Results tagged ‘ Anthony Rizzo ’
* Kyuji Fujikawa’s second rehab outing was postponed because of unplayable conditions. He was to have pitched for Double-A Tennessee on Tuesday, but the game was called after five innings. The Smokies trailed, 16-0 at that point. Fujikawa was to pitch Wednesday.
If all goes well, the right-hander will be activated from the disabled list in time for the Cubs’ weekend series against the Nationals. Fujikawa has been sidelined since April 13 with a strained right forearm, and pitched one inning in a rehab outing Sunday for Triple-A Iowa.
* Anthony Rizzo was batting .439 with seven doubles, three home runs and 11 RBIs in his last 11 games, and has raised his average from .173 on April 25 to .262.
“The bottom line is you just get more comfortable,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “Coming out of Spring Training, it’s totally different how pitchers will start pitching you, and you’ll see a lot more breaking balls as the season goes on which you don’t see much of in Spring Training, and you see different kind of pitchers. It’s just getting your at-bats and getting better pitches to hit, for one. He’s still a little bit aggressive, but right now he’s taking advantage of mistakes he’s getting.”
* Cody Ransom is the only backup infielder on the Cubs roster, and he’s been getting some extra work at first base in early batting practice. Rizzo is the regular but the Cubs don’t have a backup.
“You never know if [Ransom] will get over there one day,” Sveum said. “Hopefully not. Especially the way Rizzo is swinging against left-handed pitching. It’s a ‘just in case’ thing.”
* Right-handed pitcher Cory Wade, who was pitching for for Triple-A Iowa, was released, the Cubs announced. In 16 innings over 10 games at Iowa, Wade gave up 14 runs on 28 hits and walked seven while striking out 16.
– Carrie Muskat
Scott Feldman had every reason to be pumped Monday night. The right-hander was coming off his first complete game and facing his former team, the Rangers, who he started with back in 2003. One of the reasons Feldman signed with the Cubs was the chance to be a full-time starter, something he couldn’t do with Texas. If he had something to prove, he did so calmly, following the same game plan he did against the Padres in his last start, and now the right-hander leads the Cubs in wins.
Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo both hit two-run singles in a five-run fourth and Rizzo added a two-run home run in the eighth to back Feldman, who helped himself with an RBI single, to give the Cubs a 9-2 victory over the Rangers.
“He was commanding every pitch,” Welington Castillo said of Feldman, who held the Rangers to two hits over seven innings but had to leave because of a hand cramp. “He executed the pitches and he got out of the innings. He made the pitches when he needed to make them — that’s not an easy lineup to face. I give all the credit to him.”
The only problem Feldman had was with his right index finger in the eighth. He fell behind in the count 2-0 to David Murphy opening the inning, and was then lifted because of cramping. What happened?
“It was weird,” Feldman said. “I threw my last warm-up pitch and my finger was getting stuck. I tried to stretch it out and do a couple more throws. Finally, on the last one, I realized it wasn’t going to work.”
He had flown out to center in the seventh inning, and said the at-bat didn’t affect his hand. He did get a major confidence boost as the crowd of 32,618 cheered loudly when he was at the plate.
“I thought I was getting a standing [ovation],” Feldman said. “Then I came into the clubhouse and [clubhouse manager Tom Hellmann] had to burst my bubble and said it was because the Bulls won [against the Heat]. I thought I was raking.”
He was pitching. Feldman is the first Cubs pitcher to throw at least seven innings and give up three or fewer hits in consecutive starts since Rich Harden did so Aug. 11-19, 2009. It’s the first time in Feldman’s career he’s given up two earned runs or less in five consecutive starts, and he now has a 1.63 ERA in his last four starts.
“That’s really encouraging to see — that’s three or four really good outings in a row, especially two very impressive outings in a row,” Sveum said. “He’s got a feel for [his cutter] right now and it’s impressive, especially to go along with his two-seamer. He didn’t throw a whole lot of offspeed pitches tonight.”
The Cubs scored five runs in the fourth, all with two outs. Luis Valbuena doubled and the Rangers intentionally walked Darwin Barney, who was hitless in his last 16 at-bats. Feldman lined a single to left-center to score Valbuena, and make it 2-0.
“Anybody would do that, walk a big league hitter to get to a pitcher,” Feldman said. “Luckily, I was able to find a hole there.”
Feldman was originally scheduled to start against the Rangers in April but was skipped because his back tightened up. Was it tough to face his former teammates?
“I tried to relax out there but obviously I know a lot of those guys and have a lot of respect for them and had a great seven, eight years over there and made some good friends,” Feldman said. “When we’re not playing against them, I hope they do good, and on a night like tonight, I’m trying to get them out.”
– Carrie Muskat
Anthony Rizzo jokes with Cubs teammate Darwin Barney at least twice a week that the first baseman is going to make the defensive play of the year that day. On Thursday, Rizzo might have done just that. With one out in the seventh inning of a scoreless game against the Padres, Chase Headley hit a pop up that drifted toward foul territory near first base. Rizzo tracked it and was able to catch the ball, then fell between the tarp and brick wall. He hung on for the out and escaped without a cut or scrape.
“I visualize those plays daily,” Rizzo said Friday. “I actually had a bad read on it. The wind, I thought would blow it quicker, and next thing you know, it’s behind me. It was just an instinct play.”
He’s watched the replay a thousand times.
“I got a couple messages from people who said they were going to have a heart attack [watching it],” Rizzo said. “I didn’t realize it was that close — I don’t know how I fit in there.”
Rizzo is 6-foot 3-inches, 240 pounds. It’s impossible to figure out how he squeezed between the tarp and wall. He wouldn’t mind a little padding next time.
“I could’ve been really close to looking like a hockey player there if my face would’ve hit it,” Rizzo said.
Adding some cushion to the walls is most likely not in the Wrigley Field renovation plans.
“It’s something that’s been here for 100 years,” manager Dale Sveum said of the brick walls. “We’re getting back into the essence of Wrigley and the bricks and the ivy.”
Sveum isn’t going to tell his young first baseman to take it easy, either.
“That’s not the way you can play,” Sveum said. “You definitely don’t take aggressiveness away from people. That’s just the way you have to play the game.”
Rizzo, definitely lucky to not get injured, said he’s made some crazy plays before.
“There’s plays like that where your instincts take over,” he said. “Last year, before I got called up, I slid into stairs at [Triple-A] Iowa trying to make a play. It’s something where instincts take over and [Travis Wood] was out there pitching his tail off and you just want to make plays.”
He’s going to keep hustling after balls.
“I’m not going to not sell out, no matter what,” Rizzo said. “It doesn’t matter if I get hurt, I get hurt. It’s not like I’m not going to make the play because I’m scared.
– Carrie Muskat
The Cubs’ defense was stellar Thursday through seven innings but a brain cramp by catcher Welington Castillo and misplayed fly ball hurt Travis Wood. The Padres scored four runs in the eighth, including the tying run on a passed ball by Castillo, to rally for a 4-2 victory against the Cubs and Wood, who deserved better.
Jesus Guzman singled to lead off the Padres eighth, Kyle Blanks walked, and two outs later, pinch-hitter Yonder Alonso delivered a bloop RBI single that fell between Julio Borbon and Darwin Barney in shallow right field. The wind made it a tough play for Borbon, relatively new to Wrigley Field’s quirkiness.
“When I realized I could’ve caught it, I started calling [Barney] off and I don’t think he — I talked to him about it and he said he didn’t see it until the last minute and that’s why he didn’t get out of the way,” Borbon said. “I was running in hard saw him out of the corner of my eye.”
Borbon said it was a ball he should’ve caught.
“That extra second of maybe Barney recognizing it and calling me off, or me getting out of the way — I felt the speed I was going in at, I would’ve been able to catch it if I hadn’t seen him at the last second,” Borbon said. “He said if he had picked up the ball a tenth of a second earlier, he would’ve been able to call me off and I’m veering off to the side. I looked at the replay, and as I’m approaching him, he had to literally dive away to get out of the way.”
The two did avoid a collision but nobody caught the ball. Wood then exited, and Shawn Camp’s offering got away from Castillo during Chris Denorfia’s at-bat. The catcher didn’t seem aware Blanks was headed home from third as he collected the ball behind home plate. Blanks scored the tying run.
“I think [Castillo] thought [Blanks] was running and was just going to walk home and he took it for granted,” Dale Sveum said. “[Blanks] didn’t take off and ‘Welly’ took it for granted he was going to walk home and was going automatically, and obviously didn’t go after the ball.”
Blanks hesitated because he thought the ball had kicked back to Castillo off the brick wall.
“As soon as he kind of tailed after it, I just took off,” Blanks said. “I figured he’s taking his time, it’s as good a time as any to at least make an attempt. But the kick, I thought it was coming back to him, then as soon as it got away, I just took off.”
Camp walked Denorfia, and James Russell entered. Everth Cabrera greeted him with a go-ahead RBI single to take a 3-2 lead. Chase Headley followed with another RBI single that rolled just past Barney at second base.
Castillo shouldered the blame for the mental mistake.
“I want to apologize to my teammates,” Castillo said. “I feel like I lost the game. I’m the one who has to keep everybody on the game, and I just got out of the game.”
Anthony Rizzo made an amazing catch, grabbing Headley’s popup in foul territory as he dove over the rolled-up tarp. Rizzo ended up between the tarp and the brick wall, and held onto the ball. Borbon tumbled over the bullpen mound after catching Nick Hundley’s fly ball against the wall in the eighth. Shortstop Starlin Castro added to his highlight reel of great plays.
“It was a shame — we had two defensive plays that were the difference in the ballgame,” Sveum said. “It’s unfortunate. It was a really well-played game other than a pop-up that caused it. We had a chance to make a pitch and get out of all that, and couldn’t do it again. When we make a mistake, we don’t seem to be able to make a pitch to get the next guy out.”
– Carrie Muskat
There’s nothing wrong with Wrigley Field, Dale Sveum said. It just needs a little upgrading and the support from the city and community to do that through the proposed $300 million renovation plan. The Cubs submitted their proposed changes to the 99-year-old ballpark and the neighborhood to the city plan commission on Wednesday, and must now wait for final approval. If rejected, Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts said the team would have to consider other options, such as moving out of Wrigley.
“I think it’s hard for everyone to envision,” Theo Epstein said of the possibility of the Cubs leaving the neighborhood ballpark. “Everyone’s on record as saying their goal is to stay here and win here. Tom’s answer to that question today really underscored the importance of the project and the importance of the revenue to our vision of building a sustainable winner in a big market and behaving the way a big market should.”
Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer told players they could expect a new clubhouse by Opening Day 2014. If the renovations are not improved in time to begin work this offseason, that could be delayed until 2015.
“At this point, it depends on how long the public approval process takes,” Epstein said. “If it drags on too long, it’s going to be unrealistic to get it done this winter and then we’re probably looking at Opening Day 2015 for the renovated clubhouse. … We’re all hoping, for a lot of reasons, and not just the revenue, that we can get this moving sooner rather than later.”
The Cubs players want to see Wrigley upgraded, not abandoned.
“I know Mr. Ricketts wants to win and he’s building a winning environment here,” Anthony Rizzo said. “He’s going to do whatever it takes to get what needs to be done done. If it takes moving — I know he wants to bring a championship here, whether it’s at Wrigley or not. We all want to be at Wrigley. These renovations, I think they need to get done, to be honest, to make everything more modernized.”
– Carrie Muskat
* With Sunday’s 6-4 loss to the Marlins, all of 24 of the Cubs’ games this season have been decided by four runs or less, a franchise record. The previous club record of 21 games to start a season with all contests decided by four runs or less took place 105 years ago in 1908.
The 24 game stretch is tied with the 1918 Cardinals for second longest in baseball. According to Elias, the only team to open the season with a longer streak was the 1914 Tigers (33 games decided by four runs or less).
* The Cubs have had three pitchers record multiple saves thus far this season: Kevin Gregg (three), Kyuji Fujikawa (two) and Carlos Marmol (two). In 45 Aprils since the save became an official MLB statistic in 1969, this is the first time the Cubs have had three pitchers with multiple saves in the season’s first calendar month.
* Anthony Rizzo has now tallied 19 RBI in April, second most by a Cubs left-handed hitter. He passed Rick Monday, who drove in 18 in April 1976. Billy Williams drove in 25 runs in April 1970.
* On Monday, the Cubs start a 10-day, 10-game homestand against the Padres (four games), the Reds (three games), the Rangers (one make-up game, May 6) and the Cardinals (two games). The Cubs lost Sunday to end their 10-game road trip with a 4-6 record. So far this season, the Cubs are 5-2 against clubs that finished below .500 last season and 4-13 (.235) against winning clubs from last year.
There are a few changes in the Cubs’ lineup for Wednesday’s game, although weather may affect the contest. Anthony Rizzo was dropped from third to fourth, Luis Valbuena is starting at second, and Cody Ransom gets another start at third base against Reds right-hander Mat Latos. Wednesday also will be Alfonso Soriano’s first day off with Julio Borbon getting the start in left. The forecast calls for rain. We’ll see. Here’s the lineup:
Jeff Samardzija is four strikeouts away from making the top 10 list of Cubs pitchers for all-time single season K total for the month of April. Samardzija enters Wednesday’s game with 31 strikeouts; Rich Harden and Ken Holtzman are at No. 10 on the list with 35 each. Samardzija is fifth in the NL in strikeouts.
– Carrie Muskat
The Cubs’ slow start certainly bothers manager Dale Sveum. Does he think about his job security?
“I’d be lying if I didn’t think about [myself] through some of this stuff,” Sveum said Monday. “That’s stuff you don’t have control over. I have control over my job and my coaching staff to prepare everybody every day, and that’s all I can do.”
In his second season at the helm, Sveum said he has full support from GM Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein, president of baseball operations.
On Sunday, Sveum said no one on the team was “invincible” and that the Cubs would find “options” if needed. On Monday, he said he wasn’t charging Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo with responsibility for all the mistakes.
“You guys asked me,” he said of the media’s questions. “Those guys couldn’t get sent down, and I said nobody’s exempt. They’re not the only ones [making mistakes].”
And everyone has had a part in the 5-12 start.
“Like I said, nobody’s exempt,” Sveum said. “Pointing [Castro and Rizzo] out, it doesn’t mean they’re it. … I’m not pointing fingers at them or anything, I’m just saying, hey, we’re all [accountable] in this. I’m [not] exempt [from] being fired, so is my coaching staff. We’re all in this together as a team. As coaches, manager, we try to get people better on the team.”
– Carrie Muskat
The errors and the losses keep adding up for the Cubs, and may lead to some changes on the roster. Ryan Braun smacked a three-run home run to lift the Brewers to a 4-2 victory Sunday and complete a sweep over the mistake-prone Cubs, who committed two more miscues.
“You out-hit a team every day and you lose,” Dale Sveum said. “It doesn’t happen very often.”
The Cubs did just that, out-hitting the Brewers, 22-16, in the series, including a two-run homer by Anthony Rizzo in the third to back Scott Feldman. But Feldman also made a critical error, which led to Braun’s home run. The Cubs rank second in the Major Leagues with 17 errors, trailing the Nationals, who have committed 18.
“We keep shooting ourselves in the foot and that’s something we can’t do — I don’t think we’re good enough to be doing that,” Rizzo said of the poor defensive play. “We need to play good baseball. That’s the game of baseball, though — guys are going to make errors, and it’s not going to be the last error we make today, we’re going to make plenty more but we’re going to make plenty more good plays, too.”
In the Milwaukee fifth, Yuniesky Betancourt doubled off David DeJesus’ glove as he tried to make a leaping catch at the center-field wall. Two outs later, Jean Segura hit a comebacker to Feldman, who couldn’t get his glove on the ball for an error. Braun then followed with his home run.
“This is one of those games that falls squarely on me,” Feldman said. “If I make that play [on Segura], we’re up 2-1, and my pitch count is down. It’s just a shame I didn’t make the play. … It’s like a Little League play.”
Unfortunately, it’s not the first time the Cubs have made an error that led to a run and a loss. The Cubs were 1-for-17 with runners in scoring position, charged with six errors in the series, and now have given up 14 unearned runs over 17 games.
“Going into a season, I don’t care if you’re the best team in baseball, you’re going to have a week to 10 days that you play [sloppy] baseball,” Sveum said. “That’s a given going in. Obviously, good teams have really good streaks and long streaks. Hopefully, we’re getting this out of our system. We know this team is a lot better than we’ve played.”
The mistakes have forced Cubs starters to work even harder, dealing with the extra outs. Chicago starters have ranked among the top in the National League this season, and their combined ERA actually dropped to 3.13 after Feldman’s outing. He has failed to post a quality start in his three outings.
Before the game, Sveum said the Cubs would look for other options if play didn’t improve. It would seem that players like Castro and Rizzo were set, but Sveum didn’t exclude them.
“You have to perform,” Sveum said. “The bottom line is you have to perform.”
“You can’t think about that,” Rizzo said about the possibility of being sent down. “Everyone in here is in the big leagues and everyone wants to be in the big leagues, no one wants to go to the Minor Leagues. Whatever happens, happens.
“This team is going to have a lot more transactions throughout the year,” Rizzo said. “Guys are going to come and go, that’s part of the game. You can’t worry about getting sent down — I’ve done it before and it never works out when you think about that. You just have to go out and play.”
Castro, whose error in the fifth Saturday led to two Brewers runs, did talk to Sveum in Chicago.
“I feel bad,” Castro said of his mistakes. “Those errors make the team lose. That’s why the team is losing now because of the errors. We have to keep it together, work hard and it’s going to be all right.
“The talent is here,” Castro said. “The only thing is the whole team is trying to do too much because everybody feels bad about the way the team is playing now. That’s why everybody is trying to do too much.”
Players aren’t hiding from the mistakes.
“It’s frustrating,” Rizzo said, “but everyone is competitive and that’s why I think it’s so frustrating. We’re young and we want to win and we’re hungry to win and we just have to keep fighting and keep believing in ourselves and each other and keep the line moving when we’re at the plate and don’t try to hit a five-run home run when you just have to get the next guy up.”
– Carrie Muskat
Manager Dale Sveum is losing patience with the way the Cubs have played recently, and the players can understand that.
“I think everyone is losing a little patience,” Anthony Rizzo said Sunday. “Everyone needs to have fun. That’s the main thing — have fun and everything will take care of itself.”
The Cubs headed into Sunday’s series finale against the Brewers having won three of the last 13 games. They are among the Major League leaders in errors, adding three more Saturday in a 5-1 loss, and also have the lowest batting average in the Majors with runners in scoring position. They’re wasting solid starting pitching. Chicago’s starters have a 3.19 ERA, fifth-lowest in the National League.
The errors are both physical and mental, and are a surprise after how well the Cubs played in Spring Training, Sveum said.
“Some of these errors, they look physical but they’re maybe a lack of awareness at the time or the situation at hand or they’re trying to be too quick, or sometimes we don’t have enough aggressiveness on balls or whatever it is,” said Sveum, whose voice was hoarse after his argument with an umpire Friday that resulted in being ejected. “Sometimes defense is a rhythm and we’re obviously not in any kind of defensive rhythm. Just like offense can be contagious, defense can, too.
“From top to bottom, we did outstanding in Spring Training, so to start out like this is obviously disappointing,” Sveum said. “The bad thing is we’re not picking each other up after these things happen.”
“We’re not overcoming our mistakes,” Sveum said. “Good teams overcome those mistakes. A guy gets a ground ball double play and nobody thinks about what just happened.”
Rizzo was charged with an error Friday and bobbled a ball on Saturday.
“We’ve got to make those plays and I think people are maybe putting too much pressure on themselves to make the plays,” Rizzo said. “It’s a long season and we need to start having more fun. Everyone says we’re young — let’s play and have fun like we’re young, too. Take it one pitch at a time.”
Sveum said they can make changes if players don’t perform.
“You find options,” he said. “If people keep playing like that, you have to find options and give people playing time in Triple-A to figure this stuff out.”
He’s looking for more consistency, game-changing plays, and better performance on the field.
“You have to perform,” Sveum said. “The bottom line is you have to perform. Whether they need more development, you decide all those kind of things.”
And no one, he said, is invincible.
“It’s not about what we think can happen in three, four years from now,” Sveum said. “Guys who have played a lot of baseball, it’s time to perform on a consistent basis. Not a good game, and then three bad ones, that’s not what we want. That’s why there is player development. Guys are rushed to the big leagues, and sometimes you see a lot of this stuff happen. That’s why it’s very important to play 500 Minor League games.”
– Carrie Muskat