Chicago's Inside Pitch
So we’re about 50 hours away from the nonwaiver trade deadline.
Brace yourself for some wild rumors leading up to Wednesday afternoon, and don’t believe everything you read or hear. If you’re on Twitter, take even more precaution.
It’s no secret the White Sox are in sell mode, but we’ve already been subjected to two outrageous trade reports.
This first came on July 19, when right fielder Alex Rios was pulled from the Sox’ game against the Braves.
The immediate speculation was Rios had been traded, and there were numerous reports he was spotted “hugging” his teammates in the dugout.
In reality, Rios was yanked from the game by manager Robin Ventura for failing to run hard to first base.
Not a good day for Jesse Crain. And not a good day for the White Sox.
The nonwaiver trade deadline is less than a week away, and Crain (shoulder strain) was hoping to come off the disabled list as early as Sunday.
That would have allowed the ace reliever (0.74 ERA) to pitch in a game or two before Wednesday, and you have to figure contending teams would have engaged in a bidding war to get Crain in a trade.
The way it looks now, Crain is still going to be on the DL when Wednesday’s 3 p.m. deadline rolls around.
After throwing off the mound Tuesday, Crain wasn’t feeling too hot yesterday. He was hoping to give it another go this morning at U.S. Cellular Field, but Crain wasn’t feeling up to another bullpen after doing some light throwing in the outfield.
The Cubs made one roster move today and one lineup move that sent social media atwitter. Center fielder David DeJesus came off the disabled list after more than a month. He’ll lead off against the Diamondbacks in Phoenix. The hot-hitting Junior Lake will play left field, and Nate Schierholtz is in right. Who’s not in the lineup is Alfonso Soriano. That set off speculation that Soriano would be traded soon. However, the Cubs say today is a scheduled day off for Soriano.
Tell that one to everybody on Twitter, many of whom are citing Soriano’s 6-for-13 batting and 3 homers lifetime against Diamondbacks starter Ian Kennedy.
We're just over a week away from the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline, and things are getting interesting on the South Side.
Reliever Jesse Crain is on the disabled list with a strained right shoulder and hasn't pitched since June 29.
The ace setup man, who has a 0.74 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 36.2 innings, threw a bullpen for the first time Tuesday and could be back on the mound for the White Sox on Sunday or Monday.
"He felt good," Sox pitching coach Don Cooper said after Crain threw 33 pitches. "The juggling act for us today was it was his first time on the mound. We want to do enough work without doing too much. We want to do it to the point where he's maybe a tad fatigued, making sure you've got that good workout in and feel good before, during and after."
We’ll get caught up on a few things today, the morning after the Cubs traded pitcher Matt Garza to the Texas Rangers for prospects. Now, word comes out of New York and the New York Post that the Cubs and Yankees are close to a deal that would send left fielder Alfonso Soriano to the Bronx:
The Post’s George King reports that the Cubs would pick up most of what’s left on Soriano’s eight-year, $136 million contract, which expires at the end of the 2014 season. Soriano has no-trade rights because he is a 10-and-5 player.
In return, King reports, the Cubs would get a midlevel prospect.
The obvious question is - did White Sox right fielder Alex Rios hurt his trade value by dogging it running to first base Friday night, a decision that prompted manager Robin Ventura to pull him from the game?
The obvious answer is - who knows?
Contending teams interested in Rios know what he can do when he is fully motivated.
But Rios' knack for slacking off when things don't go well might be a concern for teams that are focused solely on the playoffs.
We'll see what happens there.
At U.S. Cellular Field this morning, Rios said most of the right things when asked about being benched last night.
The White Sox are preparing to open the (unofficial) second half of the season tonight against the Braves at U.S. Cellular Field.
With a 37-55 record they are going nowhere fast in the AL Central, and there is still a very strong sense that players including Jesse Crain, Jake Peavy, Alex Rios, Adam Dunn, Alexei Ramirez and Matt Lindstrom are all going to be traded before the July 31 nonwaiver deadline.
"I don't know what direction they're going to go," Crain said earlier this afternoon. "I'm not sure if they're going to sell some guys off in trades."
General manager Rick Hahn traded veteran reliever Matt Thornton to the Red Sox one week ago, and he indicated more deals are coming.
One more to go before the all-star break. We have Cubs-Cardinals at Wrigley Field and ESPN Sunday night baseball. If the atmosphere out here is anything like last night, it’ll be another fun one. Last night’s scene was probably the best non-opening-day atmosphere in three or four years out here.
The Cubs made an expected roster move late this afternoon. They activated outfielder Cole Gillespie and designated reliever Henry Rodriguez for assignment. Gillespie was claimed off waivers yesterday from the Giants.
We’ll tie up a bunch of loose ends here and have Saturday’s minor-league roundup below.
More outfield roulette today and some intrigue regarding Brett Jackson. The Cubs today claimed outfielder Cole Gillespie off waivers from the Giants. The 29-year-old Gillespie played in three major league games with the Giants this year before being designated for assignment July 9.
At Class AAA Fresno, Gillespie had 279 plate appearances. He had a line of .277/.361/.455 with 9 homers, 31 RBI, 32 walks and 52 strikeouts.
Gillespie, 29, was originally selected in the third round of the 2006 draft by the Brewers and made his big-league debut with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2010, appearing in 45 games. He has spent most of the last three seasons in Triple-A in the Diamondbacks and Giants organizations
Another day, another bullpen move for the Cubs. Today, they selected the contract of reliever Michael Bowden from Class AAA Iowa and optioned lefty Brooks Raley to Iowa. Raley helped save the Cubs pen last night in a blowout loss by working 4.1 innings.
“He gave us what we needed, and obviously, we had some roster spots open, so it was nice to be able to make that move and get Bowden here,” said manager Dale Sveum. “I know he’s been throwing the ball really well. Even his velocity has been up down there (at Iowa). That kind of solidifies the bullpen right now.”