Results tagged ‘ Justin Berg ’

3/20 And the winner of Cubs Idol is …

Pitcher Justin Berg, who performed his own song, and infielder Darwin Barney, who played Coldplay’s “Nobody Said It Was Easy” on the piano, were named co-winners of the first Cubs Idol on Saturday.

The two were among the seven finalists, who sang for judges Ryan Dempster, Derrek “Dog” Lee, Kevin Millar, and Aramis Ramirez on a stage beyond right field at HoHoKam Park. NFL quarterback Steve Young was a celebrity judge and took part in the evaluation — and comments.

There were some interesting final performances. Outfielder Jim Adduci wore white wings decorated with white feathers, which were also stuck randomly all over his body, and sang “I Believe I Can Fly.” He should stick to baseball. Said Young: “We wouldn’t allow this in my sport.”

Reliever James Russell showed quite a bit of range singing Earth, Wind and Fire’s “Reasons.” Lee said the left-hander was one of the most improved competitors and showed he could “hit the high notes like Whitney Houston.” Young, however, thought Russell sounded more like the singer, Charo.

Starlin Castro sang in both English and Spanish, doing a song by 50 Cent. Said Ramirez: “They didn’t understand what you said but I did.” Outfielder Brad Snyder died his hair purple and did Steel Dragon’s “Stand Up and Shout.” Dempster thought it was a bad song selection and that Snyder “took a step back.” Said Millar: “You’re here on your looks only.”

Tyler Colvin played guitar and had one of the best vocals of the day. Said Young: “I didn’t thikn I’d see something like that today.”

But Berg and Barney wowed the crowd of players and team personnel. Berg performed his own song, “As the Days Go By,” which he wrote while playing rookie ball with the Yankees. The right-hander received a standing ovation fro the crowd and the judges and said performing the song was more nerve-wracking than when he made his Major League debut. Barney followed on the piano. Dempster said everyone who can only play chopsticks was jealous.

Berg and Barney were declared co-winners, and will each receive a check for $10,000 to be given to the charity of their choice. The competition began with 28 contestants.

“That was awesome,” Dempster said. “Some of these guys, like Russell, they came a long way. Doing stuff like this is fun. You get to know everybody in camp, it brings everybody together, you laugh and have a good time. Some of these guys can really sing — ‘Bergy’ and Barney, I didn’t think it would be that tough [to decide a winner]. They both did such a great job.”

— Carrie Muskat

3/19 Sorting out the bullpen

Realistically, there’s one opening remaining in the Cubs’ bullpen. The pitchers set include closer Carlos Marmol, lefty John Grabow and right-hander Esmailin Caridad. Two other spots will be taken by the pitchers who don’t make the rotation. That group includes Jeff Samardzija, Carlos Silva, Tom Gorzelanny and Sean Marshall.

Lefty John Gaub is candidate for the ‘pen but didn’t help himself Thursday when he gave up three runs on four hits in one inning against the Dodgers.

“We’ve got, realistically, one spot in that bullpen and I think every appearance now is important for these kids,” Lou Piniella said Friday. “We have some definite ideas on what young kids have done enough to pitch here already.”

One name being given strong consideration is right-hander Justin Berg, who has given up one hit and one run, a solo homer, in five innings over five games. The others still in camp include James Russell and Rule 5 pick Michael Parisi.

— Carrie Muskat

3/18 Penmanship

Jeff Gray, slowed by a strained groin, threw three “batting practice” innings on Thursday and his next step will be a simulated game. However, the right-hander is running out of time to make the Cubs’ Opening Day roster.

The Cubs will be leaning on lefty John Grabow to be the primary set-up pitcher. Lou Piniella would like at least one other person to handle those duties.

“If we can find a couple pitchers here to complement him, it would behoove us,” Piniella said. “The two kids we have right now would either be [Esmailin] Caridad or [Justin] Berg. Then we have to see what we do rotation-wise, and maybe somebody from the rotation falls into that category, too.”

Will Piniella use Grabow the way he used Marmol last year?

“Yes,” Piniella said, then paused. It would depend on the situation

“We want another pitcher or two who we can lean on in that role,” Piniella said. “We just don’t want one person specifically. Remember, with Marmol last year, he has that devastating slider and we’d use him sometimes in the seventh to get out of an inning and sometimes start the eighth.”

— Carrie Muskat


9/1 September call-ups

The Cubs Tuesday activated infielder Andres Blanco from the disabled list and recalled right-handed pitcher Justin Berg and infielder/outfielder Micah Hoffpauir from Triple-A Iowa. All three players were available for Tuesday’s game against the Astros.

Expect the Cubs to activate David Patton (groin) from the DL on Wednesday.

— Carrie Muskat

8/31 Quick hits: Call-ups, Soto, & Soriano

The Cubs begin play Monday 5 1/2 games behind the Rockies and Giants in the National League Wild Card race.

“There’s still time,” Lou Piniella said. “We’ll see what happens.”

* The Cubs will add three players on Tuesday, Sept. 1, when rosters expand. Expect to see Micah Hoffpauir, Andres Blanco and Justin Berg. On Wednesday, David Patton was expected to join the Cubs. They’ll add seven to eight players.

* Geovany Soto said he understands why Piniella has decided to lean more on Koyie Hill. Soto was batting .212 for the season, and Piniella said it’s a “mystery” as to why the young catcher is struggling in his sophomore season.

“I would’ve thought that coming into this season he’d have a solid season,” Piniella said of Soto, the 2008 Rookie of the Year. “Maybe not .280 like he hit last year, but certainly a solid Major League season.”

“It’s been surprising to me to see him struggle,” Piniella said.

* Alfonso Soriano may be ready to play Tuesday, but is more likely expected back in the lineup on Wednesday.

— Carrie Muskat

8/17 Lilly activated; Berg to Iowa

Ted Lilly was activated from the disabled list Monday and will start the series opener vs. the Padres. Rookie Justin Berg optioned to Triple-A Iowa to make room on the roster. Berg was recalled last Thursday and made his ML debut that day, throwing two shutout innings of relief.

— Carrie Muskat

8/13 Samardzija to Iowa; Berg up

Jeff Samardzija was optioned to Triple-A Iowa Thursday, one day after making his first ML start vs. the Phillies. The rookie right-hander gave up seven runs on eight hits over 3 1/3 innings in the Cubs’ 12-5 loss to the Phillies. The move was made more because the Cubs needed a fresh arm in the bullpen, and they recalled Justin Berg from Iowa.

“You keep working — there’s always things you need to improve on,” Samardzija said.

Also, Ted Lilly was back in the clubhouse after his five inning Minor League start at Class A Peoria, and said he’s ready to go Monday vs. the Padres. Tom Gorzelanny, hit on the right foot by a ball in Colorado, threw a bullpen Thursday, and said he’s ready to go Sunday against his former team, the Pirates.

— Carrie Muskat

7/28 Quick trip

Justin Berg was sent back to Triple-A Iowa on Tuesday before he had a chance to get into a Major League game. However, he did warm up in the bullpen Monday night and was next in line but the Cubs pulled it out in the 13th against the Astros.

“It’s a little disappointing,” Berg said about not pitching in a game, “but I understand the circumstances. I’ll go back there and pitch like I know how and hopefully get back here as soon as possible.”

Berg was optioned to Iowa to make room on the roster for Ryan Dempster, who was activated from the disabled list.

So, did Berg have good stuff in the pen?

“As I was warming up? It looked pretty good from what I could tell,” he said. “Everyhing felt good and I was really anxious to get in but it didn’t work out that way.”

Before he left, the right-hander did drop off the neon orange backpack in front of Jeff Stevens’ locker. The pitcher with the least amount of service time has to carry the backpack to the bullpen. It’s loaded with gum, candy, whatever.

“I’m sure he’ll be disappointed to see that,” Berg said.

— Carrie Muskat

7/28 Roster move

The Cubs officially activated Ryan Dempster from the disabled list Tuesday and optioned right-handed pitcher Justin Berg to Triple-A Iowa. Berg, called up Saturday, did not get in a game with the big league team but came close Monday night. He was warming up in the bullpen. Dempster had been sidelined because of a broken right big toe, injured in early July.

— Carrie Muskat

7/25 Welcome to the show

Justin Berg got a phone call Friday, and was told to come into Iowa manager Bobby Dickerson’s office. It was the right-hander’s turn to join the big league team.

“I was pretty excited,” Berg said.

At Iowa, he was 4-1 with a 2.00 ERA in 24 relief appearances. He’s given up one home run this season, and that was in his third outing. Berg is from Antigo, Wis., and wears No. 64 because it’s the same number of a highway that goes through his hometown.

“He’s pitched well in the past four, five weeks in Triple-A and has a good sinker, a heavy ball,” Lou PIniella said. “The secret for this young man is to throw strikes. If he can get the ball over the plate, he’ll get ground balls.”

Berg was with the big league team this spring. Primarily a sinker ball pitcher, he also throws a cutter, a curve and a changeup. He knows he’ll be nervous the first time on the mound.

“[I have to] throw strikes, first and foremost,” Berg said. “Relax, take a deep breath and go out there and compete.”

Perhaps the happiest player to see Berg was pitcher Jeff Stevens, who handed off the neon orange backpack the reliever with least seniority has to carry to the bullpen.

— Carrie Muskat