Chicago Cubs: Dave Sappelt

Cubs call up three pitchers and a catcher

September, 3, 2013
9/03/13
6:55
PM CT
Levine By Bruce Levine
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs called up four players from their minor league system on Tuesday.

RHP Justin Grimm, LHP Brooks Raley and catcher J.C. Boscan were recalled from Class AAA Iowa. LHP Zach Rosscup was selected from Iowa and added to the 40-man roster.

OF Dave Sappelt was designated for assignment.

Grimm was a starting pitcher for the Texas Rangers earlier in the season. He came to the Cubs in the July 22 trade that sent Matt Garza to Texas. Grimm was 7-7 with a 6.37 ERA with the Rangers.

Cubs manager Dale Sveum has no immediate plans to start Grimm this month.

“It will be nice to have three lefties in the bullpen,” said Sveum, who has had just James Russell as his sole left-handed reliever for three months. “We have seen Railey, so it will be nice to see Rosscup, and Grimm, in action.”

All three call-up pitchers will be in the bullpen, according to Sveum.

Boscan will back up Welington Castillo and Dioner Navarro.

Sappelt was acquired from the Cincinnati Reds with LHP Travis Wood for LHP Sean Marshall in December 2011.

Meanwhile, the Cubs are unsure as to how they will use Scott Baker, who has been recovering from a strained forearm he incurred in spring training. Baker threw 80 pitches on Monday evening for Class A Kane County.

“I feel pretty good,” Baker said. “As normal as I can for sure. No one has told me either way as to how I will be used. I understand there are guys who have come over in trades. There are a lot of guys here with a limited amount of innings to throw. I get it. I get why they would say that.

“Of course, I do want to start, whether it is here or there [minors] or anywhere,” he said. “That is what I have always done. I really haven’t had a lot of experience doing anything else, and I enjoy starting.”

Baker signed a one-year free-agent deal with Chicago in November 2012. He has not pitched in a major league game since April 2012, when a torn elbow ligament led to Tommy John surgery.

Cubs recall OF Sweeney, Dolis

May, 6, 2013
5/06/13
3:43
PM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs recalled pitcher Rafael Dolis and outfielder Ryan Sweeney from Triple-A Iowa, the team announced on Monday.

To make room for the recalls, outfielder Dave Sappelt was optioned to Iowa while pitcher Kameron Loe was designated for assignment. Sweeney takes Loe's spot on the 40-man roster.

Sappelt was the primary starting center fielder against left-handed pitchers but hit only .178 in 20 games and 45 at-bats. Loe had a 5.40 ERA in seven games with the Cubs after being picked up off waivers.

Sweeney was also picked up off waivers after being cut by the Boston Red Sox at the end of spring training. He was hitting .337 for Triple-A Iowa. This is Dolis' second stint with the Cubs this season.

Cubs try again against a lefty

April, 26, 2013
4/26/13
3:21
PM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
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The Chicago Cubs finally broke through and won a game started by an opposing left-handed pitcher this week when they beat the Cincinnati Reds on the night that Tony Cingrani pitched, though Cingrani didn't earn the loss or pitch poorly. On Friday, they'll try to make it two in a row against southpaw starters when Wade LeBlanc pitches for the Miami Marlins against Scott Feldman.

(Read full post)

Rapid Reaction: Cubs 4, Reds 2 (Final/10)

April, 23, 2013
4/23/13
9:37
PM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
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CINCINNATI – Here’s a quick look at the Cubs' 4-2 win in 10 innings over the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday night:

How it Happened: Darwin Barney hit a 10th-inning home run to break a 2-2 tie after the Reds tied it in the bottom of the ninth on a Joey Votto single off Carlos Marmol. The Cubs added one more as Dave Sappelt drove in Julio Borbon. Carlos Villanueva was masterful in allowing just two runs in 8.1 innings. On offense, Alfonso Soriano singled, then stole second and third on consecutive pitches in the second inning before coming home on a Scott Hairston sacrifice fly for the game’s first run. The next pitch, to newcomer Cody Ransom, left the yard in right center. The Reds pulled within one when Chris Heisey homered in the third inning, but Villanueva shut down the Reds down the rest of the way until the ninth, when he walked the leadoff man. Kevin Gregg struck out Votto with the tying runs on base for the save, and Marmol got the win.

What it Means: The bullpen blew another save and manager Dale Sveum will be second-guessed on his decision to pull Villanueva in favor of Marmol, who had pitched two innings the night before. His numbers against Votto are good, but Votto got the best of him, causing the Cubs' sixth blown save of the year. Still, the story of the night was Villanueva. He painted the corners all night long, mixing speeds from 60 to 90 mph. He walked two batters -- one after an error by Ransom -- then promptly induced a double-play grounder by Heisey. It was a masterful performance against a good hitting team but he just couldn’t finish -- or rather wasn’t allowed to. He left after throwing 99 pitches.

Ransom Debut: Ransom not only homered, but played a stellar third base. Even his errant throw to first in the seventh inning came after a diving stop. He had a few more of those and made a nice first impression.

What’s Next: The rubber game of the series comes Wednesday afternoon, when Jeff Samardzija faces off against Mat Latos.

Rapid Reaction: Rangers 4, Cubs 2

April, 16, 2013
4/16/13
10:10
PM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Here's a quick look at the Chicago Cubs' 4-2 loss to the Texas Rangers on Tuesday night at Wrigley Field:

How it happened: A ninth-inning rally fell short as Darwin Barney lined out off of closer Joe Nathan with the bases loaded. Center fielder Craig Gentry made a diving catch on the play. Travis Wood and Derek Holland were locked in a pitchers' duel on another cold night, but reliever Shawn Camp turned a 1-0 Cubs deficit into a 4-0 Texas lead when he threw wild to first on a pick-off move in the eighth inning -- scoring a runner from third -- and then gave up a two-run home run to Adrian Beltre. The Cubs managed two hits against Holland with Nate Schierholtz driving in the Cubs' two runs in the ninth with a bases-loaded single, but that's as close as they got.

What it means: Once again the Cubs wasted another solid effort by a starting pitcher. Their offense did little and their bullpen failed to keep the game close. The Cubs have scored three runs in 36 innings this season when a left-hander has opposed them. Dave Sappelt is 1-for-19 to begin the season having started all four games against left-handers. Scott Hairston is 1-for-14 in four starts as well. Though manager Dale Sveum has been adamant about starting those players against lefties he may have to rethink that strategy.

Barney's return: Barney returned from an injury after missing the first 12 games of the season. He had a chance to be the hero but went 0-for-4.

What's next: The series continues on Wednesday as Carlos Villanueva takes the mound for the 4-9 Cubs.

Cubs fail against a lefty, again

April, 13, 2013
4/13/13
4:38
PM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
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It’s becoming a trend for the Chicago Cubs. A left-handed starter takes the mound against them, and they produce little on offense.

This time, it was San Francisco Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner who shut them down for six innings before finally giving in to pinch-hitter Dioner Navarro in the Cubs' 3-2 defeat on Saturday.

Navarro homered, but it’s the starting nine that needs help. It’s the third time this season the Cubs have been nearly shut out by a southpaw. The starting group -- consisting of at least seven right-handed hitters -- has produced exactly one run in those three games.

“You also have to look at who we faced,” Scott Hairston said after the game. “Those guys are known to have really good stuff.”

Wandy Rodriguez of Pittsburgh, Mike Minor of Atlanta and now Bumgarner do have good stuff, but one run combined against them? In three games?

Maybe manager Dale Sveum needs to stay with his regular core instead of loading up on the righties.

“These guys are on the team for a reason,” Sveum said of Scott Hairston and others. “Everybody has their role, and right now, Hairston is going to play against lefties, [Dave] Sappelt is going to play against lefties. We’re going to put the best lineup out there to be able to slug and do things.”

Add Brent Lillibridge to the list that starts against left-handers as well. The Cubs are hitting .200 against them, with an on-base percentage of .259, which rank 11th and 12th in the National League, respectively.

Sveum often mentions slugging percentage in explaining why he sits the lefties against lefty pitchers. Sappelt and Hairston, in particular, do have better percentages than those they play in favor of.

But is it the right move to sit the second-leading hitter -- Nate Schierholtz -- on a weak hitting team or a hot hitter in David DeJesus? DeJesus homered and had three hits just the day before.

“These [lefty pitchers] are the type of guys you have to pop a three run home run to beat them,” Sveum said in explaining his righty lineup. “It makes the pitcher work that much harder when runners are in scoring position.”

But only if those righties do something with their chances. It’s a small sample size, but Sappelt is hitting .071, Hairston .100 and Lillibridge .042.

“Everybody tries to do an adjustment, especially with a lefty,” Starlin Castro said. “Every right-hander [thinks] it’s easy to hit left-handers, but it’s not.”

Sveum lamented the chances the righties had early in the game.

“We have a chance to take the lead a couple times before they scored, which changes the game around,” he said. “We didn’t put the ball in play when guys were in scoring position.”

Yet Sveum vows to stick with his right-handed lineup against the southpaws. He might need to re-think that strategy.

Quotable:

“Major league players need to make those plays. That’s the bottom line.”
-Sveum, on recent defensive miscues

“That’s two games in a row. That’s unacceptable. That’s on me.”
-Jeff Samardzija, on walking the opposing pitcher in each of his past two starts.

Rapid Reaction: Giants 3, Cubs 2

April, 13, 2013
4/13/13
3:13
PM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
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Here’s a quick look at the Chicago Cubs' 3-2 defeat by the San Francisco Giants on Saturday:

How it happened: Wrigley Field produced another pitching duel, this time between Jeff Samardzija and Madison Bumgarner, as neither team scored until the fifth inning. The Giants tallied once each in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings while the Cubs finally got on the board on a pinch-hit two-run home run by Dioner Navarro in the bottom of the seventh.

Navarro’s streak: The Cubs' backup catcher has pinch hit home runs on consecutive days from either side of the plate, a feat that, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, hasn't been accomplished since Todd Benzinger did it for the Dodgers in 1992. On Friday, he hit a game-tying blast in the ninth inning from the left side and pulled the Cubs within one Saturday with a long ball from the right side. They're the first two pinch-hit home runs of his career.

What it means: The Cubs battled to the end, but the lack of offense against lefties this season has been striking. In three games, Cubs starters have managed one run combined against left-handers. Manager Dale Sveum says he is sticking with righties Dave Sappelt and Scott Hairston when a lefty is on the mound, which means sitting David DeJesus and .355 hitter Nate Schierholtz. DeJesus had three hits Friday, including a home run, but was on the bench Saturday.

Defensively, the Cubs continue to be sloppy. They left several double plays on the field, and right fielder Hairston made an errant throw as Bumgarner crossed the plate with the eventual winning run in the seventh.

What’s next: The 4-7 Cubs will try to salvage a split of the series when Edwin Jackson takes the mound Sunday.

Cubs bats yet to get going

April, 5, 2013
4/05/13
11:27
PM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
ATLANTA -- Chicago Cubs manager Dale Sveum keeps saying he wants “slugging percentage” guys in his lineup, especially when the opposing pitcher is a lefty. But after Mike Minor of the Atlanta Braves shut down the Cubs Friday night -- two days after lefty Wandy Rodriguez of Pittsburgh did the same -- he may have to re-think his lineup plans.

[+] EnlargeStarlin Castro
AP Photo/Gene J. PuskarStarlin Castro strikes out against the Pirates, one of 39 for the Cubs already this season.
“Nobody is swinging the bat at all right now,” Sveum said after the Cubs' 4-1 loss. “Someone has to step up and get hot. Hopefully it’s the whole team at one time.”

Dave Sappelt is supposed to be a killer against southpaws but he has yet to have a hit in two starts so far. Same with David DeJesus. Starlin Castro is hitting .188 through four games, Anthony Rizzo just .083. Scott Hairston has one hit, a home run on Friday.

“It was one of the very few mistakes (Minor) made tonight,” Hairston said. “The one I hit out.”

And the Cubs aren’t being patient at the plate. Minor threw only 84 pitches in 7 1/3 innings, an average of about 11 pitches per inning. That’s stunning. The Cubs are last in the National League in batting (.133) and last in on-base percentage (.188).

(Read full post)

Podcast: Sappelt on first start, playing CF

April, 3, 2013
4/03/13
3:44
PM CT
By ESPNChicago.com
ESPNChicago.com
Cubs outfielder Dave Sappelt talks with ESPNChicago's Jesse Rogers about his first start of the season on Wednesday against the Pirates.

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Cubs season preview: Bench

March, 30, 2013
3/30/13
11:00
AM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
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Scott HairstonRob Tringali/Getty ImagesScott Hairston hit hit 20 home runs in 377 at-bats last season.


The Chicago Cubs could actually have a very productive bench in 2013. Final roster guys who will only get limited at-bats are never a sure bet, but considering the Cubs could employ up to two platoons (in right field and third base) it means the non-starter that day will be a little more ready than most teams who employ the same nine nearly every day.

So when Scott Hairston and Brent Lillibridge, for example, do pinch hit they should be expected to do more than the league average off the bench because they will be also getting at-bats as a starter. Hairston is more of a long-ball threat with nine home runs in 199 plate appearances as a pinch hitter, including three last season, but his overall average (.182) off the bench is nothing special.

Coming over from the American League, Lillibridge has had fewer opportunities for straight pinch-hitting duties. His value is in double switches and considering he played all positions on the diamond this spring save pitcher and catcher, Lillibridge will come in handy.

The real pop off the bench comes in the form of lefty Steve Clevenger and righty Dave Sappelt. “Mighty Mite” as Sappelt is known can pack a wallop against left-handed pitching. He’s a .345 hitter with a .410 on-base percentage against southpaws in his short career, but those numbers come way down against right-handed pitching.

Clevenger was a monster off the bench this spring. He hit everything in sight the final couple of weeks and he did a lot of it in dramatic fashion: in the seventh inning or later when the Cubs needed an RBI or a base-runner.

It’s unknown if back-up catcher Dioner Navarro can hit as he did this spring when he led the Cubs in RBIs (16) and was second with four home runs, but he’s the only real veteran catcher on the team so his value is there more than anywhere. By all accounts he calls a pretty good game.

3 KEYS TO SUCCESS

  • Lillibridge might see action in some form or another nearly every game. He’ll start some at third base and when coming off the bench -- if he can handle any of the outfield positions along with helping out when Starlin Castro or Darwin Barney need a breather -- his value rises even more. He has to play sound defense first and foremost and then anything he gives the Cubs at the plate is a bonus.


  • Sappelt is the next best option in centerfield if David DeJesus comes out of the game, but more important is what Sappelt means against left-handed pitching. The Cubs are a very left-handed team which means opposing managers will bring in their specialists to negate the advantage -- that’s when Sappelt comes in. And he’ll get his chances against righties too, so improvement against them is vital. But when he rakes against a lefty he can do some damage.


  • Hairston is flying under the radar right now as manager Dale Sveum insists Nate Schierholtz is going to mostly be the starter in right field, even against many left-handers. But what Hairston did last season can’t be overlooked. He hit 20 home runs in 377 at-bats. The Cubs need all the power they can get, so if Schierholtz is struggling Hairston might become a more prominent player.
  • On cut-down day, some make it, some don't

    March, 23, 2013
    3/23/13
    7:09
    PM CT
    Rogers By Jesse Rogers
    ESPNChicago.com
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    MESA, Ariz. -- Cut-down day in spring training brings elation for some and frustration for others. The immediate fate of two Chicago Cubs players -- pitcher Casey Coleman and outfielder Dave Sappelt -- was decided on Friday as Coleman was sent to the minors while Sappelt survived.

    For Coleman, "frustrated" is definitely the right way to describe his frame of mind after getting the news.

    "It's a tough one to swallow," Coleman, the Cubs' 15th-round pick in 2008, said Saturday morning. "They have a plan, they have guys here with no options that have pitched well in the big leagues. You came in here throwing no runs, no walks and felt like you did everything you could, perfect. Knowing there are some other teams out there you could have made."

    Though he sounds upset, Coleman isn't holding any grudges. By now he knows what this business is all about. He has been up and down from the minors 11 times in three years. And after throwing 6.1 innings this spring, without giving up a run or even a walk, Coleman thought he'd at least last until the final round of cuts.

    "I'm not going to lie, it's frustrating when you do put up those numbers and nothing happens," he said. "You feel like you just didn't get the opportunity from the get-go."

    He probably didn't get that opportunity as much for business reasons as anything else. Teammate Michael Bowden is out of options -- meaning he can't be sent to the minors without clearing waivers. And Rule-5 pick, Hector Rondon, can't just be sent down either. Those are part of the rules of baseball, but it doesn't make Coleman feel any better. He wants to be one of those guys "you can't just send" down someday.

    "You never know there are scouts at every game, maybe there is a trade, you never know what can happen," Coleman said. "My confidence is high still, when you're pitching that well. That's when you want to be in the big leagues."

    (Read full post)

    Sappelt makes Cubs as fifth outfielder

    March, 22, 2013
    3/22/13
    1:36
    PM CT
    Rogers By Jesse Rogers
    ESPNChicago.com
    Archive
    MESA, Ariz. -- Dave Sappelt made the roster as a fifth outfielder after the Chicago Cubs paired down their roster to 35 players on Friday.

    Pitchers Chris Rusin, Drew Carpenter, Jaye Chapman, Casey Coleman, Jensen Lewis and Blake Parker will report to minor league camp as will infielders Edwin Maysonet and Brad Nelson. Outfielders Brian Bogusevic and Darnell McDonald also were sent down.

    "Those days you dread," manager Dame Sveum said Friday morning. "Especially a lot of those guys that went down today, they had good springs. Bogusevic had a really good spring training. The Colemans, the Parkers, they all threw the ball well."

    The final infield position is down to Steve Clevenger and Alberto Gonzalez. Gonzalez is the likely candidate unless the Cubs go outside the organization.

    "There's still things that can happen through guys getting released and waiver wires and all that," Sveum said.

    The bullpen has one spot open among four players with Hector Rondon and Michael Bowden securing jobs along with James Russell, Shawn Camp, Kyuji Fujikawa and Carlos Marmol. That leaves lefty Hisanori Takahashi battling with righties Rafael Dolis, Zach Putnam and Cory Wade for the final spot.

    Four players including Matt Garza, Scott Baker, Ian Stewart and Arodys Vizcaino will start the season on the disabled list.

    Opening Day lineup all but set

    March, 18, 2013
    3/18/13
    6:13
    PM CT
    Rogers By Jesse Rogers
    ESPNChicago.com
    Archive
    [+] EnlargeCubs
    Jesse Rogers/ESPNChicago.comDale Sveum posted Tuesday's Cubs lineup, which is expected to be the same on opening day.
    PEORIA, Ariz. -- Chicago Cubs manager Dale Sveum revealed that his starting lineup for Tuesday’s contest against the Texas Rangers at Hohokam Park will most likely be his opening day lineup for the regular season.

    David DeJesus will lead off and play centerfield, followed by Starlin Castro at shortstop. Anthony Rizzo bats third and plays first base while Alfonso Soriano will bat cleanup and play left field. Newcomer Nate Schierholtz bats fifth in right field followed by Welington Castillo at catcher. Luis Valbuena starts at third base and bats seventh followed by Darwin Barney at second base.

    Jeff Samardzija will pitch on opening day against the Pittsburgh Pirates, but it's Chris Rusin's turn on Tuesday against the Rangers.

    (Read full post)

    Rapid Reaction: Cubs 5, Padres 2

    March, 18, 2013
    3/18/13
    5:44
    PM CT
    Rogers By Jesse Rogers
    ESPNChicago.com
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    PEORIA, Ariz. -- Here’s a quick look at the Chicago Cubs' 5-2 victory over the San Diego Padres on Monday.

    The good: Edwin Jackson turned in the best performance by a Cub on the mound this spring. He was in total command, going six innings while giving up just a run on three hits. ... Dave Sappelt continued a hot stretch with a three-run home run, the big blow of the game. ... Brent Lillibridge had two more hits and is batting .478 this spring.

    The bad: In their final game with the big league club before being sent to minor league camp, Jorge Soler and Javier Baez combined to go 0-for-8 with three strikeouts, though Baez put bat on ball to drive in a run in the fourth inning.

    What we learned: Jackson is progressing exactly as advertised. He’s not throwing a lot of pitches and he’s getting outs. There were very few -- if any -- hard-hit balls off him. ... Lillibridge has all but locked up a spot on this team (if he hadn’t weeks ago) while Sappelt is probably the favorite for the final outfield position. He’s proven once again he can hit left-handed pitching and that’s how he will be used in the regular season, if he makes the team.

    Rapid Reaction: Athletics 12, Cubs 6

    March, 17, 2013
    3/17/13
    6:33
    PM CT
    Rogers By Jesse Rogers
    ESPNChicago.com
    Archive
    PHOENIX -- Here’s a quick look at the Chicago Cubs' 12-6 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Sunday.

    The good: Dave Sappelt had one of his better days at the plate this spring with a home run and two-run single while Javier Baez added two more hits including an opposite field double. Brent Lillibridge went deep and didn’t have a bad at-bat on the day. Casey Coleman was the lone pitcher to impress.

    The bad: In his spring debut Scott Baker couldn’t get out of the first inning. Baker, who was only supposed to throw two innings, struggled with his command and then left a pitch up to Chris Young, who homered with two men on. The Cubs pitching got knocked around some more after Baker left the game and Rafael Dolis departed with a blister. Overall, not a good day on the mound. Baez struck out on four pitches with a man on third and less than two outs in a tie game in the seventh.

    What we learned: It's way too early to assess Baker, except to say he has a long way to go. Afterwards he claimed he’s still on pace for a mid-April return but will need to build his pitch counts -- and get people out -- before knowing for sure when he’s ready. Baez could have shown a little maturity by shortening his swing on his chance to drive in a run with a pulled-in infield and man on third, but he swung for the fences on his first cut and struck out quickly after that.

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    TEAM LEADERS

    BA LEADER
    Starlin Castro
    BA HR RBI R
    .292 14 65 58
    OTHER LEADERS
    HRA. Rizzo 32
    RBIA. Rizzo 78
    RA. Rizzo 89
    OPSA. Rizzo .913
    WJ. Arrieta 10
    ERAT. Wood 5.03
    SOJ. Arrieta 167