9/23 Jokisch, Wada, Hendricks to start

Edwin Jackson will go to the bullpen, and rookie Eric Jokisch, lefty Tsuyoshi Wada and Kyle Hendricks will start the final three games of the Cubs season against the Brewers, beginning Friday.

Jackson (6-15, 6.38 ERA) has made one start since Aug. 20 and that was Friday when he lasted just two-thirds of an inning against the Dodgers. The right-hander, who was sidelined with a right lat strain, has made 30 relief appearances in his 292 games.

“He’s a professional, he knows where he stands,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said Tuesday. “He says, ‘I see what’s happening, I get it.’ He’s been in this game a long time. He just wants to do his best for the club.”

Being a reliever may be an odd switch. Jackson, who led the National League in losses last season with 18, has a 10.46 ERA in the first inning of his starts this year, giving up 31 earned runs over 26 2/3 innings.

“It’s just a different scenario,” Renteria said. “It’s not necessarily a situation where he’s thinking about his start for three or four days. It’s more of a ‘Hey, we need you in this moment, get up, get loose and get in there.’ At least we have an opportunity in the next few days to see how he does and go from there.”

Jokisch has made three relief appearances since he was called up to the big league team in early September. The lefty was 9-10 with a 3.58 ERA in 26 games at Triple-A Iowa. Wada thought his season was done after Sept. 18 when he started against the Dodgers.

– Carrie Muskat

9/23 Wrigley renovation update

The Cubs will begin work this weekend on the Wrigley Field renovation plan, which starts with the expansion of the bleachers and installation of a video scoreboard in left field. The Cubs play their last home game of the season on Wednesday night. Cubs spokesman Julian Green said Tuesday the bleachers, the scoreboard and a Budweiser see-through sign in right field will be in place for the start of the 2015 season. The center field area of the bleachers, which includes the manually operated scoreboard, will not be changed.

Construction work will begin on the home clubhouse, but that will not be finished until Opening Day 2016. Work will continue on that area throughout the 2015 season. The bullpens will be moved underneath the bleachers in 2016 as well as upgraded batting cages. Sheffield and Waveland avenues, which border the Wrigley Field bleachers, will be closed to traffic once construction begins.

– Carrie Muskat

9/23 Good guy

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Anthony Rizzo stopped by the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago on Tuesday to visit the in-patient and out-patient pediatric oncology floors. He met with some of the patients and their families.

9/23 Cubs lineup

Kyle Hendricks makes his next to last start on Tuesday night for the Cubs in the next to last game at Wrigley Field. The right-hander is 0-1 in two starts against the Cardinals, although he deserved better in his July 27 outing when he held them to one run on seven hits over 6 1/3 innings. The Cubs lost, 1-0. Hendricks is scheduled to start the season finale Sunday in Milwaukee.

Here’s the lineup:

Alcantara CF
Baez SS
Rizzo 1B
Soler RF
Valbuena 3B
Castillo C
Valaika 2B
Szczur LF
Hendricks P

9/23 Cubs trivia

First it was Clayton Kershaw, then Adam Wainwright who picked up their 20th wins against the Cubs in a four-day span. According to Elias, the last time one team was on the losing side of two 20-game winners was 2003 when the Blue Jays’ Roy Halladay and the Yankees’ Andy Pettitte won their 20th games against the Rays on Sept. 11 and Sept. 20, respectively.

9/22 Cardinals 8, Cubs 0

The Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw became the Major League’s first 20-game winner Friday with a victory over the Cubs. On Monday, it was Adam Wainwright’s turn.
Wainwright struck out eight over seven scoreless innings and Jon Jay drove in three runs to lead the Cardinals to an 8-0 victory over the Cubs, and move another step closer to claiming the National League Central title for the second year in a row.

The Cardinals spoiled Travis Wood’s final start of the year. The lefty served up seven runs — six earned — over five innings, and finished the season with a 5.03 ERA in his 31 starts. Wood totaled 200 innings last year, and came up short this year with 173 2/3. He posted 24 quality starts in 2013, but just 13 this season.

“I did feel better about it than the numbers [show],” Wood said of his outing. “I made some good pitches tonight and pitches were sharp but they got the hits when they needed them and dropped a couple in, perfectly placed, and that’s how it’s been going. We have to take it into the offseason and figure out how to keep that from happening, and not let the big innings happen.”

Wood looked like the 2013 version over the first three innings when he held the Cardinals to one hit and struck out five. But St. Louis sent eight batters to the plate in the fourth, and tallied on an RBI double by Jhonny Peralta, RBI single by Yadier Molina and two-run single by Jon Jay. A telling stat is that hitters are batting .247 against Wood the first time through the lineup and .274 the second time.

While Wainwright can prep for the postseason — St. Louis has secured a playoff berth — Wood will have a long winter to try to figure out what did go wrong.

“It wasn’t a good year for me overall,” Wood said. “With that being said, it showed me a lot of the stuff I need to take into the offseason to work on. You learn a lot more about yourself as a pitcher when things aren’t going good as opposed to when things are. That’s what we’ll take into the offseason and work at it.”

Before the game, Renteria said Wood’s fastball command had been a problem this season. Wood, who matched his career high with his 13th loss, agreed.

“For the most part of the year, it was [a problem],” said the lefty, who lost eight of his last nine decisions. “It’s not like we were missing bad, just off.”

Wainwright now has won 20 games for the second time in his career, and first time since 2010, when he did so at Wrigley Field on Sept. 24. The right-hander is on a roll, and has given up two earned runs over 33 innings in his last four starts while striking out 26.

“It’s just a place I’ve had success and a place I love to come to,” Wainwright said of Wrigley Field. “I love to pitch here. I love the feel of the ballpark. I love the vibe of being out there at Wrigley and stepping on the field of some place I watched growing up as a kid. It’s pretty special. Both times I’ve got 20 wins, I’ve done it here at Wrigley. It’s just a cool place to do it.”

With the loss, the Cubs dropped to 39-40 at Wrigley Field with two home games remaining. Chicago has not had a winning record at home since 2009.

– Carrie Muskat

9/22 Russell gets look at Wrigley

It’s been a crazy season for Addison Russell, who was at Wrigley Field on Monday to get a look at his future home ballpark. Russell, 20, was one of three players the Cubs acquired on July 4 from the Athletics in the deal for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. The shortstop, ranked No. 5 on MLB.com’s list of top 100 prospects, said he was with Double-A Midland, but not playing when he went into the clubhouse for something to eat. Some of the pitchers told him about the trade.

“This year kind of threw me for a curveball,” Russell said. “I wasn’t expecting any of this to happen. Go back nine weeks, and once I started getting a feel for it back in Double-A with the Texas League teams, then I get traded. It’s all about overcoming the boundaries and that’s what I’ve been doing.”

Russell was slowed at the start of the season with a right hamstring injury, but recovered to bat .333 in 13 games with Midland before he was dealt. In 50 games at Double-A Tennessee with the Cubs, ht batted .294 with 12 home runs, 11 doubles and 36 RBIs. His new Tennessee teammates helped him make the transition.

“They told me to relax,” Russell said. “It was my first time traded. I was trying to take it all in, and they told me to relax.”

Russell already knows some of the Cubs top prospects. He was on the same Arizona Fall League team as Kris Bryant, Albert Almora and Jorge Soler last fall, and will play for the Mesa Solar Sox again when the season begins Oct. 7. Almora sent Russell a text message congratulating him on joining the Cubs after the trade was completed, and Bryant welcomed him on Twitter.

“Once I figured out I was going to be on the Cubs, it was awesome because I could be part of something very special,” Russell said.

He does play shortstop. So does Starlin Castro and Javier Baez, which creates a logjam for the Cubs. Russell said he’ll play wherever the Cubs need him to.

“I’m a person that if you put me in a new environment, I’m going to learn about it,” he said. “They haven’t said anything about me moving, but if that’s the case, so be it.”

Cubs prospects in the Arizona Fall League

Pitchers: Zach Cates, Gerardo Concepcion, C.J. Edwards, Ivan Pineyro
Infielders: Addison Russell, Dan Vogelbach
Outfielders: Jacob Hannemann, Bijan Rademacher

– Carrie Muskat

9/22 Cubs lineup

Jorge Soler is back in the lineup as the Cubs face the Cardinals at Wrigley Field for the final home series of the regular season. Travis Wood will make his last start. Here’s the lineup against 19-game winner Adam Wainwright:

Coghlan LF
Baez SS
Rizzo 1B
Soler RF
Valbuena 3B
Castillo C
Alcantara 2B
Kalish CF
T. Wood P

9/22 Hendricks says hello

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Here’s another photo from Kyle Hendricks’ visit Monday with patients at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville. He signed autographs, took photos, handed out hats, Wrigley Field tumblers and Cubs blankets. The day care children presented Hendricks with a story they wrote and illustrated about him.

9/22 Good guy

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Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks took time Monday to visit patients at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville. He signed autographs, took photos, handed out hats, Wrigley Field tumblers and Cubs blankets. The day care children presented Hendricks with a story they wrote and illustrated about him.

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