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4/22 Wrigley’s 100th anniversary

On Wednesday, Wrigley Field will celebrate it’s 100th anniversary, and Cubs catcher John Baker will think about all the other players who have stood on the field in the last century.

“This field is kind of like a soldier — it’s lasted for so long,” Baker said. “More than anything, I think about the privilege to step out on to it. Rarely in baseball do you get the chance to stand on the same spot where the all-time great players have stood on and played on the same field.

“One of the special things about golf is people can go to St. Andrews and Augusta and play,” he said. “In baseball, you think of the new stadium in Washington and the new stadium in Miami and Shea Stadium is gone, and that was new in the ’60s. This place and Fenway Park are one of the few places left where you can walk out and stand at home plate and be at the same place Babe Ruth stood and Ted Williams stood. I think that’s the most special aspect of this entire ballpark.”

The Cubs and Diamondbacks will wear throwback uniforms to reflect the 100-year anniversary, although neither will be wearing jerseys from their respective club. The Cubs will wear the Chi-Feds jerseys to represent the first team that played at Wrigley, which was then Weegham Park. The Diamondbacks will wear versions of the Kansas City Packers’ uniforms. The Chi-Feds played the Packers on April 23, 1914.

Fans will be asked to sing “Happy Birthday” in the fifth inning, and several Cubs alums, including Hall of Famers Ernie Banks and Billy Williams, will return for pre-game festivities.

“There’s a little kid in every one of us that comes out when we see former players who have been here,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. “Their experiences are unique.”

However, no team has celebrated a championship at Wrigley Field. Is there anything about the ballpark that makes Renteria think that can’t happen?

“No,” Renteria said. “The game is defined and starts and ends with the players. Hopefully, when we’re coaching and managing, we’re able to help direct and stay out of the way when we have to.”

Theo Epstein knows about historical ballparks, having spent so much time with the Red Sox at Fenway Park.

“When it comes to the 100th anniversary, for me, I think of how Wrigley is the epicenter of fans’ connection to the Cubs and it represents something so important to this franchise and the fans,” Epstein said. “It not only connects Wrigley to the fans of the team, but also generations of fans to one another. … It’s the epicenter of the fan’s connection to the team and for a lot of families, it’s an important familial place because of so much bonding and so many good times have gone on here despite the losing.

“We all look forward to the day when the crowd and the energy in the ballpark is focused on the ninth inning comeback the Cubs are going to have instead of the seventh inning stretch,” he said.

For Chicago’s Carlos Villanueva, pitching at Wrigley Field is a little surreal.

“This park, it’s a different aura,” Villanueva said. “I was fortunate in my first year to start a game here in September. You grow up in the Dominican and you get WGN-TV back home, and we watched the Cubs games, and it looked so much different on TV. You see the ivy and the wind and the people.

“The fact that I was here, it’s almost like I didn’t want to pitch, I just wanted to sit and watch a game as a fan,” he said. “I couldn’t believe I was actually in this park. You start thinking about all the people and everyone has seen the videos of years ago and the people who were playing here. It’s crazy.”

It’s been 100 years of baseball at Clark and Addison streets.

“Obviously, the dimensions, the ivy, the basket, how more people come for day games than night games, the rooftops — it’s definitely special and it’s something you can’t replicate,” Villanueva said of Wrigley Field. “I always joke around and tell people nobody can understand what it feels like to be a Cubbie unless you’ve been one. Wrigley is all part of it. We get a little renovations done and it’ll be around for 100 more years. In this next century, let’s have at least 25 championships.”

– Carrie Muskat

4/22 Extra bases

* Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta will likely make one more Minor League rehab start before he’s ready to rejoin the big league team. Arrieta, slowed this spring by tightness in his right shoulder, made his fourth rehab start on Monday for Class A Daytona and threw 94 pitches over 5 2/3 innings.

“I felt really good,” he said Tuesday at Wrigley Field. “I was uncomfortable throughout the first couple [innings] but settled in nicely as things went on and started to feel like I knew how to get some of those guys out. I got to 94 pitches and that was where the mark was and I feel really good today.”

The last outing of Spring Training for starting pitchers is usually a shorter one, and that’s where Arrieta is in his progression. With Arrieta still needing time to rehab, Carlos Villanueva will stay in the rotation, manager Rick Renteria said.

* Jose Veras had a long side session with bullpen coach Lester Strode on Tuesday as the Cubs try to get the right-hander back on track to resume his role as the closer.

“He needs to pitch,” manager Rick Renteria said of Veras. “He wants to get back out there on the hill and throw. We’ll do everything we can to get him some work.”

One of the problems with Veras may be that he isn’t warming up well, which is why Strode was working with the right-hander.

“I’m sure we haven’t seen the very best of him,” Renteria said of Veras. “We do want to get him back and we’ll do everything we can to put him in the game and get him to throw.”

* Theo Epstein supported Renteria’s decision to call a team meeting after last Friday’s game.

“It’s a matter of striking the right balance between keeping an even keel and also being attentive when our standards slip in certain areas,” Epstein said. “It’s always a tricky balance but Ricky has a good feel for the pulse of the team and isn’t afraid to address things as they come up.”

Epstein and Renteria know they have to be careful as to when they time the sessions.

“You can’t call meetings after every frustrating game or series,” Epstein said. “It’s a matter of striking the right balance.”

* Cubs prospect Jorge Soler, sidelined with a sore right hamstring, is rehabbing at the team’s complex in Mesa, Ariz., and doing some baseball activities. However, Soler is not ready to play in games in extended Spring Training. Soler appeared in one game for Double-A Tennessee and hit a double, then had to leave the game because of the hamstring injury. The Cubs will take their time to avoid having Soler aggravate the injury.

– Carrie Muskat

4/22 Minor matters

Kyle Hendricks gave up two hits over six scoreless innings in Iowa’s 5-1 win over Round Rock on Monday. Hendricks struck out six and improved to 3-1 with a 3.65 ERA. Arismendy Alcantara hit his first home run and Matt Szczur had three hits, one RBI and a stolen base.

Dae-Eun Rhee gave up two runs on four hits over five innings in Tennessee’s 10-5 win over Birmingham. Rubi Silva and Jae-Hoon Ha each homered. Silva finished with two hits and three RBIs and Ha had three hits and scored three runs.

Jake Arrieta gave up five runs — three earned — over 5 2/3 innings in his fourth rehab start, pitching for Daytona, which won, 6-5, in 11 innings over Clearweater. Arodys Vizcaino picked up his first save with a perfect 11th. Dan Vogelbach scored the game winner on a wild pitch. Jeimer Candelario had two hits, both doubles, and two RBIs.

Yasiel Balaguert had two RBIs but it wasn’t enough as Kane County lost, 5-3, to Beloit. Balaguert has 14 RBI, tied for second most in the league.

4/22 Cubs lineup

Jason Hammel gets the start Tuesday night when the Cubs play host to the Diamondbacks at Wrigley Field. Luis Valbuena will lead off for the first time this season, while Emilio Bonifacio sits. Here’s the lineup:

Valbuena 2B
Ruggiano CF
Rizzo 1B
Schierholtz RF
Castro SS
Olt 3B
Lake LF
Baker C
Hammel P

4/21 Jake Arrieta update

As of now, Carlos Villanueva stays in the Cubs rotation but Jake Arrieta is getting close to returning to the big league team. Arrieta, who was slowed this spring with tightness in his right shoulder, made his fourth Minor League rehab start on Monday, pitching for Class A Daytona. He gave up five runs — three earned — on five hits, including three homers, over 5 2/3 innings for Daytona against Clearwater. Arrieta struck out seven, including the last two batters he faced in the sixth.

He has made three starts for Double-A Tennessee but the Cubs wanted Arrieta pitching in warm weather and to go about 100 pitches on Monday. Will a start at Class A be enough to prep Arrieta for the big leagues?

“I think the intensity level that everybody has when they’re down on rehabs, everybody’s different,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. “Some guys don’t think about it too much and just focus on what they’re doing. Some guys see it as kind of being lax because it’s a different arena.

“In his case, he’s a guy who goes out there and knows he has to command and stay clean in his delivery and hit his spots,” Renteria said. “It might be a little different for pitchers than position players.”

Renteria said they don’t know if Arrieta will need another rehab start after Monday until they see how he responds from the outing. The right-hander most likely will make one more Minor League start before he’s activated.

Villanueva is 1-2 with a 10.66 ERA in three starts, and will go to the bullpen when Arrieta returns.

– Carrie Muskat

4/21 Cubs lineup

The Cubs open a four-game homestand against the Diamondbacks at Wrigley Field. Travis Wood gets the start on Monday night. Here’s the lineup against right-hander Bronson Arroyo:

Bonifacio 2B
Valbuena 3B
Rizzo 1B
Schierholtz RF
Castro SS
Sweeney CF
Castillo C
Kalish LF
T. Wood P

4/21 Rizzo’s “Cook-off for Cancer” on May 16

Tickets are now on sale for Anthony Rizzo’s second “Cook-Off for Cancer” fundraiser, which will take place May 16, 6-10 p.m. CT at Revel Downtown, 440 W Randolph, Chicago. Last year’s event sold out and raised more than $150,000 to help and support families with children fighting cancer. Rizzo and his Cubs teammates will be serving food and competing for tips among patrons.

Participating chefs include: Lee Ann Whippen of Chicago q, Mario Hernandez of Del Frisco’s, Giuseppe Tentori of GT Fish and Oyster, Joseph Farina of Joe’s Fish, David Burns of Levy Restaurants, Molly Johnson of Limelight Catering, Tony Priolo of Piccolo Sogno, Cosmo Goss of Publican, Doug Psaltis of RPM Italian, Doug Tomek of Uncle Dougies, and Joseph Heppe of Untitled 111.

All tips and event net proceeds will benefit pediatric cancer research, care and support, a cause close to home for Rizzo and his family.
The first baseman was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at age 18, and endured six months of chemotherapy. On Sept. 2, 2008, Rizzo was told he was in remission.

“Fighting cancer is a battle for the entire family,” Rizzo said. “The child endures the cancer treatments but it’s his or her family struggling to pay all the bills, shuttling back and forth to appointments, and hurting for their child.”

Cook-Off for Cancer tickets are $200 per person with limited number of tables available for $1,200. For tickets and information, visit http://www.cubs.com/cook.

4/21 Minor matters

* Carlos Pimentel struck out five over six innings in Iowa’s 6-0 loss to Round Rock on Sunday. It was his second quality start. He now has 26 Ks, which ranks among the leaders in the PCL. Matt Szczur and Logan Watkins each had two hits. Javier Baez returned from the DL and was 0-for-4, striking out three times.

“I was kind of lost at the plate today,” Baez told the Des Moines Register.

* C.J. Edwards gave up two runs on three hits over six innings in Tennessee’s 8-3 win over Birmingham. The Smokies scored five runs in the fifth. Kris Bryant was 2-for-4 with three RBIs and Rubi Silva had two RBIs and two hits.

* Daytona and Kane County both had Sunday off. Daytona resumes play Monday at Clearwater with Jake Arrieta scheduled to make a rehab start. Kane County plays host to Beloit.

4/20 Extra bases: Baez, Riz, Olt & more

* Top prospect Javier Baez was activated from Triple-A Iowa’s disabled list on Sunday and in the lineup as the designated hitter. Baez had not played since April 10. He injured his left ankle taking ground balls on April 11. In eight games, Baez was 4-for-26 with two home runs and 10 strikeouts.

* Anthony Rizzo entered Sunday’s game batting .464 at Wrigley Field, while teammate Starlin Castro was hitting .424 at home. They rank among the National League leaders in home batting average.

“Their two-strike approaches are pretty good,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said of Rizzo and Castro. “‘Riz’ in particular with two strikes is choking up a little now and trying not to be so pull conscious and takes what they give him. It’s more of a mindset. You have to make an adjustment and as you improve as big league players, you know there are things you have to work on.

“He’s come to a conclusion that some of the things he’s doing are helping him,” Renteria said. “With offense, there are peaks and valleys to them, but so far, he’s had a consistent approach.”

* Renteria abandoned his usual lefty-righty platoon on Sunday, and has Mike Olt starting at third base against righty Homer Bailey.

“I’ve been trying over time with all the guys to give them some days when they go back to back,” Renteria said. “It gives them a better view and a little more comfortable. The reality is they’re going to face lefties and righties, and you’ve got to give them an opportunity to use some games back to back to get some kind of comfort.”

* The Cubs will celebrate Wrigley Field’s 100th anniversary on Wednesday. Sue Quigg, grand-niece of former Cubs owner Charles Weeghman, will throw the game’s ceremonial first pitch, and use the 100-year-old ball her grandmother Dessa Weeghman threw at a Chi-Feds game a century ago. The first 30,000 fans will receive replica Chi-Feds jerseys, and the first 10,000 fans will get a birthday cupcake.

– Carrie Muskat

4/20 Rizzo starts at 1B

* Mike Olt took grounders at first base early Sunday just in case Anthony Rizzo was still bothered by back spasms, which forced him out of Saturday’s game.

“I told him not to,” Rizzo said, joking. “That’s my position.”

Rizzo was in the Cubs’ lineup Sunday for the series finale against the Reds. He was pulled from Saturday’s game in the eighth inning because of the back problems, which he said started “barking” in the fifth or sixth innings.

“He felt he’d be fine [Sunday] and came in and said he felt good,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said.

– Carrie Muskat

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