So far it's a quiet Saturday morning at Wrigley Field. We'll take a look at the minor leagues, with news of Chris Volstad having a good outing at Class AAA Iowa, Matt Szczur getting promoted and Rob Whitenack having a good start.
On Sunday, I'll be a guest on the WGN-TV pregame show with Len Kasper. Len does a Monday question-and-answer column for the Daily Herald, and he asked me to be a guest blogger for WGN's Stats Sunday blog. We'll talk about that on the air tomorrow.
Matt Garza began throwing this morning as he comes back from a triceps injury. He's scheduled to throw a bullpen Monday, and his wife is due to give birth Tuesday. Manager Dale Sveum remains hopeful Garza can pitch sometime next weekend in Los Angeles. He added the Cubs won't know Monday's starter until after Sunday's game. Justin Germano appears the likely candidate.
Dale said it's just a day off for second baseman Darwin Barney, who was 0-for-4 yesterday after going 3-for-20 on the road trip. Barney's defense has been Gold Glove caliber. His errorless streak at second base is at 85 games and 685 innings. His last error at second was April 17. His fielding percentage of .998 leads all major-league second basemen.
From the game notes: Alfonso Soriano is 1 homer shy of his 11th straight season of at least 20 homers. He would join David Ortiz as the only hitters to record 11 straight 20-plus homer seasons, including 2012. Albert Pujols needs 2 homers to reach that mark. Soriano would join Andre Dawson as the only players to hit 20 or more homers in each of their first six seasons as a Cub.
Class AAA Iowa beat Oklahoma Cithy 5-0. The aforementioned Chris Volstad worked 8 shutout innings of 4-hit ball, walking three and striking out five. He's 3-5 with a 5.17 ERA at Iowa. Adrian Cardenas extended a hit streak to 10 games as he was 2-for-4 with a walk and a double.
Tennessee (AA) fell 6-4 to Jacksonville. Ty'Relle Harris took the loss, working 2.2 innings and giving up 6 hits and 4 runs, 3 earned. Outfielder Matt Szczur was promoted from Class A Daytona after Tennessee outfielder Jae-Hoon Ha suffered a concussion crashing into a wall. At Daytona, Szczur had a line of .295/.394/.407 with 2 homers and 34 RBI. He had 47 walks and 50 strikeouts. He was leading the Florida State League in runs scored and stolen bases (38 steals in 50 attempts). The 23-year-old Szczur was a fifth-rounder in 2010 out of Villanova, where he starred in baseball and football.
Daytona got a good start from Rob Whitenack, who is coming back from Tommy John surgery. The Cubs beat Bradenton 2-0 with Whitenack getting the win with 5 innings of 2-hit ball as he walked three and struck out four while improving to 1-5 with a 6.63 ERA. Rebel Ridling hit his second homer.
Peoria got the 11th homer of the season from Javier Baez, last year's top pick, in beating Cedar Rapids 3-2. Zach Cates got no decision as he worked 5.1 innings and gave up 3 hits and 2 runs while walking one and striking out seven. Baez was 2-for-3 with a walk. He's batting .385 (35-for-91) in July.
The Peoria Journal Star reported Baez' 2-run homer cleared the grass berm beyond left field and landed on a concreate patio.
"I was sitting on slider and he threw me one," Baez told the paper.
However, the Journal Star also reported that Baez paused while crossing home plate and had to be "chased back to the dugout by home-plate umpire James Rackley."
"I was just saying hello to their catcher," Baez was quoted as saying.
Boise (A) beat Tri-City 8-3. James Pugliese pitched 4 innings, giving up 6 hits and 3 runs. Willson Conteras hit a 3-run homer in the first. Gioskar Amaya was 2-for-5 with a triple and 2 RBI.
Mesa (Rookie) fell 3-1 to the Athletics. Rehabbing Cubs reliever Lendy Castillo started and worked 4 innings, giving up 2 hits and 1 run while walking two and striking out six. Albert Almora was 1-for-4 with a double, and Jorge Soler was 2-for-4 with a stolen base and an RBI.