Results tagged ‘ Greg Maddux ’

3/4 Cubs notebook

Even though the Cubs will be at home Saturday and Sunday at HoHoKam Park, they will use a designated hitter because the visiting clubs requested it.

“It’s good for us in a way because we can get [Xavier] Nady in there and get him some at-bats,” Lou Piniella said of the outfielder, who is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.

Nady was expected to start at DH either Saturday or Sunday. Alfonso Soriano was expected to start in left field on Saturday.

* Kevin Millar will likely play first base and left field this spring for the Cubs.

* David Patton, the Cubs’ Rule 5 pick a year ago, will most likely start at Double-A Tennessee this year.

“That’s been the scuttlebutt as to where he’ll end up,” Piniella said of the right-hander. “Remember this kid was out of [Class A] ball. Basically the whole time he was here, we were a first place team or battling for first place. It wasn’t easy on him. He made it through the whole summer and now we have him in our system.”

* Former Cubs pitcher Rick Sutcliffe showed up Thursday.

“I heard you were looking for a veteran starting pitcher,” Sutcliffe said to Piniella. “Where’s [Greg] Maddux at?”

Maddux actually has returned home, but will rejoin the Cubs after their trip to Las Vegas on March 13.

— Carrie Muskat

2/18 Numbers game

There were some familiar Cubs’ numbers on the field Thursday — Nos. 31 and 34.

Greg Maddux, now a special assistant to the GM, was in uniform wearing No. 31. That number was retired last year in honor of both Maddux and Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins. Maddux spent most of the first workout at Fitch Park watching the pitchers throw light bullpen sessions.

New addition Jeff Gray was wearing No. 34, which hasn’t been worn by a Cubs player since Kerry Wood. Gray, acquired from the Athletics, said he asked for the number.

“After realizing it, it was like really incredible to follow in his footsteps,” Gray said Thursday. “Hopefully, I can live up to it. It’s big shoes to fill. It’s going to be some fun. I’m pretty excited about it.”

Mike Fontenot got some grief from fans by wearing No. 17, which was Mark Grace’s number. Gray was prepared for some razzing.

“I’m wondering what’s going to happen,” he said. “I’m excited.”

— Carrie Muskat


2/17 Injury bug: Guzman, Gray sidelined

Cubs pitchers and catchers have their first workout on Thursday at Fitch Park but already have two players who will miss practice. Angel Guzman injured a knee during a workout in Venezuela and had arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus two weeks ago. The procedure was done in Arizona. He was expected to be ready by Opening Day. Jeff Gray, whom the Cubs acquired from Oakland, has a moderate groin strain, injured during drills in Mesa. The right-hander will take it easy over the first few weeks of camp.

The only other pitcher who won’t be able to throw on Thursday is starter Ted Lilly, who underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder in early November. Lilly could be ready by mid April, but in the meantime, the Cubs will be auditioning starter candidates to sub for the lefty as well as fill the fifth spot. The contenders include Carlos Silva, Jeff Samardzija, Sean Marshall and Tom Gorzelanny.

“We’ve got enough people to look at,” Lou Piniella said Wednesday.

The Cubs are still in the market for a veteran right-handed reliever to help set-up closer Carlos Marmol, and could add someone via trade.

Another pitcher who reported to work on Wednesday was Greg Maddux, who has been added as a special assistant to GM Jim Hendry.

“We’ll have Greg do a lot of everything,” Hendry said of the four-time Cy Young winner, who won his first with the Cubs in 1992.

Maddux will work with pitching coach Larry Rothschild and Minor League pitching coordinator Mark Riggins as well as go to games with Hendry and assistant general manager Randy Bush to learn how to evaluate players.

“We’ll try to give him a little bit of everything in the first year,” Hendry said. “We’d be foolish to think he couldn’t help the players on the field.”

“All the young pitching talent we have, he’ll be invaluable,” Piniella said.

— Carrie Muskat

1/11/10 Lessons learned

Ask any pitcher who was Greg Maddux’s teammate, and he will tell you how much he learned from being around the 300-game winner. Maddux likes to give credit to the many pitching coaches he’s had, including the Cubs’ Larry Rothschild.

“Larry actually taught me how to scout hitters in a way that I had never looked at in the past,” Maddux said Monday when he was named an assistant to the Cubs’ GM. “Mechanically, he was very simple and didn’t really change a whole lot [in Maddux’s delivery].”

Most of their discussion focused on hitters and how to set them up and finish them off. Could Maddux help hitters and their approach to pitchers?

“I think you can help hitters with how a pitcher is trying to get them out,” Maddux said. “As far as messing with their swings and stuff like that, I think there’s a few more people who should be talking to them than me. Every now and then a hitter will have questions about pitch selection and patterns and stuff like that. Maybe I could have an idea what that pitcher might throw in a certain spot.”

— Carrie Muskat

1/11/10 Maddux on McGwire

The Cubs hired 300-game winner Greg Maddux as a special assistant to the GM, and he’ll help this spring at both the Major League and Minor League levels. Maddux also will be asked to evaluate talent.

He was asked his reaction to Mark McGwire’s admission that he did take steroids:

“He’s going to be the hitting coach for the Cardinals, now, right?” Maddux said of McGwire. “Maybe he’s trying to clean up the past a little bit and move forward. I’ve always had a lot of respect for him as a player. He was one of the most intimidating hitters I’ve ever had to face. He was one of the toughest outs in the game back then.

“Like I’ve said in the past, there was always speculation that guys were on that stuff. You had to do what you can to pitch around it.”

— Carrie Muskat

12/31 Top 10 Cubs games of the Decade

It’s time to ring in the new year and new decade. In the first 10 years of the 2000s, the Cubs reached the postseason three times (2003, ’07 and ’08), had five managers (counting Rene Lachemann’s one-game in ’02 and Bruce Kimm), and changed ownership. Here are 10 of the most memorable games of the last decade. Agree? Disagree? What’s your favorite game?  

1. Game 5 of National League Division Series, Oct. 5, 2003: For the first time since 1908, the Cubs won a playoff series. Kerry Wood had won Game 1 of the ’03 NLDS when he struck out 11 and hit a two-run double. In the deciding Game 5 on Oct. 5 in front of 54,357 at Turner Field, Wood fanned seven and held the Braves to one run in a 5-1 victory. Aramis Ramirez, a key in-season acquisition from the Pirates, hit a two-run homer.

2. Game 7 of NL Championship Series, Oct. 15, 2003: After the debacle of Game 6 (see No. 3), Wood started the deciding game of the series on Oct. 15, and served up a three-run homer to Miguel Cabrera in the first inning. But Wood gave Cubs fans hope when he hit a two-run homer in the second to tie the game at 3. Moises Alou’s two-run homer in the third opened a 5-3 lead. But the Fish scored three in the fifth and dashed the Cubs’ dream with a 9-6 series-clinching win.

3. Game 6 of NLCS, Oct. 14, 2003: The Cubs led the NLCS against the Marlins, three games to two, and had taken a 3-0 lead in Game 6 in front of 39,577 at Wrigley Field. Then the fateful eighth. Mark Prior started the game and retired the first batter. The Cubs were five outs away from getting to the World Series for the first time since 1945. Juan Pierre doubled, and Luis Castillo popped up, sending a ball to foul territory which fans in the left field seats tried to catch. So did Cubs left fielder Moises Alou. Nobody did, and Castillo walked. Both he and Pierre moved up on a wild pitch by Prior. Ivan Rodriguez hit a RBI single and Miguel Cabrera reached on an error by shortstop Alex Gonzalez. Derrek Lee — yes, the same D-Lee now with the Cubs — delivered a two-run double which tied the game and chased Prior. The Marlins would score eight runs in the inning and win, 8-3.

4. Carlos Zambrano’s no-hitter, Sept. 14, 2008: The Cubs and Astros were relocated to Miller Park in Milwaukee because of hurricane damage to Houston, and 23,441 bought tickets to the last-minute game. What a trip. Big Z struck out 10 and walked one in a 5-0 victory over the Astros, the first no-hitter by a Cubs pitcher since Milt Pappas did so Sept. 2, 1972.

5. Sammy Sosa’s 500th home run, April 4, 2003: In the top of the seventh inning in Cincinnati, Sosa connected off Scott Sullivan for his historic blast, launching a 1-2 fastball over the right-center field wall. It was his first home run of the ’03 season.

6. Greg Maddux’s 300th win, Aug. 7, 2004: Maddux had returned to the Cubs for the 2004 season, and in San Francisco, he became the 22nd pitcher to join the elite 300-win club. The Cubs posted an 8-4 victory over the Giants in front of a sellout crowd of 42,578. Maddux notched the win in his second try.

7. The Ramirez walkoff, June 29, 2007: Aramis Ramirez belts a two-run walkoff homer with two outs in the ninth off Francisco Cordero to power the Cubs to a 6-5 victory over the first-place Brewers in front of 41,909 at Wrigley Field. The win was the Cubs’ seventh straight and boosted them to .500 for the first time since early May. “I know it’s early,” Mark DeRosa said, “but it’s an exciting win for us.”

8. Lou’s first ejection, June 2, 2007: One day after Michael Barrett and Carlos Zambrano scuffled in the dugout, Lou Piniella erupted and was ejected in the eighth inning for arguing a call at third base. It was the first time he was tossed as a Cubs manager and the 60th ejection of his career.

9. The rally vs. the Rockies, May 30, 2008: The Cubs rally from deficits of 8-0 and 9-1 to beat the Colorado Rockies, 10-9, at Wrigley Field. Kosuke Fukudome, Jim Edmonds and Henry Blanco each homered and DeRosa smashed a two-run shot to cap a six-run seventh inning. Ryan Theriot and Aramis Ramirez didn’t start the game and Piniella pulled Derrek Lee and Geovany Soto after the Rockies opened a 9-1 lead in the sixth.

10. The Barrett-Pierzynski game, May 20, 2006: Barrett and A.J. Pierzynski collide at home plate in the second inning of the Cubs’ Interleague game against the White Sox, sparking a bench-clearing fight and four ejections. The White Sox had the bases loaded with one out against Rich Hill at U.S. Cellular Field. Pierzynski raced home on Brian Anderson’s fly ball and barreled into Barrett. Pierzynski slapped the plate with his hand and got up. Barrett grabbed the White Sox catcher and delivered a right punch to the face. The Cubs eventually lost, 7-0.

— Carrie Muskat

9/15 Big Z's extreme day

On Tuesday, there was a report in a Chicago newspaper, citing unnamed sources, that said the Cubs planned on shopping Carlos Zambrano this offseason. Big Z has a no-trade clause in his five-year, $91.5 million contract, so the team would need his approval.

Asked post-game Tuesday about the rumors, Zambrano snapped.

“Why — are you guys the general manager now?” Zambrano said.

A reporter asked if he had seen the story.

“I don’t care,” Zambrano said. “If the Cubs want to trade me, it’s because they don’t like me anymore. I have to move on. What else can I do? Just move on.”

The same reporter pressed on. Does that mean he would waive his no-trade clause?

“No, I don’t want to,” Zambrano said. “What kind of question is that? That’s enough.”

And with that, he exited the interview room.

It was definitely not the same person who was singing in the clubhouse before his start against the Brewers. Zambrano did not get a decision in the Cubs’ 13-7 win. He blew a 4-0 lead, giving up five runs with two outs in the fifth. Geovany Soto hit a solo homer in the Chicago fifth to tie the game and get Zambrano off the hook.

This year, Big Z has been on the disabled list twice and served a six-game suspension for inappropriate behavior. He is one strikeout shy of tying Greg Maddux for fifth on the Cubs’ all-time list, but it’s been a strange year.

“It’s been tough, but not frustrating,” Zambrano said of his season. “I’m trying to help this team, and trying to do the best to win every time I go to the mound. Just have fun. I go out there to have fun and try to help this team any way I can.”

— Carrie Muskat

99 and counting

With a win on Thursday against the Braves, Carlos Zambrano will become the 21st pitcher in franchise history to win 100 games, and the fourth to do so in the last 50 years.

Fergie Jenkins (167 wins from 1966-73, 1982-83), Rick Reuschel (135 wins with the Cubs from 1972-81, 1983-84) and Greg Maddux (133 wins from 1986-92, 2004-06) are the only pitchers in the last 50 years to collect 100 wins with the team.

Zambrano, making his first start after serving a six-game suspension, has notched 94 of his 99 wins since the start of the 2003 season. Remember his first win? It was Sept. 21, 2001, against Houston.

— Carrie Muskat

4/29 Quick hits

In Cubs’ Minor League news, pitcher Evan Anundsen no-hit Daytona on Tuesday, leading Brevard County to a 1-0 win. It was the first no-no at Jackie Robinson Stadium since Daytona’s Carmen Pignatiello and Jared Blasdell combined for a nine-inning no-hitter on July 18, 2003, against Palm Beach.

* Upcoming seventh inning stretch singers at Wrigley Field for the homestand, which begins Thursday, include the Class 8A state champ Maine South football team on Thursday; actress Denise Richards on Friday, Chicago band member Peter Cetera on Saturday; the Chicago Red Stars women’s pro soccer team on Monday, and Roberto Garza and Chris Williams from the Bears on Tuesday. Sunday is to be determined but will be connected to the number retirement ceremony honoring Fergie Jenkins and Greg Maddux.

— Carrie Muskat


No. 31 revisited

The Cubs announced Wednesday that they will retire No. 31 on May 3 in honor of Greg Maddux and Fergie Jenkins. Here is a list, in chronological order, of all the Cubs who have worn No. 31:

Stan Hack (1932), Taylor Douthit (1933), Jim Mosolf (1933), Augie Galan (1934),
Earl Whitehill (1939), Dom Dallessandro (1940-1941), Johnny Schmitz (1941-1942),
Joe Berry (1942), Dale Alderson (1943), Bill Lee (1943), Dale Alderson (1944),
Bob Chipman (1944-1949), Fred Baczewski (1953), Al Lary (1954-1955), Turk Lown
(1956-1958), Dick Ellsworth (1958), Dave Hillman (1959), Mark Freeman (1960), John Goetz (1960), Jug Gerard (1962), Bob Buhl (1962-1966), Fergie Jenkins (1966-1973), Tom Dettore (1975-1976), Joe Coleman (1976), Jim Todd (1977), Davey Johnson (1978), Fergie Jenkins (1982-1983), Ray Fontenot (1985-1986), Greg Maddux (1986-1992), Kevin Foster (1994), Fergie Jenkins (Coach 1995-1996), Kevin Foster (1997-1998), Brad Woodall (1999), Bobby Ayala (1999), Mike Fyhrie (2001), Donovan Osborne (2002), Mark Guthrie (2003), Greg Maddux (2004-2006).

Credit historian Ed Hartig for the extra effort.

— Carrie Muskat