Results tagged ‘ Luis Valbuena ’

6/19 Extra bases

* Anthony Rizzo was back in the Cubs lineup Wednesday, after getting a one-day “breather,” but stayed in the No. 5 spot instead of returning to No. 3. Nate Schierholtz seems pretty comfortable batting third. In four games batting third, Schierholtz is 4-for-13 (.308) with one home run, one double and two RBIs. He entered Wednesday’s game with a career-high 10-game hitting streak.

“There’s no change,” Schierholtz said of his approach. “Third to fifth isn’t a whole lot different [in the order]. You hit in the first inning always on the road but other than that, I try to keep the same approach no matter where I’m hitting. I don’t over-think it.”

He also leads the Cubs in batting with runners in scoring position, hitting .313 this season.

“I have a game plan that I go up there with and I know it changes with runners on because pitchers pitch you different,” Schierholtz said. “I just try to stick to my game plan and, like I said, not try to think too much and over-analyze anything.”

He already has more doubles (18), home runs (nine) and RBIs (26) than he totaled last year between the Giants and Phillies.

* The Cubs may make a roster move Friday when they open a three-game Interleague series against the Astros, manager Dale Sveum said. The team is currently carrying eight relievers. One option would be to activate catcher Steve Clevenger from the disabled list. He’s been sidelined since April 14 because of a left oblique strain, and was currently rehabbing with Triple-A Iowa.

* There is no timetable for David DeJesus’ return, but the outfielder will most likely be out at least one month after spraining his right shoulder in a collision last Friday at Citi Field.

“It’s one of those injuries, from the time it happened a few days ago, it’s definitely a month before he’s back on the field,” Sveum said.

Luis Valbuena has done well subbing as the leadoff man for DeJesus.

“[Valbuena] is a guy who has always been able to take his walks and see some pitches and drive the ball and do some things,” Sveum said. “So far, it’s really, really good.”

– Carrie Muskat

6/7 Pirates 2, Cubs 0

It was deja vu for the Cubs. For the second time this season, Francisco Liriano held the Cubs to two hits over seven shutout innings as the Pirates won, 2-0, on Friday.

“Obviously, if our offense puts a few on the board, it changes the whole game,” Chicago’s Darwin Barney said. “Sometimes you have to tip your cap to Liriano and not let him be one of those guys who starts slumps with hitters. Right now, he’s making his pitches and not giving in.”

Liriano did not serve up a hit until pitcher Travis Wood singled with one out in the fifth.

“He’s done this to everybody,” Dale Sveum said of Liriano. “When he’s right and he has his velocity, he’s basically in the CC Sabathia type category where he has great velocity but really doesn’t throw his fastball that much. He’s got great command of his changeup and slider. He’s one of those guys where it’s very, very difficult if he’s on with his offspeed stuff — it’s going to be a tough day.”

Wood was also stingy. He escaped a bases-loaded jam in the second when he struck out Liriano, then retired the next 10 batters before Jordy Mercer doubled with one out in the sixth. One out later, Gaby Sanchez walked and Russell Martin then lined a RBI double to left.

“I got the outs when I needed, except the one that really counted,” Wood said.

The Pirates added a run in the ninth off Carlos Villanueva when Martin walked, moved up on Pedro Alvarez’s single and scored one out later on Travis Snider’s fielder’s choice. Snider hit the ball to third baseman Luis Valbuena, who opted to try for the double play instead of throwing home.

“He knows after the fact that something broke down there,” Sveum said of Valbuena. “That run is very, very important. A left-handed hitter hitting a ground ball, you need to throw that guy out at home. The odds of turning a double play, especially when you’re trying to take the pull side away with Villanueva pitching — there’s a 99 percent chance he’s going to pull Villanueva so Barney wasn’t going to be near the bag anyway.”

With the loss, the Cubs now are 6-17 against NL Central teams. The six wins are the fewest for any club within its own division.

– Carrie Muskat

5/30 Cubs 8, White Sox 3

Who needs a DH?

Travis Wood smacked a grand slam, the first by a Cubs pitcher at Wrigley since 1972, and Luis Valbuena and Nate Schierholtz each hit solo home runs to power the Cubs to a 8-3 Interleague victory over the White Sox.

The Cubs could claim the crosstown cup with the win. They lead the intracity series, 3-0, and the two teams will meet once more at U.S. Cellular Field this summer to make up Tuesday’s game, which was interrupted by rain. That date has not been announced. The Cubs may want to want to abandon the designated hitter if it’s Wood’s turn to pitch.

The Cubs led 2-1 when they loaded the bases in the fourth. Welington Castillo was safe on a pop up single that dropped near the pitcher’s mound, Luis Valbuena singled off the right field wall, and Darwin Barney was hit by a pitch to set up Wood, who launched a 2-1 pitch from Jake Peavy into the left field bleachers. It was Wood’s second homer of the season and the first grand slam by a Cubs player since Anthony Rizzo connected Sept. 16, 2012, against the Pirates. The last Cubs pitcher to hit one was Jason Marquis on Sept. 22, 2008, at Shea Stadium against the Mets.

The last Cubs pitcher to hit a slam at Wrigley was Burt Hooton on Sept. 16, 1972. Wood began this season with three home runs in 120 at-bats.

It was Wood’s 10th quality start in 11 games.

The Cubs players were happy to celebrate bragging rights in the city.

“It’s absolutely awesome,” Wood said. “We were in there a minute ago, holding the cup up. It’s nice and brings a good feeling to the clubhouse. Hopefully, we can build off that and keep rolling.”

The Cubs secured their first series win against the White Sox since going 5-1 in 2007.

“Since the cup’s been around, it’s the first time the Cubs have won it, and it came at a good time for our ballclub,” Dale Sveum said. “They were hot coming in and playing real well and we weren’t except for that final game in Cincinnati. Hopefully that’s a springboard to keep things going.”

– Carrie Muskat

5/29 Cubs lineup

David DeJesus and Luis Valbuena get rare starts against a left-hander on Wednesday as the Cubs play host to the White Sox at Wrigley Field. Here’s the lineup:

DeJesus CF
Castro SS
Rizzo 1B
Soriano LF
Hairston RF
Navarro C
Valbuena 3B
Barney 2B
Feldman P

* Tuesday’s rainout was the second all-time in the Cubs-White Sox series, dating to 1997, and the first at U.S. Cellular Field. The first rainout was June 16, 2009, at Wrigley Field. Tuesday was the Cubs’ third game to be postponed by rain this year.

* The Cubs are hitting .273 in 24 home games, 51 points higher than their .222 average in 26 road games. They also have an .803 OPS at home, 184 points higher than their .619 OPS on the road.

– Carrie Muskat

5/21 Who’s on 3B?

Ian Stewart was projected as the Cubs regular third baseman this season before he was injured in Spring Training and now he is playing for Triple-A Iowa. However, Stewart is not high on the organization’s depth chart at third base. Stewart said Theo Epstein, president of baseball operations, told him that Josh Vitters, the team’s No. 1 Draft pick in 2007, would be getting most of the at-bats.

“[Vitters] is the priority, put it that way,” Dale Sveum said Tuesday. “Who knows about third baseman of the future, but he’s a priority to develop as that guy. The guy was a first-round pick and the guy can swing the bat. We still have to develop him with the thought of him being our third baseman some day. He’s got power, he can swing, he can hit a fastball. But there’s a lot of development left in him.”

Where does that leave Luis Valbuena, who is getting the majority of at-bats at third with the big league team? Vitters is 23 years old, Valbuena is 27, and Stewart is 28.

“If Valbuena keeps playing the way he is, he’s our third baseman,” Sveum said. “He’s doing a very nice job. That’s just what you do in the Minor Leagues, you develop people to be in that spot. Whether it happens [with Vitters], who knows? That’s usually up to the individual who you’re trying to develop. They’ll force your hand, one way or the other.”

Vitters, who has been battling a sore quad, was batting .259 for Iowa with two home runs and seven RBIs.

– Carrie Muskat

5/14 Extra bases

* Third baseman Luis Valbuena was expected back in the Cubs lineup on Wednesday, four days after spraining the little finger on his right hand when he slid into third base. Valbuena, who injured his hand Saturday in Washington, has been able to take batting practice and work out at third Monday and Tuesday. He spent part of Tuesday with his little finger in a cup of ice to get the swelling down. Valbuena was batting .272 in 31 games with five home runs, five doubles and 13 RBIs.

* The Cubs have finally climbed above the Mendoza line when batting with runners in scoring position. Chicago entered Tuesday’s game batting .204 with RISP, still lowest in the Major Leagues. The team leads the National League with 87 doubles and 131 extra-base hits. But they rank 10th in runs scored.

* Arodys Vizcaino, coming back from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, will continue his rehab with the Cubs rather than in Mesa, Ariz. Vizcaino joined the team on Monday. Cubs manager Dale Sveum said the right-hander, acquired from the Braves last July in the Paul Maholm deal, was a couple weeks away from appearing in a game.

Scott Baker, who also is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery one year ago, remained in Mesa at the Cubs’ facility.

– Carrie Muskat

5/13 Extra bases

* Matt Garza’s next Minor League rehab outing will be Thursday for Triple-A Iowa, and the team will make a decision after that as to whether the right-hander is ready to be activated. Garza is rehabbing from a left lat strain suffered in Spring Training. In his last Minor League outing on Saturday, he gave up three hits and walked two over 3 1/3 innings for Double-A Tennessee. It was his third Minor League rehab start, and he threw 66 pitches, 40 for strikes.

Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Garza threw with a lot of “aggressiveness” in his bullpen session on Monday.

“We just have to get him built up so he can at least go out there for [six innings],” Sveum said.

* Third baseman Luis Valbuena, who sprained the little finger on his right hand sliding into third base on Saturday, was available to pinch-hit. Valbuena has his little finger and ring finger taped together while he does drills. He would not have started Tuesday against Rockies lefty Jeff Francis, so Valbuena will get at least one extra day to rest, Sveum said.

* Cubs pitcher Edwin Jackson hosted his fourth “Edwin’s Entourage” event on Monday at Wrigley Field. He created the event to create awareness of baseball to younger African American males. More than 40 participants from local youth leagues, ages 11-18, took part.

* Arodys Vizcaino, who is on the 60-day disabled list recovering from Tommy John surgery, was in Chicago to be examined by the team doctors. The right-hander, whom the Cubs acquired in July 2012 from the Braves in the Paul Maholm deal, underwent the surgery early in 2012.

– Carrie Muskat

5/12 Cubs notebook

* Last year at the Trade Deadline, the Cubs were sellers. That may be the case again this year if they don’t rally. GM Jed Hoyer said he feels there’s still time for the Cubs to get on track. Sveum agrees.

“We’ve lost so many games we’ve had control over,” Sveum said Sunday. “We know this record could be flip-flopped with a little better play because the pitching has kept us in so many games.”

The Cubs have 21 quality starts, yet have won eight of those games. Thirty-three of their 36 games have been decided by four runs or less, and 28 have been decided by three runs or less.

However, the Cubs are in rebuilding mode, and Sveum knows what that means.

“You know things like that are possible and you weigh all the options and what’s best for the organization,” Sveum said. “Those are things you have to do sometimes. It’s not that easy to see Dempster and Maholm go somewhere else but it is part of the game. We’re trying to ge this thing completely healthy.”

* Luis Valbuena was able to play catch and hit in the batting cage on Sunday, one day after spraining the little finger on his right hand sliding into third base. Valbuena was not in the lineup against Nationals lefty Gio Gonzalez, but was available to pinch-hit, manager Dale Sveum said. Valbuena was not expected to go on the disabled list. With one out in the fifth Saturday, Valbuena doubled to right but was tagged sliding into third trying to stretch his hit and jammed his hand on the bag. X-rays showed no fracture, and Valbuena received treatment. He was batting .272 with five home runs and 13 RBIs this season.

* Matt Garza will make at least one more Minor League rehab start, and possibly two, after his abbreviated outing on Saturday. Garza gave up three hits and walked two over 3 1/3 innings Saturday for Double-A Tennessee in his third Minor League rehab start, throwing 66 pitches, 40 for strikes. He struck out two.

“He felt great and everything, but not real efficient,” Dale Sveum said Sunday. “Right now, we have to get him built up to get to the fourth, fifth and hopefully sixth inning.”

Garza will be in Chicago this week when the Cubs return for a three-game homestand against the Rockies, and make his next start for Triple-A Iowa.

It will be tough to eliminate one of the starters from the mix. Edwin Jackson is the only pitcher who has struggled, and he’s not a candidate to move to the bullpen.

“It ain’t going to be easy,” Sveum said about moving one of the starters. “Part of it sometimes, when you have these decisions … it’s a good problem to have, but for the individual, nobody deserves it. They’re pitching perfectly fine. It isn’t going to be the easiest thing to do.”

* With an off day scheduled for Thursday, the Cubs will not tweak their rotation but keep everyone on schedule, Sveum said. Travis Wood, Carlos Villanueva and Jeff Samardzija will face the Rockies in a three-game series at Wrigley Field that starts Monday.

– Carrie Muskat

5/11 Valbuena hurts hand – UPDATED

X-rays were negative of Luis Valbuena’s right hand. He had to leave Saturday’s game after jamming his right pinky finger sliding into third base in the fifth inning. Valbuena wasn’t scheduled to start Sunday against lefty Gio Gonzalez, and would likely be able to pinch hit, Dale Sveum said.

With one out in the fifth against the Nationals, Valbuena doubled to right but was tagged sliding into third trying to stretch his hit. Cody Ransom took over at third base in the sixth. Valbuena was batting .272 with five home runs and 13 RBIs.

– Carrie Muskat

5/2 Extra bases

* Kyuji Fujikawa, on the disabled list with a strained right forearm, threw his second bullpen on Thursday and the next step could be a rehab outing with Triple-A Iowa on Sunday.

“His command and everything was much better,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said of the right-hander. “Everything looked a lot crisper than the other day [in his first bullpen].”

Fujikawa could start the Minor League game to make sure he gets one inning of work. However, the Cubs do want to have him pitch in relief to get into his normal routine in preparation for his return.

* Cubs third basemen have combined for seven home runs in 27 games, most in the Major Leagues, and more than half of the entire season total in 2012. Luis Valbuena has hit five and Cody Ransom two so far. Last season, Chicago third basemen combined for 12 home runs.

* Starlin Castro moved down from the No. 2 hole to fifth for the second straight game, but Sveum said the move was more to take advantage of Ransom’s numbers against left-handed pitching. Castro is the Cubs’ No. 2 hitter.

“I see [Castro] as a two-hole hitter,” Sveum said of the Cubs shortstop, who has a career .303 average batting fifth and a .299 average batting second. “When everything is set correctly, he’s really a two-hole hitter. A lot of times you’d like a left-handed hitter there to hook the ball, and right-handed catchers have trouble throwing when a left-handed hitter is in the batter’s box.

“On our team right now, he’s a two-hole hitter,” Sveum said. “Obviously, he’s a hand-eye coordination guy who will put the ball in play and doesn’t walk much so maybe he’s more apt to hit at the bottom or the order because he can hit into some double plays and things like that. For the team we have now, he’s the second hitter.”

Ransom was 6-for-16 with three home runs against left-handed pitchers so far; Castro was batting .206 against left-handed pitching.

– Carrie Muskat

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