Chicago's Inside Pitch
If the White Sox are miserable again in 2014, general manager Rick Hahn is going to be sitting on a pretty hot seat right about now.
But with less than a full year on the job as GM, very few fingers are being pointed at Hahn as the Sox mercifully near the end of what could be their worst season since 1970 (56-106).
"I'm not spending a lot of time thinking about what could have been," Hahn said Monday afternoon before the White Sox opened a 10-game homestand against the first-place Tigers. "Our focus is more on hopefully getting the most out of the next 20 games, seeing some of the young guys contribute and put in position to demonstrate what they're capable of doing, and then hit the ground running once the off-season begins."
Last off-season, Hahn was pretty quiet.
Even with the Bears playing at noon today, we’ll do our usual Sunday brunch blog as we delve into several topics. The Cubs made more roster moves today. They activated pitcher Scott Baker off the 60-day disabled list and designated infielder Cody Ransom for assignment. Baker is making his season debut after a long comeback from Tommy John surgery.
Ransom played in 62 games for the Cubs after being picked up off waivers in April. He put up a line of .189/.286/.420 with 9 homers and 20 RBI. All of Ransom’s home runs came before the all-star break. Since the break, he went 5-for-61.
A colleague asked Cubs manager Dale Sveum about the possibility of Darwin Barney winning his second consecutive Gold Glove at second base this year. The Gold Glove was a hot topic last year because of Barney’s errorless streak and the fact that he was trying to unseat incumbent Brandon Phillips of the Reds. This year, there hasn’t been much talk.
“He hasn’t done anything for anybody to take it away from him,” Sveum said. He’s had a heck of a year defensively again. The way he turns the double play, tough double plays and all that, (he’s) the incumbent. Somebody has to take it away from him. I don’t see anybody being able to take it away from him.”
The Cubs made a little news this morning when they said right-hander Scott Baker will come off the 60-day disabled list Sunday and start the series finale against the Brewers. That will push Travis Wood to Monday against his former team in Cincinnati.
Baker underwent Tommy John surgery in April 2012 while with the Twins. He made 1 start for the Cubs in spring training after signing a one-year, $5.5 million contract with them last fall, but he suffered a setback and has been trying to come back ever since.
“He’s done everything that we’ve asked, and he’s worked his butt off,” said manager Dale Sveum. “There hasn’t been any setbacks, and I think he deserves a chance to start and see what happens.”
Another day, more roster moves. The Cubs today selected the contract of veteran reliever Chang-Yong Lim from Class AAA Iowa and designated reliever Michael Bowden for assignment. Lim, 37, a native of South Korea, is available out of the pen for today’s game against the Marlins. The Cubs also claimed right-handed pitcher Daniel Bard off waivers from Boston and designated outfielder Cole Gillespie for assignment.
Asked what he knows about the Cubs and their history, Lim answered through his translator: “Obviously the curse and 100 years.”
I guess everybody knows those things, or alleged things, when it comes to talking about curses.
There were hints Monday that the Cubs would go outside of the 40-man roster for their additional September call-ups. They did just that today, selecting the contract of left-handed reliever Zach Rosscup from Class AAA Iowa. To make room on the 40-man for Rosscup, the Cubs designated outfielder Dave Sappelt for assignment. Sappelt had been playing at Iowa.
The Cubs also recalled right-handed pitcher Justin Grimm, left-handed pitcher Brooks Raley and catcher J.C. Boscan from Iowa. Grimm came over from the Rangers in the July 22 Matt Garza trade. He will work out of the bullpen, as will Raley. Boscan was up for a day in August but did not see action.
Happy Labor Day. The Cubs and lefty Travis Wood take on the Miami Marlins and right-hander Henderson Alvarez this afternoon, and the wind is blowing in again during batting practice. Wood today looks to become the first Cubs lefty since 1970 to record at least 22 quality starts in a season. His 21 are tied for fourth most by a Cubs lefty in a single season (since 1921) with Ted Lilly (2008-09).
Since 1921, Dick Ellsworth’s 29 quality starts in 1963 pace Cubs left-handers. Ken Holtzman had 25 quality starts in 1970, and Larry French had 23 quality starts in 1935. Wood is tied for fourth in the majors with 21 quality starts, 2 off of Clayton Kershaw’s big-league lead.
In Sunday's 7-6 loss to the Red Sox at Fenway Park, Tyler Flowers hit a solo home run with two outs in the eighth inning.
Looking back now, it could have been the catcher's last at-bat in a White Sox uniform.
Before today's game against New York at Yankee Stadium, the Sox announced Flowers is going to have exploratory surgery on his right shoulder. He's expected to be sidelined 3-6 months.
Manager Robin Ventura told reporters Flowers has been hampered by the injury for "at least a month or two," and the shoulder bothered the 27-year-old catcher more on throws than with hitting.
"He's at the point where he just feels like he needs to get something done," Ventura said. "You could notice when he couldn't get anything on a throw to second as much as he had earlier in the year."
The Cubs opened their September call-up season by activating outfielder Ryan Sweeney off the 60-day disabled list and third baseman Luis Valbuena off the 15-day DL. They also recalled reliever Alberto Cabrera from Class AAA Iowa.
Sweeney was not on the 40-man roster, so the Cubs designated reliever Eduardo Sanchez for assignment. He has been at Iowa. Sweeney is in today’s starting lineup against the Phillies’ Kyle Kendrick, with Brian Bogusevic in left and Nate Schierholtz in right.
Manager Dale Sveum said he would go with matchups at third base. Valbuena and Donnie Murphy are likely to share the starts. Murphy is in today’s lineup. In the outfield, Sveum said Schierholtz would continue to start in right field against right-handed pitchers.
After a rainy Saturday morning, it looks like we’ll be OK for baseball at Wrigley Field and one of those not-so-great 3:05 p.m. starts. Nobody seems to like that starting time, but on some Saturdays, there’s not much that can be done about it. It’s a battle of lefties as the Cubs’ Chris Rusin takes on the Phillies’ Cliff Lee. Rusin is 2-3 with a 2.64 ERA.
In 8 starts, Rusin has given up 41 hits and 16 walks in 44.1 innings for a 1.29 WHIP. Last year, Rusin came up from Class AAA Iowa and went 2-3 with a 6.37 ERA and a WHIP of 1.65. Manager Dale Sveum thinks experience has played a big role in Rusin’s improvement over last year.