Chicago Cubs: Scott Maine
CHICAGO – Tony Campana is expected to be recalled when rosters expand a week from Sunday, but moves might be limited.
“Most of them are here anyway,” manager Dale Sveum said. “There are some guys who are coming back from injuries that we still want to take looks at as well.”
That would suggest that left-handed reliever Blake Parker is a candidate to be called up. Other pitchers that could be on their way back to Chicago are Jeff Beliveau, Scott Maine and, of course, Chris Rusin. There is also right-hander Miguel Socolovich, whom the Cubs claimed off waivers from the Orioles on Friday.
And then there is the question of whether or not the Cubs would be willing to bring up shortstop Junior Lake from Double-A Tennessee. Sveum has mentioned him in passing so his name will clearly be discussed.
It doesn’t seem as if the Cubs will be bringing everybody form the above list, though.
“The way the roster is and everything I don’t know how many we will (call up),” Sveum said. “I don’t think it will be an overwhelming amount, but just enough to help us in September to where we can do things roster-wise during a game and pinch hit three or four pitchers to help out and all that stuff. We’re not going to bring 15 guys up or anything like that.”
Castillo has been out since May 11 with a left groin strain and just completed a lengthy minor-league rehab assignment.
In seven outings earlier this season, the right-handed Castillo had a 7.40 ERA. Maine is 1-1 with a 4.79 ERA over three separate stints with the Cubs this season.
Castillo was a Rule 5 selection from the Phillies this past winter and must be on the major-league roster all season or be offered back to his former club.
After reliever Scott Maine picked up his first victory in a 5-3 triumph over the New York Mets, he received a Mountain Dew shower instead.
“I don’t drink, so they showered me in Mountain Dew,” Maine said. “They’re respectful.”
Maine pitched two innings of scoreless relief for starter Randy Wells, who only lasted into the fourth inning. The lefty inherited two runners from Wells but only one scored to tie the game.
In the bottom of the fourth, Maine was set up for the victory when an Anthony Rizzo RBI double gave the Cubs the lead for good. Rizzo’s debut overshadowed Maine’s first victory, but he was understanding of the situation.
“Oh yeah, it’s been blown up since Day 1 since [Rizzo] came over as a Cub,” Maine said, knowing there was no way to compete with that. “He did great today and he’ll continue to do great.”
Since Ryan Dempster is still expected to miss another start because of a sore right latissimus dorsi muscle, the Cubs will continue to have rotation questions. But manager Dale Sveum suggested the club can go with four starters if Dempster can return by Tuesday of next week.
“I don’t know what we do now,” Sveum said. “We have a few days to think about it and talk about it. The day off (Thursday) we might not even need (a fifth starter). We’ll sit down and see what we come up with.”
Wells was given two starts in place of Dempster and walked four in each of them. When he walked Mets starting pitcher Dillon Gee with no outs in the fourth inning, he was removed from the game.
“I just continue to make dumb pitches that are getting me in bad counts and I’m having to work that much harder to squeeze by innings,” Wells said. “It’s easy to sit here and dwell on the negatives. It obviously wasn’t a good start. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out. But we scratched out a win.”
Give Wells credit for pointing out all the positives around him. There were the two hits and the go-ahead RBI from Anthony Rizzo in his Cubs debut. There was the first career victory for reliever Scott Maine. And there was the 100th career save for closer Carlos Marmol that came despite walking the leadoff man in the ninth inning.
“I’m not going to sit here and beat myself up or dwell on the negatives,” Wells said. “It’s pretty obvious that when you walk four guys and walk the pitcher trying to sacrifice, you’re trying to do too much, trying to be too fine and not trusting your stuff.”
CHICAGO -- The ascension of Anthony Rizzo from the minor league’s top slugger to Wrigley Field should take place sometime in the next week. As for what to expect from the 23-year-old first baseman, many of his former Iowa teammates are anticipating great results.
“There is no question about it, he has that great confidence in himself,” said infielder Adrian Cardenas. “He has a presence about him, make no mistake about it. But he is just one of the guys not cocky in a bad way, but confident in a positive way.”
Rizzo’s minor league numbers have been off the charts. Over a period of two years covering 157 games, he has 49 home runs and 110 RBIs to go along with a .343 batting average.
“He can hit any pitch and his plate discipline has improved,” said pitcher Casey Coleman. “Guys have tried to get him to chase pitches, but he doesn’t and ends up hitting in more favorable counts, often getting the pitch he wants.”
Team executives have said since acquiring Rizzo for Andrew Cashner this past winter, that once he is back in the major leagues, he will play first base every day.
“The one thing that is not talked about enough is Rizzo’s defense. He goes after everything out there and he has a great glove. He scoops everything up at first,” Coleman said. “When I got to play next to him at Iowa, I found out that as good as he is on offense, he is even that much better on defense.”
Added Cardenas: “That is really special for a great hitter to take so much pride on defense. It’s going to be fun watching him when he gets here.”
Rizzo was frequently bested by big league pitchers in his first exposure to the majors last summer (posting 46 strikeouts in 144 at-bats).
“He was this big strong guy last year that could handle the low pitch and be pitched to up high,” Coleman said. “This spring he lowered his hands at the plate and the results are less swing and misses.”
The clock is ticking and the beginning of what could be a big-time career may be just a few days away for Rizzo.
“He is a young guy who has a lot of energy and plays hard,” said reliever Scott Maine. “He does all the right things and I really think Chicago fans are going to love him. The statistics speak for themselves, so he is going to go hard on the field, and I think do a great job.”
CHICAGO -- The offense rallied to tie it in the middle innings Saturday, but the Chicago Cubs bullpen let it get away in a 4-3 defeat to the Cincinnati Reds.
How it happened: Making his first start of the season, Randy Wells worked his way in and out of trouble, managing to give up just two runs over five innings. The offense couldn’t build on its momentum from Saturday, though, and scored just twice, with one of the runs coming after an errant wild pickoff throw. Alfonso Soriano twice made outs with the bases loaded. Starlin Castro was hit in the elbow by a pitch but remained in the game after a visit from the medical staff and later hit a triple in the ninth inning.
What it means: Wells’ five innings means the bullpen worked another four innings on Sunday as it awaits some reinforcement. The fact that Scott Maine pitched 1 2/3 innings Sunday, two days after throwing an inning makes it likely that he is guy on his way back to Iowa as right-hander Michael Bowden gets ready to join the roster Monday. When it comes to innings pitched, though, the Cubs entered Sunday with 42 2/3 innings from its relievers, still in the bottom third among teams in all of baseball.
Outside the box: Manager Dale Sveum made a curious double-switch to start the sixth inning. Joe Mather remained in the game after batting for Wells. But instead of taking the spot of Soriano, who made the last out in the bottom of the fifth, Sveum had Mather replace Bryan LaHair at first base. Mather can play both positions. LaHair had just driven a run in the fifth with a single and improved his batting average to .361. Soriano, who is barely batting over .200, struck out with one out and the bases loaded in the seventh inning.
Off beat: Speed can be a menace on the baseball field and Tony Campana proved to be a particular issue for Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto. After an infield single in the first inning, Campana coaxed Cueto into a balk. In the third inning Cueto rushed on Campana’s sacrifice bunt back up the box, fumbled the ball and couldn’t get the throw to first base in time. Campana nearly reached base a third consecutive time when Cueto bobbled a comebacker, but his throw to first base was just in time. The call still drew an argument from Sveum with first-base umpire Jerry Meals.
Up next: Cubs right-hander Matt Garza (1-1, 3.66 ERA) will take the mound Monday in the opener of a three-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals. St. Louis will counter with left-hander Jamie Garcia in the 7 p.m. start from Wrigley Field.
The Cubs acquired right-handed reliever Michael Bowden from the Boston Red Sox on Saturday in the deal that sent Marlon Byrd to Boston. With the right-handed Bowden joining the roster Monday, somebody in the bullpen has to go.
"Yeah, once we got rid of Sean somebody has to step up and take on his workload," Russell said. "That's kind of what I've been working toward this offseason and what I will work toward this spring."
Heading in to spring training, Russell and veteran newcomer Trever Miller appear in line to face lefties in key situations late in games. Scott Maine and John Gaub would appear to be contenders as well but have longer odds for the role.
Hearing manager Dale Sveum talk about it, he could be leaning toward Miller to face lefties late in games, but would probably let Kerry Wood handle the entire eighth inning to get to closer Carlos Marmol.
"[Miller] knows how to get left-handers out and that's a big asset depending on how your bullpen unfolds during the course of spring training," Sveum said.
Russell still has some work to do if he wants more responsibility.
"Right now he's a matchup guy against lefties," Sveum said. "He's got the ability and the endurance to go two innings. It all depends on what’s going on, the score of the game what they have on the bench and all that. But he’s a guy that can go two innings, there’s no doubt about that."
Russell knows he can’t simply rely on the organization’s familiarity with what he did last season because of all the turnover in the front office and coaching staff.
At first glance, Russell’s numbers (1-6 record and a 4.47 ERA) don’t suggest an excellent season, but throwing out the appearances when he was pressed into service as a starter and all of a sudden his value becomes clear.
Russell lost all five of his starts, posting a 9.33 ERA and a 2.018 WHIP in the process. In 59 relief outings he delivered a 2.19 ERA and a 1.074 WHIP.
"I felt like I did a very good job last year in the bullpen, and I'm hoping to build off that and take the end of the season into this season and keep it going," said the son of former major-leaguer Jeff Russell.
He knows, though that he can’t let the numbers speak for themselves with Miller, Maine and Gaub looking for innings, too. Sveum said that in a perfect world he breaks camp with two left-handers in the bullpen.
"It makes it fun. Friendly competition is always a good thing to have," Marshall said. "It makes you work harder and you kind of focus a little more."
Cashner is expected to be in uniform Tuesday, but he is unlikely to pitch until Wednesday at the earliest. He has been throwing every third day as part of his rehab.
Cashner was placed on the DL on April 8 (retroactive to April 6) with a right rotator cuff strain. He re-aggravated the injury while rehabbing in mid-May. He is expected to stay in the bullpen for the remainder of this season.
Cashner’s activation could be one of many roster moves the team makes in the coming days.
Infielder D.J. Lemahieu and relief pitcher John Gaub are expected to be called up Tuesday from Triple-A Iowa. After that, the team likely will wait until the end of the Double-A playoffs before promoting two players on the Tennessee Smokies. Right-handed pitcher Rafael Dolis and catcher Steve Clevenger are on track to get promoted after the conclusion of those playoffs. Clevenger must be added to the roster before he is eligible to play in the major leagues.
Cashner’s coming off the DL and Celvenger’s eventual addition will max out the Cubs’ 40-man roster. With that, the team may consider designating players currently on the 40-man roster for assignment.
One player who will not be ascending to the 40-man roster is outfielder Brett Jackson. Rated as the organization’s top prospect, the Cubs have decided to keep Jackson in the minors for the remainder of this season. The team also canceled Jackson’s Arizona Fall League slot. The young outfielder will instead play with Team USA in the Pan Am Games this fall.
On Sunday, Sept. 11, a roster spot will have to be opened for Carlos Zambrano’s return to the active roster. Zambrano will be coming off the disqualified list after 30 days. He will not re-join the team, however.