Results tagged ‘ Lou Piniella ’

8/8 Lou: "I'm thinking about winning"

The Cubs are 1-for-15 with runners in scoring position and have stranded 18 in the first two games vs. the Reds. Overall, Chicago is batting .245 with RISP, 15th in the National League and ahead of only San Francisco.Told that Derrek Lee was hard on himself after the game, Lou Piniella said he shouldn’t be.

“Everybody’s trying here, and probably trying too hard,” Piniella said.  This is something that’s persisted for a long time and it has a little bit of a wearing-down effect on you.”

How is the manager holding up?

“It’s not easy on me either,” he said.

There are 51 games remaining in Piniella’s last season at the helm.

“I don’t think of those things,” he said. “I’m thinking about trying to win some games, that’s all I’m thinking about. This isn’t about me, this is about this team winning some baseball games and playing well and that’s all I care about. I haven’t thought about anything else but that, I’ll be honest with you.”

— Carrie Muskat

8/8 Zambrano set for Monday

Carlos Zambrano returns to the rotation on Monday, making his first start since June 25 when he opens the Cubs series against the Giants. Since that June game, Zambrano (3-6, 5.61 ERA) has thrown a tantrum, been suspended for three games, placed on the restricted list, undergone anger management sessions, been activated and inserted into the bullpen for three appearances.

His longest outing was two innings on Aug. 1 in Denver when he threw 53 pitches. The right-hander made one more relief appearance Wednesday and has thrown on the side. He should be able to go at least 75-80 pitches Monday.

The Cubs Opening Day starter, Zambrano was 3-5 with a 6.12 ERA in nine starts and 0-1 with a 4.32 ERA in 16 relief appearances. He also switched to the bullpen in April when he agreed to make room in the rotation Ted Lilly, who was activated from the disabled list at that time.

What was encouraging about his last two outings has been an increase in velocity.

“He threw the ball well,” Lou Piniella said of Zambrano. “He let it go — he was throwing 92, 93 miles an hour and he was competing really well.

“Let’s see what we see [Monday] night,” Piniella said. “I’m expecting him to pitch well. The last time he pitched there, he pitched a complete game shutout.”

That was Zambrano’s next to last start of the 2009 season on Sept. 25 when he gave up two hits over nine scoreless innings, and was in command, throwing 98 pitches.

— Carrie Muskat

8/7 Lou: "It's frustrating"

The Cubs’ offensive struggles this year have become so puzzling that all Lou Piniella can do is shrug.

“I don’t even want to talk about it anymore, truthfully,” Piniella said after a 4-3 loss to the first-place Reds on Saturday. “No sense rehashing what could’ve been, whatever. It’s hard, it’s frustrating, is what it is. That’s what it is, it’s frustrating.”

Drew Stubbs doubled and scored in the third, hit a tie-breaking leadoff homer in the eighth, and added a RBI single in the ninth to lift the Reds to victory over the Cubs, who lost for the ninth time in the last 10 games.

“It’s such a bad taste in your mouth when you play like this — you want to play good baseball,” Derrek Lee said. “Even if we lose and play good baseball, you can deal with that. We’re just not playing the way we should be playing.”

The Cubs threatened in the ninth as they loaded the bases with one out on three walks against Francisco Cordero. Starlin Castro was hit by a pitch in the left shoulder to force in a run. But Nick Masset replaced Cordero and struck out Lee, then walked Aramis Ramirez to force in another run, and struck out Marlon Byrd to end the game.

“I didn’t have a good at-bat,” Lee said of the ninth. “Bases loaded, one out, I’m expected to hit something in the gap and I strike out. That’s the disappointing part is when you know what you’re capable of doing and it’s just not happening.”

The Cubs were 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position and stranded 11. Not good.

“It’s disappointing,” Lee said of the lost season. “We’ve played way below our expectations. In no way, shape or form did we think we’d be sitting in this position now. It’s extremely disappointing.”

— Carrie Muskat

8/7 Soto update

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

8/7 Colvin taking a deep breath

Tyler Colvin planned on taking advantage of an off day Saturday and doing a little homework, talking to hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo and teammate Marlon Byrd. The rookie outfielder was not in the starting lineup Saturday for the Cubs. He’s 2-for-17 on this homestand including a bad at-bat Friday. The Cubs had two runners on and one out in the fifth inning when Colvin came to bat against the Reds’ Bronson Arroyo. Colvin popped up and the Cubs eventually lost, 3-0.

“Colvin has a tendency to widen the strike zone for himself,” Lou Piniella said after Friday’s game. “That’s something he’ll have to learn if he wants to be a really good professional hitter and RBI guy. It’s something young players have to go through and learn.”

It wasn’t pitch recognition that was the problem, Colvin said Saturday.

“It’s just relaxing up there and being confident,” Colvin said. “I go up there and I want to find a good pitch to hit with men on base. Usually that’s what I do. Lately I’ve been getting in those situations and I’m getting anxious and swinging at pitches out of the zone that they want me to swing at, not what I want to swing at.”

He knows that’s not real productive.

“You’re not supposed to swing at balls,” he said.

So if the problem isn’t a matter of seeing the strike zone, what is it?

“It’s not recognition — it’s being over anxious and making my mind up to swing before I even know what pitch is coming,” he said.

Does he need to take deep breaths?

“I need to take a step back when I know I’m anxious,” Colvin said. “I need to step out, re-group and go back at it. I’m having a hard time doing that.”

— Carrie Muskat

8/6 Grabow update

John Grabow, on the disabled list since June 29, will go to Arizona to begin throwing in game situations in hopes of returning to the team later this month. Grabow, 1-3 with a 7.36 ERA in 28 games, has been sidelined with a sprained left knee. He was to throw a simulated game Monday in Mesa at the Cubs’ facility. The left-hander will make at least one, possibly two appearances with the Rookie League team in Arizona and then make a couple rehab outings with either Double-A Tennessee or Triple-A Iowa. Lou Piniella said by the time the Cubs return from their next road trip, which would be Aug. 16, Grabow could be ready to join the team.

— Carrie Muskat

8/6 Manager search

GM Jim Hendry says he expects the search for the next manager to be an extensive process as he tries to find the right guy for what he called a “marquee job in the industry.”

“It’s going to be a long process, it’s going to be a couple months process,” Hendry said Friday. “I don’t have a definite time frame on it.”

The only deadline is that the Cubs would like to have the next manager in place by their organizational meetings, which are usually held the first week of November. Lou Piniella announced July 20 that he is retiring at the end of this season with the Cubs. This weekend, the Cubs are playing the first-place Cincinnati Reds, managed by Dusty Baker, who preceded Piniella in Chicago from 2003-06.

“I’ve hired two really good managers who did well the first couple years and for a lot of reasons — and not blaming them — but things didn’t always go on an upscale plan and we got derailed a couple times,” Hendry said.

“It’s a huge decision now going forward because I don’t think in a long time we’ve had this many people coming up on a fairly steady path and a lot more coming from the system,” Hendry said. “It’s a big decision moving forward and I take the responsibility of getting  it right very seriously.”

Hendry planned on touring the Cubs’ Minor League system with stops at Triple-A Iowa at least once and possibly twice before Sept. 1. That will give him a chance to talk to Iowa Cubs manager Ryne Sandberg, who has made it known he’d like to one day manage the big league team.

Hendry will consult with special assistant and four-time Cy Young winner Greg Maddux as well.

“As everyone knows, this is a marquee job in the industry and you won’t find too many people who wouldn’t have interest in becoming the manager of the Cubs and that’s the way we have to look at it,” Hendry said. “We have a plum job and we found that the last two times — Lou and Dusty really wanted this job. Both did really well at it and we’ll go about our business and take our time until we find the right guy.”

— Carrie Muskat

8/4 Lineup vs Brewers

Aramis Ramirez is getting the day off Wednesday, although Lou Piniella said the problem wasn’t his thumb. Here’s the lineup:

RF Colvin

SS Castro

1B Lee

CF Byrd

C Soto

LF Soriano

2B DeWitt

3B Baker

P Dempster

— Carrie Muskat

8/4 Zambrano to start Monday

Carlos Zambrano will be back in the Cubs rotation Monday night, making his first start since June 25 against the Giants. Zambrano was demoted to the bullpen after he was activated from the restricted list last Friday. He has made two appearances since then, his longest a 53-pitch outing on Sunday. Lou Piniella said he expected Zambrano to be able to go at least 75 pitches Monday. In nine starts this year, including Opening Day, Zambrano was 3-5 with a 6.12 ERA.

— Carrie Muskat

8/3 Rotation plans

Ryan Dempster will close the Cubs’ series against the Brewers on Wednesday. Tom Gorzelanny will start Friday to open the three-game series against the Reds and will be followed by Randy Wells. After that, it’s anybody’s guess. The Cubs have two openings in the rotation after losing Ted Lilly via trade and Carlos Silva because of a heart problem. They want to see how Thomas Diamond does in his ML debut Tuesday night before penciling him into the mix for Sunday’s game.

Half of the Cubs pitching staff now are rookies.

“We’ll give them the ball and the guys who are getting people out will get it more prevalent than others,” Lou Piniella said. “I think it will try your patience at times but at the same time, it’s the future of this organization. We’re going to stick with that plan and do the best we can with it.”

— Carrie Muskat