Chicago's Inside Pitch
MILWAUKEE – It looks more like a day better suited for Bears-Packers than Cubs-Brewers, but as long as we’ve got a roof and the grass has some sunlamps, we’re OK for baseball at Miller Park. Outside, it’s cloudy and in the 40s, but that retractable roof will be closed.
The Cubs woke up this morning already 10.5 games behind the first-place Brewers in the NL Central standings, and we’ve still got a few days before we hit May.
MILWAUKEE -- The Cubs’ beleaguered bullpen saw more change today as Jose Veras went on the disabled list with a strained left oblique. Brian Schlitter, who opened the season with the big club, was recalled from Class AAA Iowa, meaning the Cubs still have a 13-man pitching staff. Manager Rick Renteria said yesterday that Veras’ oblique was bothering him, so today’s move came as no surprise.
Veras said the oblique starting bother him “a couple of days ago, little by little.” It’s been a rough start to the season for Veras, who lost his job as the closer early on. He is 0-0 with a 15.88 ERA and a WHIP of 2.82. The DL stint also might serve to let Veras clear his mind a little.
MILWAUKEE -- The Cubs got good news today when they found out an MRI performed on top pitching prospect C.J. Edwards turned up only fatigue and inflammation but no structural damage. The 22-year-old Edwards had felt some fatigue during his last bullpen session for Class AA Tennessee. The Cubs say Edwards will rest for a couple of weeks before beginning a throwing program.
Edwards is 1-0 with a 2.61 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP at Tennessee. The Cubs obtained him last July from the Rangers along with Mike Olt, Justin Grimm and Neil Ramirez for Matt Garza, who pitches tonight for the Brewers here at Miller Park. Garza will face former Brewers pitcher Carlos Villanueva.
The Cubs will go this way against Garza:
The Cubs today placed outfielder Justin Ruggiano on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring. He injured himself yesterday trying to make a catch in the top of the ninth inning, when the Diamondbacks rallied for 5 runs against the Cubs bullpen. The bullpen is such a problem area now that instead of calling up an outfielder, the Cubs brought up two relief pitchers.
We’re now at 100-Eve at Wrigley Field. Tomorrow, the Cubs will celebrate the 100th birthday of the old ballpark. Theo Epstein was on the field this evening (and it’s really cold here), and he was asked about 100 years and no world championships being celebrated here by the Cubs.
“I don’t think I really need that kind of reminder,” he said. “That’s not what I’m thinking about when I think about tomorrow. When it comes to the 100th anniversary, for me, I think of just Wrigley as the epicenter of fans’ connection to the Cubs represents something so important to this franchise and the fans that not only connects the fans to the team but also generations of fans to one another, fathers to sons, grandfathers to grandsons, mothers to daughters, mothers to sons.
Happy Easter to all as we present another Sunday brunch blog. For those in the Chicago area, I can recommend some evening TV after you finish your Easter dinner. WGN-TV in Chicago will present “Wrigley 100: A Century Celebration” tonight at 7 Chicago time. WGN America will air the program on April 26, also at 7 Central.
WGN’s Bob Vorwald was kind enough to give me an advance copy, and I can tell you that some of the film and video highlights from over the years will stir memories. Full disclosure: I was interviewed for the program and appear in a few spots as does my Daily Herald colleague Barry Rozner, who was our beat writer from 1990-97. Despite our appearances, it’s still a great show!
A few clouds have moved in over Wrigley Field on this cool Saturday, but it was all sunshine in the Cubs dugout this morning as manager Rick Renteria was back to his old positive self.
“Today’s a new day, a beautiful day, actually,” Renteria said, one day after having to address his team following a sloppy 4-1 loss to the Reds. For whatever reason Friday, Renteria didn’t even want to acknowledge that he had a team meeting. He only alluded to being upset with some poor play. He expanded on that a bit this morning.
It’s back at Wrigley Field, where the wind is blowing in hard and cold from the north. That should benefit the starting pitchers today, the Cubs’ Jeff Samardzija and the Reds’ Alfredo Simon. We talked in Friday’s paper about the Cubs and Reds having trouble getting on base in certain situations. The Cubs enter today ranked 14th in on-base percentage, 15th in slugging, 13th in walks and 14th in runs scored. With runners in scoring position, the Cubs are batting .195 (22-for-113).
They’re coming off a 1-4 road trip, including being shut out in both games of a day-night doubleheader at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday.
Through the first weeks of the season, Paul Konerko has kept a very low profile.
That’s understandable, considering the White Sox only faced two left-handed starting pitchers through their first 15 games. Konerko started only one of those games, but he’s in the lineup tonight vs. Boston lefty Jon Lester.
Konerko is actually starting at first base in place of the slumping Jose Abreu, who has 1 hit in his last 20 at-bats.
The Sox’ captain seemed to talk before just about every game when he was a regular player, and he held court again on Thursday.
Here are some highlights:
On the difficultly of going from full-time to part-time play:
It's cold, 37 degrees about an hour from first pitch, but there's no rain (or snow), so the White Sox and Red Sox are going to play ball tonight at U.S. Cellular Field.
Lot of stuff happening:
-It's Jackie Robinson Day, marking the 67th anniversary of the former Brooklyn Dodgers great breaking baseball's color barrier. Players on both teams will wear Robinson's No. 42 tonight.
-Two familiar faces are in Boston's clubhouse.
Former White Sox starter Jake Peavy gets the start for the Red Sox tonight, and popular catcher A.J. Pierzynski will be behind the plate for Boston.