Results tagged ‘ Matt Szczur ’
Matt Szczur and Joe Maddon have established the prize for their friendly wager over the first round NCAA men’s basketball game between their respective schools, Villanova and Lafayette. Villanova, the top seed in the East Regional, is a 22-point favorite over 16th-seed Lafayette, and they play Thursday.
Whoever loses has to wear a hoodie sweatshirt of the winning team. But there’s more. Szczur suggested if Villanova not only won but beat the point spread, Maddon would owe the outfielder a bottle of wine.
“He’s pretty confident I’m going to be wearing a Villanova hoodie,” Maddon said. “I think he’s also confident that he’s going to have to give me a bottle of wine. It was all him. I love the intellect behind the bet. He thought of it himself. I said, ‘I’m in.'”
On Tuesday, Szczur crashed into the left field fence chasing after a ball, and ended up with a little cut above his eye. Maddon wasn’t surprised.
“The way the guy looks, the way the guy plays, that football background, it all makes sense,” Maddon said of Szczur who played wide receiver, running back, wildcat quarterback and on special teams for the ‘Nova football team. “He’s a joy to be around. We’ve got a lot of guys who teams like to have because they’re good players and people who go about their business. He’s totally himself.”
– Carrie Muskat
There’s usually a surprise player in every spring camp. Manager Joe Maddon is looking for the mystery man in Cubs camp. Maddon hasn’t set the regular season lineup but said Tuesday that the No. 2 batter has been tough to project.
“The two hole is like a mystery,” Maddon said.
Last year, 11 different batters hit second for the Cubs, with Javier Baez getting the most at-bats there with 213. But he posted a .227 on-base percentage. Someone like Tommy La Stella or Chris Coghlan might be a better fit.
“At the end of the day, it’s about feeding the RBI guys — who has the knack to drive in points,” Maddon said. “You would think on the surface guys like [Anthony] Rizzo, [Jorge] Soler and [Kris] Bryant would be classical RBI guys.”
* Looking ahead, Travis Wood will start Friday, Jon Lester on Saturday, and Jason Hammel on Sunday for the Cubs.
* Matt Szczur and Joe Maddon have established the prize in their friendly wager on Villanova vs. Lafayette in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. It’s a sweatshirt — actually, a hoodie — and the loser will have to wear the winning school top for a day. ‘Nova is a 22-point favorite.
* Nice to see Hall of Famer Billy Williams in uniform in camp Tuesday.
– Carrie Muskat
It’ll be Villanova vs. Lafayette in the first round of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, which matches Cubs outfielder Matt Szczur’s school against manager Joe Maddon’s.
Szczur starred at Villanova, the No. 1 seed in the East regional, and he challenged the manager on Monday.
“I said, ‘Skip, it’s Nova versus Lafayette, what have you got?’ He smiled,” Szczur said. “We’ll figure something out. He wants points. I know Nova is a powerhouse this year.”
The Wildcats are 32-2 this season; Lafayette is 20-12.
“It’s nice to see us back in the dance,” Maddon said. “It’s not going to be easy but I’m proud of the boys for getting it done. [Lafayette] is more of an academically oriented admission system as opposed to just bringing guys in. It’s impressive what they’ve done.”
Maddon joked that they’d have a friendly wager, so if Lafayette wins, Szczur has to wax the manager’s car.
“I’m not going to wax his — I’ll pay somebody to wax his,” Maddon sai
– Carrie Muskat
Several Cubs players are in Mesa, Ariz., and working out in preparation for Spring Training. Pitchers and catchers report Thursday with the first workout on Friday. Here, Matt Szczur, Kris Bryant, Rafael Lopez, and Addison Russell prep for some batting practice at newly named Sloan Park on Monday.
– Carrie Muskat
Matt Szczur snared a line drive for the last out of Chris Rusin’s no-hitter on May 7 when the two were together at Triple-A Iowa. On Tuesday night, the rookie outfielder nearly preserved a no-no for the Cubs’ Jake Arrieta. Arrieta had a no-hitter through 7 1/3 innings when Brandon Phillips lined an 0-2 pitch toward the gap in left center that dropped just past an outstretched Szczur for the Reds first, and only hit.
“I was planning on running through the wall if I had to,” Szczur said. “It’s a shame I couldn’t come up with it. I made the best effort.”
He was close.
“He closed the gap on that ball pretty well,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. “I think off the bat, I don’t think anybody thought he had a chance. He must have come within a foot of that. It was a great effort by that young man. That’s one of the traits Szczur brings to the table is that energy and effort, and that’s what carries him a long ways.”
Arrieta could only shrug. It’s the third time he’s taken a no-hitter into the seventh, yet come up empty handed.
“There’s nothing you can do there other than make a little bit better pitch,” Arrieta said. “That’s the way it goes.”
Catcher John Baker and Szczur watched a replay of the near-catch several times after the game.
“I told him that if he was left-handed, he would’ve caught it,” Baker said. “That guy went for it and was disappointed he didn’t get it.”
Szczur was miffed.
“I was going to do anything to try to save that,” Szczur said. “It was no different if he’d given up four or five hits, I would’ve done the same thing. It was close — I was watching on the replay and I was about four inches off. I had a great jump, a great read on the ball. I thought I was going to catch it when I took the first couple steps.”
– Carrie Muskat
Matt Szczur hit the ball hard at the wrong time for the Cubs Sunday. Szczur, one of the fastest players on the Cubs, hit into a triple play in the fourth inning sparked by Josh Harrison, who also drove in two runs to lead the Pirates to a 7-3 come from behind victory. The Cubs lost for the eighth time in their last nine games and ended their road trip 1-5. Chicago struggled to generate any offense without Anthony Rizzo (back), Jorge Soler (paternity leave) and Starlin Castro (ankle). It didn’t help when the Pirates thwarted a rally with their web gem.
Chicago led 3-0 when Chris Valaika doubled to lead off the fourth against Edinson Volquez, who then walked Mike Olt. But Szczur smacked the ball to Harrison at third base to start the first triple play at PNC Park and the first the Cubs have hit into since May 14, 2000, at Montreal.
“It was a heck of a play,” Szczur said. “I was looking for a good pitch to hit and something to hit hard, and it was probably the wrong time I hit the ball hard.”
Szczur remembers he and Logan Watkins were on the bases once for a triple play while at Class A Daytona. That was the last one he could recall.
“I thought I was going to [beat the throw],” Szczur said. “It was close. I put a good swing on it and tried to get out of the box as fast as I could. Wrong time to hit it hard, that’s for sure.”
Cubs manager Rick Renteria felt Szczur had a chance.
“He hit it right on the nose, and Harrison made a really nice play because he ended up catching it going away from him — he didn’t even back hand it, he stayed with it — and it took him right to the bag,” Renteria said.
Renteria didn’t feel that play turned the momentum in the game.
“I don’t allow our guys to put their heads down,” Renteria said. “That’s just a play that happened. We were still in the lead. That’s baseball.”
The Pirates would respectfully disagree.
“Anytime you pull a triple play, I think you’re going to feel an instant boost of energy,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “It’s an exciting play, it was crisp, it was fun.”
Said Neil Walker: “It was huge. You don’t see that too many times, and we were in spot in the game where we were just playing flat for the first several innings, [Volquez] was having a tough time getting his rhythm, and we were having a tough time putting together some at-bats. All of a sudden, that kind of momentum carried us into the offensive side of things. Really cool to be a part of that. ”
– Carrie Muskat
It’s been tough for the Cubs to get much offense going on this road trip, and the Pirates snuffed out a potential rally with a triple play in the fourth inning Sunday.
Chris Valaika doubled to lead off the fourth against Edinson Volquez, who then walked Mike Olt. But Matt Szczur smacked the ball to third baseman Josh Harrison to ignite a 5-4-3 triple play, the first the Cubs have hit into since May 14, 2000, at Montreal. Harrison fired to second baseman Neal Walker, who stepped on the bag, and threw in time to Andrew Lambo at first.
It’s the first triple play turned by the Pirates since April 12, 2009, at Cincinnati.
This was the 77th triple play the Cubs have been involved in, and the 37th they’ve hit into.
In the May 14, 2000, game, the Cubs had runners at first and third when Henry Rodriguez hit into a 3-4-2 triple play.
– Carrie Muskat
Matt Szczur timed his first big league home run perfectly. The rookie outfielder led off the eighth inning Saturday night with his first blast in the Cubs’ 6-4 victory over the Pirates, and had his family, his fiance and her family, and lots of friends from Villanova in the crowd of 38,024 at PNC Park.
It was almost harder to get the ball than it was to hit it. Szczur’s homer sailed into the left field seats, and a young fan ended up with it. The Cubs coaches got word to third base umpire Paul Schrieber about the importance of the home run, and he intervened, going over to the stands to ask the young man for the ball.
“There were a lot of people involved trying to get that baseball,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said.
“After the inning, [Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio] came up to me and said ‘Hey, Szczur, we got the ball for you. We had a hard time getting it, but we got it,'” Szczur said. “I was like, ‘Did you make sure you signed it?’ He sure did — he signed it for me.”
Bosio autographs each ball with the date, the location and the pitcher — which is how the Cubs authenticate the souvenirs.
The Cubs rookies have provided plenty of pop this season with Javier Baez hitting his ninth homer Saturday. Mike Olt has 12, Arismendy Alcantara has nine and Jorge Soler has four.
“I don’t know about [joining the] rookie home run derby — that’s my second of the year,” Szczur said. “It’s good to be here [in the big leagues]. It’s really exciting. Hopefully this ignites some wins and we finish the season strong.”
He hit his only other home run April 13.
“I thought I was going to have about 20, and I ended up having one,” Szczur said. “That’s what I get for thinking.”
– Carrie Muskat
Kyle Hendricks gets the start Monday in the Cubs series finale against the Mets. Chris Coghlan is still bothered by a sore toe on his left foot, so Arismendy Alcantara will lead off. And Matt Szczur gets his first Major League start. Here’s the lineup:
Matt Szczur’s father was in Des Moines this weekend to help his son pack some of his belongings. Szczur has spent the season at Triple-A Iowa, and with the year winding down, the plan was for his father to make a stop at the Iowa State Fair on Saturday, then load up the car and drive to New Jersey. But plans changed.
“I called him and said, ‘You might want to come back — we’re packing up for a different reason now,'” Szczur said.
On Sunday, Szczur was recalled from the Minor League team and joined the Cubs at Citi Field, where he played once before in a workout for Major League scouts. When he gets in a game, he will be the seventh player to make his Major League debut with the team this season.
“To be honest, I didn’t even think I’d be playing baseball,” said Szczur, who was a star wide receiver at Villanova. “I thought I was going to go to the NFL and play football. It happened my opportunity was better at the time to play baseball.
“I just wanted to work hard and get to the hardest level,” he said. “It’s been a great journey. There have been struggles but there are struggles everywhere and you learn from your struggles.”
Szczur knows first-hand about struggles. He donated blood cells to a leukemia patient who had a 1-in-80,000 chance of finding a match. He missed 10 games in 2010 because of side effects from the medication he had to take.
A fifth round pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, Szczur has impressed the Cubs organization with his work habits. He doesn’t just stand in the outfield during batting practice, he “power shags” and chases after balls hit as if it’s a game situation.
“It’s helped me a lot,” Szczur said. “What helped get me here is being a defensive help in the outfield.”
Iowa manager Marty Pevey broke the news to Szczur in a light-hearted way. Szczur was called into Pevey’s office before Saturday’s game.
“He asked if I was hitting off the curve ball machine today,” Szczur said. “I said, ‘Yeah, I planned on it.’ He said, ‘Well, you’re not going to hit it with us, you’re going to the big leagues. I was excited, everybody else was excited. They see the hard work I put in and they were happy for me.”
Even if Szczur’s father won’t make it to Citi Field — he’s driving Matt’s car to Chicago — there will be plenty of family in the stands. He grew up in Cape May, N.J., although Szczur admitted he was a Phillies fan as a kid.
Manager Rick Renteria wanted to give Szczur time to get familiar with the outfield before putting him in the lineup but will try to take advantage of his speed. Szczur had 30 stolen bases at Iowa; the Cubs have 49 as a team.
“He did a nice job for us in the spring, he’s a nice defensive player, he had some really good at-bats, runs the bases well,” Renteria said.
He arrived in New York shortly after midnight Saturday. Was he excited about the call-up?
“I couldn’t sleep at all last night, there was no way,” Szczur said. “It’s exciting. You have to realize it’s your job and you have to go out there and work. Once you make it, [the work] doesn’t stop. You have to just keep it up.”
– Carrie Muskat