The Cubs’ bullpen will get some help on Sunday when reliever Neil Ramirez joins the club.
Ramirez has been on the disabled list since April 16 because of right shoulder inflammation. He made three rehab appearances — two for Double-A Tennessee and pitched one inning for Triple-A Iowa. In the three games, he gave up one hit over 2 2/3 innings while striking out four.
Last season, Ramirez, 26, appeared in 50 games and compiled a 1.44 ERA. He was expected to be a key piece of the bullpen but was sidelined with the shoulder injury after five April outings.
No corresponding roster move was announced Saturday night.
— Carrie Muskat
In his first Triple-A start, Frank Batista gave up one earned run over four innings in Iowa’s 5-0 loss to New Orleans. Mike Olt was 0-for-4 in his fourth rehab game with Iowa.
Tennessee scored six runs in the eighth and ninth innings combined to beat Mobile, 9-4. Stephen Bruno drove in three runs and Albert Almora and Jacob Hannemann had two hits and one RBI each.
Duane Underwood gave up six runs on four hits and three walks in one inning in Myrtle Beach’s 9-2 loss to Carolina. Trey Martin had two hits. Victor Caratini hit a solo home run.
Trevor Clifton threw six shutout innings in South Bend’s 5-2 win over Lake County. Charcer Burks had two hits and one RBI and now has hit in eight straight games.
Oscar De La Cruz threw six shutout innings in Eugene’s 7-1 win over Tri-City. First-round pick Ian Happ had two hits, scored two runs, and stole a base. He’s now batting .300. Tyler Alamo had two hits and three RBI.
Mesa had Friday off, and returns to action Saturday against the Giants.
Kris Bryant was back in the Cubs lineup Friday and feeling better. The rookie was pulled from Thursday’s game after two innings because of flu-like symptoms, and said he’s actually been fighting it since the weekend series in Minnesota. Bryant, who was bothered by allergies last year, said he tried to recover by sitting in the weight room between innings Thursday to cool off.
“It kind of just hit me,” Bryant said Friday. “Earlier in pre-game, I felt fine. It hit me really hard. It just came out of nowhere.”
Even though manager Joe Maddon has talked about giving Bryant a day off, the third baseman would prefer to keep playing.
“I’m not too much of a fan of days off,” he said. “I think they’re missed opportunities.”
Bryant didn’t pay attention to the surge of trade rumors that started when he was pulled from Thursday’s game.
“That’s kind of funny,” he said of erroneous reports that he was headed to the Mets.
Some on social media speculated Bryant was out because of a hang over. That wasn’t funny to him.
“I think if you know the type of person I am and my friends and family and everybody in here knows who I am and what I believe in [you wouldn’t say that],” Bryant said. “A trade would be way more believable.”
— Carrie Muskat
Donn Roach will make his first big league start since May 18, 2014, when he takes the mound Saturday for the Cubs in place of lefty Tsuyoshi Wada, who is still bothered by some cramping in his left shoulder. Roach, 25, who the Cubs claimed off waivers in November from the Padres, was 7-1 with a 2.29 ERA in 14 starts at Triple-A Iowa. He appeared in 16 big league games last year with San Diego, compiling a 4.75 ERA.
There are no “alarms going off” regarding Wada’s shoulder, manager Joe Maddon said. The lefty had to leave his last start after two innings because of the cramping. He has not undergone an MRI. The Cubs say there’s nothing structurally wrong. Wada did play catch on Friday at Busch Stadium.
“The thing about Wada is that we’re still not 100 percent sure where that is right now — I don’t know how bad he is,” Maddon said. “He’s doing better. It’s not awful. We’re just concerned that it’s not progressing to the point where we have a definite answer.”
A corresponding roster move will be made Saturday, and it would most likely be a pitcher, Maddon said.
“We really can’t lose any more bench players right now,” Maddon said.
Roach will have a tough assignment, having to face the Cardinals, who boast the best record in baseball.
“That’s why I play the game — it’s fun,” Roach said.
— Carrie Muskat
Dexter Fowler is back in the Cubs lineup for Friday’s series opener against the Cardinals. Plus, Kris Bryant is feeling better and will start at third base. Jake Arrieta gets the start in a rematch of a May 7 game against John Lackey. Here’s the Cubs lineup:
* According to MLB Network’s stats geeks, Anthony Rizzo has slashed his strikeout rate from 18.8 percent last season to 12.0 percent this season by taking fewer at-bats to two strikes. He reached two strikes 53.6 percent of the time in 2014; this year he’s going to two strikes only 44.3 percent of the time. Rizzo cut his miss percentage before two strikes from 24.1 percent of swings to 20.3 percent this season (22.4 percent league average).
* The Cardinals pitchers are 10-3, 2.43 ERA in last 13 games.
* Arrieta is coming off a complete game victory over the Twins. He is 3-1 with a 2.77 ERA over his last four starts.
* Anthony Rizzo is batting .371 (13-for-35) with eight extra-base hits (.829 SLG) over his last nine games.
* Chris Coghlan is a career .583 hitter (7-for-12) lifetime vs. Lackey.
Iowa swept a doubleheader against Omaha, winning the first game, 3-2, in 10 innings on Kyle Schwarber’s walk-off RBI double and posting a 1-0 win in the second game. Mike Olt went 3-for-4 in the first game, including his first home run. Neil Ramirez gave up one hit and struck out a batter in two-thirds of an inning in relief. It was his first rehab outing with Iowa. Schwarber hit a triple as well as his double in the first game. Christian Villanueva drove in the only run Carlos Pimentel needed in the second game. Pimentel gave up three hits over six scoreless innings, striking out nine.
Taylor Davis hit two solo home runs to lead Tennessee to a 2-1 win over Mobile. Billy McKinney had three hits and Tayler Scott picked up the win in relief.
Myrtle Beach lost, 2-1, to Carolina. Tyler Skulina gave up one run on four hits over three innings. Daniel Lockhart and Pin-Chieh Chen each had two hits.
South Bend opened the second half with a 4-3 win over Lake County. Zach Hedges gave up two earned runs over 6 2/3 innings. Jason Vosler and Kevin Encarnacion each homered. Gleyber Torres had two hits.
Justin Steele gave up one run on three hits and struck out six over six innings in Eugene’s 3-1 win over Boise. Justin Marra and Eloy Jimenez each had two hits.
Mesa scored three runs in the first and held on for a 6-4 win over the Angels. Pedro Silverio gave up two runs over four innings.
Even the best ones get sick. Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant left Thursday’s game after two innings because of flu-like symptoms.
The Cubs rookie struck out in the first inning, and was batting .278. He has played every game since called up from Triple-A Iowa on April 17, and was 3-for-10 in his last three games. The third baseman has thrived at Wrigley Field, batting .327 coming into Thursday’s game.
The Cubs began the game short-handed because shortstop Starlin Castro was at a Chicago hospital for the birth of his second child. Addison Russell started at shortstop, and Jonathan Herrera was at second but moved to third when Bryant was pulled.
— Carrie Muskat
The Cubs signed second-round pick Donnie Dewees on Thursday, and now have signed 25 of their selections. Dewees’ bonus with the Cubs was reportedly $1.7 million, according to MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo. The outfielder was a semifinalist for the 2015 USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award, and named the Atlantic Sun Conference player of the year. A redshirt sophomore, Dewees batted .422 with 88 runs, 12 doubles, eight triples, 18 home runs and 68 RBIs in 60 games for North Florida this year.
On Thursday, the Cubs also announced the signing of fourth-round pick Darryl Wilson and fifth round pick Tyler Petzmeier. Others to sign include infielder Matt Rose (11th round); left-hander Kyle Twomey (13th), right-hander Kyle Miller (19th), outfielder Alex Bautista (22nd), infielder Sutton Whiting (24th), catcher Ian Rice (29th), catcher Tyler Payne (30th), outfielder Daniel Spingola (31st), right hander M.T. Minacci (33rd) and outfielder Donnie Cimino (37th).
Cubs prospects Kyle Schwarber and Carl Edwards Jr. were named to the 2015 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game, which will be played on July 12 at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.
Schwarber, 22, the Cubs’ first-round pick in the June 2014 First-Year Player Draft, already has had a whirlwind first half. He began at Double-A Tennessee where he batted .320 in 58 games with 13 home runs, 10 doubles and 39 RBIs, and was promoted to the big league team June 16 for a six-game stint to be the designated hitter in Interleague games.
The promotion was perfectly timed for the Ohio native, who got his first start in Cleveland June 17 and had about 40 family and friends present. He tripled for his first big league hit, and finished 8-for-22 in six games with a home run and six RBIs. Schwarber was promoted to Triple-A Iowa, and made his first start Tuesday.
Edwards, 23, compiled a 2.66 ERA in 13 games at Tennessee, striking out 36 over 23 2/3 innings before he was promoted to Iowa. The right-hander, who the Cubs acquired from the Rangers in the Matt Garza trade, had a 3.27 ERA in seven games, striking out 12 over 11 innings.
Tennessee hitting coach Desi Wilson will be on the U.S. team coaching staff.
Major League Baseball, in conjunction with the Major League Baseball Scouting Bureau, MLB.com, Baseball America and the 30 Major League Clubs, selected the 25 players currently on each team. Ken Griffey Sr. will manage the U.S. Team, while Tony Perez will be the skipper of the World Team.
Last year, Kris Bryant and Javier Baez were both named to the Futures Game, and Baez hit a two-run homer for the World team.
— Carrie Muskat