Luis Valbuena is back in the Cubs’ lineup for the series finale against the Rockies. Jeff Samardzija will be on the mound, looking for his first win since Opening Day. Here’s the lineup:
* Anthony Rizzo has not struck out in his last 28 at-bats dating to the sixth inning, May 7, vs. the Cardinals. It’s the second-longest active stretch in the Majors without a strikeout, trailing only the Orioles’ J.J. Hardy, who has not fanned in his last 31 at-bats (thanks to STATS Inc. for the info).
Rizzo was batting .380 (21-for-71) with eight doubles, three homers, 15 RBIs and a 1.056 OPS in his last 18 games dating to April 26. He has struck out eight times in that stretch. Prior to this 18-game span, he batted .173 (14-for-81) in his first 21 games to open the season with 26 Ks. His .380 batting average since April 26 is fourth-highest in the National League.
– Carrie Muskat
Anthony Rizzo appeared on MLB Network’s “Intentional Talk” and revealed that he had to borrow a belt, that Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are his “step parents,” and he’s jealous of Jeff Samardzija’s hair. During the interview with Kevin Millar and Chris Rose, Rizzo was asked for his first response when told the Cubs wanted to give him a long term contract.
“[I said] ‘Where do I sign?’” Rizzo said.
He did sign a seven-year, $41 million deal on Monday but apparently had to borrow a belt from teammate Ryan Sweeney for the news conference.
Epstein, Hoyer and Jason McLeod, the scouting and player development director, first selected Rizzo in the 2007 Draft. Then Hoyer traded for him when he and McLeod went to the Padres. Epstein, Hoyer and McLeod were reunited on the Cubs, and traded for Rizzo again. Does the first baseman have a man crush on Epstein and Hoyer?
“Those are my step parents, to be honest, Jed, Theo and Jason,” Rizzo said. “They brought me along on their ride. I think I have a crush on them more now.”
Millar and Rose wanted to know who has the best hair on the Cubs. Rizzo said it’s not him.
“[Samardzija] and [James] Russell have the best hair on the team so far,” Rizzo said.
He may like the locks, but during a quick Q&A, Rizzo couldn’t spell Samardzija’s name.
– Carrie Muskat
Looking ahead to the Cubs’ next series, they will play host to the Mets at Wrigley Field, starting Friday. Here are the pitching matchups:
Friday: RHP Edwin Jackson (1-5, 6.02) vs. RHP Matt Harvey (4-0, 1.44)
Saturday: RHP Scott Feldman (3-3, 2.53) vs. RHP Jeremy Hefner (0-4, 4.61)
Sunday: LHP Travis Wood (4-2, 2.03) vs. RHP Dillon Gee (2-5, 6.13)
Barret Loux gave up seven runs on nine hits over 3 1/3 innings in Iowa’s 11-1 loss to Reno. Brad Nelson and Brian Bogusevic each had two hits. Ian Stewart was 1-for-3 with a double.
Christian Villanueva hit a solo home run to help Tennessee beat Jackson, 3-2, in 10 innings. Zach Rosscup picked up the win in relief. Matt Szczur collected his sixth straight multi-hit game, going 3-for-5.
Dustin Geiger hit a double for the only extra base hit as Daytona lost, 4-2, to Charlotte. Austin Reed threw two scoreless innings in relief, and now has not given up a run in his last five appearances.
Wilson Contreras went 2-for-2, hitting his fifth home run, in Kane County’s 8-4 loss to Peoria. Ian Dickson gave up two runs on five hits over four innings. Rock Shoulders notched his eighth multi-RBI game, going 2-for-4 with two RBIs.
* Third baseman Luis Valbuena was expected back in the Cubs lineup on Wednesday, four days after spraining the little finger on his right hand when he slid into third base. Valbuena, who injured his hand Saturday in Washington, has been able to take batting practice and work out at third Monday and Tuesday. He spent part of Tuesday with his little finger in a cup of ice to get the swelling down. Valbuena was batting .272 in 31 games with five home runs, five doubles and 13 RBIs.
* The Cubs have finally climbed above the Mendoza line when batting with runners in scoring position. Chicago entered Tuesday’s game batting .204 with RISP, still lowest in the Major Leagues. The team leads the National League with 87 doubles and 131 extra-base hits. But they rank 10th in runs scored.
* Arodys Vizcaino, coming back from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, will continue his rehab with the Cubs rather than in Mesa, Ariz. Vizcaino joined the team on Monday. Cubs manager Dale Sveum said the right-hander, acquired from the Braves last July in the Paul Maholm deal, was a couple weeks away from appearing in a game.
Scott Baker, who also is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery one year ago, remained in Mesa at the Cubs’ facility.
– Carrie Muskat
Matt Garza’s next rehab start is Thursday, and it could be his last, which will create a problem for the Cubs who have a pretty good rotation right now. Chicago’s starters rank third in the National League with a 3.40 ERA behind the Cardinals and Nationals, and they have posted 23 quality starts with a 1.90 ERA in those games. Garza, on the disabled list because of a strained left lat suffered in a Spring Training workout Feb. 17, will make his fourth Minor League rehab start Thursday for Triple-A Iowa.
“I’m just going for the next one,” Garza said Tuesday. I’m looking forward to Thursday and after Thursday, we’ll make a decision. They want me to get stretched out and get deeper into games, and I guess that’s what I have to do now.”
He threw 66 pitches in his last outing for Double-A Tennessee but it was over 3 1/3 innings. The Cubs want him to go deeper in the game.
“I’ve been throwing strikes, I’ve been working on things I need to work on,” Garza said. “It’s all piecing together. I feel fine and am excited about Thursday.”
But who gets bumped when Garza is ready? Over the weekend, Cubs manager Dale Sveum said they weren’t considering a six-man rotation but on Monday, he said it could be a possibility.
“It’s a tough decision because everybody has pitched pretty well,” Sveum said. “It’s going to be one of those things that will be unfortunate for somebody but it’s a reality and it’s going to happen.”
Carlos Villanueva, who started Tuesday, has the most experience as a swingman.
“It might lean to who we’re playing that series, the matchups,” Sveum said. “Maybe you go to a six-man rotation for a week because of matchups. You never know what the bullpen is like. A lot of things come into play. We’ll make that decision — and I know you guys are going to keep asking this question every day. It’s not going to change.”
Travis Wood posted his eighth straight quality start on Monday, and has a 2.03 ERA. Scott Feldman has a 2.53 ERA in his seven starts, which include a complete game win.
“I guess that’s the best problem to have,” Garza said about everyone doing well. “I want to pitch. I’m not getting ready for no reason. The guys are doing great. I’ve got to really step into it and gear up for it. I’m excited to come back and chomping. I’m not looking forward to anything past Thursday.”
– Carrie Muskat
Theo Epstein, Len Kasper and Peter Gammons will host the second annual Hot Stove Cool Music Chicago benefit concert on June 21 at Wrigleyville’s Metro. Epstein, Cubs president of baseball operations, will be joined on stage by Kasper, the Cubs’ TV play by play man, and Gammons, a Hall of Fame baseball writer. Proceeds from the event will benefit Chicago Cubs Charities and Epstein’s “Foundation To Be Named Later.” It will feature ensemble performances by headliner Poi Dog Pondering along with the Parkington Sisters, Brede Baldwin and Kay Hanley, former vocalist for Letters to Cleo. Gammons, Epstein and Kasper will perform alongside The Hot Stove All-Stars, featuring Jesse Dee, Local H’s Scott Lucas, Will Dailey, Jimmy Chamberlin and special guests.
Tickets go on sale Saturday at noon CT at http://www.metrochicago.com and the Metro Box Office located at 3730 North Clark Street, Chicago. General admission tickets are $50, with no service fees for cash purchases. VIP tickets will also be available at http://www.ftbnl.org.
In addition to the all-star music lineup, the evening will feature a number of special guests and a live and silent auction featuring signed sports memorabilia and priceless entertainment experiences.
Hot Stove Cool Music was founded in 2000 by Gammons and former Boston Herald sports writer Jeff Horrigan. The biannual event has raised more than $5.5 million for Theo and Paul Epstein’s Foundation To Be Named Later and the Jimmy Fund. Foundation To Be Named Later was founded in 2005 by Epstein and his brother Paul as a means to create positive opportunities for disadvantaged children and families. Nonprofit partner beneficiaries include the One Fund Boston 2013, The Chicago Children’s Choir, City Year Chicago, Girls in the Game, Family Reach Foundation, Chicago Wapiti RFC, Late Night Peace Basketball League, and Garfield Park Little League.
Nick Struck gave up four runs over six innings and Donnie Murphy hit a home run and drove in three in Iowa’s 6-4 win over Reno. Murphy was 2-for-4. Struck struck out four and gave up 11 hits. The I-Cubs matched a franchise record with five double plays in the game.
Rubi Silva and Rafael Lopez both homered to lead Tennessee to a 6-4 win over Jackson. The Smokies scored four runs in the top of the ninth for the win. Matt Szczur had two hits, including a double, and was batting .458 in his last five games. Silva hit his third home run in his last six games. Trey McNutt struck out three and picked up the win in relief.
Zach Cates gave up three runs over six innings but took the loss in Daytona’s 3-0 loss to Charlotte. Jorge Soler was named Florida State League Player of the Week. In four games, he was 7-for-15 with three doubles, a triple, two home runs, four RBIs and scored five runs. He has reached base in 10 consecutive games.
Pierce Johnson gave up four runs over six innings in Kane County’s 4-0 loss to Clinton. Gioskar Amaya and Dan Vogelbach each had two hits.
Carlos Villanueva takes the mound Tuesday in the second game of the Cubs’ three-game series against the Rockies. Here’s the lineup:
Fans interested in tracking the renovation of Wrigley Field and showing their support for the ballpark’s restoration can follow the progress on a new website, WrigleyField.com, which the Cubs launched on Tuesday.
The site, titled “Restore Wrigley Field,” gives fans a chance to view artist’s renderings of the proposed changes to the 99-year-old ballpark. Plus, fans are encouraged to sign a petition to let the team, the city and community know they back the renovation.
The website, which will be linked to Cubs.com, outlines the $500 million plan that the Ricketts family has proposed for Wrigley Field and the surrounding area, including the addition of a hotel at Clark and Addison where the McDonald’s restaurant is currently located. There are drawings of the plaza proposed for Clark Street next to the ballpark, and the new restaurant at Addison and Sheffield streets. The renovation will be conducted over five offseasons, and updates will be provided on the new website.
Have you missed the initial announcements? There is a “Frequently Asked Questions” section that covers all the topics, including whether the Cubs will have to play elsewhere — they will not — and the economic impact on Chicago and the region. According to the Cubs, the project will create approximately 2,100 new jobs, including 1,300 permanent and 800 construction jobs.
What should be encouraging to Cubs fans is that the design plan was formed using preservation architects who have worked on Fenway Park, the Rose Bowl, Camden Yards and Lambeau Field. The goal is to return Wrigley Field to its 1930s grandeur but make it much more functional. The Cubs will use recycled materials in the restoration, install energy-efficient water and heating and air conditioning systems, and make Wrigley as environmentally efficient as possible.
The changes also will make it a better fan experience. When the Ricketts family purchased the Cubs and the ballpark in October 2009, they stressed that one of their goals was to preserve Wrigley Field. The proposed renovation will restore the facade of the ballpark and replace aging concrete and steel, which is needed to keep Wrigley Field operating for years to come.
The site also includes drawings of the proposed 6,000-square foot video scoreboard projected for left field as well as the 1,000-foot advertising sign projected for right field.
Want to show your support? You can sign a petition on the new website, adding your name to the list of backers who feel this is a “win for the Chicago economy, the Lakeview community, Cubs fans and the team.” There’s a phone number so you can call 44th Ward Alderman Tom Tunney and tell him why Wrigley Field is special to you and why the restoration is necessary. You also can join the community campaign and receive email updates on the project.
– Carrie Muskat