Results tagged ‘ Carlos Pena ’

7/14 Cubs Inbox

It’s been tough to sqeeze the Cubs Inbox onto, so I’ll try to keep up here. Send your questions to and please include your name and hometown.

Q: With Bryan LaHair crushing the ball in Triple-A and Carlos Pena struggling with consistency, are the Cubs giving any thought to bringing LaHair up to the big league team? — Nick I., Evansville, IN

A: LaHair could get a look depending on what happens at the trade deadline. Pena has drawn interest from teams in contention (Angels, for example). LaHair will likely be up in September when rosters expand.

Q: I don’t understand why Darwin Barney was moved to the No. 8 spot. He hit .290 in the two-hole. I see the logic in the move when Fukudome is in the lineup but when Reed Johnson is, I don’t get it. Johnson has a career .341 OBP, identical to Castro’s. I realize Johnson is hot right now but what’s going to happen when he cools off? Ryan S., Rochester, MI

A: There’s a couple reasons. One, Barney is coming back from a knee injury. If he’s batting second, he’ll be expected to run more. They’re trying to avoid stress on the knee. Two, Starlin Castro has done better hitting one-two. With Fukudome doing well as the leadoff man, moving Castro up a notch seems to help him. Three, Barney can help turn the lineup over in the bottom of the order. His role changes depending on pinch-hitters behind him. As for Johnson, his starts are primarily against lefties.

Q: I was looking through some of the Cubs’ Minor League rosters and was happy to see Angel Guzman has logged innings at Daytona and Peoria. I also noticed he’s starting each game he appeared in. Are the Cubs grooming him to be a starter again or is this part of his rehab? — Henry F., Batavia, IL

A: Guzman, coming back from shoulder surgery, is starting in the Minor Leagues as part of his rehab. It’s easier to control when he can pitch if he starts the game rather than having him enter a game in relief. This way, he’s guaranteed two innings, or however many pitches they are limiting him to. If he returns, it will be as a reliever.

— Carrie Muskat

7/7 Extra bases

* The Cubs are 24-33 in 57 games decided by three or fewer runs this season, including a 10-17 mark in one-run decisions. The Cubs are a season-low 18 games under .500 for the first time since completing play Sept. 13 last season at 63-81.

* Carlos Pena is one of four Cubs left-handed hitters to reach 18 homers before the All-Star break. He joins Billy Williams, Rick Monday and Henry Rodriguez. Williams hit 19 before the break in 1964, 26 in 1970, and 22 in ’72. Monday hit 21 before the break in ’73 and Rodriguez hit 19 in ’98. All of Pena’s homers have come since May 3.

* In 14 games since June 24, Aramis Ramirez has hit .385 with three doubles, nine homers, 15 RBIs and 16 runs scored. He has a 1.372 OPS in that stretch, second in the Majors behind the Rockies’ Carlos Gonzalez. His 14 homers are the most before the break since he hit 17 in the first half of 2008 season.

— Carrie Muskat

6/27 Are Cubs buyers or sellers?

The trade deadline is July 31 but it was a topic posed to some Cubs players after Monday’s 7-3 win over the Rockies. Will the Cubs be buyers or sellers?

“We haven’t been healthy,” third baseman Aramis Ramirez said. “Right now we’re playing better but we’re missing Marlon Byrd and [Darwin] Barney [who are on the DL].”

Pitcher Matt Garza ignores the talk.

“I know what my job is and that’s to pitch and get outs,” he said. “None of that stuff concerns me. If my name gets called, it gets called. I’m just going to keep going out there and keep pitching.”

Carlos Pena has been red-hot lately. Maybe he’ll draw interest? He doesn’t think about such things.

“Not at all,” Pena said. “I’m a Cub. I don’t even look that far ahead. In my mind, I’m a Cub until the end.”

Does he feel the Cubs can still make a run in the NL Central?

“We still have faith in this ballclub,” Pena said. “Everyone here believes we can do it. We undrstand we need to play today’s game today. I think we’re playing great baseball in the last few weeks. Now we have to make the sure the tight ballgames go our way.”

— Carrie Muskat

6/18 Crash course

How about Carlos Pena’s collision at home in the sixth inning Saturday with Yankees catcher Russell Martin? Trailing 3-2 with one out, Pena was hit by a pitch and Reed Johnson was safe on a fielding error by Eduardo Nunez. A.J. Burnett exited, and Cory Wade entered. Alfonso Soriano hit a grounder to Alex Rodriguez, who threw to Robinson Cano at second. But he muffed it for an error and the bases were loaded. Geovany Soto then flew out to left and Pena tried to score but Brett Gardner fired a perfect strike to Martin, who survived a collision at the plate.

“We had to try it,” Pena said. “I thought it was the right thing to do. He was blocking the plate, and there was only one way to get to home plate and that was through him. He took a hit like a champ and held onto the ball and it was a great play by him so hats off.”

Said Martin: “Gardy’s the one who threw it. All I have to do is hold on to the baseball. That’s what you’re hoping for when you see that play develop — a long hop. The tough ones are the short hops.”

Pena and Martin exchanged a few words at first when Martin singled in the eighth.

“I know he’s a hard-nosed player,” Pena said. “He said, ‘That was a great drive, you hit me good.’ I said, ‘I don’t know how you held on.’ Among colleagues at the end of the day, we’re all friends and competing. I was impressed he held onto that ball. I took my best hit and he did a great job holding onto it.”

Martin apparently was talking to Nick Swisher on Friday, saying he was getting a little “bored” behind the plate.

“I got what I asked for,” Martin said.

“With two outs, you take a shot,” Mike Quade said. “He [Gardner] was in a position to make the best throw he could make given his momentum, and he did.”

Added Pena: “Anything in the air, I was going to go back and tag. I knew it would be a tough play for Gardner. He made a perfect throw. That’s a chance I want to take every single day. Right there, I’m going to go. They made the play. I’d rather err on the side of aggressiveness and that’s what we did today.”

— Carrie Muskat

6/13 Lineup, Pena, schedule & more

Monday’s Cubs lineup was very right-handed against Brewers lefty Randy Wolf, and rookie DJ LeMahieu made his first start at first.

“Carlos [Pena] needs a day off worse than me,” Mike Quade said of the first baseman who has taken more than his share of foul balls off his leg. “It was a long trip for him. Left-handers have been hard on him. He’s black and blue from his knee to his ankle on one leg.”

* After dealing with the Cardinals, Reds and Phillies, the Cubs now face the Central Division leading Brewers and Yankees.

“This club is playing great baseball and you’d love to cool them off,” Quade said of the Brewers, who have won eight of their last 10.

It’s a tough schedule.

“I get paid to manage this club and do the best I can for this organization every day, whoever is healthy and whoever is not,” Quade said. “If I stay with that, then I come to the park ready to go every day. You leave the park after tough losses and it’s no fun. And it’s the same for those guys. They’ve come in and stayed loose in the clubhouse and human nature makes things tough but you have to find a way to fight through it. In some way, with some of the kids who are here, it’s been easier.”

* Alfonso Soriano went 0-for-3 on Sunday and the plan is for him to get 10 to 12 at-bats in the Minors. More important, Quade wants Soriano to be 100 percent healthy. He’s been on the DL with a strained left quad.

* Reed Johnson has a black eye after being hit in the head by a pitch. His batting helmet also is cracked. He could be activated Tuesday or Wednesday, depending on results from tests taken Monday.

* Marlon Byrd took batting practice on the field for the first time since he was hit in the face with a pitch May 21. It’s been three weeks, and he has about three more weeks to go in his rehab.

— Carrie Muskat

6/11 Extra bases

The Cubs face lefty Cliff Lee on Saturday. They have a .290 batting average against lefties, second in the National League and third in the Majors. They are 8-7 against southpaw starters this year, 17-30 against right-handers.

Carlos Pena has the most at-bats among the Cubs against Lee, and is 6-for-29 (.207) with three homers. No one else on the active roster has more than eight at-bats against the lefty.

* The five-run eighth inning Friday night marked the 10th time the Cubs have scored five or more runs in an inning. The 10 innings with five or more runs are tied for the ML lead with the Red Sox.

* On Thursday, the Cubs got 8 2/3 shutout innings from the bullpen, the most since they threw nine innings to complete a 5-4, 16-inning win against the Marlins on July 12, 2002.

Sean Marshall has a 0.95 ERA in 28 relief appearances. That’s second lowest among relievers, trailing the Braves’ Jonny Venters (0.45 ERA). Marshall has struck out 30 and walked eight, and is averaging 9.5 strikeouts per nine innings.

* Darwin Barney is batting .205 in his last nine games, and is hitless in his last three (0-for-13). He’s hitting .229 on this road trip with four runs. Barney still leads all ML rookies with a .292 average, 69 hits and 32 runs scored.

* Saturday’s game is No. 9 in a stretch of 38 games in 38 days through July 10.

* On this date in Cubs history in 1952, Hank Sauer hit three home runs to lead the Cubs to a 3-2 win over the Phillies. All three came off Curt Simmons.

— Carrie Muskat

6/4 Post-game Cubs notes

Carlos Marmol threw 1 2/3 scoreless innings to set the Cubs franchise record with 25 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings on the road. The previous mark was 24 innings, shared by Warren Brusstar and Lee Smith.

* Carlos Pena has hit five of his eight home runs on the first pitch.

* Tyler Colvin is in a funk. He’s hitless in his last 12 games (0-for-23).

* The Cubs now have lost a season-high five straight games after Saturday’s extra-inning loss, and dropped to 10-games under .500 at 23-33.

* Who would’ve thought this would be the Cubs’ lineup in early June? At the end of Saturday’s game, Darwin Barney was at short, DJ LeMahieu at second, Blake DeWitt at third, Tyler Colvin at first, Tony Campana in center, and Lou Montanez in left.

— Carrie Muskat

5/29 Extra bases

Ryan Dempster posted his fifth quality start on Sunday. All five have come in May. He’s 3-1 with a 3.08 ERA this month.

* Darwin Barney is batting .294 with two strikes against him.

* Kosuke Fukudome has a .416 average at Wrigley Field, tops in the NL. He’s batting .312 from the leadoff spot.

* Carlos Pena has six RBIs in his last 13 home games. He’s batting .286 against right-handers, .051 against lefties.

* The forecast for Monday calls for instant summer with temps around 90.

“If what I hear is correct, [Monday] could be really fun,” manager Mike Quade said. “Ninety [degrees]? I’ll have a bathing suit on.”

— Carrie Muskat

5/15 Looking at positives

So, the Cubs went 3-5 vs. the Reds, Cardinals and Giants. Does Mike Quade have a better feel for his team?
“They talk about the fine line in this game,” Quade said before Sunday’s game was postponed because of the miserable weather. “The truth of the matter is, you take two out ofthree from those clubs and it’s a huge difference but you have to take them. You’ve got to do the things that will allow you take them and we’re not there yet.”
Even though they went 1-2 against the Reds and Cardinals, Quade feels his squad can beat his division rivals.
“Absolutely,” he said. “If you’re going to compete successfully, then there are some of the little things we need to do,” he said, citing improving the production with runners on base.
The Cubs did hit .309 during the homestand and a much improved .346 (18-for-52) with RISP. In their first 33 games, the Cubs hit .213 with RISP.
“There were more missed opportunities to score runs than anything else,” Quade said. “The problem is for each opportunity missed, where you don’t find a way to put up a crooked number, then when you do make a mistake, you go back to how magnified it is. If we’re going to continue to struggle and if run production is an issue right now, then we need to play perfect baseball in other areas so we don’t give clubs 29 outs a game or whatever the case may be.”
Carlos Pena said it’s important to be positive.
“It’s easy to look at the results and say, ‘That ball didn’t drop,'” Pena said. “We have to look back and say, ‘How was the at-bat? How was the execution? How was the contact?’ I’m doing that now. You say, ‘OK, good contact, good pitch to hit, good at-bat’ and leave it at that. It’s very hard to do because you’re not getting the reward.”
— Carrie Muskat

5/10 Dominican players honored

The Cubs, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and Gisselle Castillo-Veremis, the consul general of the Dominican Republic, will honor players from the Caribbean island in a pre-game ceremony tonight. They will present Starlin Castro, Carlos Marmol, Marcos Mateo, Carlos Peña, Aramis Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano as well as the Cardinals’ Albert Pujols and Miguel Batista with a special recognition award on behalf of the president of the Dominican Republic.

The first Dominican-born Cubs player was Roberto Pena, who was the team’s Opening Day shortstop in 1965. Pena played in 57 games for the Cubs (1965-66), 55 of thoee games at shortstop. The Cubs first Dominican-born pitcher was Jose Nunez in 1990.

Carlos Pena is the 46th Dominican player to appear in a Major League game with the Cubs.  Of those 46, Sammy Sosa played the longest at 13 years.  Aramis Ramirez (nine seasons), Carlos Marmol (six seasons) and Alfonso Soriano (five seasons) are next on the seniority list.

At least one Dominican-born player has played for the Cubs every season since 1989. Last year, there were seven with Soriano, Castro, Ramirez, Marmol, Mateo, Esmailin Caridad and Welington Castillo.  Seven Dominican-born players also played for the Cubs in 1997.

The Cubs have expanded their commitment to the Dominican. They are in the process of finalizing details for a new academy there. Chicago Cubs Charities donated more than $40,000 to the Dominican in the last year. The money was designated to fund a rural health care program and doctor visits to communities to identify patients at risk for diabetes, to expand a surgical center recovery room, and to construct a new facility at a local school.

— Carrie Muskat