Results tagged ‘ James Russell ’

1/12 Russell, Cashner options for rotation

The Cubs will consider lefty James Russell as well as right-hander Andrew Cashner for the rotation and let them compete in Spring Training with the other pitchers on the roster. Manager Mike Quade said Wednesday he plans to talk to pitching coach Mark Riggins as well as Russell and Cashner this week while all are in Chicago for the Cubs Caravan and Cubs Convention.

Russell was a starter in the Minor Leagues in 2007 and ’08, but switched to the bullpen in ’09. Last season with the Cubs, he was used strictly as a reliever, appearing in 57 games and compiling a 4.96 ERA. The Cubs could have three lefties in the bullpen in John Grabow, Sean Marshall and Scott Maine. The rotation is very right-handed with Tom Gorzelanny as the only southpaw option.

Cashner wants to start, too. He did that exclusively in the Minor Leagues but when called up to the Cubs, was used strictly out of the bullpen and posted a 4.80 ERA in 53 games. He finished strong, with a 1.40 ERA in his final 18 appearances. The difference? The right-hander said he had better command of his fastball. He and Russell will head to Arizona next week to start training at the team’s facility.

The Cubs would appear to have a lot of pitching depth with the addition of Matt Garza to a rotation that already has Gorzelanny, Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Carlos Silva, and Randy Wells. Quade said the competition is good. Who will be the Cubs’ Opening Day starter?

“I have no idea,” Quade said. “What I do know is I have three great pitchers to chose from. There are too many variables to look at but there’s no question that Garza is in the mix. We’ll take a look at ‘Z’ and ‘Demp’ and ‘Garz.’”

– Carrie Muskat

1/7 Cubs Caravan

The Cubs announced the players, coaches and front office personnel who will take part in next week’s Cubs Caravan. There will be two tour groups. On Wednesday, group No. 1 will include Randy Wells, Justin Berg, James Russell, Bob Dernier, DJ LeMahieu, Chris Carpenter, Oneri Fleita, Ivan DeJesus and Dave Keller. Bob Brenly and Dave Otto will take part in the morning sessions, and Len Kasper will join the tour in the afternoon.

Tour No. 2 Wednesday will include Mike Quade, Sean Marshall, Andrew Cashner, Koyie Hill, Jay Jackson, Lester Strode, Randy Bush and Mark Riggins. Kasper will take part in the morning session and Otto will cover in the afternoon.

On Thursday, Tour group No. 1 will include Pat Hughes, Blake DeWitt, Berg, Wells, Hill, Jackson, Carpenter, Fleita, Strode, Riggins, Dernier, and Keller. Group No. 2 will include Quade, Sean Marshall, Kasper, Bush, DeJesus, Russell, Cashner, LeMahieu. Elio Benitez will join the group at Strode School.

– Carrie Muskat

12/16 Come have lunch with Cubs

Mike Quade will headline the fourth annual Cubs Caravan luncheon on Jan. 12. The event will be held at Harry Caray’s Italian Steakhouse, 33 W. Kinzie Street, Chicago from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. CT. Players expected to attend with Quade include Andrew Cashner, Koyie Hill, Sean Marshall, James Russell and Randy Wells.

Tickets are $100 each and include a buffet lunch and the opportunity to sit at a table with a Cubs player, coach or member of the front office staff. Cubs television announcer Len Kasper will emcee the event. Proceeds will benefit Chicago Cubs Charities. Tickets are available for purchase beginning Friday at 10 a.m. CT by calling (773) 404-2827. Space is limited to 120 guests. Players and personnel appearing at the luncheon are subject to change.

The caravan precedes the annual Cubs Convention, to be held Jan. 14-16.

– Carrie Muskat

9/29 Extra bases – early edition

Some notes heading into Wednesday’s game vs. Padres:

* Since 1901, there have been only three 20-year-old shortstops with a higher batting average than Starlin Castro, who was hitting .301. The list includes:

Alex Rodriguez, .358 in 1996
Arky Vaughn, .319 in 1932
Travis Jackson, .302 in 1924

* Carlos Marmol picked up his 36th save Tuesday and now has saved exactly half of the Cubs’ 72 wins this season. The last time a Cubs closer saved at least half was 1998 when Rod Beck had 51 saves in a 90-win season.

* James Russell and Andrew Cashner have appeared in 56 and 51 games, respectively. They are the first Cubs rookie duo to pitch in at least 50 games since 1991 when Chuck McElroy (71) and Heathcliff Slocumb (52) did so.

* Pitching probables for the final series in Houston will be Casey Coleman, Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Dempster. The Cubs are two games behind the Astros in the Central Division.

– Carrie Muskat

9/22 Extra bases

The Cubs are 17-8 in 25 games since Mike Quade took over on Aug. 23. That’s the best start by a Cubs manager through 25 games since Charlie Grimm began 20-5 in 1932, 78 years ago. Also, the 17-8 mark is third-best in the National League and fourth best in the Majors. Only the Phillies (21-8), Rockies (19-8), and Twins (19-8) have done better than the Cubs in that stretch.

* Heading into Wednesday’s game against the Giants, the Cubs need to win two of their final five home games to reach 35 victories at Wrigley Field for the 11th straight season.

* James Russell has 53 relief outings so far, most by a Cubs rookie since Will Ohman’s 69 in 2005. Andrew Cashner has 49 relief appearances. When he reaches 50, it’ll be the first time the Cubs have had two rookies pitch in at least 50 games since Chuck McElroy (71) and Heathcliff Slocumb (52) did so in 1991.

– Carrie Muskat

9/4 Rookie "W's"

Thomas Diamond and James Russell both recorded their first big league wins this week, doing so in consecutive games. That has not been doing by a Cubs duo since Guy Bush and George Milstead did so in July 1924. Bush beat the Boston Braves on July 20, and Milstead did so the next day, both notching their first career wins.

So far this season, five Cubs pitchers have recorded their first “W’s,” including Diamond, Russell, Andrew Cashner, Casey Coleman and Jeff Gray.

– Carrie Muskat

8/29 Cubs' 4-2 trip not good enough

There’s something you should know about new Cubs manager Mike Quade. He’s a little greedy. A 4-2 road trip wasn’t good enough, even though it was the team’s best of the season.

“We’ve gotten some big hits on this road trip and needed a couple more,” Quade said after Sunday’s 7-5 loss to the Reds. “The kids played and it was a good road trip, today not withstanding, because I am a greedy guy.”

Kosuke Fukudome hit a game-tying two-run homer in the eighth but also made an error in the Reds’ eighth that led to Cincinnati’s victory over the Cubs. It was the Reds’ 37th come from behind win, and they closed the season series against the Cubs at 12-4.

Quade will put on the home whites for his first game at Wrigley Field Monday night as the Cubs manager. He’ll have the tough assignment of beating the Pirates (the Cubs are 3-9 so far) and finding enough tickets for family and friends.

“I look forward to every day,” Quade said, “but [Monday] will be something special. Opening Day, when I first got the job with Lou [Piniella] was special.”

That was in 2007 and Quade was the third base coach. Now, he leads the team home after its first winning road trip since July 5-11 against Arizona and Los Angeles. Quade has brought some energy to the Cubs, although it could simply be because he moves in fast-forward.

“We’ve taken it upon ourselves [to finish strong],” Cubs rookie reliever James Russell said. “We would’ve liked to have done it for Lou and it just didn’t work out.”

– Carrie Muskat

8/28 Open audition

Mike Quade isn’t the only one auditioning for a job. So are Andrew Cashner and James Russell, and the two kids made a good impression Saturday night. It’s been a rough go at times for the pair, two of five rookies in the bullpen.

“They’ve got the stuff, that’s not the question,” birthday boy Randy Wells said of Russell and Cashner. “It’s just gaining experience and getting confidence. This game is all about confidence, I don’t care what anybody says. I’m a prime example of when your confidence gets a little busted, it’s tough and you start doubting your stuff and doubting your abililities and wondering if you’re supposed to be here. That’s a tough thing to overcome.

“These guys are beaming with confidence and they have their swagger going and I think they’re going to be really good pitchers for a long time to come,” he said.

Russell did give up a single but struck out the side in the seventh, including Joey Votto, who had homered leading off the fourth off Wells. Cashner got three quick groundouts in the eighth.

The Cubs have counted on Sean Marshall and Carlos Marmol all season but are looking for some of the rookies to emerge. Russell and Cashner did that.

“You hope you can bring them in in a clean inning and they don’t have to do too much,” Quade said. “They make your decisions easy or tough and they played well tonight and made it easy for me.”

Cashner admits it hasn’t been smooth sailing.

“I definitely hit a little bump in the road,” Cashner said. “I’ve never really been beat this bad before. Lately, I’ve been throwing the ball well and I’ve got a lot of confidence and I’m throwing it at guys and saying, here it is, go ahead and hit it.”

Which means no more nibbling.

“I’ve got five weeks to make the team,” the right-hander said. “I don’t feel like I’ve made the team for next year. I’ve got five weeks to prove I can pitch here and help the team next year.”

Quade can say the same.

“You guys asked me if it’s an audition for me,” said Quade, now 4-1 since taking over for Lou Piniella on Monday. “Absolutely. Any time you show up here, it’s an audition. Whether or not you pitch your way into this or that or the other thing is determined by your performance. … Every one of these kids is absolutely auditioning. It’s a great opportunity but you’re being watched and evaluted daily as am I.”

Wells cast his ballot for Quade for 2011.

“Lou was great and obviously he had some stuff to deal with and Quade stepping in, I think he’s the right guy for the job,” Wells said. “He’s seen a lot of us, we’ve played for him in Triple A [Iowa]. He’s a personable guy. I’m sure he’s auditioning, too.”

– Carrie Muskat

8/16 Looking to the future

Andrew Cashner and James Russell gave up two runs each in Monday’s 9-5 loss to the Padres.

“These young kids we have here pitching-wise, we give them the opportunity of a lifetime and none of them want to step up,” Lou Piniella said. “You can’t have better opportunities than what we’ve given these guys.”

There isn’t much margin for error.

“It’s just a learning experience,” catcher Koyie Hill said of the pair, two of five rookies in the Cubs bullpen. “They’re learning on the job a little bit and that’s tough. [The Padres] are good, real good.

“There’s not much wiggle room there,” Hill said. “To their credit, they keep their heads up and come back with confidence. Nobody’s given up on them, that’s for sure. I guarantee they’ll be good ones and better for it. We’re asking an awful lot of them.”

Hill is already working on 2011.

“One of my priorities this last month or so,” Hill said, “has been working with them more closely and talking more in the outfield and after games and before games and what things mean and what we’re trying to do. It’s just a matter of time. I think these guys have good ability. Sometimes you have to get drug through the mud a little bit.”

Take the Padres’ eighth inning, for example. Cashner, the Cubs’ No. 1 Draft pick in 2008, gave up a single to Chris Denorfia, a double to pinch-hitter Tony Gwynn Jr., and got the next batter to ground out. But a run scored on a wild pitch and Miguel Tejada hit a RBI single to open a 7-2 lead.

Cashner, to his credit, struck out both Adrian Gonzalez and Ryan Ludwick to end the inning.

“It’s definitely there,” Hill said of the ability. “The biggest difference between the Minor Leagues and big leagues is consistency and execution and that will come. It’s no different than with a young hitter who learns how to hit first and the power will come. I think all these experiences will be good for them in the long run.”

– Carrie Muskat

8/12 Rookies role call

So far, 14 rookies have appeared in a game for the Cubs with eight making their Major League debuts this year. That list includes Welington Castillo, Starlin Castro, Andrew Cashner, Casey Coleman, Thomas Diamond, Marcos Mateo, Brian Schlitter and James Russell. When Darwin Barney joins the team, he’ll be No. 15.

* The 14 rookies used matches the total the club used last season. The franchise mark is 27 used in 1902.

* The eight Major League debuts in the first 114 games are the most since 2000. The club premiered nine that year in 114 games (which is before the September call-ups).

* The Cubs are one of two teams to use 14 or more rookies this year. The Tigers have 15.

* With Castillo on the roster, the Cubs have 10 on the 25-man. Barney will make it 11.

– Carrie Muskat

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