The Cubs acquired right-handed reliever Henry Rodriguez from the Nationals for Minor League right-handed pitcher Ian Dickson Tuesday night. To make room on the 40-man roster, right-handed pitcher Eduardo Sanchez, who was at Triple-A Iowa, was designated for assignment.
Rodriguez, 26, went 0-1 with a 4.00 ERA in 17 relief appearances with the Nationals, totaling 18 innings. He limited opponents to a .203 batting average against, including a .194 mark by right-handers and a .211 mark by left-handers. He was designated for assignment June 4. He has pitched all or part of five Major League seasons with the Athletics and Nationals, and has a career 4.23 ERA in 143 relief appearances. Rodriguez was not expected to arrive in Chicago in time for Wednesday’s game.
Dickson, 22, a 35th round pick in the 2001 Draft, was 2-2 with a 6.88 ERA in 11 appearances (three starts) with Class A Kane County.
* Theo Epstein wasn’t worried about shortstop Starlin Castro, who was 4-for-42 (.095) and batting .243 overall.
“I just think he’s in a slump and he’s going to turn it around pretty soon,” Epstein said Tuesday. “It’s tough, and I feel bad for him that he’s going through this and obviously, we’d love better production, and hopefully we will get better production going forward. In a way, it shouldn’t be unexpected. Baseball is a game of failure and adjustments. You’d like your players to fail in the Minor Leagues so they see what it’s like and come to terms with that and make their adjustments. Starlin is so talented that he has never really failed before, so this is the first extended stretch of failure that he’s had.”
Castro never played at the Triple-A level, and has 995 Minor League at-bats. He is one of the core players the Cubs are relying on, Epstein said.
“In the long run, I think this will be good for him,” Epstein said. “He’ll find his way out of it, and be a better player for it, and the
next time he falls into a slump he’ll know how to get out of it quicker. I think Starlin’s approach will evolve over the
years as it does for most players when they get a few thousand at-bats under their belt.”
* Cubs officials enjoyed watching video of Javier Baez’s four home run night on Monday.
“It was quite a show,” Epstein said. “He sprayed it around, covered different parts of the strike zone, different pitches. His swing is really under control and that’s the great thing about Javy and his bat speed. He doesn’t have to swing for the fences. He can take a nice, normal under control swing, the type that would normally produce a line drive or a ball in the gap, and in his case there’s plenty of carry over the fences.”
Dale Sveum watched video of Baez’s blasts.
“I wish I could’ve seen where they landed,” Sveum said Tuesday. “The swings were pretty good. I’ve been watching the video anyway, but one good thing about it is he’s calmed down. He’s cut down his movement [on his swing] about 40 percent, 50 percent. It’s a lot more calm and controled.”
Baez, 20, the Cubs’ No. 1 Draft pick in 2011, was batting .291 with 13 home runs and 44 RBIs in 57 games. He’s also been charged with 26 errors.
“A lot of his errors have been extreme plays at the end of his range or weird things on rundowns or trying to do too much,” Epstein said. “He needs to polish that up. We actually feel better at this moment about his ability to play shortstop every day in the big leagues than we did on Opening Day because of the way he’s playing shortstop. He needs to clean it up but I have no doubt he can play shortstop at the big league level.”
* Kyuji Fujikawa underwent successful Tommy John surgery on Tuesday his right elbow. Orthopedic specialist Dr. James Andrews performed the procedure in Pensacola, Fla. An MRI in May revealed ligament damage to the reliever’s elbow. In 12 games this season, Fujikawa had a 5.25 ERA, giving up seven runs over 12 innings. This is his first season in the U.S. Major Leagues.
* Reliever Shawn Camp was scheduled to pitch one inning for Class A Kane County on Tuesday, his first Minor League rehab assignment since going on the disabled list with a sprained big toe May 22.
* Epstein is a little divided this week. He grew up a Boston Bruins fan but they are playing the Blackhawks in the NHL Stanley Cup final, which starts Wednesday in Chicago.
“Original six hockey is fantastic,” Epstein said. “The passion for the Hawks in town here reminds me a lot of the way it is for the ‘B’s in Boston. It’s going to be a heck of a series.”
And his pick?
“I’m hoping for a great series, good health all around,” he said diplomatically.
– Carrie Muskat
Ian Stewart has been suspended without pay from Triple-A Iowa by the Cubs after his rant on Twitter about his status in the organization.
Theo Epstein, president of baseball operations, said the length of Stewart’s suspension would be announced either later Tuesday or early Wednesday.
“There is a loyalty clause in his contract that requires a certain standard of personal conduct and he didn’t adhere to that so he’ll be suspended,” Epstein said Tuesday.
Stewart apologized for his comments Tuesday afternoon. He tweeted: “I want to apologize to the entire Cubs organization for my comments on twitter.” Stewart said, “I let my frustrations get the best of me and in no way want to be a distraction.”
“I am focused on getting back to the big leagues and am working everyday to make that happen,” he said.
– Carrie Muskat
The Cubs play the Reds in the second game of their four-game series on Tuesday night at Wrigley Field. Here’s the lineup:
Brad Nelson hit two home runs to help Iowa beat Oklahoma City, 7-6. Yoanner Negrin picked up the win, giving up five runs over five innings. It was Nelson’s second straight multi-homer game. Logan Watkins also had two hits and two RBIs.
Arismendy Alcantara had two hits but it wasn’t enough as Tennessee lost, 4-3, to Mobile. Rafael Lopez had two hits, both doubles, and scored a run.
Javier Baez became the second player in the 94-history of the Florida State League to hit four home runs in a game and help Daytona beat Fort Myers, 9-6. Baez went 4-for-4 with seven RBIs. He’s batting .291 for the season. Zach Cates got the win, giving up three earned runs over six innings.
Rock Shoulders had two hits but it wasn’t enough as Kane County lost, 6-2, to Cedar Rapids. Pierce Johnson gave up five runs over 4 2/3 innings.
Class A Boise opens its season Friday at Eugene. The Mesa Rookie League team begins its season June 20.
Ian Stewart faces a fine and possible suspension by the Cubs for his rant on Twitter about his status in the organization. Cubs GM Jed Hoyer told the Chicago Tribune Tuesday that the team would deal with Stewart’s punishment privately.
“We spent the entire morning dealing with an issue that doesn’t help us get better as an organization,” Hoyer told the Tribune. “That’s not how we want to spend our time. What he did was really unprofessional and there are going to be consequences. Beyond that, I’m not going to comment.”
Stewart, 28, who started at first base Tuesday for Iowa against Oklahoma City, was 1-for-3 with a RBI double Monday night for Triple-A Iowa. After the game, he vented on Twitter. A fan asked when Stewart if there was “any word when you’re heading back to Chicago.” Stewart replied: “Probably never.”
Another person responded to Stewart, saying he should quit baseball. Stewart’s response: “Why should I quit? I’m making 2 mill in AAA like u would give that up by quitting”
Stewart signed a one-year, $2 million contract last December after the Cubs non-tendered him.
Someone else said that if Luis Valbuena was hurt, Stewart would be called up. Stewart’s response: “I honestly believe if Valbuena were to get hurt cubs wouldn’t cal me back up just MHO”
He then added: “I said that because the cubs are done with me … there (sic) going to let me rott (sic) in AAA all season and then non tender me after.”
Stewart suggested the Cubs “might as well release” him so he could sign with another team. Stewart said Cubs manager Dale Sveum was the reason he won’t play for the big league team. Stewart said: “I think dale doesn’t like me and he’s running the show.”
– Carrie Muskat
Javier Baez had a historic night Monday. Baez, the Cubs’ No. 1 Draft pick in 2011, hit four home runs and drove in seven runs in Class A Daytona’s 9-6 victory over Fort Myers, and is the second player in the 94-year history of the Florida State League to do so.
Baez belted a two-run homer with one out in the first off Matt Tomshaw, a leadoff shot in the third off Tomshaw, a three-run blast in the fifth off Adrian Salcedo, and a solo shot with two outs in the seventh off Jose Gonzalez. He now has 13 home runs for the season and 44 RBIs. The only other player to hit four home runs in a Florida State League game was another Cubs prospect, Ryan Harvey, who did so July 28, 2006, also for Daytona.
The last Cubs Minor Leaguer to belt four homers in a game was Micah Hoffpauir, who hit four solo shots Aug. 9, 2008, for Triple-A Iowa.
Baez is well ahead of last year’s pace when he hit 16 home runs — 12 with Class A Peoria and four more with Daytona.
As far as the Cubs and Reds are concerned, both teams would like to put any bad blood to rest as they start a fresh series this week at Wrigley Field. The last time the teams met — May 26 in Cincinnati — Reds right-hander Johnny Cueto threw a pitch over David DeJesus’ head with a four-run lead in the sixth inning. Cueto received a warning from home plate umpire Bob Davidson, Cubs pitcher Matt Garza took exception to the play, and the Cubs went on to win.
“Cueto should learn, you don’t go after guys’ heads,” Garza said after the incident. “Don’t wake a sleeping dog. I think that’s kind of immature on his part and totally uncalled for. He’s lucky that retaliation isn’t in our vocabulary.”
Both teams’ managers downplayed the incident on Monday. Asked if he expected any repercussions, Cubs manager Dale Sveum said no.
“There’s nothing to that whole situation,” Sveum said.
Garza will pitch in Game 2 of the series on Tuesday. Cueto, on the disabled list, will not face the Cubs this time around.
Reds manager Dusty Baker, who said the following day that Garza should address the situation personally with Cueto and that the two could settle it with a fight, said the incident is “over.”
“I think Johnny got fined for it,” Baker said. “So all we can do is play ball. And whoever wants to do something, it’s their prerogative if they want to. … I don’t even know Garza. Never spoke to him in my life.”
On Saturday, Dale Sveum said he was considering giving struggling Starlin Castro a day off but the Cubs manager has yet to do so. Castro entered Monday’s game hitless in his last three games and riding a 3-for-38 stretch. Why not give Castro a day?
“I just can’t pull the trigger on it,” Sveum said Monday.
The decision has nothing to do with Castro’s consecutive games played streak of 256, which is longest in the National League.
“If I do it, somebody’s not going to talk me out of it because of a streak involved,” Sveum said. “I don’t think we’re getting a Cal Ripken streak.”
Castro was batting .243 overall, and has had a tough time against left-handers, batting .207.
“He’s still a fixture in our lineup,” Sveum said of Castro, who began this season with a career .297 average. “It’s not that other guys aren’t capable of [playing shortstop], but he’s still a threat in our lineup. At this point right now, I can’t seem to get myself to have enough reasons to do it other than the guy is in a slump. We’re still out here trying to win bb games.”
Castro took early batting practice on Monday for the second straight day, working on the field with hitting coach James Rowson. Has Sveum seen progress?
“I don’t see any of the things that I’d like to see changed being changed,” Sveum said of Castro. “The timing and mechanics jsut aren’t changing enough to center a baseball consistently.”
– Carrie Muskat
Brad Nelson hit two home runs and Brett Jackson added his fifth of the season to back Brooks Raley and lift Iowa to a 10-7 victory over Round Rock on Sunday. It was Nelson’s second multi-homer game. He finished with three RBIs. Jackson had two hits, including his homer. Junior Lake was 3-for-5 and Logan Watkins and Steve Clevenger each had two hits.
Rubi Silva and Jonathan Mota each homered in Tennessee’s 5-3, 11-inning win over Mobile. Ty Wright was 2-for-2 with one RBIs. Mota finished with three hits.
Kyle Burke gave up one earned run over five innings in Daytona’s 8-2 win over Brevard County in the first game of a doubleheader. Daytona stole six bases in the game. Dustin Geiger hit his seven home run and finished with three RBIs. Daytona completed the sweep with a 3-2 win in the nightcap. John Andreoli had two hits, scored two runs and stole a base.
Marco Hernandez and Dan Vogelbach each homered but it wasn’t enough as Kane County lost, 8-4, to Cedar Rapids. Vogelbach’s blast was his 11th. He finished with two RBIs.