Chicago's Inside Pitch
The Cubs and Chris Rusin take on Dan Haren and the Nationals tonight at Wrigley Field, where the ball has been carrying in batting practice on a warm evening. The news of the day is that Cubs manager Dale Sveum has Starlin Castro batting eighth for the first time this year, with Darwin Barney batting second and Nate Schierholtz batting cleanup.
Castro is 1-for-23 (.043) on the homestand, and for the year, his line is .242/.278/.343. Brian Bogusevic, a left-handed batter, is in the lineup batting sixth and playing left field. Donnie Murphy, who hit 2 homers last night, as did Schierholtz, bats fifth and plays third base.
Another big and busy day around the ballpark. Even though it’s past the July 31 nonwaiver trading deadline, the Cubs were able to make a deal today, sending outfielder David DeJesus to the Washington Nationals for a player to be named later. The Nats are in town, so DeJesus simply moved from one clubhouse to the other. The Cubs will net a savings of about $2.5 million on the deal. They’ve also activated outfielder Brian Bogusevic off the disabled list.
DeJesus was one of the most popular players in the clubhouse, both for his example-setting and work ethic.
The big question of the day was answered earlier when manager Dale Sveum put Starlin Castro into today’s starting lineup against the Cardinals. Sveum pulled Castro from Saturday’s 4-0 loss to the Cardinals because of inattentive play. Castro allowed a run to score on a pop fly to left field. He put his head down after making the catch, and baserunner Jon Jay scored from third base.
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.”