Results tagged ‘ Rudy Jaramillo ’

10/26 Coaches update

Cubs manager Mike Quade needs a new bench coach and Ryne Sandberg does not appear to be in line for the job. Alan Trammell, who was the bench coach for four years under Lou Piniella, has joined Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson’s staff as bench coach, Arizona announced Tuesday. Trammell joins other former Cubs as Don Baylor was named hitting coach and Eric Young named first base coach. Gibson was Trammell’s bench coach in Detroit when Trammell managed the Tigers from 2003-05.

Quade, given a two-year contract one week ago after a successful six-week term at the end of the 2010 season, was not expected to name the rest of his staff until after the World Series. MLB asks teams to refrain from making any announcements during the series, which gets underway Wednesday in San Francisco between the Giants and Rangers.

Sandberg, one of the finalists for the Cubs manager’s job, was not expected to replace Trammell on the bench and it was not clear what role the Hall of Fame second baseman would have in the organization. That likely will be one of the topics discussed during the Cubs’ organizational meetings, which get underway next week in Arizona.

The majority of the Cubs staff was expected to return in 2011, including pitching coach Larry Rothschild, hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo, bullpen coach Lester Strode, third base coach Ivan DeJesus and first base coach Bob Dernier. Dernier had been the team’s roving baserunning instructor before joining the big league team when Quade took over for Piniella on Aug. 23.

Matt Sinatro, who was a special assistant to the manager and involved with the scouting reports and working with the catchers, was not expected to return in 2011.

— Carrie Muskat

10/8 Extra bases

Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild has until Monday to tell the team whether he will exercise his option for 2011. Rothschild, 56, just finished his ninth season with the Cubs, who ranked 13th in the National League in ERA at 4.18. Even if Rothschild says yes, he can leave if the next Cubs manager does not want him or if Rothschild does not want to work with the new skipper.

* As of now, the list of candidates who have interviewed for the Cubs’ managerial job includes Eric Wedge, Bob Melvin, Ryne Sandberg and Mike Quade. General manager Jim Hendry has talked to at least seven others by phone but did not plan on calling any of them in for formal interviews.

* The Cubs ranked eighth in the NL in team batting average and 10th in runs scored. Hendry was happy with hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo, who finished his first season with the team. “He’s a hard working guy and I think you saw some positives come near the end,” Hendry said. “The guy’s been as good as there is for 15 years. I think over time his abilities will continue to grow for us.”

— Carrie Muskat

9/10 Byrd is the word – UPDATED

Marlon Byrd collected hit No. 155 of the season with two outs in the fifth inning Friday, matching his career high set last year with the Rangers. Usually it takes free agents who sign with the Cubs at least one year to get accustomed to day games. Byrd hit the ground running.

“I’m a guy who can adjust to schedules,” Byrd said.

He has been among the top hitters in the National League in average but has scuffled a little as he battles some end of season soreness. That’s something the Cubs outfielder is used to.  Playing the majority of games in the day time is something else.

“It wasn’t easy,” he said. “It’s not easy at all changing to this routine,
especially Saturday noon games and playing center field. It’s one of
those things — I don’t know, I think it’s really keeping your mental
focus all year. Physically, it’s automatic.”

What may have helped Byrd a little is the fact he came to the Cubs with hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo, whom he had for three years in Texas.

“My routine, as far as going to the cage, didn’t change because I’ve been
doing the same thing three straight years,” Byrd said. “I know what I have to do to
get ready.”

So, is he a morning person?

“I’m all day,” he said.

— 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

7/12 Byrd is the word

Marlon Byrd is representing the Cubs in the All-Star Game on Tuesday, and he’s come a long way. This is a player who has been designated for assignment twice — yet never gave up. He won over Cubs fans quickly, hitting a three-run homer in his first at-bat April 5 against Atlanta’s Derrek Lowe on Opening Day.

Compare that to Opening Day 2007 when Byrd was at home after being DFA on March 31 that year by the Rangers. Texas opted to keep infielder Matt Kata as the 25th man. Byrd eventually was outrighted to Triple-A Oklahoma, where he hit .358 with six homers and 32 RBIs in 44 games.

“Once they called him up and he started getting going, I was really impressed with him and his work ethic and his energy,” said Rudy Jaramillo, who was the Rangers hitting coach at that time.

The Rangers promoted Byrd on May 26, 2007, and he didn’t look back, hitting .307 with 10 homers and 70 RBIs the rest of the season.

“He never gave up,” Jaramillo said. “He said he was always working wrong. It’s been a joy to see him progress. It just shows a lot about him and his makeup as a man.”

Byrd’s positive attitude has carried over into the Cubs clubhouse.

“Marlon is a smart player, he’s a good teacher,” rookie outfielder Tyler Colvin said. “It’s like the little things — he’s always working. You see him get real mad if he doesn’t take a good swing, even if the outcome is good. He’s always wanting to go up there and hit the ball hard and have a good approach and have everything perfect.

“It’s good to see that because it kind of rubs off — you want to try to be like that,” Colvin said. “You want a strict routine like he has and take everything seriously like he does.”

Don’t mess with Byrd’s routine. The center fielder follows a strict pregame program, that includes a session with Jaramillo, who was his mentor in three seasons in Texas and now is with the Cubs.

“I think that really is key here,” Colvin said of Byrd’s program. “You play so many games and everyone says it’s a game of failure, but you better have a good routine so at least you feel good before the game even if you might be struggling at the plate. As long as you know you’re working on things, you can hopefuly keep those slumps to a minimum.”

Besides his bat, Byrd also has brought an energy to the Cubs.

“He gives me more energy and more motivation to come to the ballpark and play hard because I see him play and I like how he plays,” Alfonso Soriano said.

What if the Cubs had 25 guys like Byrd?

“Not 25,” Soriano said, laughing. “Maybe 15. Twenty-five is too much. Maybe half of the team like that, we’d be in better shape.”

Soriano, a seven-time All-Star, said Byrd was a good pick.

“He deserves it because of the way he plays,” Soriano said. “I think he’s the best player on the team. He comes every day to play hard and I’m very happy for him.”

Colvin couldn’t ask for a better role model.

“There’s some other guys who I thought were deserving,” Colvin said. “He’s definitely a good representation of what we’d like to do here — always play hard and work hard and be ready to go.”

— Carrie Muskat

7/2 Rudy: "You have to trust yourself"

Some of the Cubs hitters have scuffled but it’s not because hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo is totally revamping their swings.

“I’m trying to get them to do what they’ve done in the past when they’ve had success and that’s it,” Jaramillo said Friday.

The Cubs pitchers have the best ERA in the National League since May 15 at 3.32, yet the team is 19-24 and has dropped from six games back at that date to 10 1/2 back in the National League Central. They haven’t been able to hit, especially with runners on base.

Lou Piniella suggested some players may be working too hard. Jaramillo stresses quality, not quantity.

“You have to trust yourself and what you work on,” Jaramillo said. “It doesn’t matter how much you work on it. Some guys work more than others and then you have to take it into the game and you can’t be worried about failure or whatever. You just have to be a mentally tough person to deal with this game. I believe right now we have to do that.”

What’s hurt the most is having the middle of the order scuffle. The No. 3-4 hitters, Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez, were batting .231 and .180, respectively. Marlon Byrd, now in his fourth year with Jaramillo, ranks among the National League leaders at .306.

“I take full responsibility — I’m the hitting coach, I’m accountable,” Jaramillo said. “But I don’t doubt myself in any way in what I’m doing and the direction I’m going.

“It’s a two-way street and those kids have to respond,” he said. “They’re men and it’s not like we have a bunch of young kids here. They’ve been around. They just have to get it done.”

Jaramillo isn’t giving up either.

“I’m not going to change,” Jaramillo said. “I’ve had too much success with what I’ve done in the past. I try to make adjustments with them and be positive with them and encourage them and get them ready for the game. That’s all you can do.”

— Carrie Muskat

6/15 Ramirez takes batting practice

Aramis Ramirez took batting practice on Tuesday, the first time he’s tested his sore left thumb since going on the disabled list June 8. Hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo reported to Lou Piniella that Ramirez swung the bat OK and his thumb didn’t bother him much.

“He’ll continue to work for a week or so and then be eligible to come off the disabled list,” PIniella said.

It’s unclear whether Ramirez will need a Minor League rehab assignment. Piniella said the third baseman could go to Class A Peoria, which is nearby, but also could simply be activated when the time comes.

— Carrie Muskat

5/11 The morning after …

Lou Piniella wasn’t too worried about young shortstop Starlin Castro the day after he made three errors in a game. Castro has already experienced the highs and lows of baseball. He set a ML record with six RBIs in his debut game last Friday in Cincinnati, and on Monday, was charged with three errors in the Cubs’ loss to the Marlins.

“We’re going to grow with him,” Piniella said.

The Cubs coaches talked to Castro about one of the plays in which he didn’t hustle after a ball. But he’s getting a crash course on big league baseball in the few days he’s been with the team.

“We’ve talked to him more than anything else about the tags at second base and how to properly get that glove down,” Piniella said.

“He’ll be fine. Let’s not get too occupied with this. He’s got a learning curve ahead of him and he’s got the perfect guy in [Alan] Trammell and [Ivan] DeJesus to help him and a wonderful hitting coach [in Rudy Jaramillo]. He’ll be taken care of the right way.”

— Carrie Muskat

5/10 D-Lee: "You have to get it done"

On the last road trip, Derrek Lee was 4-for-24 (.167) and is batting .210 overall. That’s not good for the No. 3 hitter in the Cubs’ lineup.

“No one likes not getting hits,” Lee said. “We’re obviously off to slow starts. We’re going to turn it around.”

All he needs is one swing to get re-aligned.

“It seems like you have that one at-bat, get that feel, and it clicks from there,” Lee said.

This isn’t the first time Lee has gotten off to a slow start. But usually he gets over his hitting funks by now.

“I try not to look at past years, to be honest, because I don’t want to take anything for granted,” he said. “You can’t say, ‘I did it last year’ or whenever so it’s going to automatically happen. You just keep working. You know the ability is there. You just have to get it done.”

The Cubs aren’t going to catch up in the NL Central if the guys in the middle of the lineup, Lee and Aramis Ramirez, don’t start hitting. Ramirez was batting .160.

“That’s how we want it,” Lee said of the expectations. “We’re right in the middle of the order. We’re the production guys. We have to get it done.”

Lee does work with hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo, but trusts himself more.

“I still feel I’m my best hitting coach,” Lee said. “I listen to how my body feels and I know what I need to do. Rudy’s there for support. I’ve had this swing for a long time. I know what gets me in trouble. I get in these funks sometimes and I have to work my way out.”

— Carrie Muskat

5/1 Sor-I-A-No, Sor-I-A-No

Alfonso Soriano is starting to heat up. On Saturday, he hit his second homer in as many games with a two-run, game-tying blast in the seventh. The Cubs went on to beat the Diamondbacks, 7-5.

The count was 3-1 when home plate umpire Sam Holbrook called a strike on a pitch Soriano thought was a ball. The left fielder stepped back into the box and launched the next pitch from former Cubs pitcher Bob Howry into the bleachers in left center.

“He called a strike so I thought if [Howry] throws my pitch in the zone, I want to swing at it,” Soriano said. “If he throws a ball, I’ll take the ball. He threw a very good pitch, middle away, and I took a good swing.”

Soriano, now hitting .303, has been more patient and able to recognize his pitch. Hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo wants Soriano to keep his lower body quiet, which helps him stay back and see the ball better. If he’s relaxed at the plate, not worried about his knee, swinging at strikes, the end result can be 40 homers, 100 RBIs.

“People don’t realize how hurt ‘Sori’ was last year and he played through it,” Derrek Lee said of the left fielder, who needed arthroscopic knee surgery last September. “His numbers were down and we appreciated that he was out on the field. I think you’re going to see a lot better year from ‘Sori’ because he’s 100 percent.”

When Soriano took the field after his homer Saturday, the left field bleacher fans stood and chanted his name.

“That’s what I want to be is working hard to make the fans happy,” Soriano said. “They deserve it. They support the team every day. That’s what I want to do is play hard.”

“Soriano’s starting to get that power swing back,” Lou Piniella said. “That’s what we need from him.”

— Carrie Muskat