Results tagged ‘ Koyie Hill ’
It was an emotional day Sunday at Wrigley Field as Lou Piniella bid farewell to the Cubs and to the game. After more than 3,500 games and 23 years as manager and nearly 1,800 games as a player, he is beginning his retirement early. Piniella heads home to Tampa, Fla., because family comes first over baseball. His 90-year-old mother is ill.
Said catcher Koyie Hill: “I think we all know that’s where he should be.”
Piniella’s career ended the same way the season started, with a 16-5 loss to the Braves. That was the Cubs’ Opening Day score as well, also a loss.
“Today’s game wasn’t pretty but I’d rather reflect on the good times I’ve had here,” Piniella said. “Lot of good times, lot of good people. It’s been a lot of fun. The pregame with Bobby Cox was special. He’s been a good friend for a long time. I appreciate my four years here with the Cubs organization. The city’s special, the people here are special. I’m appreciative.
“I cried a little bit after the game,” he said. “I get emotional — I’m sorry. I’m not trying to be. This will be the last time I put on a uniform. It’s been very special to me.”
He broke down for a few seconds, then collected himself. The players couldn’t help but shed a tear or two, too.
“That’s the human factor is the man deserves a lot better than that,” Hill said. “Same old story [in the game] — it’s not lack of effort or anything like that. It’s just the way it goes. I don’t know if you could’ve scripted it any worse.
“He’s given his life to the game,” Hill said. “We all appreciate that. We appreciate the opportunity we had to play for him and we’re going to miss him.”
– Carrie Muskat
Since returning to the rotation on Aug. 9, Carlos Zambrano is 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA, giving up five earned runs over 16 2/3 innings. But he’s also walked 15 and given up 15 hits. Lou Piniella saw lots of positives.
“He’s got real good movement and he’s throwing a few more breaking balls and he’s using his split finger and a cut fastball,” Piniella said. “Basically, I think the velocity will come. One run over six innings, you can’t fault that at all. It was a good performance. If he gets his command a little early, he can go much deeper in the game.”
Said catcher Koyie Hill: “I thought he did a good job getting through six innings and had a chance to win. We’re facing one of the best pitchers in the National League and you go out there and give six innings — you’d classify that as effectively wild, but he didn’t get hurt and did a good job and had a chance to win the ballgame and we were winning the ballgame.”
Friday will be a special day for Big Z. He called it his “birthday in the big leagues.” On Aug. 20, 2001, Zambrano made his Major League debut in the second game of a doubleheader against the Brewers. Now, he’s the longest-tenured Cubs player.
“Whatever the team thinks is good for the team and we need for the team to be better and in a good position for next year is good for me,” he said when asked about the Derrek Lee trade.
What does Zambrano want to do?
“I don’t want to leave and I don’t think I will leave,” he said.
– Carrie Muskat
This was just too weird. The Cubs had a 2-1 lead going into the Padres seventh on Thursday. Sean Marshall had taken over for Carlos Zambrano and walked Miguel Tejada, then gave up three straight singles, including a RBI single by Ryan Ludwick, which tied the game. Chris Headley singled and one out later, Will Venable hit a two-run single to chase Marshall.
Then it got bizarre. Denorfia bounced a grounder to Aramis Ramirez at third, and he threw to catcher Koyie Hill, who chased Headley back and tagged him. Venable had scampered to third on the rundown. As Hill walked away, he appeared to have called time. But the umpires didn’t think so. No one was covering at home and Venable scored on what was ruled a fielder’s choice.
“You have to put your arms up to stop play,” Lou Piniella said. “[Hill] put his wrist up and the umpire didn’t acknowledge it. You’ve got to get your hands up and make sure the umpires know it’s ‘time out.’”
Padres third base coach Glenn Hoffman told Venable he had a window.
“I noticed it,” Venable said, “but it wasn’t until [Hoffman] nonchalantly came over and confirmed it. It ended up being a closer play at the plate than I thought. It was a great heads-up call by Hoffy.”
First baseman Xavier Nady recognized what was happening and tried to cover home.
“I was trying — he’s a lot faster than I am,” Nady said of Venable. “I didn’t know what was going on. I bolted and it wasn’t quite enough.”
Hill said he made the same gesture he usually does.
“I think in that situation I need to be more emphatic about it just to make sure because you’ve got guys scattered all over the field,” Hill said. “Credit [Nady] for getting to home plate because he’s holding a guy on and he has to stay put at first.”
Hill’s plan was to call time, then go to the mound to check on pitcher Justin Berg.
“What’s frustrating is it wasn’t a lack of concentration or just cluelessness,” Hill said. “It just happened. I felt I asked for time with the same gesture I always use.”
– Carrie Muskat
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
Geovany Soto was scratched from Monday’s game because his right shoulder was still sore. Soto has not played since Friday, bothered by a mild ligament sprain. Koyie Hill started in his place.
The Cubs already are short-handed because first baseman Derrek Lee is not with the team. He was headed home to Sacramento to be with his grandfather, who was ill. The Cubs expected word after the game as to whether Lee would return or be placed on the bereavement list.
– Carrie Muskat
The Cubs used four rookie pitchers on Sunday, the most since five pitched Sept. 30, 2006, against the Rockies. Rookie Thomas Diamond started and gave up five runs on four hits and three walks over three innings. In his Major League debut last Tuesday against the Brewers, Diamond struck out 10 but he fanned only one on Sunday.
Casey Coleman, James Russell and Mitch Atkins followed Diamond. Back in that September game, it was Juan Mateo, Jae-Kuk Ryu, David Aardsma, Angel Guzman, and Les Walrond. Reds manager Dusty Baker was the Cubs manager at that time.
The kids are going through some growing pains.
“When you don’t make plays behind them and you have a tough lineup, it’s going to be hard already,” Koyie Hill said. “I think [the rookie pitchers] are capable. I don’t think they’ve showed their best stuff today.
“You’ve got to break into the game sometime, so you can’t say it’s a bad situation or whatever,” Hill said. “You’re going to have to go through that. They’re good kids and work hard. I don’t doubt they’ll come back better for it next time.”
– Carrie Muskat
Geovany Soto was not available Saturday because of a mild ligament sprain in his right shoulder.
Soto’s shoulder bothers him when he’s hitting, not throwing. He was not expected back in the Cubs lineup until Monday at the earliest.
“We were down to one catcher, Soto wasn’t available,” Lou Piniella said after Saturday’s 4-3 loss to the Reds. “We couldn’t even pinch-run for our catcher when we bunted. We had chances in the ninth with the middle part of the lineup and didn’t get it done.”
Koyie Hill caught Saturday and will be behind the plate Sunday as well.Also, expect to see Xavier Nady in right field against lefty Travis Wood.
– Carrie Muskat
Koyie Hill had yet to see Monday’s collision at home plate between Cleveland catcher Carlos Santana and Boston rookie Ryan Kalish. Santana’s left leg is bent back at a freakish angle. It’s part of the job, Hill said.
On Aug. 17, 2004, Hill fractured his right ankle in a collision at home with Pittsburgh’s Ty Wigginton and underwent surgery 10 days later. Hill can recall the entire play.
“I was blocking the plate,” Hill said Tuesday. “I didn’t give him much real estate to slide on. I was trying to stop him from scoring, too. I didn’t have the ball. If he would’ve slid, he would’ve been safe. In my situation, I thought it was clean.
“It’s not an ugly part of the game but it’s a part of the game that is utilized to help the team win and sometimes it’s utilized for other reasons,” Hill said. “In my situation, I thought it was a fair play.”
– Carrie Muskat
Koyie Hill and Ted Lilly spent the off day together Thursday, fly fishing in Colorado. They sat next to each other in the dugout for most of Friday’s game. And on Saturday, they said goodbye.
Lilly was dealt to the Dodgers along with Ryan Theriot for infielder Blake DeWitt and two Minor League pitchers. The Cubs lost a key player in the clubhouse in Lilly.
“He’ll tell you as much as I will that he’s a little behind some guys but his mind and the way he competes is his best attribute,” Hill said of Lilly. “You don’t have to throw 96 [mph] or hit .330 and hit a bunch of homers to inspire guys.”
The left-hander led the Major Leagues in the least amount of run support but never blamed the offense for not backing him up.
“There’s so many things you can take from his game, mentally, physically and heart-wise,” HIll said. “You can take so much from what he offers as a player, as a teammate, as a friend. I consider him one of my best friends and teammates I’ve played with. It’s a bad day for all of us in here who respected him so much. Life goes on.”
They did chat during Friday’s game about how Lilly may be leaving.
“A little bit,” Hill said. “We spent our off day driving down to North Fork Ranch to go fly fishing. We were buddies. He’s right up there, all time. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so, not down but just a weird feeling when you lose somebody like that. Goodbyes are never easy.”
– Carrie Muskat
The Cubs and Reds were playing a good game until the seventh inning on Friday.
“These type of games aren’t any fun,” Koyie Hill said. “It’s frustrating and the way the season’s been going, it’s easy for us to hang our heads and pout but a little adversity never hurt anybody. You can test a guy’s character a little bit, a team’s character but I feel we have a strong group in here, a strong bunch of hearts. I think guys will come in tomorrow with their heads high and confident, and in the long run when it turns around, we’ll feel good about battling through this.”
The Cubs mustered two hits in a 12-0 loss to the Reds and fell to a season-low 12-games under .500.
“The feeling of having to play close to perfect can make a team tight but it’s the style we’re having to play right now,” Hill said. “We have to continue to come here and practice good habits and hopefully it’ll come through for us on the field.”
Ryan Dempster held the Reds to two hits over six scoreless innings. In the seventh, the Reds scored nine runs on three hits, taking advantage of an error by Mike Fontenot.
“I could never have expected that, especially with Dempster on the mound and myself up,” Cincinnati’s Bronson Arroyo said. “I thought maybe we’d put a couple of more on the board but I didn’t think it was going to explode like that.”
This was the third time this season the Cubs have lost by a 12-run margin.
“The bottom line is we’re not getting it done,” Hill said. “It’s one thing to say it, one thing to do it.”
There’s only one way to turn this around and that’s to get the job done on the field.
“What else can you do?” Lou Piniella said. “The other teams don’t care if we’re struggling or not. They’re going to come here and try to beat you every day. We have a bunch of young pitchers in the bullpen and sometimes they throw strikes and sometimes they don’t. Today was one day they didn’t. For the most part, our pitching has been good.”
The problem wasn’t really the pitching or Fontenot’s error.
“The other thing is two hits today,” Piniella said. “Two hits. You’re not going to win too many games with two hits.”
The Cubs may look flat but Piniella said lack of effort is not the problem.
“When you don’t do much, you look flat,” Piniella said. “I don’t see that. What I see is basically lack of hitting. When you don’t have many baserunners, you don’t get any hitting, how are you going to look sprite? We’re not the quickest team in the world anyway. I know it’s ugly at times but believe me, I don’t see the lack of effort. It might seem that way but that’s not the case.”
Saturday’s game will be No. 81, which marks the halfway point of the season.
“Let me tell you this, if we continue to put two hits, three hits, four hits on the board, how are you going to win baseball games?” Piniella said. “I don’t have an answer for that one. You’ve got to score runs. Look, we lost 12-nothing and it was really ugly. If it had been 2-nothing, or 3-nothing — but it’s still nothing.”
– Carrie Muskat