Results tagged ‘ Joe Mather ’

3/5 The next Joe Mather?

Last spring, Joe Mather was the surprise player in Cubs camp, batting .382 with three home runs and 15 RBIs in 26 games. He won a spot on the 25-man roster with his play.
Brian Bogusevic could be next.

“He’s been the Joe Mather of camp so far,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said of Bogusevic, who was batting .533 in eight games.

A left-handed hitter, Bogusevic could be valuable, especially if he could not only play outfield but backup at first if needed.

“The at-bats he’s put together, the at-bats he’s had against left-handed pitching [have been good], and he has a pretty good track record in the big leagues as a pinch-hitter as well,” Sveum said. “He’s the leader in camp right now with everything. I’ve been impressed with his outfield play, his arm. I know he can play the outfield, so I’m going to get him as much time as I can at first base. He said he’s not super comfortable there.”

Last season, the Palos Heights, Ill., native batted .203 in 146 games with the Astros, and hit .242 as a pinch-hitter. Mather was outrighted to the Minor Leagues, and became a free agent, eventually signing a Minor League contract with the Phillies. He batted .209 in 103 games with the Cubs.

— Carrie Muskat

10/26 Roster moves

The Cubs tweaked the 40-man roster on Friday when they outrighted four players to Triple-A Iowa, including outfielder Joe Mather. Right-handed pitchers Manuel Corpas, Justin Germano and Blake Parker also were outrighted to Triple-A Iowa. Mather, who started in all three outfield spots and third base, batted .209 in 103 games with the Cubs.

Corpas, coming back from Tommy John surgery, which he had in September 2010, was 0-2 with a 5.01 ERA in 48 games. Corpas has elected free agency.

Germano, acquired from the Red Sox July 19 for cash considerations, went 2-10 with a 6.75 ERA in 13 games (12 starts). Parker spent most of the season on the disabled list with an elbow injury, appearing in just seven games. On Thursday, the Cubs outrighted infielder Adrian Cardenas and right-handed pitchers Miguel Socolovich, Jason Berken and Marcos Mateo were assigned outright to Iowa. Catcher Anthony Recker also was claimed off waivers by the Mets. With the addition of pitcher Carlos Gutierrez, the Cubs’ 40-man roster is now at 33.

— Carrie Muskat

9/30 Baserunning 101

First it was Luis Valbuena getting thrown out at third trying to advance on what would’ve been a sacrifice fly, but instead ended up as a double play. Joe Mather made the same mistake. Dale Sveum said he hadn’t seen that in 30 years in baseball, yet saw it twice this year. On Sunday, there were a couple more gaffes. The Cubs loaded the bases with one out in the sixth, and one out later, pinch-hitter Dave Sappelt hit a run-scoring infield single. Anthony Recker was hit by a pitch to force in another run, and Bryan LaHair then lined a two-run single to right. But the inning ended as LaHair was picked off at first.

In the third, Anthony Rizzo doubled, and was picked off when he was walking off the base. He thought Alfonso Soriano had struck out, but instead it was only the second strike of the at-bat.

“It’s like a vitamin. One a day,” Sveum said of the strange base running mistakes. “It’s stuff you don’t teach it and don’t see it. It’s strange stuff, it’s unbelievable.”

What happened?

“Rizzo thought there were two strikes and two outs and thought Soriano struck out, and started walking off,” Sveum said. “LaHair got caught — [first base coach Dave] McKay was telling him to go and draw the throw and we could score the run on the backside. It’s one of those plays, you’ve got the outfielder where you want him. You can go, and if he throws to first, you walk into second. If he throws to second, you score the back-end run.”

The Cubs did work on that in Spring Training.

“It’s something that comes up rarely during the season,” Sveum said of LaHair’s play. “Two strikes, two outs, you’re not teaching that. We’ve got some pretty big scoreboards out here to let you know [the count]. You have no explanation for those.”

Rizzo took the blame.

“I just thought there were two strikes, two outs and I did the right thing if there were two strikes, two outs but there wasn’t,” he said. “It is embarrassing because I know Dale has to answer those questions. … I’m happy we came up with a win.”

— Carrie Muskat

9/27 Extra bases

As of Thursday, Starlin Castro has played in all 156 of the Cubs games this season. Manager Dale Sveum doesn’t plan on giving his shortstop a day off.

“That’s what you want,” Sveum said of Castro’s durability. “When you get to a point and you have young players capable of doing it health wise, you want them to play every day.”

Castro has set career highs with 12 triples and 25 stolen bases, and is the only player in the Major Leagues with at least 10 home runs, 10 triples, 25 stolen bases and 75 RBIs. He’s the first player to do so in the National League since Jimmy Rollins in 2007. Since Castro’s debut in May 2010, he leads all NL players in hits.

But Sveum wants Castro to get better, especially on his defense. Among the things he’d like the shortstop to work on is to not rely on his arm so much. Sveum likes to call such infielders “grass huggers” because they don’t want to leave the grass, their arms are so strong.

* In his 30 years in the game, Sveum had not seen a baserunner get thrown out at third trying to advance on a sacrifice fly to left, but the Cubs have made the gaffe twice in two weeks. Joe Mather did so Wednesday.

“If you brought it up in a group session, there would be a lot of eyes rolled, but unfortunately, it’s been a reality the last couple weeks,” Sveum said. “It’s almost a learning tool — it’s like, all right, don’t be rolling your eyes, this actually happened the last two weeks.”

* Travis Wood will open the Cubs series on Friday at Arizona, and said he’s ignoring his record, and focusing on what he’s learned this season.

“Forget the numbers,” said Wood, who is 6-12 with a 4.23 ERA. “The experience is the key part. Everybody tries to finish strong, and you want to take that into the offseason and get ready for the next season.”

— Carrie Muskat 

9/26 Bone-head plays

For the second time in two weeks, the Cubs made a base-running gaffe that was unexplainable. They stranded runners at third in the second, third and fifth innings against the Rockies on Wednesday, and had runners at second and third in the seventh with one out when Dave Sappelt hit a fly ball to left. Joe Mather, who was at second, tried to advance as Josh Vitters headed home but Mather was easily thrown out to end the inning. Luis Valbuena did the same thing in Houston earlier this month.

“I went 30 years without seeing it, and unfortunately, I’ve seen it twice in the last two weeks and in pretty relevant situations, which is the odd thing about it,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “I might have come across it when maybe my team was up two or three and it was a irrelevant play.”

Mather’s decision to go left Sveum scratching his head.

“It’s bone-head plays,” Sveum said. “[The players] know they are. It’s just not thinking ahead, and Joe has good instincts.  … For whatever reason, they forget what the score is and the situation. They can’t slow the game down to go over all the scenarios before the next play happens.”

Mather’s explanation?

“I thought I could make it,” he said. “I shouldn’t have gone. it was bad baserunning. We’re down 6-0, I took an RBI away from [Sappelt]. It was just bad baseball.”

— Carrie Muskat

9/9 Extra bases

* The Cubs are aiming at their third-straight win on the road for the first time since June 10 (Minnesota) and June 18-19 (White Sox). They are trying for their first series sweep on the road since August 1-4, 2010, in Pittsburgh (four games). * On Saturday, the Cubs won their third road game in 19 games since the start of August. They have dropped 20 of 25 road games since the All-Star break

* Alfonso Soriano hit his 27th home run on Saturday. He now has 92 RBIs, his most in a single-season in his six years with the Cubs, and most since 95 RBI in 2006 with Washington.

* Rookie outfielder Brett Jackson, who bruised his right knee crashing into the wall on Friday, was moving much better on Sunday but not expected back in the Cubs lineup until Tuesday at the earliest. The Cubs face left-handed pitchers on Sunday and Monday, and Jackson would not start against them. Sveum said they’d re-evaluate in Houston.

* The Cubs players will be wearing NFL jerseys on the flight from Pittsburgh to Houston. It’s NFL Sunday. Sveum is a Raiders fan, so he has a Kenny Stabler jersey.

“I don’t quite have his hair,” Sveum said.

Soriano picked Deion “Prime Time” Sanders, and several players got Steelers jerseys because they were available in Pittsburgh. Joe Mather has a Troy Polamalu jersey, but he got it before this trip.

“I’m a real Steelers fan,” Mather said.

— Carrie Muskat

8/31 Cubs lineup

David DeJesus, who was 3-for-4 with two walks on Thursday, gets Friday off in the Cubs’ series opener against the Giants. He’s never faced San Francisco starter Madison Bumgarner, but Joe Mather has. Here’s the lineup:

Mather RF

Vitters 3B

Rizzo 1B

Soriano LF

Castro SS

Castillo C

Jackson CF

Barney 2B

Volstad P

— Carrie Muskat

8/28 Pitching in

What other position players have pitched in for the Cubs when needed? Joe Mather did so in the ninth inning on Monday night against the Brewers, facing two batters and giving up a hit then a ground out to end the inning. Mather’s only other pitching appearance was April 17, 2010, for the Cardinals when he entered in the 20th inning against the Mets. The game was tied at 1, but he gave up back to back singles, and the game-winning run scored on a sacrifice fly by Jose Reyes. Mather did have an at-bat in the Cardinals ninth but flew out to right for the second out.

Who else?

* On July 3, 1999, Gary Gaetti switched from third base to pitcher in the eighth inning against the Phillies with the Cubs trailing 19-8, and retired the first batter he faced. But Marlon Anderson then homered and Gaetti walked the next batter. One out later, Doug Glanville hit a RBI triple to make it 21-8.

* Doug Dascenzo exchanged his outfielder’s glove for a pitcher’s glove in four games for the Cubs from 1990-91, giving up three hits, two walks and striking out two over five innings. He did not give up a run. His first appearance was June 12, 1990, against the Mets in the eighth inning of what would be a 19-8 loss. He threw eight pitches, six for strikes. He threw two shutout innings June 10, 1991, against the Dodgers, and made another appearance 17 days later — obviously, plenty of rest — on June 28 against the Cardinals. He also pitched July 2 against the Pirates, and had to face Bobby Bonilla, who singled, and Barry Bonds, who flew out. Dascenzo did get Bonds to swing and miss at a change-up. In 1992, Dascenzo said his pitching days were over.

“Any time I go out and touch the mound, we’re getting beat by 10 or 15 runs and we’re losing a game in the standings,” Dascenzo said. “I don’t want any part of that. I want us to be beating someone else’s brains in.”

His three relief appearances were the most by a position player since infielder Jim Morrison appeared in three games for the Braves in 1988.

* Larry Biittner didn’t have the same success as Dascenzo. On July 4, 1977, in the first game of a doubleheader, Biittner took over with one on and two outs in the eighth with the Cubs trailing the Expos, 11-2, and served up a home run to pinch-hitter Larry Parrish. In the ninth, he gave up a two-run homer to Ellis Valentine and a three-run shot to Andre Dawson. His final line: 1 1/3 innings pitched, six runs, five hits, one walk, one strikeout, three home runs.

* On Aug. 27, 1968, outfielder Willie Smith helped the Cubs in a game against the Giants. He started the game in left field, then replaced Bill Stoneman on the mound in the seventh. He threw a wild pitch, but settled down to strikeout Dick Dietz, and get a groundout. Smith finished the game, and helped in the ninth, hitting a two-run home run off Bobby Bolin, but it wasn’t enough as the Cubs lost, 8-4. Smith faced eight batters over 2 2/3 innings and struck out two. He did not give up a run or a hit. Smith had some experience. He was a pitcher in 1963-64.

— Carrie Muskat

8/27 Looking for some relief

Joe Mather did not want his sporadic pitching career to continue, but the outfielder was needed in the ninth inning on Monday. The good news for the Cubs: He threw four pitches, all strikes. The Cubs called upon Mather to get the final out and end a nine-run ninth inning as the Brewers posted a 15-4 victory.

“Obviously in the ninth it got out of hand,” Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun said, “but it was a really close game and a tightly-contested game up until that point.”

The Brewers led 6-4 going into the ninth against Alex Hinshaw, and sent 13 batters to the plate. Braun, Ramirez and Corey Hart hit consecutive home runs off Hinshaw to take an 11-4 lead. Lendy Castillo took over but served up four more runs before he was pulled for Mather, the first position player to pitch for the Cubs since Gary Gaetti on July 3, 1999, against the Phillies. Mather, making his second career relief appearance, gave up a RBI single to pinch-hitter Jeff Bianchi, but got pinch-hitter Martin Maldonado to hit into a force and end the inning.

“Those guys have to pitch when we’re losing,” Dale Sveum said of the relief corps. “We can’t just keep throwing [Shawn] Camp and [Manuel] Corpas and [James] Russell and those guys in the games. Those other guys have to get through those innings. Obviously, we couldn’t accomplish that.”

Mather last pitched April 17, 2010, while with the Cardinals in a 20-inning game.

“Obviously, it’s never what you want to do,” Mather said. “I know Dale doesn’t want someone to come in and throw like that. It’s an unfortunate thing you have to do, and tonight we got out of it pretty quick.”

He did throw strikes.

“I think it goes back to your childhood and you want to be competitive,” Mather said. “You want to get the team out of the situation it’s in and you want to get those guys out. You can’t help but want to go out and beat the guy you’re facing.”

— Carrie Muskat

8/4 Cubs lineup

Jeff Baker is starting in right field and Joe Mather in center for the Cubs against Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw on Saturday night. Here’s the lineup:

Castro SS

Barney 2B

Rizzo 1B

Soriano LF

Baker RF

Castillo C

Mather CF

Valbuena 3B

Volstad P

— Carrie Muskat