Chicago Cubs: Dioner Navarro

Countdown to Camp: Catching

February, 10, 2014
2/10/14
9:27
AM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
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Welington CastilloMike McGinnis/Getty ImagesThe Cubs remain hopeful that Welington Castillo's offense can catch up with his defense.
With Chicago Cubs spring training set to begin Feb. 14 in Mesa, Ariz., we're taking an early look around the diamond.

Major additions since Opening Day 2013: George Kottaras

Subtractions: Dioner Navarro, Steve Clevenger, J.C. Boscan

Holdovers: Welington Castillo

SportsNation

Does Welington Castillo have the ability to become an All-Star?

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    61%
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    39%

Discuss (Total votes: 1,386)

Analysis: Only one player who saw time at catcher returns for 2014, but that’s the entrenched starter, Castillo. He’s the only one that matters right now as the Cubs try to work him into being their franchise man behind the plate. Castillo made huge strides on defense in 2013 and showed improvement on offense in the second half. For example, after walking sparingly in the first half Castillo’s plate discipline improved considerably after the All-Star break. His on-base percentage went from .324 to .349 at season’s end. One home run in the first half ballooned to seven for the year despite playing on a bum knee which ended his season prematurely.

Best of all, Castillo was a monster behind the plate, ranking at the top of the league in defensive WAR (2.8). His seven throwing errors, however, were too many for a player with a plus arm. Kottaras won’t replace Navarro at the plate but should be better behind it. Catching is the thinnest position in the Cubs system aand they’ve invited three non-roster invitees to camp, including John Baker and Eli Whiteside. Double-A catcher Rafael Lopez could be a help at the major league level if his improvement continues.

Outlook: If Castillo is healthy expect him to play in more than the career high of 113 games he achieved last season. He’s a rock behind the plate and is only getting better defensively. The question is whether he can take his offense to another level. More pop to go along with his rising on-base percentage of the second half last season would be ideal. The Cubs have a good coach for Castillo in Mike Borzello, who was one of the few survivors from the previous coaching staff. He’s key to Castillo’s development.

Kottaras simply hasn’t shown the offense the Cubs could use off the bench, but overall the combination should be better defensively. It’s doubtful the twosome of catchers will rival the job done by Castillo and the departed Navarro last season, but the only thing that really matters for the future of the Cubs is the steps Castillo takes. He should be coming into his own in 2014.

Tendering Barney was the right move

December, 3, 2013
12/03/13
2:35
PM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs made the right choice in tendering second baseman Darwin Barney a contract for 2014. If there was any angst over the decision, there shouldn't have been, because Barney deserves another chance.

[+] EnlargeDarwin Barney
AP Photo/Al BehrmanThe Cubs have to hope Darwin Barney can regain his 2011 form when he batted .276.
Make no mistake, if No. 1 prospect Javier Baez was ready for the big leagues and the Cubs believed second base was where he needed to play, that would mean a different story for Barney. Same goes for rising prospect Arismendy Alcantara. Some may even think Logan Watkins deserves a real chance at second base. Watkins was an on-base machine in the minors before being recalled last season, but he barely got off the bench. And for all we know, he'll push Barney this spring or summer.

But until further notice, Barney gets another chance to rebound from a rough season at the plate in which he hit just .208 and got on base only 27 percent of the time. The simple reason is Dale Sveum and the old coaching staff. If Sveum and Co. are going to be blamed for the "regression" of Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro, then Barney fits into that category as well.

In fact, going back to last offseason, Sveum may have worked more closely with Barney than Rizzo or Castro. The bottom line is Barney hit .276 the season before Sveum arrived. He hit .254 and .208 in the two years under him. It would be way too simplistic to put that all on Sveum, but Barney deserves a fresh start with a new coaching staff just like Rizzo and Castro.

And even with some poor numbers, he has shown some signs. He'll battle an opposing pitcher with the best of them -- he was third in the league in foul ball percentage at 43.6 percent, according to ESPN Stats and Information. With two strikes he fouled a pitch off 47.6 percent of the time, tops in the league. It's a good reason why he's only struck out an average of 63 times in three full seasons in the big leagues.

But those foul balls don't mean much -- other than driving up a pitch count -- if the at-bat ends in an unproductive out. And Barney actually fouls off more pitches (46 percent) outside the zone than inside (42 percent). Maybe that's where his upside lies or perhaps his deficiency. All players get hits off pitches outside the zone, or at least take more walks than Barney's 36 last season. So a few more balls that go forward instead of backward could make the difference for him as will laying off a few of those outside the zone. And Barney's seven home runs and 41 RBIs in 2013 aren't bad for a hitter who mostly bats in the eighth spot in the lineup. In fact, only Matt Dominguez of the Houston Astros had more runs driven in from that position in the order than Barney.

Of course, Barney doesn't get another chance at the plate without his work in the field. As bad as he was on offense, he was a Gold Glove winner as well as a finalist at second base in two years under Sveum. That counts for more than just a passing mention. If Sveum gets some blame for Barney's offense then his coaching staff gets some credit for mentally keeping him in the game on defense. FanGraphs basically has Barney as the best defensive second baseman in the game over the past two years. So for Barney to be an effective overall player he only has to return to respectability at the plate.

Unless something unexpected happens, expect the Cubs to sign him for 2014. After that, there are no guarantees. But he deserves another chance to improve at the plate.

At least for a while.

Roster shaping


There were no major surprises during Monday's tender deadline.

The Cubs signed their new backup catcher in George Kottaras after Dioner Navarro joined the Toronto Blue Jays. Navarro wanted a multiyear deal and the Cubs wouldn't give more than one. That has basically been their philosophy lately. If you're not part of the core for the future the Cubs aren't going to be locking you up.

Infielder Donnie Murphy fits into that category and between his signing and the Cubs tendering Luis Valbuena a contract, it made Mat Gamel expendable. According to sources, Murphy had a lucrative offer from Japan after hitting 11 home runs in less than two months last season. An arbitration hearing would have been unique considering his short but successful stay in the majors in 2013, so instead, both sides decided to lock him up. But again, it's for one year.

With prospects Baez, Alcantara, Kris Bryant, Mike Olt and others getting ready to break into the majors, one-year deals is the norm right now. And that's the right thing to do.

Offseason questions: Who's the manager?

October, 31, 2013
10/31/13
3:47
PM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
With the conclusion of the World Series begins the official offseason for Major League Baseball, though the Chicago Cubs' winter started the day after their year ended with the firing of manager Dale Sveum.

Undoubtedly, hiring his replacement is the first order of major business.

Boston Red Sox coach Torey Lovullo's credentials may never be better, as his team just completed a worst-to-first scenario. As of Thursday afternoon, Lovullo had not been contacted by the Cubs, but it’s been only hours since he helped his team win the World Series. Things on the managerial front should move fast now that the baseball season is over.

If the Cubs don’t hire a manager by the end of the next week, they’re bucking up against their timeline of doing so by the general manager meetings, which take place Nov. 11-13 in Orlando, Fla. Expect final interviews and a decision in the coming days as owner Tom Ricketts and president Theo Epstein are to meet fans in a question-and-answer session next week at the Bank of America Theatre in Chicago. Having a manager in place would eliminate plenty of queries.

The next order of business will be dealing with free agents. The Cubs have four of their own: pitchers Scott Baker, Kevin Gregg and Matt Guerrier and catcher Dioner Navarro.

After a career year, a source familiar with the situation says Navarro is already drawing strong interest from other teams to be their No. 1 catcher. That means the prospects of the popular Navarro returning to the Cubs are slim.

(Read full post)

2013 Cubs season review: Catchers

October, 3, 2013
10/03/13
11:44
AM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
Jesse Rogers recaps the Cubs by position and looks at what changes might be in store for 2014.

Welington Castillo, Nick PuntoJerry Lai/USA TODAY SportsCubs catcher Welington Castillo showed improvement behind the plate.
It’s simple. Catching turned into a strength for the Chicago Cubs in 2013. Welington Castillo took major steps, while backup Dioner Navarro revitalized his career. The Cubs brought in Navarro as a mentor to push Castillo and it could not have worked out better. Navarro had a career year on offense while Castillo excelled defensively and improved at the plate over the course of the second half.

The good: Castillo became one of the best in the game at blocking pitches in the dirt. Scouts say he’s right behind the Cardinals' Yadier Molina in this category, and Castillo's defensive WAR (2.8) ranks first in all of baseball. At the plate his walk percentage increased significantly in the second half to the point where he finished the season with a more-than-respectable .349 OBP. Navarro was simply deadly at the plate. He proved himself from both sides with power off the bench as well as in spot starts. He set a career highs in batting average, on-base percentage and home runs despite his backup status.

The bad: Though Castillo has a strong arm, base runners weren’t scared to run on him, and his 29.5 caught-stealing percentage is middle of the pack, though a lot of that has to do with Cubs pitching. The team could use a little more power from Castillo, who hit just eight home runs on the season. Navarro wasn’t nearly as dynamic defensively and it hurt the Cubs a few times with some errant throws or missed balls in the dirt.

Who’s next?: The Cubs have very little in their system at the catching position, in fact they’re going to try to convert a few players from other positions this fall and winter. It means Castillo is entrenched as the starter, but Navarro is no sure thing to return. If he does leave, expect the Cubs to simply fill his spot with another veteran free agent. There are a host of catchers who will be available.

2014 outlook: Castillo took some steps on defense, now he needs to take another one on offense and build off his second half. His walk total will be critical as he showed pop when he swung at good pitches. With catching thin around the league, he should be in line for a longer-term contract. As for his backup in 2014, Navarro may have played himself into a bigger deal elsewhere. If he stays he’ll be one of the higher-paid backups in the league. But his value to Castillo and the Cubs might be worth it.

Rapid Reaction: Cubs 3, Braves 1

September, 21, 2013
9/21/13
5:59
PM CT
Levine By Bruce Levine
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs scored three late runs to overtake the Atlanta Braves for a 3-1 victory Saturday afternoon at Wrigley Field.

How it happened: The Braves were on the cusp of winning the National League East division. Their magic number was one as RHP Kris Medlen went to the mound against the Cubs and LHP Travis Wood. The Cubs' pitcher was looking for a team-high 10th victory. Braves rookie Evan Gattis drove in the first run of the game with an RBI single, which scored Freddie Freeman in the fourth inning. Anthony Rizzo tied the game with a double in the eighth inning off reliever Scott Downs. Catcher Dioner Navarro’s clutch RBI single gave the Cubs the lead. A sacrifice RBI by Nate Schierholtz added the third run.

What it means: The Braves' magic number remains at one. Pedro Strop recorded his first save as a Cub, striking out the side. The division championship is on hold for Atlanta. Manager Fredi Gonzalez awaits his second straight playoff appearance as the Braves skipper (the Braves were the NL wild card in 2012). No Cubs pitcher has won more than 10 games since Ryan Dempster picked up 15 wins in 2010. Wood has 24 quality starts in 2013. He allowed one run in seven-plus innings of work.

Outside the box: Closer Kevin Gregg was accepted back in the good graces of management after blasting them for how his closer role was to be handled the last week of the season. President Theo Epstein forgave Gregg after he apologized late Friday evening … Minor league pitcher of the year Kyle Hendricks and player of the year Javier Baez were honored before Saturday's game. Baez was second in the minor leagues with 37 home runs combined between Class A Daytona and Double-A Tennessee … Baez will not play in the Arizona Fall League as he originally planned to do. The Cubs will bring him to Mesa, Ariz., for a few special instruction clinics in the fall and winter … Hendricks will finish his senior year at Dartmouth in the fall. He is an economics major … The Cubs have put together a special logo for the celebration of the 100th anniversary of Wrigley field in 2014. A contest held by the organization received 1,200 submissions … Brandon Ort of New Bremen, Ohio, had the winning design.

Up next: RHP Edwin Jackson (8-16, 4.75 ERA) opposes the Braves and RHP Julio Teheran (12-8, 3.14) in the series finale.

Navarro set to cash in on career year

September, 7, 2013
9/07/13
2:47
PM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO – Chicago Cubs catcher Dioner Navarro calls this season a “rebirth” for him after struggling to stay in the major leagues as recently as a year ago. He’s had no problem doing that this time around as he’s already set a career high in home runs (12) despite getting only 200 at-bats entering play this weekend.

[+] EnlargeDioner Navarro
Brian Kersey/Getty ImagesDioner Navarro has hit a career-high 12 home runs despite limited playing time and could be due for a big raise.
“I wanted to re-establish myself first,” Navarro said before the Cubs played the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday afternoon. “I think I’ve done that. Now I want to help this team turn the page and become a winning team.”

But has Navarro played himself out of town? Signed to a one-year deal after playing sparingly for the Cincinnati Reds last season, he knows he needs to cash in on his big year. His .305 batting average and .369 on-base percentage scream for a chance at a starting job elsewhere.

“I think I’m capable of playing a little bit more,” Navarro said. “I knew when I signed here what my role would be. I’ll leave it up to God. It will work out in the end.”

It may work out for him, but his gain might be the Cubs' loss. By all accounts he and starter Welington Castillo have a great repoire, and the former has helped the latter, especially on defense.

“He gets along with me, I get along with him," Navarro said. "We’re both on the same page.”

Navarro indicated he couldn’t be happier with his current situation and that the Cubs will be the first team he listens to, but with his power numbers better than at least 25 other catchers who have more at-bats -- and an on-base percentage that ranks fifth among back-stoppers -- it would be hard to believe the free-agent-to-be won’t get some calls. He’s only 28, so there’s also a chance he’s just entering his prime.

“It is a business,” Navarro stated. “I have a family. I have to look out for what’s best for my family. I will definitely hear what the Cubs have to say. They will be No. 1 on my list.”

For now, Navarro just wants to finish strong. That will give him the options and potentially the security he desires – here or elsewhere.

“I talked to my wife before the year and we said it was the second part of my career,” he said. “It was like a rebirth for me. Hopefully it carries until I retire.”

Rapid Reaction: Cubs 3, Dodgers 2

August, 28, 2013
8/28/13
1:14
AM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive


Here’s a quick look at the Chicago Cubs' 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night.

How it happened: Travis Wood outdueled Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw and also scored the game’s first run after singling off Kershaw in the third inning. A catcher’s interference call put him on second, and he scored on a Dioner Navarro base hit. The Cubs chased Kershaw in the sixth after Starlin Castro drove in Cody Ransom with a hit. The Dodgers finally got to Wood in the bottom of the sixth when Juan Uribe drove in Hanley Ramirez with a two-out single. Then, a Brian Bogusevic double play with the bases loaded in the eighth inning scored the Cubs' third run. The Dodgers pulled to within one on an Andre Ethier single in the bottom of the eighth that scored Ramirez again, but that’s as close as they got to tying the game. Wood was great, going seven innings while giving up just five hits and one unearned run.

What it means: The Cubs chased Kershaw by elevating his pitch count. He threw the ball 107 times in just 5.2 innings as the Cubs went deep into counts by fouling off good pitches. It made a big difference in the game because Travis Wood was able to pitch with a lead for a change. The at-bats by the Cubs are the kind they wouldn’t mind going forward. Even if they aren’t scoring a lot of runs against the starter, running up pitch counts forces opponents to their middle bullpen, which opens the possibility to add on runs. The Cubs were able to do that by getting the winning run to cross the plate against middle man Ronald Belisario.

What’s next: The rubber game of the series takes place on Wednesday afternoon when Edwin Jackson faces Ricky Nolasco.

Front office shines in win

August, 19, 2013
8/19/13
11:12
PM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- If you’re looking to keep the faith when it comes to the Chicago Cubs front office, consider Monday night’s 11-1 victory over the Washington Nationals and then consider the job they’ve done just since last offseason.

None of their pickups are leading them to a pennant this year, but the Cubs should be happy with their scouting staff and the decisions they’ve made -- as minor as they look at times.

How about Nate Schierholtz? He was a quiet, unknown player when the Cubs signed him to a one-year deal to man right field. He had never been a full-time starter and had never hit more than nine home runs. On Monday he hit his 17th and 18th long balls of the season and drove in a career high six runs.

“I had confidence if I went somewhere and had a shot to play, I’d be able to put up better numbers than I have,” Schierholtz said after the game. “That was my goal, to prove I can play here every day.”

(Read full post)

Rapid Reaction: Cubs 11, Nationals 1

August, 19, 2013
8/19/13
9:51
PM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive


CHICAGO -- Here’s a quick look at the Chicago Cubs' 11-1 victory over the Washington Nationals on Monday at Wrigley Field.

How it happened: Nate Schierholtz and Donnie Murphy hit two home runs apiece as the Cubs hit five long ones on the night. Schierholtz blasted a three-run shot in the first and a two-run shot in the seventh. He also had an RBI double in the third inning before Murphy hit a solo shot in the fourth. Murphy added a solo shot in the eighth as well. Dioner Navarro went deep with a three-run shot in the fifth inning, finally ending Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann's night. Zimmermann gave up eight runs on seven hits while his counterpart on the Cubs, Jeff Samardzija, was mowing the Nationals down. Samardzija gave up very little until a home run in the seventh by Wilson Ramos. Samardzija went the distance, giving up just one run on six hits.

What it means: Guys like Schierholtz, Navarro and Murphy are picking up the slack of slumping stars Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro. Navarro has resurrected his career as his 11 home runs have come in 167 at-bats. Projected over the course of 500 at-bats that translates to over 30 home runs. He also walked twice on Monday, raising his on-base percentage to a team-leading .366. Unless Navarro gets a starting job someplace else, expect a return next year of the catching duo the Cubs currently employ. Schierholtz has been better than advertised, setting career-high numbers across the board and Murphy has also exceeded expectations with six home runs in 44 at-bats since being recalled.

Outside the box: Brian Bogusevic was activated before the game to take the place of traded outfielder David DeJesus. Expect him and the soon-to-be-activated Ryan Sweeney to get the bulk of the playing time with DeJesus gone. ... DeJesus pinch-hit in the eighth inning and received a standing ovation from the Cubs crowd before entering the batter's box. He popped out to shortstop.

What’s next: Game 2 of the series is Tuesday night with the Cubs' Chris Rusin (2-2, 3.06 ERA) opposing the Nats' Dan Haren (7-11, 4.79).

Cubs finally get timely hits vs. Cardinals

August, 10, 2013
8/10/13
10:58
PM CT
By Rob Rains, Special to ESPNChicago.com
Rob Rains, Special to ESPNChicago.com
ST. LOUIS -- Manager Dale Sveum was talking before Saturday night’s game about one of the biggest differences between his Chicago Cubs and the St. Louis Cardinals -- the ability to hit successfully with runners in scoring position.

“The thing [the Cardinals] do is they get their singles and they keep the line moving,” Sveum said. “They don’t try to hit three-run homers, and that’s the key to [hitting with] men in scoring position, driving the ball up the middle.

[+] EnlargeDioner Navarro
Howard Smith/USA TODAY SportsIn his first at-bat since being carted off the field following a collision in Philadelphia, Dioner Navarro hit an RBI double to give the Cubs the lead in St. Louis.
“The biggest thing, especially with young hitters, is when people get on base in scoring position, the lights start flashing about two-run homers and three-run homers instead of just keeping the line moving so it turns into a big inning with singles and balls in the gap or doubles down the opposite line.”

About four hours later, the Cubs kept the line moving -- and scored three runs to rally from a 4-2 deficit in the eighth inning and go on to a 6-5 win over the Cardinals.

For the first seven innings, it was another frustrating night for the Cubs, who are last in the major leagues with a .224 average with runners in scoring position, as they went 0-for-5 in those situations with one sacrifice fly and stranded three runners at either second or third.

All of that changed in the eighth, when reliever Trevor Rosenthal walked Welington Castillo and Nate Schierholtz to open the inning. After he rebounded to strike out Starlin Castro and Cody Ransom -- making the Cubs hitless in seven at-bats with runners in scoring position in the game -- Darwin Barney came to the plate.

Barney, hitting just .213 in those spots this season, had watched as Castro and Ransom both struck out on 100 mph fastballs. Barney saw nothing but fastballs, too, and on the 29th consecutive fastball Rosenthal threw in the inning -- and the 10th clocked at 100 mph on the radar gun -- he was able to redirect the 2-2 pitch into right-center for a game-tying double.

“[Rosenthal] had been elevated that whole inning,” Barney said. “The mistakes he was making were up in the zone. The guys that laid off that pitch found a way to get on base. Luckily I got a pitch out over the plate I could handle.”

After Barney’s hit tied the game, Dioner Navarro came off the bench and, with his first swing at a live pitch since being carted off the field Wednesday in Philadelphia, delivered another double, which scored Barney and gave the Cubs the lead.

“I knew he was going to throw me a fastball because he didn’t want to go to 3-1,” Navarro said. “I put a good swing on it and was fortunate enough to hit it in the gap.”

An RBI single by Schierholtz -- another hit with a runner in scoring position -- drove in the sixth Chicago run in the ninth and allowed the Cubs to withstand Matt Holliday’s second homer of the game in the bottom of the inning.

Barney knows getting more hits with runners in scoring position needs to be a priority for the Cubs the rest of this season. Their team average is more than 100 percentage points behind the Cardinals, who lead all of baseball with a .335 average.

“You just want to swing at a good pitch,” Barney said. “You watch someone like the Cardinals who hit so well with runners in scoring position, and they are very aggressive. ... That’s obviously been one of the focuses all year. If I can get better, the team will be better. It definitely hurt us early, and you lose ballgames by stranding runners.”

It might be that just playing the Cardinals the past two nights has made the Cubs better.

“There’s something about playing the Cardinals,” Barney said. “It’s not good to say but you get up more for games like this I think. It’s just one of those things; they are in the hunt and need to win some ballgames, and we’re playing spoilers once again. Hopefully we can keep doing it. That’s a good club whose offense is on the verge of breaking out again. We need to take them when we can.”

Rapid Reaction: Cubs 6, Cardinals 5

August, 10, 2013
8/10/13
9:33
PM CT
By Rob Rains, Special to ESPNChicago.com
Special to ESPNChicago.com


ST. LOUIS -- Darwin Barney doubled in two runs to tie the game and Dioner Navarro followed with a pinch-hit double in the eighth inning Saturday night to lift the Chicago Cubs to a 6-5 win over the St. Louis Cardinals.

How it happened: With the Cardinals ahead 4-2, reliever Trevor Rosenthal walked two batters to open the eighth before striking out Starlin Castro and Cody Ransom, both on 100 mph fastballs. Barney worked the count to 2-2 before Rosenthal threw his 29th consecutive fastball of the inning -- the 10th of which hit 100 mph on the radar gun -- but Barney turned it into a double to right center. Navarro, cleared to play just before the game, came off the bench and drove in Barney with the go-ahead run with another double. Nate Schierholtz drove in what proved to be the game-winning run with a single in the ninth, scoring Junior Lake, who led off the inning with a double. The Cardinals' Matt Holliday hit his second home run on the night with one out in the ninth, but Cubs reliever Kevin Gregg got the next two batters he faced to ground out.

What it means: The victory allowed the Cubs to win consecutive games for the first time since July 17-18, a span of 13 games since their last consecutive wins. That was part of a three-game winning streak. This is only the third time since July 6-9 that the Cubs have won two or more games in a row.

Outside the box: The rally got starter Carlos Villanueva off the hook for another loss. Villanueva was making his 12th start since his only win as a starter this season, on April 18 against Texas. He is now 0-7 with five no-decisions in those 12 starts. He allowed a three-run homer by Holliday in the fourth after Welington Castillo’s homer had put the Cubs in front 1-0 in the second.

Up next: Former Cardinal Edwin Jackson (7-12, 4.96 ERA) will start the series finale for the Cubs in the 1:15 p.m. game on Sunday. Joe Kelly (3-3, 2.98 ERA) will start for the Cardinals.

Cubs purchase contract of OF McDonald

August, 10, 2013
8/10/13
5:42
PM CT
By Rob Rains, Special to ESPNChicago.com
Special to ESPNChicago.com
ST. LOUIS -- Dioner Navarro’s speedy recovery after a home plate collision Wednesday prompted the Chicago Cubs to return catcher J.C. Boscan to Triple-A Iowa on Saturday and purchase the contract of outfielder Darnell McDonald.

“Navarro’s fine, so we didn’t need another catcher and we do need another position player,” manager Dale Sveum said. “Darnell has been swinging the bat really well down there so we will give him a shot and see what happens.”

McDonald, 34, has played parts of six seasons in the majors with the Orioles, Twins, Reds, Red Sox and Yankees. He originally was a first-round pick of Baltimore in the 1997 draft. He arrived in St. Louis shortly before Saturday night’s game.

(Read full post)

Cubs' Navarro won't need DL stint

August, 9, 2013
8/09/13
7:08
PM CT
By Rob Rains
Special to ESPNChicago.com
Archive
ST. LOUIS -- An MRI on the right ankle of Chicago Cubs catcher Dioner Navarro revealed a grade one sprain and he will not need a trip to the disabled list.

Navarro was hurt in a home-plate collision with the Philadelphia Phillies’ Chase Utley on Wednesday. The Cubs called up catcher J.C. Boscan from Triple A Iowa before knowing how long Navarro will be out.

The injury to Navarro has focused attention on the fact the Cubs do not have many prime prospects at catcher in their farm system, something general manager Jed Hoyer acknowledged when speaking with the media before Friday's game.

(Read full post)

Navarro out after collision; C called up

August, 8, 2013
8/08/13
12:42
PM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
One day after absorbing a collision at the plate by Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Chase Utley, Chicago Cubs catcher Dioner Navarro was declared out for Thursday's matinee finale between the teams with a right ankle contusion, according to Comcast Sportsnet.

"It was a good baseball play," Navarro said on Comcast Sportsnet. "We both did what we needed to do. I guess I got the worse out of it."

Utley was the potential go-ahead run as he came home from second on a base hit by Kevin Frandsen. Navarro blocked the plate forcing Utley to come in hard. X-rays taken on Navarro's leg Wednesday night were negative.

The Cubs called up catcher J.C. Boscan from Triple-A Iowa for Thursday's game. The 33-year-old Boscan had 11 at-bats in parts of the last three seasons with the Atlanta Braves.

The Cubs also placed reliever Matt Guerrier on the 60-day disabled list with right elbow soreness and outfielder Thomas Neal on the 15-day disabled list with a dislocated right shoulder. Neal dislocated his right shoulder throwing a ball into second from left field on Wednesday.

Guerrier, acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Carlos Marmol trade, had a 2.13 ERA in 15 relief appearances with the Cubs.

Right-handed pitcher Eduardo Sanchez was also recalled from Triple-A Iowa.

Rapid Reaction: Cubs 5, Phillies 2

August, 7, 2013
8/07/13
9:31
PM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive


Here's a quick look at the Chicago Cubs' 5-2 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday:

How it happened: New Cub Donnie Murphy hit a two-out, three-run home run in the ninth inning -- his second home run of the game -- breaking a 2-2 tie. The Phillies got on the board first with a Domonic Brown home run in the second inning, but the Cubs tied it in the third with Murphy's first long one. Junior Lake drove in Cody Ransom with a single in the fifth, giving the Cubs a 2-1 lead. The Phillies tied it in the seventh on a Chase Utley pinch-hit single to score John Mayberry Jr.

What it means: Murphy might have found a home at third base for the short term, as he has three home runs in two days and seven RBIs since being recalled from Triple-A Iowa over the weekend. With Luis Valbuena on the disabled list and Ransom struggling -- he was picked off first base in the ninth -- Murphy should be in the lineup.

Outside the box: Dioner Navarro left the game on a stretcher in the seventh inning after injuring his right leg in a collision at home plate with Utley. Cole Gillespie threw out Utley, who slid hard into Navarro. X-rays were negative, according to Cubs television play-by-play announcer Len Kasper. ... New outfielder Thomas Neal also left in the seventh after dislocating his right shoulder, according to Kasper, after throwing a ball in from left field on a double by Mayberry. With a day game Thursday, the Cubs will have to move quickly if they have to fill those roster spots.

What's next: In the series finale on Thursday afternoon Jeff Samardzija takes on Ethan Martin of the Phillies.

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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