Results tagged ‘ Cubs ’
Travis Wood and Hippo Vaughn now have something in common, even if they’re not very familiar with each other. Wood posted his eighth consecutive quality start and hit an RBI double, one of six by the team, while Alfonso Soriano belted a two-run homer, and Starlin Castro, Nate Schierholtz and David DeJesus all drove in a pair to lift the Cubs to a 9-1 victory Monday night against the Rockies.
Wood is the first Cubs left-hander to open the season with eight quality starts since Vaughn did so in 1919. Wood admitted he had never heard of Vaughn. That’s OK. This was the 23rd quality start by a Chicago pitcher this season, and while they have a combined 1.90 ERA in those games, the team has won only nine. Wood held the Rockies to two hits and walked three over seven innings.
“That was against a lineup that crushes left-handed pitching,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said of the Rockies, who entered the game batting .277 against southpaw pitchers. “To throw like that against those guys, the way they hit against left-handed pitching, was very, very impressive.”
Wood struggled in spring 2012 and began last season at Triple-A Iowa. He’s a different pitcher now.
“What he’s done since Spring Training of last year is pretty impressive,” Sveum said.
On Monday, the lefty was able to pitch to both sides of the plate and had impressive command of his cutter.
“He’s doing a lot of this without secondary pitches,” Sveum said. “It’s not like he’s throwing a lot of curveballs or changeups. He’s mixing in those pitches and using them when he has to against people who are vulnerable and able to use both sides of the plate and be aggressive and not walk people and help out with his bat, too.”
Basically, Wood has learned how to pitch.
“When they sent me down after spring last year,” Wood said, “I just got some work in on what they thought I needed and what I thought I needed and I was fortunate enough to be able to get those things ironed out and so far so good. I’ve been rolling from last year.”
Wood has a scraggly beard that he isn’t going to trim any time soon.
“I’m not really sure what I’m doing with it right now,” he said of his facial hair. “It just started, and I didn’t intend to let it keep going but it’s kind of hard to cut it right now.”
“I think he’s going to keep it,” catcher Welington Castillo said.
The Cubs have talked about how Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro are part of the young core they want to build around, and have signed both to long-term deals. What about Wood?
“I would love to be here for a long time with the Cubs but that’s out of my hands,” Wood said. “I’m not really thinking about that right now at all. We’ve got to go out and win tomorrow, and I’ve got four more days to get ready for my next start and hopefully we can keep going on.”
– Carrie Muskat
The Cubs might want to save Dale Sveum some time and have lineup cards printed with Anthony Rizzo’s name in the No. 3 spot after the first baseman signed a seven-year, $41 million contract extension on Monday that includes two club options.
“In my position, it’s nice to have a guy projected for 30 [homers] and 100 RBIs in your lineup for the next seven to whatever years, especially with his makeup and defensive ability,” Sveum said Monday. “It’s pretty important to all of us — the city and the organization — to have somebody like that locked up for that long. It’s a pretty special day for all of us.”
Rizzo, 23, is the second young Cubs player to receive a long term extension. Shortstop Starlin Castro was rewarded with a seven-year, $60 million contract last August.
“Now, you don’t have pressure,” Castro said. “You have your contract, your family is good. The only thing you have to put in your mind is play hard and help your team win.”
With the two signings, GM Jed Hoyer has sent a clear signal as to who they plan on building the team around.
“This is just the base and the start of things to get these core players, those position players who you have control over for a long time and can stay here and be something special,” Sveum said.
Castro, 23, wasn’t surprised to see Rizzo get the large contract.
“I knew it was coming,” Castro said. “If it happened to me, I think the next one was him.”
Who’s next? Castro wouldn’t say. But Rizzo does give young players the same message.
“[The front office] has been watching me since I was 17,” Rizzo said. “They’ve seen me develop, they’ve seen me make my mistakes, and they’re going to continue to see me develop and do good things and bad things. What I tell the young guys is work hard. You can always control working hard. Once you get labeled as slacking off by one coach, that can stay with you for a long time. That’s the message I try to send.
“Last year at this time, I was in Triple-A and wondering when that call was going to come,” Rizzo said, “and it’s just the hard work pays off. Five years ago at this time, I was in a hospital waiting on my first treatment for cancer. It’s crazy how everything has come full circle.”
Now, the focus is on playing winning baseball.
“The only thing I think about is that, winning here,” Castro said. “I know it’ll be unbelievable. That’s why those people up there started signing players for long-term deals, to be here when the team becomes good every season. I think it’s very soon.”
– Carrie Muskat
* Matt Garza’s next Minor League rehab outing will be Thursday for Triple-A Iowa, and the team will make a decision after that as to whether the right-hander is ready to be activated. Garza is rehabbing from a left lat strain suffered in Spring Training. In his last Minor League outing on Saturday, he gave up three hits and walked two over 3 1/3 innings for Double-A Tennessee. It was his third Minor League rehab start, and he threw 66 pitches, 40 for strikes.
Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Garza threw with a lot of “aggressiveness” in his bullpen session on Monday.
“We just have to get him built up so he can at least go out there for [six innings],” Sveum said.
* Third baseman Luis Valbuena, who sprained the little finger on his right hand sliding into third base on Saturday, was available to pinch-hit. Valbuena has his little finger and ring finger taped together while he does drills. He would not have started Tuesday against Rockies lefty Jeff Francis, so Valbuena will get at least one extra day to rest, Sveum said.
* Cubs pitcher Edwin Jackson hosted his fourth “Edwin’s Entourage” event on Monday at Wrigley Field. He created the event to create awareness of baseball to younger African American males. More than 40 participants from local youth leagues, ages 11-18, took part.
* Arodys Vizcaino, who is on the 60-day disabled list recovering from Tommy John surgery, was in Chicago to be examined by the team doctors. The right-hander, whom the Cubs acquired in July 2012 from the Braves in the Paul Maholm deal, underwent the surgery early in 2012.
– Carrie Muskat
Starlin Castro got a long-term deal last August and Anthony Rizzo received a new contract on Monday. What about Jeff Samardzija?
“It’s not really important to me, to tell you the truth,” Samardzija said. “I’m the type of guy who the play speaks for itself and if you’re healthy and do everything you’re supposed to do like those guys do and most importantly, do what it takes to win ballgames, that’s what it’s all about. I’m a little older than they are — I wouldn’t mind being 22 or 23 again — but baseball wise, I’m still pretty young. That stuff comes as the game goes.”
In Spring Training, Samardzija said he wanted to pitch first, and then talk contract. That’s still the way he’s looking at it.
“We’re still in only the second month of the season,” Samardzija said. “Coming in and starting Opening Day and pitching every fifth game from there, I’ve felt great. I’m excited to get into the summer and get into August and get toward that high innings count and see where I’m at as a starter. Nothing has changed. The games that happen out here are the most important for me personally.”
He didn’t ask to table negotiations.
“I know they have a lot of things on their minds right now,” Samardzija said of the Cubs front office. “We have an understanding that we both want to be here, and both want me here, and that’s a great place to be. It’s up to me to do my job on the field.”
The right-hander recognizes that players are paid based on what they do on the field.
“I want my play to determine how everything goes down,” he said. “I have high expectations for myself and this team. That comes first. I feel everything after that will fall into line for me personally.”
– Carrie Muskat
Brad Nelson hit his sixth home run but Reno scored three runs in the bottom of the ninth to beat Iowa, 9-8, on Sunday. Chris Rusin started, and did not get a decision, giving up five runs on nine hits over five innings. Brett Jackson had his first three-hit game of the season and scored two runs. Dave Sappelt drove in three runs. Ian Stewart was 1-for-1 with a triple and two RBIs.
Kyle Hendricks threw 6 2/3 shutout innings in Tennessee’s 5-0 victory over Jackson. Matt Szczur had three hits and two RBIs. Arismendy Alcantara had two hits.
Daytona had Sunday off, and returns to action Monday against Charlotte.
Dillon Maples gave up three runs on six hits over five innings in Kane County’s 7-4, 10-inning loss to Clinton. Rock Shoulders hit a grand slam in the sixth and Jeimer Candelario had two hits, including his fourth home run. Dan Vogelbach drove in a run, and now has hit safely in six of his last seven games.
Luis Valbuena is still sidelined with a sprained right pinky finger, so Cody Ransom gets the start on Monday in the Cubs’ series opener against the Rockies. Travis Wood takes the mound. He has posted a quality start in each of his seven games this year. Here’s the lineup:
T. Wood P
* Kevin Gregg notched his 150th career save, making him the 75th pitcher in Major League history to collect at least 150 career saves. He is 6-for-6 in save situations this season.
The Cubs locked up another one of their core players on Sunday. Sources confirmed the Cubs have signed first baseman Anthony Rizzo to a seven-year, $41 million contract extension with two club options worth $14.5 million each. The deal includes escalators which could increase the total value of the contract to $73 million.
Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal was the first to report the deal, which does not include a no-trade clause. Rosenthal reports the contract will override Rizzo’s existing 2013 deal, and is essentially a six-year extension. As a “Super Two” player, Rizzo, 23, would have been eligible for arbitration after the 2014 season. The deal will effectively buy out one year prior to qualifying for arbitration plus four arbitration years and two years of free agency eligibility.
Last August, the Cubs gave shortstop Starlin Castro a seven-year, $60 million contract. Rizzo and Castro are key pieces which Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer hope to build around. The Rizzo extension ensures the Cubs can keep him under control through 2021.
Rizzo was batting .280 with nine home runs and 28 RBIs. He was tied for second in the NL and fifth in the Majors with 19 extra-base hits. In his last 16 games, Rizzo was batting .452 with eight doubles, three home runs, and 14 RBIs; he opened the season hitting .173 in his first 21 games.
Promoted from the big leagues last June 26, Rizzo was inserted into the No. 3 spot in the Cubs lineup, and showed he was worthy, batting .330 with seven home runs and 17 RBIs in July to win NL Player of the Month honors. He does not have a full season yet with the Cubs, and has played 172 games total in the Majors.
– Carrie Muskat
Happy Mother’s Day. Here’s the Cubs lineup:
* Last year at the Trade Deadline, the Cubs were sellers. That may be the case again this year if they don’t rally. GM Jed Hoyer said he feels there’s still time for the Cubs to get on track. Sveum agrees.
“We’ve lost so many games we’ve had control over,” Sveum said Sunday. “We know this record could be flip-flopped with a little better play because the pitching has kept us in so many games.”
The Cubs have 21 quality starts, yet have won eight of those games. Thirty-three of their 36 games have been decided by four runs or less, and 28 have been decided by three runs or less.
However, the Cubs are in rebuilding mode, and Sveum knows what that means.
“You know things like that are possible and you weigh all the options and what’s best for the organization,” Sveum said. “Those are things you have to do sometimes. It’s not that easy to see Dempster and Maholm go somewhere else but it is part of the game. We’re trying to ge this thing completely healthy.”
* Luis Valbuena was able to play catch and hit in the batting cage on Sunday, one day after spraining the little finger on his right hand sliding into third base. Valbuena was not in the lineup against Nationals lefty Gio Gonzalez, but was available to pinch-hit, manager Dale Sveum said. Valbuena was not expected to go on the disabled list. With one out in the fifth Saturday, Valbuena doubled to right but was tagged sliding into third trying to stretch his hit and jammed his hand on the bag. X-rays showed no fracture, and Valbuena received treatment. He was batting .272 with five home runs and 13 RBIs this season.
* Matt Garza will make at least one more Minor League rehab start, and possibly two, after his abbreviated outing on Saturday. Garza gave up three hits and walked two over 3 1/3 innings Saturday for Double-A Tennessee in his third Minor League rehab start, throwing 66 pitches, 40 for strikes. He struck out two.
“He felt great and everything, but not real efficient,” Dale Sveum said Sunday. “Right now, we have to get him built up to get to the fourth, fifth and hopefully sixth inning.”
Garza will be in Chicago this week when the Cubs return for a three-game homestand against the Rockies, and make his next start for Triple-A Iowa.
It will be tough to eliminate one of the starters from the mix. Edwin Jackson is the only pitcher who has struggled, and he’s not a candidate to move to the bullpen.
“It ain’t going to be easy,” Sveum said about moving one of the starters. “Part of it sometimes, when you have these decisions … it’s a good problem to have, but for the individual, nobody deserves it. They’re pitching perfectly fine. It isn’t going to be the easiest thing to do.”
* With an off day scheduled for Thursday, the Cubs will not tweak their rotation but keep everyone on schedule, Sveum said. Travis Wood, Carlos Villanueva and Jeff Samardzija will face the Rockies in a three-game series at Wrigley Field that starts Monday.
– Carrie Muskat
Scott Feldman takes the mound on Sunday in the Cubs’ series finale against the Nationals. Feldman is the only Cubs starter to record a decision in every start this season. He began with three losses and has followed up with three wins. The right-hander is one of 10 pitchers in baseball to make at least six starts and record a decision in every outing.
In his first three starts, Feldman was 0-3 with a 4.50 ERA (7 ER/14 IP), and in his last three, he is 3-0 with a 1.59 ERA (4 ER/22 2/3 IP). The last three include his first complete game May 1 against the Padres.
* The Cubs return to Wrigley Field on Monday to begin a three-game series against the Rockies. All three games will start at 7:05 p.m. CT. Here are the pitching matchups:
Monday: LHP Travis Wood (3-2, 2.33) vs. RHP Juan Nicasio (3-0, 4.72)
Tuesday: RHP Carlos Villanueva (1-2, 3.02) vs. LHP Jeff Francis (1-3, 6.90)
Wednesday: RHP Jeff Samardzija (1-5, 3.70) vs. RHP Jon Garland (3-3, 4.83)
– Carrie Muskat