We’re officially under a rain delay. The Cubs announced that about an hour before the 1:20 scheduled start because of the heavy rain and lightning moving through the area. The Cubs made a few roster moves this morning. Let’s get to them:
--Outfielder Reed Johnson went on the DL, retro to May 26, with lower-back spasms.
--The Cubs selected the contract of outfielder Brad Snyder from Class AAA Iowa. To make room for Snyder on the 40-man, they transferred pitcher Andrew Cashner from the 15-day DL to the 60-day DL.
--Catcher Geovany Soto managed to fly through the fog this morning and make it to Wrigley Field. He’s been activated off the DL, and catcher Welington Castillo was sent to Iowa.
“Cassie needs to go play,” said manager Mike Quade of Castillo. “Snyder gives us some help in center field and helps keep us balanced with left- and right-handed bats. He’s been playing like a son of a gun at Triple-A.”
Well, “Cassie” could have played and probably should have played more than he did while he was here. As for Soto not starting today, Q said: “He just got here. Hilly’s caught Demp a lot lately. He’s hit this guy pretty good. I think we give Sote a day to get acclimated and get back into the swing of things.”
Q alluded to talking to the players but it didn’t sound like the classic “team meeting” type thing. After all, how many of those can you have before they become meaningless?
“This was as much dealing with technical stuff, baseball stuff, and saying, ‘Look, let’s just hang in there and let’s play. And let’s play better. And let’s play with effort,’” Q said. “This was more to make sure we were on the same page on all the other aspects of the game. I don’t feel the need. After several games like that? Yeah, probably. After the game in Cincinnati I was so disappointed in? Yeah. But this was just to get everybody familiar, especially the new guys.”
I asked Q about Soriano in left field and whether it just is what it is.
“I believe so,” he answered. “I feel bad for him from the standpoint of his legs just not being what they were and not allowing him to get to balls. I think sometimes it looks worse than it is. I’d love for him to be able to get to some of those balls. I watch him work with (coach Ivan DeJesus) every day. Being an inexperience guy who didn’t play outfield from the get-go, he has a tougher time around the wall than a lot of guys who have done that for their entire life. This outfield here is not easy. I watched McCutchen, who is pretty damn good, get himself caught in the same situation. Granted, he’s 400 feet but has the speed to get back there.”
If you watched Saturday’s game, and I was lucky enough to be off, you know that Pirates starting pitcher Paul Maholm pitched a complete game, throwing a grand total of 91 pitches. He improved to 2-7 with a 3.18 ERA. I asked Q when that happens, is it a case of the pitcher being good or the hitters having poor approaches.
“Yeah, we didn’t have a couple of our big left-handed killers in the lineup, which is unfortunate,” Q said. “I think anytime somebody’s that efficient…I didn’t see us chasing. If you see a situation where you’re going out of the zone and you’re getting after a guy earlier than you should then you’re more inclined to say we didn’t do a very good job. But I thought he pounded the strike zone, both sides of the plate and changed speeds extremely well. There are a few people that made a pretty damn good living doing that on a regular basis.”
Cubs pitching prospect Rob Whitenack has a strained elbow, according to a couple of Cubs people. That never sounds good, but the Cubs said they had no plans to bring Whitenack to Chicago to get looked at. That might be a good sign because they’re generally very cautious on these things. It’s something to keep an eye on, though.
Whitenack’s teammate at Class AA Tennessee, Trey McNutt, had a good start yesterday even as the Smokies fell 3-0 to Mississippi. McNutt worked 7 innings of 3-hit shutout ball, walking tow and striking out two. Marwin Gonzalez extended a hit streak to 11 games.
Class AAA Iowa came back to beat Round Rock 6-4. Starter Austin Bibens-Dirkx worked 6 innings, giving up 4 hits and 4 runs. He got a no-decision. Bobby Scales hit his second homer. Tyler Colvin was 2-for-5.
Class A Daytona won its 11th straight, beating Bradenton 4-3. Aaron Kurcz worked 3 innings, giving up 5 hits and 3 runs. Evan Crawford (.352) was 3-for-4 with a walk. Matt Cerda extended a hitting streak to eight games by going 2-for-5.
Peoria (A) lost it second straight, losing 6-5 to Cedar Rapids. Dallas Beeler worked 4 innings, giving up 6 hits and 2 runs. Center fielder Matt Szczur (.344) had 4 hits, going 4-for-5 with 2 doubles and his 13th stolen base. Greg Rohan extended a hit streak to nine games, going 2-for-4.