Things seem to be settling back into normalcy or whatever passes for it in Cubdom as the Cubs get set to play the Cardinals tonight. My guess that there were five or six better games, but ESPN likes the ratings the Cubs bring. A quick note before we get to other stuff. Pitcher Andrew Cashner threw in the bullpen today. He’ll fly out to Tennessee in the morning and join the Class AA Smokies, likely starting Tuesday’s game as he begins a minor-league rehab stint.
Cashner said he’d probably move on to Class AAA Iowa after that and that he hopes to be back with the Cubs in early September to work out of the bullpen for the rest of the season. Lineup:
Right-hander Dillon Maples, the Cubs’ 14th-rounder who got a big bonus, visited Wrigley Field today. He’ll head to Arizona in early September to begin his pro career in earnest.
The Cubs are going for the sweep against the Cardinals. It’s Day 3 of the post-Jim Hendry era in the wake of Hendry’s firing Friday. Field manager Mike Quade, who may be in his last days as well, praised his players when asked what’s he’s learned about them in the last few days.
“Probably not more than I already think I know,” he said. “I’ve said repeatedly. At the end of last year, they finished strong. I just feel the character of these guys is unquestioned. I don’t think they’re going to disappoint me whatsoever the rest of the way. It’s so much fun to be in the clubhouse to hear the back and forth, the laughter. There’s a stake in being there, it doesn’t matter if it’s now or five weeks from now in San Diego.”
Interim GM Randy Bush echoed that.
“Friday was tough for all of us,” Randy said. “We talked about that on Friday. Jim is somebody we all had a great deal of respect for in the organization and care for personally. It was a tough day to get through, but we did, and I’m really happy the way the club has performed the last two days. It was emotional for them, also, on Friday. To see them go out and respond the way they did and play the last two days, it’s been fun to watch.”
Bush also spoke highly of how Hendry conducted himself in the final days of his job, knowing he was going to be out the door as of Friday.
“He’s just a pro,” Randy said. “He’s a consummate pro. Everything he’s done since I’ve worked with him has always been with the best interests of the Chicago Cubs at heart. I’ve never seen him waver from that. I can tell you on the night of Aug. 15, the (draft-pick) signing deadline, we talked five or six times as it came down to the deadline and how badly he wanted to make sure that we got our picks signed and yet got them signed in a cost-efficient manner, the most cost-efficient manner for the club. Just a consummate professional in every way.”
One interesting note is that Randy said owner Tom Ricketts has talked up scouting director Tim Wilken and farm boss Oneri Fleita. It seems to me Ricketts will do all he can to keep those two Hendry lieutenants.
“Tom has spoken about how impressed he is and how happy he is with our scouting department and player development,” Randy said.” He’s happy with Oneri’s leadership and Tim Wilken. I expressed to them that he has those feelings about the job that they’re doing. We could see a path where we go down where a lot of the things that are in place would stay in place.”
Randy said Friday he would work with Ricketts on any possible waiver deals that might come down before Sept. 1.
“I don’t anticipate anything, but I think it’s the nature of the business that opportunities come up at different times, and you have to be prepared,” he said. “And we will be prepared. One of the things that I told Mr. Ricketts is that very thing, that something could up and could come up quickly, and we’ll be prepared to react to it.”
From the game notes: With Friday's first-inning single, Starlin Castro collected his 300th career hit at 21 years, 148 days old. Elias points out that over the last 70 years, only five players reached career hit No. 300 at a younger age than Castro: Al Kaline in 1955 (20 years, 236 days old), Robin Yount in 1976 (20, 278), Cesar Cedeno in 1972 (21, 75), Adrian Beltre in 2000 (21, 137) and Ken Griffey, Jr. in 1991 (21, 140).
The last Cubs player to reach 300 career hits at as young an age as Castro was Phil Cavarretta in 1937 (20 years, 295 days old). With 302 career hits, Castro is one of five Cubs to reach 300 hits in their first two big league seasons, joining Bill Everitt (381 hits in 1895-96), Glenn Beckert (335 hits in 1965-66), Bill Dahlen (313 hits in 1891-92) and Mark Grace (304 hits in 1988-89).
Class AAA Iowa fell 11-10 at home to Oklahoma City. Starter Nick Struck worked 6 innings, giving up 5 hits and 3 runs, 1 earned, while walking one and striking out four. Carlton Smith, acquired in the Kosuke Fukudome trade, suffered the loss and a blown save, pitching two-thirds of an inning and giving up 4 hits and 6 runs. Brett Jackson was 3-for-5 with a double. Jackson has a five-game hitting streak and is hitting .316. Matt Spencer homered. DJ LeMahieu was 3-for-4 and has his Triple-A average up to .284. Ryan Flaherty also was 2-for-4. He's at .240 at Iowa.
Class AA Tennessee took 11 innings to be Jackson 7-4. Rebel Ridling had 2 homers, giving him 19 for the year. Junior Lake hit his sixth. Larry Suarez pitched 5 innings, giving up 7 hits and 3 runs.
Class A Daytona lost 8-5 to Dunedin. Justin Bour hit his 22nd homer. Local guy Elliot Soto was 3-for-4 as was Jake Opitz. Jeff Lorick pitched 3 innings, giving up 3hits and 3 runs, 2 earned.
Class A Peoria lost 6-2 to Cedar Rapids. Dustin Geiger went 1-for-4 with his first homer. Brett Wallach took the loss, falling to 0-3. He worked 4.1 innings, giving up 4 hits and 5 runs, 2 earned, while walking four and striking out two.
Boise (A) beat Spokane 7-3. Pin-Chieh Chen was 2-for-5, with both hits being doubles. Ryan Cuneo, Willson Contreras and Brad Zapenas all homered. Jose Rosario(4-3) got the win, going 6 innings and giving up 7 hits and 3 runs, 2 earned, while walking none and striking out five.