Results tagged ‘ Luis Valbuena ’

8/4 Roster move – UPDATED

Luis Valbuena was placed on the 15-day disabled list Sunday, and infielder Logan Watkins called up from Triple-A Iowa, where he was batting .243. Valbuena has a right oblique strain. Watkins has primarily played second base with Iowa. Watkins and Donnie Murphy were in the lineup Sunday, and will be the 47th and 48th players used by the Cubs this season. The club record is 53 set last year.

Also, infielder Daniel Lockhart was promoted from Boise to Triple-A Iowa. Lockhart was batting .309 with five doubles and 16 RBI in 44 games with Boise. He ranks second in the Northwest League in hits and fifth in batting. A 10th round pick in the 2011 Draft, Lockhart is the son of former Major League infielder and current Cubs’ area scout, Keith Lockhart.

7/11 Extra bases

Who’s the Cubs’ first half Most Valuable Player? Dale Sveum picked All-Star Travis Wood.

“To have basically every start a quality start but one, and that was iffy itself, he’s definitely our MVP,” Sveum said.

Wood will start Sunday night in the Cubs’ first half finale against the Cardinals. Sveum has talked to National League manager Bruce Bochy, and said it’s up to the Giants manager as to whether he uses Wood in Tuesday’s All-Star Game at Citi Field.

“I’ll let Bochy know it’s OK with us if [Wood] pitches one inning or he wants him to get a left-hander out, whatever he wants to do with him,” Sveum said.

Wood leads the Major Leagues with 17 quality starts in his 18 games. This will be his first All-Star Game.

* Outfielder David DeJesus, on the disabled list with a sprained right shoulder, could increase his rehab and play in games in Arizona, starting Monday.

DeJesus, who injured his shoulder crashing into the outfield wall June 14 at Citi Field, was hitting off a batting tee on Thursday. Manager Dale Sveum said they will evaluate the outfielder on Sunday to see if he is able to swing at full speed, and if so, DeJesus would likely go to the team’s facility in Mesa, Ariz., for the All-Star break to play.

There is no timetable for DeJesus’ return.

“He’s really close,” Sveum said.

* Luis Valbuena moved from third base to left field for two innings on Wednesday. He’s played four games in the outfield in his career but Sveum felt Valbuena could handle it. Valbuena seems to be able to deal with anything.

“He’s been our most consistent player the last two years,” Sveum said. “The at-bats he has, to have good at-bats against left-handed pitching, like the hit he got off [Matt] Thornton the other night, he’s one of those consistent guys. You put him in the lineup and don’t have to worry about him doing anything stupid. He’s a consistent player.”

— Carrie Muskat

7/7 Extra bases

* Alfonso Soriano will likely have one more game as the designated hitter on Monday when the Cubs finish their crosstown Interleague series against the White Sox with a makeup game at U.S. Cellular Field. Soriano was batting .353 with three doubles, five homers, 13 RBIs and a 1.235 OPS in his last eight games since June 28. He pickedu up his 32nd career multi-homer game on Saturday, which is tied for eighth-most in baseball with Manny Ramirez and Andruw Jones. Jim Thome is seventh on the list with 33 multi-homer efforts.

“The one thing you notice is he’s hitting the fastball,” Dale Sveum said of Soriano. “When you have the confidence when you’re hitting fastballs and you lay off hitting breaking balls, or whatever it might be, and the bat speed is there, and you feel that good, you start doing a lot of good things because you’re laying off a lot of bad pitches.”

Soriano, 37, is 8-for-17 (.471) in four games this year as the designated hitter with two home runs and six RBIs. He has a career .379 average in 26 games as the DH.

* Starlin Castro has scuffled this season at the plate, including a .167 June, and Sveum said they’ve shown their support by letting the shortstop play.

“Part of it is putting him in the lineup every day, that’s the confidence you have in guys like that,” Sveum said Sunday. “Just put him in there, and it’s up to him to come out of it and start swinging the bat and start playing better.”

Castro began this season with a career .297 average in the big leagues. A two-time All-Star, he entered Sunday’s game batting .234.

“I haven’t seen him hanging his head or losing his confidence,” Sveum said.

* Third baseman Luis Valbuena has played better than his stats.

“On a whole, from last year to this year, he’s been so consistent, even though you’re not seeing a .300 batting average,” Sveum said of Valbuena, who was batting .247. “The on-base percentage and the walks seem to always be there on a consistent basis and the defense he’s played has been as good as anybody at third base.”

* Javier Baez, the Cubs’ No. 1 Draft pick in 2011, made quite an impression in his Double-A Tennessee debut Saturday, hitting a home run in his first at-bat on his first swing.

“It’s always nice for anybody to go to another league and your first swing is a home run,” Sveum said. “This guy still has to develop. It’s not just home runs we’re talking about, it’s getting ready and getting completely developed to play at this level.”

Baez led the Florida State League with 17 home runs while at Class A Daytona before he was promoted.

Meanwhile, Albert Almora, the Cubs’ 2012 top Draft pick had to leave Saturday’s game with Class A Kane County because of hemorrhoids. Almora was listed as day to day.

— Carrie Muskat

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