diego where he played his college ball at the University of San Diego. Bryant is batting .455 (10-22 AB) with three homers and eight RBI during his current seven-game hit streak.

* After posting a 5.19 ERA (10 ER, 17.1 IP) in his first three starts to start the season, Hammel has been superb in his last four starts, going 2-0, 1.86 ERA (6 ER, 29 IP). Hammel got a no-decision vs. Shields and the Padres on April 17, allowing four earned runs in 6.1 innings.

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