Chicago Cubs: Tyler Colvin
He returns to Wrigley Field for the first time red hot, batting .435 in his last six games.
“It is great to see the guys I came through the minors with get a chance,” Colvin said. “Not everyone has made it at the same time but it is nice to see them get a chance just like I am here.”
Colvin has been a versatile performer for Colorado this season, playing all three outfield spots as well as first base.
“When I got here there was good communication from the beginning,” Colvin said. “In the past, the program changed for me. Here I am not being pulled back and forth.”
A stellar rookie season in 2010, when he hit 20 home runs, ended in near tragedy. A broken bat punctured his chest cavity, collapsing a lung and ending his season in early September. He struggled in 2011, batting .150 with six home runs, but he never used the broken bat incident as an excuse for his struggles.
”I know I had a really bad year last year, and I couldn’t work out in the previous offseason like I always do. But that is no excuse for a bad year,” Colvin said. “I was just swinging at everything, not concentrating on my proper mechanics.”
The move to Colorado has been a good thing for Colvin, who will not forget his Chicago roots.
“I’m sorry I did not get a chance to come back and prove myself here, but the Rockies have given me a chance, and I am back to being who I am,” Colvin said.
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During their week of discussions the teams have gone back and forth exchanging possible names in return for the 26-year-old Stewart. Originally, Cubs utilityman Blake DeWitt had been discussed. More recently outfielder Tyler Colvin and infielder DJ LeMahieu have been brought into the discussions.
The Cubs have also been looking at San Diego Padres third baseman Chase Headley as the Cubs look to get better defensively at third base with a younger more athletic player at the position. The Cubs are looking to replace free agent third baseman Aramis Ramirez.
Stewart, who had a wrist injury at the end of 2011, had a completely lost season, batting .156 with no home runs and six RBIs in 48 games. He hit 43 home runs between 2009 and 2010. The situation remains fluid and medicals on Stewart's wrist are possibly being checked.
Colvin has been of interest to the Rockies as Colorado scouts feel he is closer to the player who hit 20 home runs in 350 at-bats during the 2010 season as opposed to the one who hit .150 with six homers last season.
A quick look at the Chicago Cubs' 10-6 win over the New York Mets in 11 innings on Sunday at Citi Field in New York.
How it happened: The Cubs scored six times in the 11th inning, including an RBI single from Carlos Pena and two-RBI doubles from Alfonso Soriano and Darwin Barney. The Mets scored twice in the bottom half on a home run from Jason Pridie, but couldn’t complete the rally. After an emotional pregame 9/11 tribute, Cubs manager Mike Quade started his first full-blown version of a kiddie-corps lineup. The only veterans to start were Pena and catcher Koyie Hill. The Cubs got instant results in the first inning as Bryan LaHair doubled and Pena tripled to give Matt Garza an early lead. Former Cub Angel Pagan's RBI single tied the game up in the bottom half of the inning. Tyler Colvin singled with the bases loaded in the third to give the Cubs a 3-1 lead and had an RBI triple to score LaHair in the fifth. Great defensive plays by Colvin and Barney kept Garza in the game as he allowed the Mets to score twice in the sixth.
What it means: The Cubs won the series, taking 2-of-3 from the Mets. The Cubs blew a Garza lead for the seventh time this season.
Outside the box: Starlin Castro and Tony Campana gave the Cubs their first pair with 20-plus stolen bases apiece since 1997. … Mets players were told by Major League Baseball they could not wear NYPD or FDNY caps to commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9-11. They did wear the hats in pregame workouts and on the bench. MLB VP Joe Torre said the players weren’t allowed to wear the hats on the field due to the fact that all 30 major league teams had special commemorative hats and uniforms for Sunday’s games.
What’s next: Cubs right-hander Rodrigo Lopez (4-6, 4.82) will face Reds lefty Dontrelle Willis (0-5, 4.21) in a 6:10 start Monday at Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park.
Here’s the full lineup:
Starlin Castro, SS
Darwin Barney, 2B
Aramiz Ramirez, 3B
Carlos Pena, 1B
Tyler Colvin, RF
Marlon Byrd, CF
Alfonso Soriano, LF
Geovany Soto, C
Ryan Dempster, P
When general manager Jim Hendry traded Kosuke Fukudome on July 29, he stated that part of the reason for that move was to open up a spot for Colvin in the outfield.
Colvin struggled in two prior stints with the Cubs this season before he was re-called on July 29. In 2010, he hit 20 homers in 358 at-bats as a rookie.
In recent days, Quade has started the hot-hitting Reed Johnson over Colvin. Quade has stated that playing time is earned not given.
“Let’s take Colvin, for example," Quade said. "We hope he’s here for 10 years and playing like a son of a gun. He comes back here after struggling and you look to put him in the right spots. We have a wonderful stretch where we go up against five right-handers and that’s the way I want to get him started up here. On the other hand, I do have guys that have played pretty well. Reed hasn’t played too bad. This gives me an opportunity to put them in a position where they can succeed.”
Colvin hit .105 in his first two stints with the Cubs this season. At one point, he was mired in an 0-for-34 slump. On the season, he’s batting .122 with four homers and 11 RBIs.
"We're gonna try him again today and see how he's doing," manager Mike Quade said before the game of Johnson, who has battled back problems all season. "He's feeling really good, knock on wood, so I thought we'd stay with him today."
While Johnson has definitely earned his playing time, many have begun to question when Colvin will get an extended opportunity to prove if he can be an everyday outfielder in the big leagues. But when asked if there would be a point where he would just insert Colvin into the starting lineup and keep him there, Quade didn't hesitate.
"No," Quade said. "He's going to have to earn that."
Colvin entered the game in the eighth inning.
It seems like the logical move to play the lineup that gives a team the best chance to win, and at the moment Johnson is definitely an upgrade over Colvin. However, this strategy also seems to be in direct conflict with general manager Jim Hendry's stated goal when he moved Kosuke Fukudome to Cleveland and opened a spot in right field.
"We need to find out whether (Colvin's) an everyday guy or not by the end of this year," Hendry said after moving Fukudome. "No matter how you slice it, the outfield situation, just like a few other (positions) will have to be addressed in the offseason."
Since being called up on July 28th, Colvin has started eight of the Cubs' 14 games, hardly the extended opportunity to play many were expecting. Colvin hasn't helped the situation, collecting only three hits in his 28 at-bats. Granted, two of those hits are home runs, but he's still striking out too much (eight times) and not walking enough (only one unintentional walk since being recalled).
With the Cubs sitting in fifth place and 16 games under .500, it's clear that looking towards the future should be the team's number one focus. Regardless of what one believes his true potential to be, Colvin's name should be in the lineup card until he proves to Quade and Hendry that he doesn't have a place on this team.
Cubs manager Mike Quade credits other reasons for the Cubs’ recent stretch of good baseball.
“I don’t buy any of that [pressure] stuff,” Quade said. “I think we play better when we are healthy. I also think we played better defense and I hope that we’ve gotten better hopefully from hard work. Pressure? Was there pressure in May when we were struggling? I don’t buy any of that. To me, if you want to talk about pressure, the last two weeks of the season when you’re in the hunt and a game separates two or three clubs -- that’s pressure to play [in] Major League Baseball.
“I’m just pleased this group has held itself together and we’re getting contributions from the entire roster.”
The Cubs are now 12-10 since the All-Star break and a lot of the team’s success can be attributed to better starting pitching and solid defense.
Starting play on Sunday, Cubs pitchers have 15 quality starts (six innings of three runs or less) in their last 22 games.
Last season, Quade’s team finished 24-13 after he took over the team on Aug. 22. With the team’s late improvement this season, does the Cubs manager feel the players he has now should be brought back (for the most part) next season?
“It’s way too early to concern myself with that,” Quade said. “And I dodge that all the time. That’s [general manager] Jim [Hendry] and [assistant GM Randy Bush’s] area. There are plenty of reasons to be excited, but the fact is you want to put together more than a seven-game winning streak. [More like] five or six months of good baseball.”
Quade said that he’s spending an hour and a half every day making out his lineup. The Cubs manager uses statistical matchup information, as well as his gut on how his player is performing in recent at-bats, to make his decisions.
A good part of Quade’s success last year was using all 25 men on the roster. Recently Quade has been quizzed on why he hasn’t played Tyler Colvin on a more regular basis, a question that previous manager Lou Piniella faced on a daily basis in 2010.
Quade insisted Reed Johnson and Jeff Baker have earned playing time with consistently good play.
“I get here early and try and stay a couple of days in advance [on the lineup]. I kind of look at a small sample size of their last 10 at-bats. I weigh all things out. Somewhere there is a mix between the numbers and how the guy is swinging the bat.”
“I’d like to think that there is some baseball in his future, Quade said. “This winter for sure.”
Quade didn’t rule out that Cashner could pitch with the cubs in September.
The Cubs offense did that on Tuesday night, exploding for 21 hits and six home runs. Tyler Colvin, Aramis Ramirez, Geovany Soto and Alfonso Soriano all went deep off Pirates starter Kevin Correia, who didn't register an out in the third inning. Correia gave up eight runs and 10 hits in two-plus innings.
Marlon Byrd added the fifth home run in the fourth inning. Soriano followed that with his second of the game. The six home runs were the most the Cubs have hit since September 2006, and the 21 hits were the most since April 4, 2005.
"We swung the bats well tonight," Byrd said. "But it's one of those things where we have to continue to do it consistently. That would be big for us. It can't be a big day today and nothing tomorrow. We have to build on it."
Randy Wells pitched his third strong outing in a row after struggling when he came off the disabled list on May 28 [right forearm strain].
"For me whatever happens, happens," Wells said. "I'm really not trying to put a whole lot of pressure on myself. I personally want to do well and help the team win games. Sometimes you look too deep into 'Is it mechanics, pitch selection?' But really sometimes it's just confidence."
In Wells' last three starts he has given up seven runs in 18 innings, winning two of three decisions.
Before Tuesday's game, Quade said Colvin will get playing time but he would have to earn a regular spot. After two demotions to the minors this season, Colvin had his best game of the year with three hits, including a double and a mammoth home run. The homer, his first since April 12, went 450 feet and landed in the river.
"I might have been trying to do a little too much," Colvin said. "It just took me a little while to just realize I needed to relax and not try to do too much. That's what being sent down did for me. I'm not trying to be a 50-home run guy, just be myself."
Sitting Colvin was understandable on Monday against Pittsburgh Pirates left-hander Paul Maholm, but the St. Louis Cardinals pitched right-hander Jake Westbrook on Sunday. According to the Cubs philosophy, Colvin should get the majority of the playing time in the outfield for the rest of the season.
"You'll see Colvin the next three days," said Quade, who started Colvin in right field on Tuesday against the Pirates. "We'll look to get everybody, [Alfonso] Soriano, [Marlon] Byrd, everybody will get an off day in the next few days."
After leading all rookies with 20 home run in 358 at-bats as a rookie last season, Colvin, who is in his third tour of duty with the Cubs this season, has struggled mightily. He is batting .107 with two home runs and 9 RBIs.
"I think we are committed to finding out about Colvin," Quade said. "He's going to get an opportunity, and it's going to be up to him to keep them. But I'm going to give him some shots. I'd love to see him get going against right-handed pitching, and I'll put him against guys where he has the best chance to succeed."
The Colvin episode has been one of the most disappointing elements of the Cubs' season. After recovering from a collapsed lung on Sept. 19 when a bat impaled his chest during a game in Florida, it was thought in the organization that Colvin would be the everyday right fielder this season.
The combination of Colvin's early slump and Fukudome's success at the top of the order eventually led to Colvin being sent to Triple-A. At Iowa, Colvin batted .270 with seven home runs and 32 RBIs. In 203 at-bats, he struck out 55 times and walked five times.
"The makeup of the club says he will play the next three days, and then we will go from there," Quade said. "Cincinnati also has three right-handers coming up as well so you will probably see a great deal of him. As long as he helps to contribute."
1. Starlin Castro, SS
2. Darwin Barney, 2B
3. Aramis Ramirez, 3B
4. Carlos Pena, 1B
5. Marlon Byrd, CF
6. Geovany Soto, C
7. Alfonso Soriano, LF
8. Tyler Colvin, RF
9. Rodrigo Lopez, SP
Johnson was hit in the face by a pitch during a minor league rehab outing in Iowa this past weekend. He was cleared to play after Major League Baseball looked at all the medicals, including a neurologist report. He was originally on the DL due to back spasms.
Here’s a look at the Cubs’ lineup for Tuesday’s game against the Brewers.
1. Kosuke Fukudome, RF
2. Starlin Castro, SS
3. Aramis Ramirez, 3B
4. Carlos Pena, 1B
5. Blake DeWitt, LF
6. Geovany Soto, C
7. Jeff Baker, 2B
8. Johnson, CF
9. Randy Wells, P
PHILADELPHIA -- In the category of weird, the Cubs’ 11-inning victory over the Phillies on Thursday certainly qualifies. A four-hour and four minute game and a one-hour and 17 minute rain delay were the backdrop for the Cubs win.
Tyler Colvin, locked in an 0-for-33 slump going into his ninth inning at-bat, hit what appeared to be the go-ahead homer off Philadelphia closer Ryan Madson. Colvin came to the plate after Geovany Soto tied the game at 3. After Colvin’s homer went in the stands, the umpires deliberated then went into the dugout to check a replay. They eventually ruled a fan reached over the right-field fence and pulled the ball into the stands. The result of the ruling had Colvin back at second base with a ground-rule double.
Colvin agreed with the umpire’s final decision.
“I didn’t see the replay until the next inning,” Colvin said. “You know, I agree it was a double. It’s one of those things we got the replay, they got it right and that’s the way it is.”
The score remained tied at 3 until the 11th when Colvin led off the inning with an infield single. With pinch-hitter Ryan Dempster at the plate to bunt, catcher Carlos Ruiz was charged with a passed-ball that allowed Colvin to go to second. Dempster struck out on a foul bunt then Kosuke Fukudome struck out. Phillies pitcher David Herdon, for some inexplicable reason, tried a pickoff throw at second with neither fielder on the base. As the ball went into center field, Colvin went back to the bag and stayed on second. As the strange inning continued, he then scored on Placido Polanco’s throwing error.
“With two outs, that’s what you’re thinking,” Colvin said. “With two outs you just keep running.”
Left-hander Sean Marshall was the winner, throwing three shutout innings and striking out four. Marshall hasn’t allowed a run on the road since Sept. 11, 2010, a span of 20 games and 18 1/3 innings pitched.
“It was a fun, fun day today,” Marshall said. “It was an odd game with the storm coming in and the delay. But I thought it was one of the most fun games of the year. Everybody was into it on every pitch, guys were all great. Hey, let’s do it again tomorrow.”
The Cubs’ bullpen threw 8 2/3 innings of shutout baseball in relief of Randy Wells who threw the first 2 1/3 but couldn’t return after the rain delay.
Barney, 25, is batting .303 with 61 hits, both second on the Cubs behind double-play mate Starlin Castro. The NL rookie of the month in April, Barney leads all rookies in runs, hits and batting average.
Cubs broadcaster Len Kasper has seen Barney everyday during his rookie season, and he believes the Cubs have found a long-term solution at second base.
"He has as good a game plan at the plate as any guy on this team," Kasper said Friday on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "And this is a team with a lot of veterans. That's not a knock on them. I just think that his maturity is way beyond his years. This is kind of the first go-around for Darwin, so he's going to have to make those adjustments. I just like the way he plays the game. He's not surprised by anything, the speed of the game has not gotten him. I just think he's going to be here for a long time."
Barney is often compared to former Cub and current St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Ryan Theriot, but Kasper believes Barney has the edge.
"Ryan Theriot was a guy who could make flashy plays, was fast and had a couple of really good seasons for the Cubs," Kasper said. "I just think the baseball acumen, the IQ for Darwin Barney is a little higher. I just have a feeling he's going to be here for a long, long time."
If Barney is to have a long career he will likely have to make the adjustment all young players must make after their first run through the league. Outfielder Tyler Colvin is experiencing the dreaded sophomore slump -- when he can even get on the field for the Cubs.
A year after leading all rookies with 20 home runs, Colvin has struggled in part-time duty -- batting .108 with two home runs and eight RBIs in 65 at-bats -- and just returned to the Cubs after a demotion to Triple-A Iowa.
"I think Tyler has a chance to be a really good major league player," Kasper said. "The problem as I see it is that he has holes in his swing. He can be impatient at times at the plate, and I think the league has figured out how to attack him. It's that classic 'they made adjustments, now he needs to make adjustments.'
"He's going to hit home runs. If you give him 600 at-bats he's probably going to hit 25-30 home runs. The thing is, can he get on base enough? Can he do some of the other things at the plate and not strike out as much as he probably would if you give him that amount of at-bats? I don't know the answer to that. He's good in the outfield. I don't see him as a superstar in waiting. I do see him as an everyday major leaguer."
Here is the rest of Wednesday's lineup:
1. Kosuke Fukudome, RF
2. Darwin Barney, 2B
3. Starlin Castro, SS
4. Carlos Pena, 1B
5. Aramis Ramirez, 3B
6. Blake DeWitt, LF
7. Geovany Soto, C
8. Tyler Colvin, CF
9. Doug Davis, P