Chicago's Inside Pitch
It’s been a lot of fun looking at the minor-league reports lately. Last night for Class AA Tennessee, Javier Baez hit a 2-run walk-off homer as the Smokies beat Chattanooga 8-6. Baez has 14 home runs for Tennessee, and in August, he is 25-for-62 (.293) with 3 home runs and 16 RBI (15 games). At Class A Daytona this year, Baez hit 17 home runs. He has a .985 OPS at Tennessee.
During our pregame session with manager Dale Sveum, I asked if Baez could force the issue with a good spring and at least make the Cubs consider taking him north out of Mesa.
First off, congrats to Cubs Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg for being named interim manager of the Phillies, who today fired Charlie Manuel after a 4-19 stretch. When the Cubs named Mike Quade manager late in the 2010 season, I had a chance to go out to Des Moines and visit with Sandberg for a couple of days when he was managing the Cubs’ Class AAA Iowa team, and he could not have been more gracious.
Perhaps we’ll get a chance to visit with Darwin Barney of Jeff Samardzija about Ryno after today’s game against the Cardinals. Both played for Sandberg at Iowa. The Phillies visit Wrigley Field Aug. 30-Sept. 1. There shouldn’t be too much of a media crowd for that one.
Another busy day at the ballpark on a cool Wednesday afternoon at Wrigley. The wind is blowing in again today as it has most of this season. So far, the wind has blown in 40 times and out 12 times. We’ve had six crosswinds. Overall, the Cubs have outhomered their opponents 75-48 here.
Manager Dale Sveum said this morning that right-hander Jake Arrieta will join the rotation Friday and start against the Cardinals with Carlos Villanueva going back to the bullpen. Arrieta, obtained from Baltimore in the Scott Feldman trade, was scratched from today’s scheduled start at Iowa. He started for the big club in the second game of the July 30 doubleheader against Milwaukee, going 6 innings and giving up 2 hits and 1 run.
FYI, Marcus Semien was 1-for-3 with a walk for Class AAA Charlotte Tuesday night. The 22-year-old prospect also stole a base and scored a run.
Tracking Semien has become fashionable this season because in Alexei Ramirez, the White Sox have a big problem at shortstop.
Offensively, Ramirez is OK with a .286 batting average and career-high 25 stolen bases. And he goes to the post every day. Against the Tigers this afternoon, Ramirez starts at short for the 119th time in 119 games.
Offensively, Ramirez has hit just 3 home runs, and 2 of them came in Friday's double-header against the Twins. Like many other Sox hitters, his on-base percentage (.312) in not good. In 482 at-bats, Ramirez has drawn just 16 walks.
Then, there is the defense.
As his 12-year run as White Sox general manager progressed, Kenny Williams seemed to lower his profile a notch or two with each passing season.
The growing crush of media - both local and national - started taking a toll on Williams, and that's one of the reasons why he stepped down at the end of the 2012 season to become the Sox' executive vice president.
Williams hasn't been around much this year, but he did meet the press Tuesday afternoon at U.S. Cellular Field before the White Sox played the Tigers. He talked ... and talked ... and talked.
Williams had plenty on his mind, starting with the Sox' sorry 45-72 season.
"Obviously, you guys have written it," Williams said. "You've talked about it
A lot going on here at cool Wrigley Field on a Tuesday evening. The Cubs are honoring Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks, for his upcoming reception of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. We talked with Ernie on the field during batting practice.
“Is this a great country or what?” Ernie said, cheerful as ever. “It’s amazing. It means everything to me. It just means life is just wonderful. When you do things to try to help people and share things, it really comes back to you. I just tried to work hard and love the players and love Wrigley Field, love all the players.
“This award means a lot to me. It really does. It’s almost like the Nobel Peace Prize, to me.”
There are still 45 games to play, but it looks like the Paul Konerko farewell is already heating up.
As we reported in today’s paper, Konerko’s contract expires at the end of the season, he’s 37 years old and he’s batting .242 with 9 home runs and 40 RBI during an injury-riddled season.
If I would have to guess, Konerko is not going to play again next season. If he does, it would likely be with another team.
Konerko has not offered any details about his future plans, most likely because he’s not sure himself.
But one thing sticks out in my mind – last season Konerko was talking about his future and he made it quite clear he’d never keep playing “just to chase some numbers.”
Good to be back at the ballpark. The Cubs have a few things going on, the most notable of which is this year’s first-round draft pick, third baseman Kris Bryant, being promoted from short-season Class A Boise to high-A Daytona. Unfortunately for fans in this area, that means Bryant skips the Kane County Cougars.
That’s been pretty much the plan since the Cubs signed Bryant a month ago. They want to keep Jeimer Candelario playing every day at Kane County. They also want to challenge Bryant and get him a possible opportunity to play postseason ball with Daytona.
We’ve got a day/night doubleheader today at U.S. Cellular Field pitting the last-place White Sox (43-69) vs. the fourth-place Minnesota Twins (49-62).
It’s going to be a long day, no doubt about it, but it could be an interesting one.
Sox left fielder Dayan Viciedo was just scratched from Game 1, and the Sox said they’ll “have a full explanation at game time.”
Maybe Viciedo has been moved in a waiver deal. Or maybe his left thumb, which he jammed on Monday trying to make a diving catch, is aching again. Viciedo sat out Tuesday but was back in the lineup Wednesday.
We should know more in about an hour, but you have to wonder why the White Sox didn’t just come out and say Viciedo’s thumb still hurts.
Maybe it’s another physical ailment, or maybe something much bigger.
We're getting ready for the White Sox and Yankees to complete a three-game series at U.S. Cellular Field.
If the Sox win, they will have swept New York in back-to-back series of at least three games for the first time in 100 years.
The White Sox won three straight vs. the Yankees last August at the Cell, the last time the two teams met before this week.
Tonight is the last time Mariano Rivera will be in a N.Y. uniform at the Cell. The 43-year-old closer is retiring at the end of the season, and he didn't pitch in the first two games of the series, which the Sox won 8-1 and 3-2.
Rivera won't pitch tonight, either, unless the Yankees are leading in the ninth inning.
Five years down the road, Rivera is a lock for Hall of Fame induction. He is baseball's all-time leader with 643 saves.