Chicago's Inside Pitch
Cubs president Theo Epstein is expected to address the media sometime this afternoon about the situation Wednesday night involving Cubs prospect Jorge Soler at Class A Daytona. We’ll pick things up here from our blog of this morning and add some reaction, which we’ll flesh out more in depth for the paper tomorrow and online later today. The Cubs and Giants are working out on the outfield grass as a cold rain continues to fall at Wrigley Field before the scheduled 1:20 p.m. game.
UPDATE: The Cubs confirmed that the Florida State League has suspended Soler five games. (We'll pick up with the blog as we wrote it earlier.)
We’ll get to our full blog later today from cold and wet Wrigley Field as the Cubs hope to take on the Giants. Minor-league prospect Jorge Soler no doubt is facing a suspension for his actions in Wednesday night’s game for Class A Daytona against Clearwater.
Soler, a member of the Cubs’ 40-man roster and owner of a nine-year, $30 million contract charged across the field last night at Jackie Robinson Ballpark and was wielding a bat. Daytona manager Dave Keller was quoted by the Daytona Beach News Journal as saying the incident was “kind of like a nightmare.”
We will try to obtain comment from Cubs management today.
The Cubs will try to get something going tonight against the Brewers and Wily Peralta on a chilly night. There are a few issues to discuss as the Cubs are in a four-game slide. They send Travis Wood to the mound tonight. We’ll get to the lineups and some of those issues I mentioned. First a couple of quick notes:
--Pitcher Matt Garza played some long toss and did some flat-ground pitching on the outfield grass this afternoon. Manager Dale Sveum said Garza will throw “a couple more bullpens” before going out on a rehab stint. Essentially, said Sveum, Garza is beginning his spring training, which means a likely return date of early May as he comes back from a left-lat strain,.
It’s a different kind of Opening Day at Wrigley Field. The wind is absolutely howling out, and temperatures could reach or top 60 degrees. That’s a far cry from the usual 38 degrees we usually get. It reminds me a little of Opening Day 1994, when the Cubs’ Tuffy Rhodes hit 3 homers off the Mets’ Doc Gooden. The teams combined for 30 hits that day, and the Mets won 12-8.
Cubs manager Dale Sveum summed today up this way: “It’s howling out. It’s one of those rare days in April with a little warm front that’s coming in after that cold front. It’s a keep-the-ball-down day.”
Edwin Jackson will be charged with that for the Cubs as he opposes flyball pitcher Marco Estrada of the Brewers.
Good weather on the South Side today, and White Sox fans should be feeling really good considering Chris Sale is on the mound vs. Seattle today.
Here are some quick notes from this morning:
-Sale is 9-1 with a 1.79 ERA and .214 opposing average against in his last 12 home starts. Not bad.
-As expected, Jeff Keppinger is taking a seat today.
I still think the Sox' new third baseman is going to be an effective No. 2 hitter, and I think Keppinger is going to be right in the middle of a lot of sustained offensive rallies.
But he looks lost at the plate right now, as that 0-for-19 slide indicates. Conor Gillaspie had a great game Saturday in his first White Sox start, and he is back at third base today
Word out of Atlanta this morning is that Carlos Marmol is out as Cubs closer and Kyuji Fujikawa is in after Marmol’s blown save in Saturday night’s 6-5 loss to the Atlanta Braves. We'll also do a minor-league roundup, which is below.
Marmol gave up home runs to the Upton brothers in the ninth inning last night, sealing his fate after two previous shaky performances in Pittsburgh. The Cubs return to Wrigley Field Monday for the home opener, and you can well imagine the reception Marmol will get from the fans.
It’s an hour before first pitch here on the South Side, and the temperature has dipped to 37 degrees.
Factor in the winds, which are blowing pretty good from right field to left, and it probably feels about freezing.
Yesterday was OK, but all in all it’s been a blustery opening homestand for the White Sox.
It is – the saying goes- what it is.
“There is nothing you can really do,” Paul Konerko said. “I'm not big on putting a bunch of stuff on and trying to be warm. I just feel like you have to grit it out. It's great when your pitcher throws well because you can get off the field and back in the dugout, but you just have to have the mindset that it's going to be three to four hours where it will be tough and you have to grind it out.”
PITTSBURGH – The Cubs go with their third different lineup in three games as they play the series finale against the Pirates this afternoon (a morning start back home). Dioner Navarro starts behind the plate in place of Welington Castillo, and David DeJesus is back in center field and batting leadoff against James McDonald. We might even crack the 50-degree mark before the day is done.
After last night’s 3-0 loss, Cubs manager Dale Sveum lamented the Cubs being 0-for-13 with runners in scoring position. It’s a small sample size, to be sure, and it has nothing to do with who’s a mythical “clutch hitter” and who’s not. Along those lines, I did as Dale if he likes to see an approach from his hitters with men in scoring position.
There are going to be plenty of times when Alejandro De Aza leads off an inning with a single, steals second, advances to third base on Jeff Keppinger's ground ball out to the right side and scores on Alex Rios’ single or sac fly.
And when either Adam Dunn or Paul Konerko follows with a home run, the White Sox will have the offensive balance manager Robin Ventura is looking for.
For now, a whopping two games into the regular season, the Sox have relied on the HR to score all 6 of their runs.
Naturally, the White Sox are already being pegged as a team that is incapable of manufacturing runs.
Inside the clubhouse, there is a much different opinion.
PITTSBURGH – It’s another brisk one at PNC Park, where the temperature could hit 24 degrees tonight. Cubs manager Dale Sveum was asked how you hit in this weather.
“Punt,” he said. “It’s not about the cold. Sometimes it’s about how much you eyes water, especially if there’s any kind of breeze in your face. That’s the most difficult thing. When you’re in the batter’s box, you don’t really know that it’s really that cold. Obviously, your hands are different. But it’s more about your eyes watering.”