Results tagged ‘ James Russell ’
Manager Dale Sveum didn’t see Cole Hamels hit the Nationals’ Bryce Harper with a pitch on Sunday, but he did hear about the Phillies pitcher’s comments. Hamels plunked Harper in the back with a pitch in the first inning. Said Hamels: ”I was trying to hit him. I’m not going to deny it. I’m not trying to injure the guy. They’re probably not going to like me for it but I’m not going to say I wasn’t trying to do it. I think they understood the message, and they threw it right back. That’s the way, and I respect it. They can say whatever they want.”
On Monday, Major League Baseball suspended Hamels for five games.
“I didn’t see it but, obviously, I’ve heard the quotes,” Sveum said Monday. “Interesting quotes. I don’t have any more comment on that. They were just interesting quotes, that’s for sure.”
Pitcher James Russell was watching a replay in the clubhouse on Monday. Is there ever a time when it’s necessary to hit a guy with a pitch?
“There’s absolutely times when it’s necessary,” Russell said. “I don’t think you need to go out and tell people, ‘Hey, I did it on purpose,’ and brag about it. That’s kind of stupid and immature. It’s part of the game. You’re supposed to just do it and keep your mouth shut about it, not go tell everybody about it.”
– Carrie Muskat
Lefty James Russell now finds himself sharing the closer’s role with Rafael Dolis after Carlos Marmol was removed from the job.
“It’s nothing you wanted to see happen,” Russell said Friday about taking over for Marmol. “Whoever gets the save, gets the save now. Hopefully that will work for the time being until Carlos comes back and finds himself and fixes some things. I don’t see it playing out the whole year, by any means.”
Russell has been effective this season, stranding four inherited runners. He has not given up a run in nine appearances over 7 2/3 innings, and has walked four while striking out eight. He has four career saves and in close and late situations, he’s held batters to a .167 average and given up two hits in 12 at-bats.
“They say the last three are the hardest three to get,” Russell said. “We’ll burn that bridge when we get there.”
Hopefully, Russell inherited something from his father, Jeff, who pitched from 1983-96, and saved 38 games in ’89 with the Rangers.
“I like to think closers are a little screwy in the head so maybe he passed that down to me,” James said of his dad. “It’ll be fun. You’ve got to have a little bit of, I don’t know, something wrong with you to be a closer. For the most part, Carlos has handled it really well. I don’t know why this year is kind of going the way it is. Unfortunately, that’s how it’s happened. We’ll see — either myself, [Kerry Wood], [Shawn] Camp could get some saves, Dolis has been throwing the ball well.”
Is he screwy in the head?
“A little bit,” Russell said. “If you’re a baseball player, you have to be a little bit messed up.”
Marmol sat across the clubhouse from Russell as he conducted the interview.
“I feel for him a lot,” Russell said. “Our job has been to get him the ball. He’s here for a reason and I’m sure he’ll figure it out and it won’t be too long before he’s getting as many saves as he can.”
– Carrie Muskat
When your closer leads the team in walks, that’s not a good sign. Dale Sveum had seen enough, and called Carlos Marmol into his office on Friday to tell the right-hander that for now, he was no longer the Cubs closer.
“I just told Marmol be ready to pitch at any time,” Sveum said Friday. “It just got to that point to where we have to get him productive in some role. He was fine with it and understood. Hopefully, we can get him going and give him another chance.”
Part of the problem is that Marmol keeps throwing the slider and on Thursday in Cincinnati, might have escaped the mess in the ninth with a well located fastball. Bottom line, he has to throw strikes. Against the Reds, Marmol blew a 3-0 lead and gave up three runs, and the Cubs eventually lost, 4-3, in 10 innings. He has now walked 12 over 8 2/3 innings.
James Russell and rookie Rafael Dolis will share the duties, depending on matchups.
“You always hope somebody steps up and takes control of any situation and any role you give somebody,” Sveum said. “It’s not the easiest thing to do in the world, to get the last three outs in the game. We’re going to play it by ear and whatever matchups come up in the ninth inning, that’s who we’ll use.”
Using Russell in that role will severely limit the Cubs. He’s the only left-hander. Sveum is stuck because the Cubs want to keep Rule 5 pick Lendy Castillo, who is trying to make the jump from Class A to the big leagues, and neither Michael Bowden nor Shawn Camp have options left.
Will Marmol ever get his job back?
“He knows he has to get better and find it,” Sveum said. “I left that window open for him. If he starts pitching well and getting command back and stuff like that, there’s no reason I wouldn’t put him back in the closing role if he finds it again.”
Sveum continued his conversation with Marmol in left field during batting practice, and then Kerry Wood talked to Marmol on the field as well Friday.
– Carrie Muskat
The Cubs released left-hander Trever Miller, who had a 5.40 ERA in eight Cactus League games. Miller, 38, had signed as a free agent in January. He has pitched for eight different teams, including the Cardinals, Blue Jays and Red Sox last year. This spring, he gave up five earned runs on seven hits over 8 1/3 innings, and all of those runs came in one outing, March 17, against the Rangers. With the move, Scott Maine and James Russell are the only left-handed relievers still in camp. The Cubs spring roster was at 40.
– Carrie Muskat
In a perfect world, Dale Sveum said he’ll have two left-handers in his bullpen but he doesn’t consider either to be the prime set-up pitcher. That’s Kerry Wood’s job.
With Sean Marshall gone via trade to the Reds, the Cubs don’t have a designated lefty set-up pitcher. Sveum didn’t sound as if he minded as long as he can call on Wood.
“There’s got to be a lot of confidence from me coming from that spot to take Kerry Wood out of the game because there’s a lefty coming up,” Sveum said Tuesday. “Those last three outs are the biggest of the game and the three outs leading up to that are even bigger. Some guys are just built differently than other people as far as those outs.”
Among the lefties in the mix are James Russell, Jeff Beliveau, Scott Maine, Trever Miller, and John Gaub. Although Russell would like to take over Marshall’s role, Sveum described him as a “matchup guy” for now.
“He’s got the ability and endurance to go two innings,” Sveum said of Russell. “It all depends on what’s going on, the score of the game, what [the opposing team has] on the bench. He’s a guy who can go two innings, no doubt about it.”
Miller is a non-roster invitee who has pitched for the Tigers, Astros, Phillies, Dodgers, Blue Jays, Rays, Cardinals and Red Sox.
“He knows how to get left-handers out and that’s a big asset to have, depending on how your bullpen unfolds,” Sveum said.
* Josh Vitters was sad to see Chris Carpenter go to the Red Sox as part of the compensation for Theo Epstein. Vitters was one of the players whom Boston was considering.
“I’m definitely glad it turned out not being me,” he said.
Said Sveum: “Unfortunately, we lost a great arm in Chris. Fortunately for him, it came from a team that wanted him really, really, really bad and I think he’ll fall into some competition over there, too, to make the team as well as he had here. As well, he gets to go to a great organization and a great city. He leaves one great place and gets to go to another one. That’s not a bad way to be traded for the first time.”
* The Cubs selected right-handed pitcher Lendy Castillo in the Rule 5 Draft and must decide by Opening Day whether to keep him on the 25-man roster. Castillo threw on the side Tuesday for the second time this spring but Sveum wants to see him in games.
“The bottom line is what’s going on in those games when he gets innings to pitch,” Sveum said. “I’ve been around plenty of people — not that he’s doing anything wrong — but some people are different pitchers when they’re on the mound than when they’re throwing in the bullpen.”
* There are six catchers in Chicago’s spring camp, including starter Geovany Soto, and the fight for the backup job appears to be a battle between Welington Castillo, Jason Jaramillo and Steve Clevenger.
“I think it’s open competition especially since the only one I’ve seen play in person is Jaramillo when he was with the Pirates,” Sveum said. “It’s great competition and they all have a lot of great attributes to bring to a team. It’ll be an interesting fight.”
Jaramillo signed a Minor League contract with the Cubs on Jan. 18 after spending the last three seasons with the Pirates.
“I talked to a few teams and had the option to pick where I was going,” Jaramillo said Tuesday. “Getting the chance to talk to Theo [Epstein] and Dale, I liked the opportunity here. I understand there’s no guarantees. It’s not something I’m not accustomed to. I battled my way for three years in Pittsburgh. The competition is nothing new to me. I’m happy to be here, they said it’s a good opporutnity. Everything I’ve seen so far — the staff, the players — it’s really exciting. I’m really excited to be here.”
* Brett Jackson, the Cubs’ No. 1 pick in the 2009 Draft, is one of the early bird position players in camp. Sveum sounded just like a fan when he said he was looking forward to seeing the outfielder in games.
“I’ll give him a lot of opportunites to play in camp and see what this young man is capable of doing against quality big league pitching,” Jackson said. “I’ll try to put him in against quality big league pitchers to see how he reacts. To watch him the other day in person for the first time, to see how the ball comes off his bat and just the athleticism, that guy bounces around with athleticism. He’s one of those guys you look forward to seeing.”
* There are motivational messages on the players’ daily schedule, such as “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” That’s the work of bench coach Jamie Quirk, who relies on a book for the daily selection.
– Carrie Muskat
Tuesday marks the one-year anniversary of when Mike Quade took over as manager of the Cubs. The team finished the 2010 season 24-13 under Quade, but stumbled this season, and are 56-72 and 20 games back in the NL Central following Monday’s 3-0 loss to the Braves. It was a game that summed up the season — decent pitching (Ryan Dempster picked up his team-leading 16th quality start), three 1-2-3 innings by relievers James Russell, Jeff Samardzija and Kerry Wood, and inconsistent offense (15 base runners stranded).
There have been a lot of distractions this season, from injuries to Carlos Zambrano’s criticism and retirement, to Jim Hendry’s dismissal. Quade’s status for next year is uncertain. He is signed through 2012 but whether he stays will be a decision left to the new GM.
“When the team is not doing good, they always blame somebody,” Alfonso Soriano said. “Sometimes they blame the manager and sometimes they blame the GM but they never blame the players. That’s the game. If we’re doing good, everyone feels that [Quade] is doing a very good job.”
– Carrie Muskat
Are the Cubs in rebuilding mode? Yes and no.
“There are certain people who won’t be back and there are a whole lot of people we should be happy with — young players, two kids in the middle,” GM Jim Hendry said Friday. “We’re hoping [Tyler] Colvin gets back to where he was. Marlon [Byrd's] been a fine player here and he has another year on his contract.
“You have a bullpen of a lot of guys coming back who are very good,” he said. “Everybody should be encouraged by the year Jeff Samardzija has had and where he’s going and the year James Russell has had since moving back into the bullpen. Sean Marshall will be here, [Carlos] Marmol will be here.
“You always need some kind of rebuilding when you’re in fifth place but you certainly don’t look at it like, ‘Oh, we’re not going to compete.’ When somebody says, ‘Blow the place up and start over and do it right,’ well, OK, does that mean we should get rid of the people who are really young and real good? I’ve said this a hundred times, wasn’t Pittsburgh 20 games under a year ago, and Cleveland? All you need is for your young people to get better and make the right moves, and why couldn’t we be right back in it?”
The Cubs did fall to 22 games under .500 after Friday’s 9-2 loss to the Cardinals.
“We’re having a bad year, and there’s no way around it, no excuses for it,” Hendry said. “Nobody picked us to be in the first three this year but we felt by now, we’d be at .500. [If we were .500] a week ago, it would’ve got you two or three back. We didn’t do our part. Excuses or no excuses, injuries or not injuries, we haven’t played to the level we should have.”
At the start of this road trip vs. NL Central teams, Mike Quade said he felt the Cubs still had a chance to get back in the race.
“I respect his optimism,” Hendry said. “There are a lot of teams above you. You don’t want Mike hanging his head and saying, ‘We can’t do something, we can’t do this.’ I’m sure in his heart he believes we can have a good couple months like he had last year at the end and hopefully we will. You’ve got a lot of people in front of you [in the standings] and you’re a lot of games behind. I wouldn’t want him to say, ‘Hey, we’re all done and let’s get the guys ready for next year.’”
– Carrie Muskat
Jeff Baker is starting at first and Reed Johnson in right field Tuesday night for the Cubs in Game 2 of their three-game series against the Rockies, who are starting lefty Jorge De La Rosa. Baker is batting .400 overall and .455 against lefties. And Starlin Castro is back in the leadoff spot. He’s 2-for-17 in the No. 3 hole, and 23-for-46 (.500) in the leadoff spot. Here’s the lineup:
– Carrie Muskat
The Cubs trimmed four from the spring camp roster, including lefty Scott Maine and right-hander Justin Berg. Maine and Berg were optioned to Triple-A Iowa, while Todd Wellemeyer and Angel Guzman were both assigned to the Minor League camp. Guzman is rehabbing from right shoulder surgery and scheduled to throw in a game next week. Wellemeyer was a non-roster invitee. Trimming Maine most likely means the Cubs will have three lefties in the bullpen in John Grabow, James Russell and Sean Marshall. The moves bring the roster to 36 now.
* Also, catcher Max Ramirez was to get an MRI on his left wrist on Wednesday.
– Carrie Muskat
Aramis Ramirez was scratched from Monday’s lineup. He went home Saturday with a 102-degree fever. Jeff Baker was scheduled to start at third against the Angels.
* Kerry Wood and James Russell were to throw in a Minor League game at Fitch Park on Monday.
* Angel Guzman shifted his rehab to the Minor League camp. He was scheduled to throw batting practice Wednesday and could get into a game there in one week. He’s coming off right shoulder surgery, which forced him to miss all of 2010. “He’s certain he’s coming back,” Mike Quade said of Guzman.
* Infielder Augie Ojeda was scheduled to have a cortisone shot on Monday. He’s been limited because of back spasms.
Winds are gusting up to 35 mph in the Valley today. Here’s Monday’s lineup:
– Carrie Muskat