Results tagged ‘ Rudy Jaramillo ’

3/14 Fukudome's hitting coach returns

Kosuke Fukudome’s Japanese hitting coach is back. Kyosuke Sasaki joined the Cubs in Mesa on Sunday and will stay with the team for a week. Sasaki worked with Fukudome this offseason in Nagoya for five days, hitting for three hours a day. The key this season, Sasaki said, is to have Fukudome be a little lower in his stance. He agreed with Cubs hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo, who wants to the outfielder to close his stance a little. Sasaki promised last year that Fukudome would hit .300. He didn’t. What about this season? “He will — I promise,” Sasaki said.

— Carrie Muskat 

3/9 Soriano working with Rudy

Hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo and Alfonso Soriano watched some video Tuesday morning of the left fielder and his swing. The two have been reunited this year — Jaramillo was Soriano’s hitting coach in Texas.

“I feel good and I know what he’s telling me to do,” Soriano said. “I’m not worried about my hitting. My swing is there. I just have to feel comfortable in the field.”

Soriano is still testing his left knee, which needed arthroscopic surgery last September.

“He’s moving better,” Lou Piniella said Tuesday. “Remember, it’s early in the spring. He’s working hard. He’s going to make a mistake out there from time to time — c’mon. The secret with ‘Sori’ is that he hit and he hits for power and drives in runs for us. That’s what we’re interested in. He’s working with Rudy every day in that regard.”

— Carrie Muskat

3/5 Byrd blends in with Cubs

Marlon Byrd may be one of the new guys on the Cubs but he definitely isn’t shy. Byrd has offered tips to the pitchers and hitters.

“It’s a good group of guys,” Byrd said. “The veteran guys I’ve been around, I’ve played against, so they know what type of guy I am. If I was a younger guy being here, I’d be very quiet. But it’s my eighth season in the big leagues, D-Lee, Kevin Millar, Ramy, all these guys I’ve played with — and Soriano. That makes the transition very easy.”

He’s been offering reassurance to the Cubs about hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo’s system, making sure they understand his message.

“It’s not easy, it’s not going to click right away,” Byrd said. “But give it time and trust it and any questions you have, I’m here to answer.”

So far, Lou Piniella has been pretty calm, Byrd said.

“I like Lou,” the outfielder said. “I’m waiting for the season when he turns it on and gets that intensity and that fire going. Right now, he’s another guy that’s making it easy, coming in smiling. He’s a conversation guy, he walks through the clubhouse, so you get to see him.”

Byrd didn’t disappoint in his first Cactus League game with the Cubs, hitting a single and a home run.

“I need to save those for April 5 on,” he said.

— Carrie Muskat 

3/4 The hit parade

Lou Piniella feels the Cubs will have a better offense this year and if the first Cactus League game is any indication, they will score more runs. Derrek Lee, Marlon Byrd, Tyler Colvin, Sam Fuld and Brad Snyder all hit home runs in a 9-3 win over the Athletics. Byrd downplayed his blast.

“April in Chicago, that’s an out,” he said.

Having a healthy Aramis Ramirez, Alfonso Soriano and Geovany Soto back will help the offense, Lee said. The Cubs will be more right-handed this year.

“If you can hit, you can hit,” Lee said. “It doesn’t hurt to have a big left-handed bopper in the middle of the order. If the hitter is right-handed and he can hit, he can hit. It doesn’t matter who’s pitching.”

Colvin went 3-for-3, and Piniella said the Cubs’ 2006 No. 1 Draft pick does have a chance to make the Opening Day roster. He’s added 25 quality pounds this offseason.

“Why not? I’ve said that,” Piniella said of Colvin. “We’ll let these guys compete. I have no idea [who will make it], I’ll be honest with you. We’ll let these young guys compete. There are some jobs to be won here.”

* How much influence has new hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo had?

“Ask me in September,” Lee said. “It’s too early. I don’t think he can even say everything he’s said has soaked in. It takes time. He’ll keep preaching his message and you take what works for you into the game.”

* Starlin Castro took over at shortstop for Ryan Theriot in the fifth inning and went 1-for-3 with a triple in the eighth.

“Castro is smooth at shortstop,” Piniella said. “That ball he drove into right center field [for the triple], he hit that ball like a big man. That ball jumped off the bat.”

— Carrie Muskat

2/23 Cubs Tuesday notebook

Expect to see Mike Fontenot at shortstop a little this spring. It’s not that Fontenot is challenging Ryan Theriot for the job with the Cubs but Lou Piniella wants players who are versatile. Heading into camp, Fontenot and Jeff Baker are the candidates for the starting second base job.

“We’re not going to put anybody else in that mix,” Piniella said. “Baker did a real nice job when he came over last year. Does he have the inside track? I’d say it’s just dead even now and let ’em battle out. Fontenot needs to get back to where he swings the bat like he did the first year. One little advantage in Fontenot’s favor is the fact that he’s left-handed and we’re a lot right-handed lineup-wise. We’ll see. It’ll either be Baker or Fontenot in the lineup.”

Will the Cubs test Theriot at second base? No, Piniella said.

“We will put Fontenot at times at shortstop,” Piniella said. “We’ll see how he handles the shortstop position and not to play regularly but just to backup. Theriot will stay at shortstop.”

* Derrek Lee was happy to be reunited with his former Florida teammate, Kevin Millar.

“He’s probably the funniest guy I know,” Lee said. “I woke up this morning looking forward to seeing him. He’s a fun guy and he’ll make a difference in here.”

* Kosuke Fukudome showed some power in batting practice on Tuesday.

“He’s talked to Rudy [Jaramillo] a little bit about changing his mechanics hitting-wise,” Piniella said. “He’s made a couple adjustments and is stroking the ball well. He’s keeping his upper and lower body in a little more, shortening his stride so he’s not lunging forward. He looks good, he really does.”

Did Fukudome do more weight training this offseason to be hitting balls out of the park?

“It was the wind,” Fukudome said.

— Carrie Muskat

2/22 The bench & Monday notebook

Lou Piniella, Alan Trammell, GM Jim Hendry and assistant GM Randy Bush met Monday at Fitch Park to discuss the Cubs’ bench and bullpen.

“There’s different ways we can go with our bench,” Piniella said. “We’ve got some decisions to make, whether we go a little more defensive-minded bench or offensive-minded. We’ll see how Spring Training plays itself out.”

The Cubs did talk to Korean pitcher Chan Ho Park, who reached an agreement Monday with the Yankees. Hendry is still looking at trade options but right now, the young pitchers in camp have a shot.

“This gives them a really great opportunity to establish themselves and get themselves in roles,” Piniella said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen in the rotation with the [Ted] Lilly situation but possibly one or two of those kids can work into the bullpen situation, too. Then we have the kids like [Justin] Berg, [Jeff] Gray who we got from Oakland, and maybe another young kid who wants to pop up and get in the mix. You hate to get too young but that’s what we have in camp here.”

Those pitchers in the rotation mix include Jeff Samardzija, Tom Gorzelanny, Sean Marshall and Carlos Silva. Rule 5 Draft pick Michael Parisi also could be in the ‘pen.

Rain on Monday forced the Cubs pitchers to throw again in the batting cages. Some of the team went to HoHoKam Park to get their work in.

* The Ricketts family was expected in Mesa on Tuesday for the first full squad workout.

“It’ll be a new start for Cubs baseball,” Piniella said. “I think it’s going to be a really good thing to have a family-owned team. They’re going to care, they’re going to take pride in it. The short conversations I’ve had with Tom Ricketts is he wants to win and that’s what we want to do for him.”

Chairman Tom Ricketts was expected to speak to the players. Piniella also will deliver a message to the team.

“First of all, we’ve got some good talent here,” Piniella said. “Last year, this baseball team finished second in this division with a whole lot of injuries and some problems. I’m proud of the way they hung in there. The message [to the team] is basically, ‘Let’s stay healthy and let’s work hard this spring and let’s tack on another 10 or so wins and give ourselves a chance in postseason again.’ That’s going to be the message.”

* Rudy Jaramillo said he’s encouraging Kosuke Fukudome to communicate with him about hitting, adding “I want more feedback.” The two met Sunday and Jaramillo made a few suggestions. Fukudome applied a few of the tips on Monday.

“I think we’re getting somewhere,” Jaramillo said.

Piniella has seen nothing but positives in the batting cages.

“Rudy’s available, he’s knowledgable about what he’s talking about, he’s had success with hitters,” Piniella said. “He’s got a regimen that the players seem to like. I know when I played, I had a guy like Charlie Lau and I learned as much as I could under his tutelage.”

* Ryan Dempster hosted a few of his teammates on Sunday night to watch the U.S. hockey team play the Canadians in the Winter Olympics, and bet peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on the outcome. He lost a few bets.

“It’s a lot of peanut butter — trying to figure out who wants crunchy and who wants smooth will be the tough part,” Dempster said.

Dempster’s Canada team lost, 5-3, but the game lived up to the hype.

“That game yesterday was as good a game as I’ve seen in a long time,” Dempster said.

— Carrie Muskat

2/17 Lilly update

There’s no official date for Ted Lilly’s return but he does have a goal in mind.

“I don’t know what the date is,” said Lilly, coming back from arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder. “I’d like to be ready when all the other healthy guys are. That would be good for me. If I can’t, I’ll be disappointed. I have to understand that sometimes you take one step back to gain a couple forward. … The whole idea is to not only come back as soon as possible and be out there contributing but be productive, too.”

Lilly has not thrown off the mound yet but is playing catch and on Tuesday was able to throw from about 120 feet. On Wednesday, the day pitchers and catchers report to Fitch Park, Lilly and Ryan Dempster went for a long run.

“It feels pretty strong,” Lilly said of his shoulder. “I expect to be ahead of schedule, whatever schedule comes out. I think the real test is first, when you get on the mound and start throwing downhill off the slope and after that when you get into a game situation and you try to really dial it up with runners in scoring positoin or whatever it is — that’s when you find out how healthy you really are.”

This is the last year of Lilly’s contract with the Cubs. He’d prefer to keep all negotiations between him and GM Jim Hendry private but said he hasn’t even approached the topic.

“I haven’t even thought about it,” Lilly said. “The first thing that comes to mind when you talk about something like that is I’ve been on many teams and been in this situation before and been with a lot of players before and I think the best thing to do is not make it be about yourself. I don’t want to draw attention to myself in that way and distract from anything our club is trying to do. I dont think it’s all about me.”

Lilly can’t wait to get in the cage with new hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo.

“I just briefly told him that if he can get me locked in at the plate, he’s doing some serious hitting coaching,” Lilly said.

— Carrie Muskat


2/16 Soto on steroids? "It's ridiculous," he says

When Geovany Soto showed up at the Cubs Convention in January 40 pounds lighter, some didn’t believe he lost the weight because of a new diet or workout plan. Maybe, some whispered out loud on Chicago talk radio, Soto was on steroids.

“I laugh at that,” Soto said Tuesday at Fitch Park after a hitting session. “My whole life, I’ve had weight problems and I’ve always been immature in terms of diet and never stuck to them. This past year, I had such a bad year and I was really disappointed in myself and I was willing to take that step and work hard and take it to the next level. I just laugh at [rumors about steroid use]. For me, it’s ridiculous.”

It wasn’t as if Soto had gone from an inflated, pumped up muscular player to a skinny one.

“I wasn’t strong,” he said. “I was just fat.”

Soto’s father tried to get his son to work out more when he was young. As Soto says, “I used to open the refrigerator a lot.” The catcher would try to eat small portions throughout the day but it didn’t work. This winter, he hired a personal trainer and stuck to his plan, and now looks fit. This spring, instead of having to do extra cardio workouts to get in shape, Soto is in shape.

“I’m anxious to go out there,” said Soto, who failed to follow up his sensational rookie year with a solid sophomore season. “I’m anxious to play. I felt like [last year] was like a knockout in the second round if I was a boxer. I’m ready to go out there. I’m well trained, my head’s clear, I’m just ready to go out there. I owe it to the fans, my teammates and myself.”

— Carrie Muskat

1/6/10 Cubs Caravan update

Lou Piniella, new hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo, pitchers Ryan Dempster, Randy Wells, Tom Gorzelanny and Jeff Samardzija will take part in the two-day Cubs Caravan next week.

The caravan consists of two tours of Cubs players, coaches and front office staff who will visit seven cities, six elementary schools, two Boys and Girls Clubs, Chicago’s Northwestern Memorial Hospital and a charity luncheon benefitting Chicago Cubs Charities. The tour also will include stops at the Lincoln Library in Springfield, Ill., the USO of Illinois, and the Class A Peoria Chiefs’ charity fan fest.

On Jan. 13, Piniella and Jaramillo will join Cubs TV broadcaster Bob Brenly, player development director Oneri Fleita, bench coach Alan Trammell, plus players Koyie Hill, Micah Hoffpauir, Andres Blanco, James Adduci, Welington Castillo, Brett Jackson, Elio Benitez and Hector Fabregas for a visit at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

After a charity luncheon at Harry Caray’s restaurant in Chicago, all but Piniella and Brenly will then stop at De Duprey/Von Humboldt Schools in Chicago and the Elgin Boys & Girls Club.

The second group on Jan. 13 will include assistant general manager Randy Bush, pitching coach Larry Rothschild, third base coach Mike Quade, bullpen coach Lester Strode, Samardzija, Wells, Justin Berg, Esmailin Caridad, Andrew Cashner and TV broadcaster Len Kasper.

They will stop at Alexander Hamilton Elementary School in Chicago; the Uplift Community High School in Chicago; Harry Caray’s for the charity luncheon; Crispus Attucks Elementary School in chicago, and the Northwest Indiana Boys & Girls Club in Gary, Ind.

On Jan. 14, the first group will include Bush, Fleita, Jaramillo, Quade, Strode, Hill, Hoffpauir, Wells, Berg, Blanco, Adduci, Cashner and television broadcaster Dave Otto. They will travel downstate to the Lincoln Library and Museum in Springfield and attend the Peoria fan fest. Tickets for the Chiefs’ event may be purchased in advance at O’Brien Field or various outlets in the Peoria area.

The second group on the second day of the caravan will include Piniella for the morning session, plus Rothschild, Trammell, Ryan Dempster, Tom Gorzelanny, Jeff Gray, Caridad, Castillo, Jackson and WGN Radio broadcaster Pat Hughes. They will visit James Blaine Elementary School in Chicago; Hawthorne Scholastic Academy in Chicago; Waukegan (Ill.) School District; and and a private event for the USO at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center.

— Carrie Muskat

12/31 Cubs sign Byrd

The Cubs appear to have found their center fielder in Marlon Byrd.

According to a high placed team official, the Cubs have signed Byrd to a three-year contract. A formal announcement was expected later Thursday.

The Cubs wanted to move Kosuke Fukudome to right, which left a hole in center.

Byrd, 32, batted .283 last season with the Texas Rangers and will be reunited with hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo. The center fielder drove in a personal high 89 runs last season and in three years in Texas has batted .295. He had wanted a long-term deal.

— Carrie Muskat