Results tagged ‘ Nate Schierholtz ’
The Cubs’ Jed Hoyer talked to reporters in Orlando, Fla., on Wednesday, the last day of the general manager meetings, and discussed a variety of topics. Here is a sample, courtesy of MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch, who was covering the meetings.
Q: What are the Cubs looking for pitching-wise?
HOYER: “I felt like last year, we traded a couple of guys away, but I did feel like if we had a strength on that team, that was probably it. The starters’ ERA and rank in quality starts was pretty good. We’ve done a really good job. We’ve signed guys like [Paul] Maholm and [Scott] Feldman and they’ve come in and got better. We don’t sign those guys looking to trade them. I think we want to have that stability, but I feel that’s a strength of our team, that we can sign guys and they’ll come in and have success.
Q: With pitching, is the emphasis on quality or quantity?
HOYER: “You’re always looking for high quality starting pitching. Everyone wants the guy who can start Game 1 of a playoff series or stop a losing streak. You also know the attrition of a season, it gets ugly. When you don’t have enough depth, that’s when teams really feel the pinch of a lack of pitching. You’re always looking for both but certainly I feel like we’ve worked hard to increase the pitching depth in the system. Maybe that’s slightly less of a concern than it has been in the past.”
Q: What about third baseman Mike Olt?
HOYER: “Mentally, he’s doing well. I think with a prospect like him, this is a guy who was a top 20 prospect. He had a down year and I think in this business, if you try to buy guys at the high point of the market you’re not going to have a lot of success. You need to always be looking for guys that had a down year. Maybe there’s a reason behind it and you can hopefully bounce back. We liked where he was mentally at the end of the year. We’ve been in contact with him. I know he’s working hard on his conditioning. We just hope that he looks back at a long, successful career and 2013 is the nadir.”
Q: Have teams asked about outfielder Nate Schierholtz?
HOYER: “We were proud of Nate. He was a guy that was non-tendered that we signed. He liked our opportunity, he came in and a lot of people asked about him in-season. We chose to hold on to him. That interest remains, but give him a lot of credit. I think he proved to a lot of people that he is an everyday player. He did that through hard work.
Q: What would be a successful Cubs season?
HOYER: “I always define it the same way. You want to win, but I think where we are as an organization, you want to be closer to the World Series. Closer to that team that is a sustained winner that comes to Spring Training every year with a chance. I think if we’re a lot closer when we’re talking next year, wherever these meetings are, then it was a good season. If we move that forward, obviously you can never answer that question without talking about winning. You want to win in the big leagues. But we also want to move our timetable closer to being the organization that we want to be.”
Q: Will the Cubs’ top prospects get to the Majors in 2014?
HOYER: “There’s a chance. We also want to be patient. The last thing we want to do is short-circuit their careers or harm them long-term by rushing them. I think when they’re ready, we’ll bring them up. It’s nice that they’re a year closer. Hopefully next year at this time, they’re one year closer and in Wrigley pretty soon.”
– Carrie Muskat
* Anthony Rizzo doubled in his first at-bat in the first to become the first Cubs left-handed hitter to reach 40 doubles since Mark Grace had 41 doubles in 2000. Rizzo finished with 65 extra-base hits this season, the most by a Cubs left-handed hitter since Mark Grace had that many in 1999.
“I’m going to take a lot of positives out of this year,” Rizzo said. “The only thing people are going to ride me on is the average but things could’ve been different there. Things didn’t go my way sometimes but that’s the game of baseball. I’m not happy about that at all but I’m going into the offseason pretty confident I can hit .300 and do all the other things as well.”
Rizzo, who finished with a .233 average in his first full season, and Nate Schierholtz (32 doubles) are the first Cubs left-handed hitting teammates to each reach 30 doubles in the same season since Jacque Jones (32 doubles) and Juan Pierre (31 doubles) in 2006.
In May, Rizzo signed a seven-year, $41 million contract extension. That didn’t affect his hitting.
“One of the goals at the beginning of this year and it was the same last year was to be the starting first baseman for the Cubs,” Rizzo said. “Obviously, now it’ll be for a few more years. Like I said when I signed it, it’s security. I get to play baseball and don’t have to worry about anything else except playing baseball.”
* Shortstop Starlin Castro totaled 666 at-bats, tops in the National League. Baltimore’s Manny Machado led the Majors with 667 at-bats.
* The Cubs finished 25-51 against the NL Central, matching the Astros for the lowest winning percentage by any team in its own division. Chicago went 7-12 against St. Louis, 5-14 against Cincinnati, 6-13 against Milwaukee, and 7-12 against Pittsburgh. It’s the first time they’ve finished with double-digit losses against four teams since 2002.
– Carrie Muskat
For the second straight day, champagne was sprayed at Wrigley Field, and once again, it was on the visitor’s side. One day after the Braves clinched the NL East title, the Cubs watched the Pirates party as they secured their first playoff berth since 1992 with a 2-1 win Monday night.
“It’s a tough one to lose after coming back like that,” said Dale Sveum, whose team tied the game in the eighth on pinch-hitter Donnie Murphy’s RBI single.
Starling Marte smacked a tiebreaking solo home run with two outs in the ninth off Kevin Gregg to lift the Pirates to victory but it took a close play at the plate to clinch it. Marte had entered in the seventh as a defensive replacement in left field, and his at-bat in the ninth was his first of the game. He launched a 2-2 pitch from Gregg into the left-field bleachers. Marte’s last two home runs have come off Gregg in the ninth; he also connected July 7 on a homer that tied the game.
The Cubs tried to answer in the ninth. With one out and one on, Nate Schierholtz reached on a fielder’s choice, and Ryan Sweeney then singled into the gap in right center. Schierholtz was thrown out at home on an 8-3-2 relay.
Schierholtz has played in a World Series, doing so with the Giants in 2010.
“It brought back some memories,” Schierholtz said of watching the Braves, then the Pirates. “That’s why we play this game. It’s pretty exciting being in the postseason and I obviously want to get back there one day.”
Jeff Samardzija, who also knows about championship seasons, having played football at Notre Dame, had talked to Schierholtz after Sunday’s game.
“We mentioned to each other that’s what it’s all about, that’s why you work in the offseason, that’s why you work hard in Spring Training, that’s why you want to get off to a fast start in April and May so you can have those moments,” Samardzija said. “That’s what you want. If you’re just here just to play until next year, that’s not what it’s all about. You have to let it all hang out and you have to play for right now. That’s what we need to do.
“I think we’re getting there,” Samardzija said, “but I think we need to get some things ironed out and get this team mentally in a spot where that’s what we’re shooting for, and we’re not shooting to survive but we’re shooting to win and thrive out there.”
The Pirates needed to beat the Cubs and have the Cardinals beat the Nationals to secure a playoff spot, and the Cards won, 4-3. Samardzija tried to delay having to watch their fun in his career-high 32nd start. He did serve up Neil Walker’s home run on a 1-1 fastball with one out in the first, but that was really the only hard hit ball.
This was his fifth start against the Pirates this season, including Opening Day, when he threw eight shutout innings. That was his only win against Pittsburgh this year.
“They’re aggressive,” Samardzija said. “They’ve seen me a lot and know I throw a lot of fastballs early in the count. You could tell when one was in the zone, they were hacking. I threw a couple cutters early which kept them off balance. It’s the fifth, sixth time I’ve faced them this year. You have to keep adjusting to what you’re doing against them.”
The Cubs dropped to 30-49 at home, and have two games left at Wrigley Field. They’ve never lost 50 games at home in a single season.
– Carrie Muskat
Jake Arrieta’s extended audition for the Cubs’ 2014 rotation went very well Thursday. Nate Schierholtz hit a two-run homer and Luis Valbuena and Brian Bogusevic each added solo shots to back Arrieta, who gave up three hits over seven innings in the Cubs’ 5-1 victory over the Brewers at Miller Park, snapping a five-game losing streak.
Acquired from the Orioles in July in the Scott Feldman deal, Arrieta walked leadoff batter Norichika Aoki, then retired 11 straight before Aramis Ramirez singled with two outs in the fourth. The right-hander retired the next seven batters he faced before Carlos Gomez spoiled the shutout bid with a leadoff home run in the seventh on an 0-1 pitch. Two outs later, Jeff Bianchi doubled for the third hit off Arrieta.
“Everything was working really really well,” Dale Sveum said of the outing by Arrieta. “He hung one cutter to Gomez, but other than that, there was weak contact. … That was a pretty impressive outing.”
This was Arrieta’s eighth start with the Cubs, and it was his longest outing since he threw seven shutout innings against the Cardinals on Aug. 16.
“He was throwing filthy stuff,” Gomez said of the right-hander. “The fastball was explosive, had good sink. He commanded the curve really good. He’s got good stuff. I don’t know why he was never more successful most of his career. This guy’s going to be good.”
The emphasis was on keeping the ball down and having command of his pitches.
“I told [pitching coach Chris Bosio] after the game, I feel like I just threw my pre-game ‘pen, and I could’ve gone another 100 pitches, that’s how good I felt today as far as controling the game and my effort,” Arrieta said.
The knock on the right-hander has been a lack of command but he not only showed he could control his cutter/slider and two-seam fastball but also had a good curveball.
“You have to get that [command] established as early as possible and not allow hitters to eliminate pitches and today they weren’t able to do that,” Arrieta said. “You saw a lot of below average swings and a lot of guys were just off balance and not able to anticipate what I was coming at them with. That’s one of the big things I have to do as a starter to try to pitch deep in the games is keep them off balance and get them to pitch to contact early.”
– Carrie Muskat
* James Russell is tied for first for the most appearances in the Major Leagues by a reliever, pitching in 73 games this season. On Saturday, he served up a game-winning home run to the Pirates’ Marlon Byrd in the seventh, and has given up four hits and two walks over three innings in his last four games.
“The ball’s up,” Dale Sveum said of the lefty. “Even the out he got on [Pedro] Alvarez [on Saturday], every pitch he threw was up in the strike zone. It’s a matter of keeping the ball down. He’s having a real difficult time getting the ball down.”
Could Russell be tired?
“For whatever reason, mechanical or tired or whatever — he’s had quite a bit of rest the last few weeks,” Sveum said. “We’ve tried not to use him unless we’re tied or teams we’re playing are in the pennant race to give him a break. He has thrown a lot of pitches and innings the last couple years but he says he feels as good as he ever has.”
* Scott Baker will get one more start on Friday at Wrigley Field when the Cubs play host to the Braves, and then the right-hander will be shut down. Sveum said there has been no talk about having Baker make another start. In two starts, Baker, coming back from Tommy John surgery in April 2012, has given up one run on five hits and one walk over 11 innings.
* The Cubs played the Pirates on Opening Day, but the roster that faced them in this four-game series has undergone several changes. Only 12 of the 25 players on the Cubs’ Opening Day roster are still with the team. The 13 players no longer present have either been traded, outrighted off the 40-man roster, or granted their unconditional release. Nate Schierholtz is the lone outfielder remaining from Opening Day, and James Russell and Hector Rondon are the only remaining relievers. Overall, 33 players have made their debut for the Cubs this season, a franchise record that tops the 30 who did so in 1902.
– Carrie Muskat
* On Sunday, the Cubs look to win two-straight home games for the first time since taking three in a row, July 6-9 vs. the Pirates and Angels.
* Starlin Castro has recorded multi-hit efforts in three of his last four games, and has four extra-base hits in his last two games (three doubles, one home run) after recording just two extra-base hits in his first 26 August contests.
* The Cubs have averaged 5.3 runs in their last six home games (32 runs total) after scoring 12 runs in their previous eight home games, Aug. 3-18, including five shutout losses.
* Anthony Rizzo (21 homers) and Nate Schierholtz (20) form one of three left-handed hitting duos with 20 home runs apiece this season, joining the Reds’ Jay Bruce (26) and Joey Votto (20), and the Mariners’ Raul Ibanez (25) and Kyle Seager (21).
The Cubs previously had two left-handed 20-home run hitters in a season 40 years ago when Rick Monday (26) and Billy Williams (20) did so in 1973. Prior to that, it hadn’t happened since 1962 when Williams and George Altman had 22 home runs apiece.
It was a perfect homecoming for Ryne Sandberg at Wrigley Field, which has been anything but friendly to the Cubs this season. Back at the ballpark he called home for 15 seasons, Sandberg, now the Phillies interim manager, celebrated a 6-5 win over the Cubs on Friday. Michael Young had four hits, including a tiebreaking RBI single with two outs in the ninth, and Kevin Frandsen hit a game-tying home run in the seventh to lift the Phillies.
Last Friday in San Diego, the Cubs blew a six-run first inning lead in an 8-6 loss to the Padres. This time, they couldn’t hold a 5-0 lead after five innings. Chicago now is 25-42 at Wrigley, and are one of five teams with more wins on the road than at home.
“Twice in one week, to see this kind of game, and this one at home, with your big horse [Jeff Samardzija] on the mound, cruising along and all of a sudden he starts misfiring and gets the ball up [it's tough],” Dale Sveum said. “We can’t get a big hit to walk them off or get the chance. Michael Young hits the outfield grass [with his game-winning single] — we’re having trouble doing that at home.”
Sandberg, the Hall of Fame second baseman, received a nice ovation from the fans in his return to Wrigley. He took time to sign autographs, meet the media and say hello to old friends at the ballpark he called home from 1982-94 and again from 1996-97.
“It was good,” Sandberg said of the reception. “I heard it. A little tip of the hat to the crowd for that. And once I got up there with the umpires, we chatted a little bit. I asked them if they wanted me to take them around the ground rules.”
Sandberg not only could offer advice on how to deal with the hitter-friendly wind or the tough infield at Wrigley, but may have had a few suggestions about dealing with Samardzija, who was once on his Triple-A Iowa roster. The right-hander was shut down last Sept. 8 in his first season as a starter because the Cubs wanted to watch his innings. This year, the kid gloves are off. Friday was Samardzija’s career-high 28th start, and it included his 500th career strikeout, which he notched when he struck out Young in the third.
“Any time you get the early runs, you can be aggressive and attack the zone,” Samardzija said. “It allowed me to cruise through the middle innings. I obviously had the hiccup in the sixth.”
Anthony Rizzo and Nate Schierholtz each hit solo home runs. The Cubs added on in the fourth on Starlin Castro’s two-run double. Brian Bogusevic hit a RBi single in the fifth. But it wasn’t enough.
Pinch-hitter Kevin Frandsen tripled to open the Phillies’ sixth and scored on Young’s second single of the game. Jimmy Rollins then singled, and he and Young scored on Chase Utley’s triple to pull within 5-3. Utley then tallied on Domonic Brown’s groundout.
Frandsen stayed in the game, and delivered a solo homer with two outs in the seventh to tie the game at 5.
The Cubs had runners at first and second and one out in the seventh but Zach Miner struck out Murphy. Bogusevic singled to right, and Dioner Navarro, who was on second, tried to score, but was thrown out at home.
“You think about pinch-running there, but at home, in the seventh inning, [Navarro] is coming up again, and unless it was to win a game, it’s tough to [lift him],” Sveum said.
“I knew they were going to send me, there were two outs, tie game,” Navarro said. “They told me he made a perfect throw to the plate. We couldn’t catch a break today.”
– Carrie Muskat
Nate Schierholtz is apparently OK after tweaking his back on Sunday and he’s going to play Monday. And, Anthony Rizzo is back at No. 3 in the lineup after going 7-for-24 in the second spot. The Dodgers swept the series at Wrigley earlier this month. Here’s the lineup:
The Cubs scored a season-high six runs in the first inning, but it wasn’t enough for Edwin Jackson. Will Venable hit a two-run triple in the fifth and a tiebreaking solo home run in the seventh, and rookie Jedd Gyorko smacked two home runs to help the Padres rally from a six-run first inning deficit and post an 8-6 victory Friday night over the Cubs at Petco Park. It wsa the largest come-from-behind win of the season for the Padres.
“For me not to come out and hold a lead, that’s just disappointing, it’s a terrible job, flat out,” Jackson said. “There’s no other way to put it.”
The Cubs sent a dozen batters to the plate in the first and opened a 6-0 lead, thanks to a three-run homer by Nate Schierholtz, his 19th, and a two-run triple by Brian Bogusevic. But the Cubs’ offense for the night lasted just that two-thirds of an inning.
Jackson served up a three-run home run to Gyorko, the slugger’s 15th, with one out in the fourth. The Padres had two on and one out again in the fifth when Will Venable smacked a two-run triple. It is part of an unfortunate trend with Jackson. He holds batters to a .256 average the first time through the lineup, but they are hitting .313 the third time.
“To pretty much sum it up, I got beat on two breaking balls,” Jackson said. “I gave up a three-run homer [to Gyorko] on a hanging slider. I was throwing strikes, so it wasn’t like I wasn’t throwing strikes. I left too good of pitches in the zone for them to hit long balls with men on base. That pretty much sums it up.”
Was the problem pitch selection?
“It was just terrible location,” Jackson said. “[The pitches] were pretty much over the plate and hanging. It was just terrible, bad pitches. It wasn’t pitch selection, just location.”
Said Cubs manager Dale Sveum: “You can’t throw big league hitters balls down the middle.”
Said Navarro: “He missed his location and was pitching up in the zone a little bit, and when you pitch up in the zone, bad things happen.”
Yes, they do. With the game tied in the seventh, pinch-hitter Ronny Cedeno singled off Jackson, who was pulled in favor of James Russell. The lefty picked off Cedeno, but then served up Venable’s homer to let the Padres go ahead, 7-6.
“Once again, it was bad pitch selection,” Sveum said. “You’re not supposed to throw [Venable] a slider, and he threw him a slider.”
– Carrie Muskat
* Before Monday’s 11-run outburst, the Cubs had scored 12 runs in eight home games from Aug. 3-18. The 11 runs were the second-most they’ve scored this season (14 runs, June 23 vs. Astros).
* The Cubs hit five home runs Monday, the second five-homer game of the season. The Cubs and Nationals are the only NL teams with two five-homer games this year.
* Nate Schierholtz’ 18 home runs are fourth-most amongst NL right fielders, trailing the Reds’ Jay Bruce (24), the Cardinals’ Carlos Beltran (21) and the Mets’ Marlon Byrd (20).
* The Cubs have hit 80 home runs at Wrigley Field, second-most for a team at home in the Majors (the Orioles lead with 85 at home). The Cubs have hit 54 home runs on the road this season, 11th-most in the NL. Their 134 home runs this year are three shy of the 2012 total (137).