Results tagged ‘ Braden Looper ’

3/24 Looper, pitching, Garza & more

Braden Looper doesn’t seem to have many options left with the Cubs. The right-hander, one of the candidates for the fifth starter spot, threw two innings in relief in the Cubs’ 8-7 win Thursday over the White Sox. Looper, who lives in the Chicago area, has said if he doesn’t make the Cubs, he will likely retire.

“He’s got two options — he’s got the back end of the bullpen and fifth starter,” manager Mike Quade said. “You believe he can do either one, if that’s the way we go. That versatility and the fact he’s a veteran all plays into it.”

Looper, who did not pitch in 2010 after failing to hook up with a team, said he prefers to start.

“You don’t know what they’re thinking or what they’re pondering,” Looper said of the Cubs’ front office. “I’ve come and done the best I can. Obviously, I had the terrible outing the other day but that doesn’t speak for all I did this spring.

“It’s one of those things — whatever happens, happens,” he said. “I’ll feel good about myself and move on, either way.”

* The Cubs have 16 pitchers in camp and need to trim four. Ryan Dempster, Carlos Zambrano, Matt Garza and Randy Wells are in the rotation. Looper, Carlos Silva and Andrew Cashner are fighting for the fifth spot.

Carlos Marmol, Kerry Wood, Sean Marshall, John Grabow and Jeff Samardzija are set in the bullpen. That leaves lefty James Russell and right-handers Casey Coleman, Marcos Mateo and Jeff Stevens on the bubble. Russell served up back to back homers on consecutive pitches to two right-handed hitters in the eighth but also got Adam Dunn to ground out and end the inning. Quade spoke to Russell immediately after the inning was over.

“The main thing I told him was that he’ll have to get right-handers out, too,” Quade said. “His role will vary from time to time. … The job he did against Dunn in that at-bat was how I pictured using him the best we can.”

* The Pirates announced right-hander Kevin Correia will be their Opening Day starter on April 1 against the Cubs.

* Matt Garza didn’t get caught up in the Cubs/White Sox rivalry. He started Thursday, and gave up three runs on eight hits and two walks over five innings.

“It’s a baseball game,” Garza said of the intracity rivalry. “It’s more for the fans. You step on the mound and you’re just looking at who do I have? It’s not, ‘Oh, he’s wearing a Sox jersey, he’s wearing an A’s jersey, he’s wearing a Padres, Dodgers, Mets, Yankees’ — it doesn’t matter. It’s still baseball. They have a job to do to hit the ball and I have a job to do to get outs.”

Will it be more intense in the regular season?

“Nah,” Garza said. “Shoot, I played in Boston during the playoff run, stretch time, and you’re the most hated person on that hill. I’m pretty sure Chicago will like me a little better than that.”

* Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney turned two very nice double plays behind Garza in the third and fourth innings.

“You got stuff like that going on behind you, it’s a lot easier to pitch,” Garza said. “You’re a lot more confident, a lot more comfortable out there. That’s a good deal. I haven’t played in front of them very often but today they were a very good duo out there.”

Barney, who found out earlier in the day he had made the Opening Day roster, also hit a two-run triple, and Castro doubled and scored two runs.

* Alfonso Soriano hit his second homer this spring to right center in the fourth Thursday.

– Carrie Muskat

3/23 Roster decisions, Silva, Z, & Casey

Manager Mike Quade lost some sleep Tuesday night while making some pitching decisions. On Wednesday, he’ll be tossing and turning over which regulars make the final 25-man roster. The Cubs need to pick an extra infielder and outfielder for the bench.

* Carlos Zambrano threw 82 pitches over four innings in the Cubs’ Minor League camp for the Triple-A team against the Diamondbacks.

* Casey Coleman had a solid 1-2-3 inning in relief in the seventh Wednesday. The right-hander could be an option in the bullpen. “Casey has been a starter,” Quade said. “You see an inning today [and think] could he come back and give you three [innings] in a couple days? Could he do that in the midst of being a Major League starter someday? It’s encouraging to see him get up in a bullpen situation, come in and get three outs there.”

* Carlos Silva had his best spring outing, giving up one run on three
hits over six innings in the Cubs’ 3-1 win over the Athletics. Now what?

“This means that decisions remain tough and we have to figure it out and
we’re thrilled that guys are competing and making it tough,” Quade
said. “We’ll see how this plays out and I’ll milk it as long as I can,
to be honest.”

Silva, competing with Andrew Cashner and Braden Looper for the final spot, took to heart some advice from pitcher Ryan Dempster.

“Today he said, ‘I don’t want you to give me 100 percent, I want you to
give me 80 percent,’” Silva said of his conversation with the Cubs’
Opening Day starter.

That might sound counter-productive, but the message was to try to not
do too much. Calm down, don’t overthrow, and trust your stuff. Wednesday
was Silva’s last chance.

“I needed this game,” Silva said. “It doesn’t matter if I make the
rotation, it’s personal. I needed a good game. I don’t know what the
decision will be but personally I needed this game just to start
building my confidence and trust myself a little more. Next time I’ll go
out with a more positive attitude.”

– Carrie Muskat

3/22 Decisions, decisions

Cubs manager Mike Quade may not get much sleep Tuesday night. Quade met in the morning with GM Jim Hendry, assistant GM Randy Bush, pitching coach Mark Riggins and bench coach Pat Listach to go over the roster, including the fifth spot in the rotation.

Randy Wells, who has a 1.35 ERA this spring, has secured the No. 4 spot, and it’s down to Carlos Silva, Andrew Cashner and Braden Looper for the last opening. Silva, who has a 15.88 ERA in four outings, will start Wednesday against the Athletics, while Carlos Zambrano, who is set, will go to the Minor League camp to get his work in. Cashner threw nearly 60 pitches over three innings Monday in the rain against the Angels but has not been stretched out to 80 pitches.

“I have a lot to sleep on and or not sleep on tonight regarding the pitching and other areas, too,” Quade said. “In the next couple days, we have to get this thing done. The truck’s leaving Sunday.”

That’s the truck that carries players’ personal belongings to Chicago.

– Carrie Muskat

3/19 Cubs lineup & more

Matt Garza starts Saturday for the Cubs in Peoria against the Padres and will be followed by Braden Looper. The game will be on WGN Radio and WGN TV. Looking ahead, Randy Wells will start Sunday against the Giants at HoHoKam Park and Andrew Cashner will start Monday against the Angels in Tempe. Here’s Saturday’s lineup:

RF Fukudome
2B DeWitt
LF Colvin
C Soto
1B Pena
3B Baker
SS Camp
CF Perez
P Garza

– Carrie Muskat

3/14 Sorting things out

Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner will each get another chance Tuesday to convince manager Mike Quade they are best suited for the rotation. Wells and Cashner will start in the Cubs’ final split squad games, with Wells facing the Rockies at HoHoKam Park in Mesa and Cashner going to Phoenix to start against the Athletics.  The two right-handers are vying for the vacancies with Carlos Silva, Casey Coleman, Braden Looper, Todd Wellemeyer and James Russell.

“I’m not closer to nailing stuff down but of that mix, whether it’s bullpen, whether it’s fourth and fifth, I think a lot of guys have been better lately and that’s what we’re looking for,” Quade said Monday. “Until I have to make a decision, we’ll let this thing play out.”

Cashner will be an interesting call. Has he developed his secondary pitches enough to be considered a starter? Do the Cubs feel he needs more experience and would benefit from pitching at Triple-A Iowa? Or, if he’s not ready to start, do they keep his talented arm in the bullpen with the big league team?

“My sense is he has Major League value in whatever role,” Quade said. “It’s a tough call. He’s in a competition with other people. I don’t have an opinion on [whether he start in Minors] yet but we’ve got two weeks after the off day, so obviously at some point these are the kind of tough questions down the stretch that have to be answered.”

– Carrie Muskat

3/3 Looper excited about 1st outing

Braden Looper was on the mound for the first time since October 2009 and he was a little amped up.

“It felt good to be out there in a competitive situation again,” said the right-hander, who is trying to comeback with the Cubs after a one-year hiatus. “It’s been a long time. That first inning, I was a little too pumped up. I went back in the dugout and said, ‘Man, I have to slow down.’ After that, I felt really good.”

He entered in the fourth against the Rangers at HoHoKam Park and gave up back to back hits, then a sacrifice fly to Matt Treanor. But Looper got Endy Chavez to ground into an inning ending double play.

A 12-year veteran, Looper signed a Minor League contract with the Cubs. He hasn’t asked when he’ll start, but is expecting one.

“Coming in, when I signed, that was the consensus was that they would give me the opportunity,” Looper said. “When that is, I don’t know. Right now, I’m just glad to get out there and compete and go from there. That was step one. Step two was going back out there that second inning and feeling a lot better and hopefully I can carry that on.”

In the second inning, Looper retired the side, and ended the fifth by striking out Esteban German.

– Carrie Muskat

3/2 Cashner to start Saturday

Andrew Cashner will get his first spring start Saturday against the Padres. The right-hander was used in relief last season but is being stretched out this spring to see if he can fill one of the openings in the rotation. Cashner went two innings in his first outing Monday. He’ll start Saturday and be followed by Randy Wells against the Padres.

Carlos Zambrano will go Thursday against the Rangers and Matt Garza on Friday against the Royals. Braden Looper is slated to make his first appearance for the Cubs on Thursday.

– Carrie Muskat

2/24 Looper stays in touch with Wainwright

Braden Looper was Adam Wainwright’s teammate on the Cardinals, and both are board of directors of an organization. Looper last saw Wainwright this offseason. As soon as Looper heard about Wainwright’s elbow injury, he sent a text message to his friend.

“He told me a couple jokes, back and forth,” Looper said Thursday of Wainwright. “He didn’t know what was going on yet.”

If he’s joking, then maybe Wainwright’s elbow injury isn’t that serious?

“That’s just his personality,” said Looper, who hoped to call Wainwright later Thursday. “I’m sure it’s tough. It’s a big loss for a team like that — any team. That’s just his personality and you have to know him to appreciate it. He’s a good hard worker and he’ll be all right.”

Looper didn’t know any details about Wainwright’s injury.

“I know that knowing him, he’s a character guy and he’s a guy who shows young guys how to work hard, so I know he’ll be all right,” Looper said. “That’s a comforting thing for me, knowing that he’s a guy who will bust his butt to get back.”

Cubs fans may be excited about the Cardinals losing their 20-game winner from the rotation. Looper would like to face a team when it’s at full strength.

“We want to beat them because we’re better,” he said. “You never want to wish a guy to get hurt. You want to say at the end of the day, hopefully, we’re a better team than they are. Every team goes through adversity. Obviously, [the Cardinals'] is starting sooner than ours. I’m sure there will be something we’ll have to go through. Every team goes through something.”

– Carrie Muskat

1/27 Non-roster invitees

The Cubs have invited 21 non-roster players to Spring Training, including Todd Wellemeyer, Braden Looper and infielder Augie Ojeda. Looper and Ojeda agreed to terms on Minor League contracts Thursday. Pitchers and catchers report to Fitch Park in Mesa, Ariz., on Feb. 13, and their first workout is the next day. Position players report Feb. 18 and the Cubs’ first full squad workout will be Feb. 19.

Seven pitchers — including right-handers Looper, Wellemeyer, Chris Carpenter, Angel Guzman, Jay Jackson, and Trey McNutt and left-hander Scott Rice – have been invited to the Cubs’ camp along with catchers Steve Clevenger and Chris Robinson. The seven infielders invited include Ojeda, Matt Camp, Bryan LaHair, Scott Moore, Bobby Scales, Marquez Smith and Josh Vitters. Five outfielders were invited including Jim Adduci, Brett Jackson, Reed Johnson, Luis Montanez and Brad Snyder.

Looper, 36, is 72-65 with 103 saves and a 4.15 ERA in all or part of 12 Major League seasons with St. Louis (1998, 2006-08), Florida (1999-2003), the New York Mets (2004-05) and Milwaukee (2009). He last pitched in the big leagues in 2009, going 14-7 with a 5.22 ERA.

Ojeda, 36, is a career .234 hitter with 44 doubles, nine triples, seven home runs and 81 RBIs in 502 games with the Cubs (2000-03), Twins (2004) and Diamondbacks (2007-10). He’s seen action at second, third, and shortstop. Last season, Ojeda batted .190 in 59 games with Arizona.

Wellemeyer, 32, is 32-34 with three saves and a 4.83 ERA in 208 appearances, including 75 starts. He’s pitched for the Cubs (2003-05), Marlins (2006), Royals (2006-07), Cardinals (2007-09) and Giants (2010).

– Carrie Muskat

4/21 Looper throws for Cubs

The Cubs are looking at all options to help the bullpen and had scouts watch free agent pitcher Braden Looper. The right-hander was 14-7 in 34 starts for the Brewers last year with a 5.22 ERA and served up 39 homers in 194 2/3 innings. He has pitched for the Cardinals, Marlins, Mets and Brewers, compiling a 4.15 career ERA and 72-65 record. He was a closer from 2002-05. Looper did the tryout somewhere outside of Chicago and not at Wrigley Field. FoxSports first reported the Cubs’ interest.

– Carrie Muskat  

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