The Cubs agreed Tuesday on a two-year player development contract extension with Triple-A Iowa through the 2018 season. The current agreement had run through the 2016 campaign. With the new agreement, the extension guarantees at least 38 years of partnership between the Chicago team and the Iowa Cubs.
The affiliation between Iowa and Chicago began in 1981, and Iowa adopted the Cubs’ nickname in 1982. Of the 160 teams in Minor League Baseball, this is the eighth-longest current affiliate relationship between a Major League team and a Minor League club.
Earlier this year, the Cubs announced a four-year extension with Double-A Tennessee that runs through 2018.
The Cubs have terminated the PDC with Daytona, Kane County and Boise. No updates yet regarding the Class A teams.
– Carrie Muskat
Anthony Rizzo was named the Cubs’ nominee for the prestigious Roberto Clemente Award, presented by Chevrolet. Major League Baseball made the announcement Tuesday. The Cubs first baseman is one of the 30 club finalists for the annual award, which recognizes a MLB player who best represents the game of baseball through positive contributions on and off the field, including sportsmanship and community involvement.
Wednesday marks the 13th annual Roberto Clemente Day, which was established by MLB to honor Clemente’s legacy and to officially recognize local club nominees of the Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet. The 15-time MLB All-Star and Hall of Famer died in a plane crash on New Year’s Eve 1972 while attempting to deliver supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua.
Rizzo started the nonprofit Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation in 2012 to raise money for cancer research and provide support to children and their families battling the disease. As a cancer survivor, Rizzo understands the impact cancer has on the entire family. Through fundraising for research and providing support for pediatric cancer patients and their families, the foundation aims to help give every family a fighting chance against cancer.
Since its inception, the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation has hosted a Walk-Off For Cancer held in the offseason in his hometown of Parkland, Fla., and the Cook-Off For Cancer in Chicago, which raised close to $140,000 this year. Mark your calendars: the next 5K walk is scheduled for Nov. 16.
Together, these events have raised more than $500,000 for cancer research since 2012. Currently, the organizations selected as beneficiaries of this fundraising include Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation, Family Reach Foundation, Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital and The Lymphoma Program at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Health System.
In addition to these fundraising efforts, Rizzo makes monthly visits to Lurie Children’s Hospital. He has built strong relationships with several patients who have come out to games to cheer on their favorite player.
In recognition of his achievements both on and off the field, Rizzo has received many awards and nominations this year, including his first time being selected as an MLB All-Star after winning the 2014 All-Star Final Vote, chosen by fans.
Rizzo will be recognized for his nomination before Wednesday’s game against the Reds at Wrigley Field. He will be presented with a $7,500 grant to the charity of his choice, Cubs Charities, as a result of his nomination for this award.
How rare is a walk-off home run being the only run of a game? According to baseball historian Ed Hartig, the last time the Cubs won on a walk-off home run that accounted for the only scoring in the game was June 16, 1995, when Howard Johnson hit a two-run home run off Rudy Seanez of the Dodgers in the ninth for a 2-0 win at Wrigley Field. The last time the Cubs did it in a 1-0 win was June 8, 1971, when Joe Pepitone connected off the Pirates’ Mudcat Grant in the 12th inning at Wrigley.
In case you missed it, Anthony Rizzo smacked a walk-off home run leading off the ninth Monday for a 1-0 win over the Reds.
Anthony Rizzo showed why the Cubs missed him for the last 18 games. Playing his first game since Aug. 26, Rizzo hit a walk-off home run leading off the ninth inning to lift the Cubs to a 1-0 victory over the Reds on Monday night at Wrigley Field. Rizzo belted a 1-0 pitch from Pedro Villarreal to straightaway center for his 31st home run. Rizzo hit his 30th on Aug. 26 in Cincinnati, and then had to leave the game because of tightness in his lower back.
“First pitch, I was taking all the way, just to see his arm,” Rizzo said of his at-bat in the ninth. “The second pitch, I just let loose, and fortunately, put a a good swing on it.”
When Rizzo was running away from the celebration at home plate, he grabbed his back. Don’t worry, Cubs fans. He was joking.
“I did it on purpose, just messing around with the guys,” Rizzo said. “I definitely thought about [his back] the whole game. To get through the game tonight was nice. The next couple days, we’ll completely forget about it.”
The Reds won’t forget this one.
“It was a mistake that Rizzo took advantage of,” Cincinnati manager Bryan Price said. “[Rizzo] looked a little rusty the first couple of at-bats, then he had the infield hit, and certainly is always a dangerous hitter. But it’s typically going to be a simple mistake or someone taking advantage of something in a [0-0] game like that’s going to be the deciding factor.”
Rizzo did not have a chance to rehab anywhere, so Monday’s game was his first live action in nearly three weeks. Alfredo Simon struck him out in his first two at-bats in the first and third, and Rizzo reached on an infield single in the sixth.
“[Simon] has got a good split, I know that, and he exposed me there,” Rizzo said. “He pitched well, pitched a great game. That little infield single turned everything around.”
It was Rizzo’s third walk-off hit this season. He also beat the Marlins with a walk-off homer on June 6, and delivered a game-winning RBI single in the 12th on Aug. 10 against Tampa Bay.
“The game’s over, one swing of the bat,” Rizzo said. “It’s a good feeling. The biggest thing is the win. To win in that fashion is always fun.”
– Carrie Muskat
Kris Bryant will be at Wrigley Field Wednesday but GM Jed Hoyer couldn’t guarantee that he’ll be the Cubs Opening Day third baseman. Bryant and Jen-Ho Tseng were named the Cubs organization’s Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year, respectively. The pair will be honored prior to the Cubs game Wednesday against the Reds.
“It was obviously a no-brainer [to pick Bryant], but the nice thing is we had a lot of guys who played well in the Minors,” Hoyer said Monday. “In a different year, a bunch of guys would’ve had a gripe. When a guy wins Minor League Player of the Year, it sort of ends the voting.”
Cubs fans are eager to pencil in Bryant in the 2015 Opening Day lineup at third base. Hoyer and manager Rick Renteria both cautioned that it’s too early for that.
“He’ll come to Spring Training next year and we’ll see where he’s at,” Renteria said. “I’m not going to make that decision so far away from Spring Training. He’s obviously done a lot, and he’s well on his way to being here in the near future.”
“The numbers he put up were outstanding,” Hoyer said of Bryant. “Talk about being consistent all year, his slumps were really minor. He didn’t tire much, and if he was tired, he didn’t show it down the stretch. His Double-A and Triple-A numbers were fairly similar. He’s very mature and seems to know his swing and he’s a guy who doesn’t seem to get too down after a couple bad games.”
The Cubs do want Bryant to play some outfield to improve his versatility, but Hoyer said as of now, they consider him a third baseman.
– Carrie Muskat
Cubs fans will see Kris Bryant at Wrigley Field on Wednesday, but he won’t be in the lineup. Not yet. Bryant and Jen-Ho Tseng were named the Cubs organization’s Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year, respectively. The pair will be honored prior to the Cubs game Wednesday against the Reds.
Bryant, 22, is the team’s No. 1 overall prospect (and No. 3 in baseball), according to MLB.com’s Prospect Watch, and Tseng was ranked 14th. Bryant led all of Minor League baseball with 43 home runs, 78 extra-base hits, 325 total bases, .661 slugging percentage and 1.098 OPS. He posted those stats, plus a .325 batting average, 34 doubles, and 110 RBIs in 138 games between Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa this season. This year, the third baseman, who was the Cubs’ first-round pick in 2013, also was named Minor League Player of the Year by Baseball America and USA Today.
Tseng, 19, went 6-1 with a 2.40 ERA in 19 games (17 starts) that spanned 105 innings with Class-A Kane County. He walked 15 batters and struck out 85, helping to lead the Cougars to a Minor League-best 91 wins and the Midwest League title. The righty, signed as a non-drafted free agent last year, allowed three or fewer runs in 16 of his 17 starts.
Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo, sidelined since Aug. 27 because of a low back strain, returned to the lineup Monday, and was slotted ahead of rookie Jorge Soler, who was promoted that day. Monday marks the first time the two will be in the same lineup in the big leagues.
Rizzo hit his 30th home run on Aug. 26 against the Reds in a game interrupted by rain. The first baseman did not return after the delay because his back tightened up.
Soler belted a home run in his first Major League at-bat on Aug. 27 in Cincinnati, and also returned to the lineup Monday after missing three games to be in Miami for the birth of his first child. The rookie outfielder was 16-for-45 (.356) in 12 games since his call-up with four home runs and 13 RBIs.
Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro remained sidelined with a high left ankle sprain suffered Sept. 2.
Here’s Monday’s lineup:
T. Wood P
Matt Szczur hit the ball hard at the wrong time for the Cubs Sunday. Szczur, one of the fastest players on the Cubs, hit into a triple play in the fourth inning sparked by Josh Harrison, who also drove in two runs to lead the Pirates to a 7-3 come from behind victory. The Cubs lost for the eighth time in their last nine games and ended their road trip 1-5. Chicago struggled to generate any offense without Anthony Rizzo (back), Jorge Soler (paternity leave) and Starlin Castro (ankle). It didn’t help when the Pirates thwarted a rally with their web gem.
Chicago led 3-0 when Chris Valaika doubled to lead off the fourth against Edinson Volquez, who then walked Mike Olt. But Szczur smacked the ball to Harrison at third base to start the first triple play at PNC Park and the first the Cubs have hit into since May 14, 2000, at Montreal.
“It was a heck of a play,” Szczur said. “I was looking for a good pitch to hit and something to hit hard, and it was probably the wrong time I hit the ball hard.”
Szczur remembers he and Logan Watkins were on the bases once for a triple play while at Class A Daytona. That was the last one he could recall.
“I thought I was going to [beat the throw],” Szczur said. “It was close. I put a good swing on it and tried to get out of the box as fast as I could. Wrong time to hit it hard, that’s for sure.”
Cubs manager Rick Renteria felt Szczur had a chance.
“He hit it right on the nose, and Harrison made a really nice play because he ended up catching it going away from him — he didn’t even back hand it, he stayed with it — and it took him right to the bag,” Renteria said.
Renteria didn’t feel that play turned the momentum in the game.
“I don’t allow our guys to put their heads down,” Renteria said. “That’s just a play that happened. We were still in the lead. That’s baseball.”
The Pirates would respectfully disagree.
“Anytime you pull a triple play, I think you’re going to feel an instant boost of energy,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “It’s an exciting play, it was crisp, it was fun.”
Said Neil Walker: “It was huge. You don’t see that too many times, and we were in spot in the game where we were just playing flat for the first several innings, [Volquez] was having a tough time getting his rhythm, and we were having a tough time putting together some at-bats. All of a sudden, that kind of momentum carried us into the offensive side of things. Really cool to be a part of that. “
– Carrie Muskat