Results tagged ‘ Jeff Baker ’

4/10 Cubs lineup – UPDATED

Paul Maholm makes his first start for the Cubs on Tuesday night. If you’re coming to the game, make sure you bundle up. It’s cold and wind is blowing out of northwest. Maholm needs to watch out for Ryan Braun, who is 11-for-33 against him, and also Carlos Gomez, who is 5-for-12. Both are in the Brewers lineup as is former Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez, who has hit two homers off the lefty. Bryan LaHair is not starting vs lefty Chris Narveson. Jeff Baker, who is 5-for-15 vs Narveson, is starting at first.

“I’m going to get Baker in there as much as possible,” Dale Sveum said of Baker, who has a career .309 against left-handers. “He swings the bat too good against left-handers to get him out of there. You try to get [Bryan] LaHair at-bats and get him accustomed but [LaHair] didn’t swing too well against left-handers in Spring Training. I’ve got to get Baker’s bat in there as much as I possibly can.”

Here’s the Cubs lineup:

RF DeJesus

2B Barney

SS Castro

LF Soriano

3B Stewart

1B Baker

C Soto

CF Byrd

P Maholm

— Carrie Muskat

4/5 LaHair hopes to be back Sunday

Bryan LaHair remained sidelined Thursday because of back problems and expected to start Sunday for the Cubs, while Jeff Baker took over at first base on Opening Day. LaHair did not play in the Cubs’ final four Cactus League games because of a bulging disc in his back. On Thursday, he was able to run and hit in the batting cage.

“It’s just such a minor thing but it’s something I couldn’t prevent — it’s like a nerve thing,” said LaHair, who blamed an impingement for the pain in his back and leg. “The nerve settled down now and the pain is pretty much out and now it’s just getting back into the feel of things and I should be back in there this weekend.”

He’s had something like this before and it’s settled down in three days. LaHair said he did not expect to need to go on the disabled list. He also wasn’t that concerned about the bulging disc.

“I bet 90 percent of hitters in baseball have that,” LaHair said.

What’s tough is LaHair, 29, has not made an Opening Day roster the last five years and this was finally his chance.

“I’ve been preparing myself mentally the past few days just to be ready,” LaHair said. “The most important thing is to not to go backwards and keep going forward and keep getting better. Once I’m better, I should be good to go.”

Baker has been used primarily as a sub at second, third and the outfield, but did play a lot of first base this spring. It’s not his first Opening Day start; he also did so in 2005 with the Rockies at third base.

— Carrie Muskat

2/22 Extra bases

Lefty John Gaub, sidelined with back spasms, was expected to take part in on-field drills on Thursday. Gaub, who felt the spasms while weight lifting, said he hoped to start throwing.

* Right now, there’s no platoon set-up in Dale Sveum’s lineup. He does plan on using Jeff Baker against left-handed pitchers and take advantage of his versatility. Baker can sub in right field for David DeJesus, at first for Bryan LaHair, or at third for Ian Stewart if necessary.

“All that stuff is day to day, and how they’re swinging at the time and what they’ve been doing at the time,” Sveum said about the lineup. “Not every lefty is the same either. If a guy’s swinging the bat good, you still need those guys in the lineup.”

Baker batted .314 against lefties last season compared to .200 against right-handers, while DeJesus hit .174 against lefties, .265 against right-handers, and Stewart has a career .223 average against lefties, .240 versus right-handers.

“There’s no platoon situation in mind at all for anybody right now,” Sveum said.

* The Cubs are in the process of finalizing the plans for the new Spring Training facility, to be built in east Mesa. No date has been set for groundbreaking but the plan is to have the facility ready for 2014 Spring Training.

* The only position players yet to appear at Fitch Park are Alfonso Soriano and Starlin Castro, non-roster invitees Blake DeWitt and Jae-Hoon Ha. Position players must report by Thursday, with the first full squad workout scheduled for Friday. Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts also was expected in camp Friday to address the team.

— Carrie Muskat

1/17 Arbitration numbers – UPDATED

Matt Garza and the Cubs exchanged figures on Tuesday. The right-hander is seeking $12.5 million while the Cubs countered at $7.95 million. Usually, the team and player reach agreement on a halfway point, which, in this case, would be $10.225 million. Garza was 10-10 with a 3.32 ERA in 31 starts in his first season with the Cubs. He will be a free agent after the 2013 season.

The Cubs avoided arbitration with six other players. That list includes Geovany Soto, who signed for $4.3 million. Tuesday was the day when teams and players exchanged arbitration figures. The players on the list have between three to six years of big league service time.

RHP Matt Garza: Asked for $12.5 million; Cubs offered $7.95 million

Here are the new deals:

IF Jeff Baker: $1.375 million

IF Blake DeWitt: $1.1 million

C Geovany Soto: $4.3 million

3B Ian Stewart: $2.237 million

RHP Chris Volstad: $2.655 million

RHP Randy Wells: $2.705 million

If the Cubs and Garza do not reach an agreement, they will present their cases at hearings scheduled for Feb. 1-21 in St. Petersburg, Fla. The Cubs last went to arbitration with infielder Ryan Theriot in February 2010, which was the team’s first hearing since 1993. Theriot was seeking $3.4 million and the Cubs offered $2.6 million. Theriot lost the case but still received a raise from his $500,000 salary in 2009. Former Cubs GM Jim Hendry had settled 36 straight arbitration cases before Theriot’s hearing.

— Carrie Muskat

12/12 Hill now free agent

The Cubs have non-tendered catcher Koyie Hill but did tender contracts to the other arbitration eligible players, Jeff Baker, Blake DeWitt, Matt Garza, Geovany Soto, Ian Stewart, and Randy Wells. The deadline for tendering contracts to any arbitration eligible players was 11 p.m. CT Monday. Because Hill was non-tendered, he is now a free agent. The 32-year-old catcher batted .194 in 46 games, including 38 starts. The Cubs were 22-16 in games in which he started. The team could look internally for a backup with both Welington Castillo and up and coming Steve Clevenger as options.

— Carrie Muskat

12/12 Arbitration deadline

The deadline for tendering contracts to any arbitration eligible players is 11 p.m. CT Monday. For the Cubs, this will mean decisions on seven players: Jeff Baker, Blake DeWitt, Matt Garza, Koyie Hill, Geovany Soto, Ian Stewart and Randy Wells. If a team decides to non-tender a player, he would become a free agent.

* Baker, 30, batted .269 with three homers and 23 RBIs in 81 games (42 starts), including a .314 average against left-handed pitchers. He was 4-for-30 as a pinch-hitter. He made $1.175 million in 2011.

* DeWitt, 26, hit .265 in 121 games with five homers and 26 RBIs in 121 games in his first full season with the Cubs. Acquired from the Dodgers on July 31, 2010, in the Ted Lilly deal, DeWitt batted .406 against lefties. He made $460,000 this year.

* Garza, 28, went 10-10 with a 3.32 ERA in 31 starts in his first season with the Cubs. Acquired on Jan. 8 from the Rays in an eight-player deal, he was the hard-luck pitcher. He left a game with the lead but did not factor in the decision seven times. Garza made $5.95 million in 2011.

* Hill, 32, batted .194 in 46 games, including 38 starts. The Cubs were 22-16 in games in which he started. Hill made $850,000 this year. He may be the only one non-tendered, and the Cubs could look at Welington Castillo as a backup catcher.

* In his fourth full season, Soto, who turns 29 on Jan. 20, batted .228 with 17 homers, 26 doubles and 54 RBIs in 125 games. If Soto stays on the same pace, he should have a stellar season in 2012. In ’08, he won National League Rookie of the Year, batting .285, and followed that with a disappointing .218 season in ’09. In 2010, he hit .280, and his average dropped this past season. He received $3 million in 2011.

* Wells, 29, missed nearly two months with a strained right forearm, which he felt after his first start April 4. The right-hander did not return until May 28, and went 7-6 with a 4.99 ERA in 23 starts, giving up a career-high 23 home runs. His best month was August when Wells was 4-0 with a 3.32 ERA in six starts. He received $475,000 in 2011.

* Stewart, 26, is the newest Cub. Acquired on Thursday from the Rockies for Tyler Colvin and DJ LeMahieu, the third baseman made $2,228,750 this season.

— Carrie Muskat

8/26 Cubs lineup

Reed Johnson and Jeff Baker, who are batting .355 and .340, respectively, against left-handers, are in the Cubs’ lineup Friday for the first game of a three-game set against the Brewers and southpaw Randy Wolf. Here’s the rest of the lineup:

SS Castro

2B Barney

3B Ramirez

1B Baker

C Soto

CF Byrd

LF Soriano

RF Johnson

P Lopez

— Carrie Muskat

8/23 Cubs lineup

Starlin Castro is back in the Cubs lineup Tuesday night and leading off against the Braves and lefty Mike Minor. Castro was benched on Monday for his defensive lapse on Sunday night. Mike Quade has inserted Reed Johnson and Jeff Baker vs. Minor. They’re hitting .370 and .351 against lefties, respectively. The Cubs as a team are batting .271 against left-handers, second highest in the NL. Here’s the lineup:

SS Castro

RF Johnson

3B Ramirez

2B Baker

1B Pena

CF Byrd

LF Soriano

C Soto

P Coleman

— Carrie Muskat

8/6 Campana back on bench

Tony Campana had about 60 text messages from friends after Friday’s game and had to finally turn his phone off at 2 a.m. because he was still getting congrats. The rookie outfielder hit his first home run Friday, and is the first Cubs player to hit an inside the park homer at Wrigley Field for his first in the Major Leagues.

“It was pretty outrageous,” Campana said of the response so far.

The only downer was that he wasn’t in the Cubs lineup Saturday. Friday’s game was Campana’s 18th start this season but manager Mike Quade inserted Marlon Byrd for the second game against the Reds.

“You may see Tony [Sunday],” Quade said. “We’ll take a look at giving a couple guys, or at least one guy a day off then. Tony’s playing off the bench now. … He had a great day but we’ll continue to use him off the bench.”

The Cubs weren’t counting on Campana to provide much offense. His speciality is speed, which he flashed as he sprinted around the bases in the first inning Friday.

“Campy’s working on his offensive game,” Quade said of the rookie, who had three hits Friday, missing the cycle by a triple. “You saw him as good as he can be yesterday. If he continues to do that, he won’t be a bench player for long. He’s been effective doing what we’ve asked him to do off the bench and obviously had a big day yesterday. He should feel good about it and be ready to help us late in the game.”

Campana, 25, didn’t sound too disappointed.

“You’re always hoping to be in the lineup,” he said. “I’ll probably get in there late and play defense and run and try to make things happen.”

Infielder Jeff Baker heard that and chimed in.

“He’s the manager, too, now,” Baker said. “Hey, ‘Q,’ Campy says he’s going to play defense, today.”

It’s all in good fun.

— Carrie Muskat

7/24 Extra bases – post-game edition

Finally. The Cubs finally posted a three-game win streak with a 5-4, 10-inning win Sunday over the Astros to sweep the series. It’s their first

“What a way to do it,” Mike Quade said. “You knew it wasn’t going to be easy.”

Marlon Byrd tripled and scored on pinch-hitter Jeff Baker’s single with one out for the game-winner. Matt Garza deserved the win, but didn’t get it. He gave up two runs on five hits and departed after seven innings with a 3-2 lead. This was the sixth time he’s left a game with the lead but did not factor in the decision.

“We won a ballgame because he gave us seven great innings,” Quade said.

“Every time you contribute it’s a plus,” Garza said.

Cubs starters posted seven quality starts in the 10-game homestand, and a 1.32 ERA in those games.

The reason Garza didn’t get the decision was Carlos Lee’s two-run homer in the eighth off Jeff Samardzija. The home run didn’t bother Samardzija as much as the walk to Hunter Pence to set up Lee’s blast.

“What Lee did is what he gets paid to do, hit home runs, but Pence, you have to make him put the ball in play, and that way if Lee does hit one, it’s just a one-run home run,” Samardzija said.

Samardijza had not given up a run in 12 straight outings prior to Sunday.

“You’re asking a guy to pitch three days in a row and it’s a lot,” Quade said of Samardzija.

* The Cubs were a little short-handed. Koyie Hill and Reed Johnson weren’t available; neither was feeling well. Both Sean Marshall and Kerry Wood were not available either but both did volunteer to pitch if needed. Wood had warmed up a few times in the last few days.

“News flash. Sometimes guys need a day here and there,” Wood said. “Nothing new. I pitched a lot in the pen.”

* The Cubs notched the three-game win streak in their 102nd game of the year. Only once in team history has it gone longer into a season without winning three in a row. In 1966, the Cubs picked up their first three-game win streak Aug. 4-6 in games No. 106-108. Six previous times that year, the Cubs had won two straight only to lose the third.

The only other time the Cubs ended the month of July without a three-game win streak was in 1960. That year, the Cubs won three in a row for the first time July 30-Aug. 2 in games No. 95-97. Thanks to Cubs historian Ed Hartig for the info.

“It took a while but we finally got it done,” Byrd said of the three-game streak.

* Byrd was playing in his 1,000th game, and went 4-for-5 with three runs, a double and a triple. He’s hitting .359 with three walks, 10 runs, four doubles, a triple, two homers and four RBIs in 17 games since July 4. The four hits were a season high, and the first time he’s done that since July 9, 2010, against the Dodgers.

* The Cubs are 6-3 in extra-inning games, including a 5-0 mark at home.

— Carrie Muskat