The Cubs and Reds finish up on a cloudy Sunday at Wrigley. Brett Jackson is back in the lineup in center field, but Josh Vitters is not starting against Reds right-hander Johnny Cueto. Manager Dale Sveum said Vitters could play all three games against the Astros, starting Monday night.
I asked Dale if it was defensive considerations or pitching matchups that determine when Vitters plays.
"A little of both, but mainly I think after today, he'll probably play maybe all three games against Houston," Sveum said. "And then see after that. The first two he'll probably play. It's going to start gradually ... it is a combination of the matchups and situations. He's a great fastball hitter. We put him in, early on, situations where matchups are in his favor."
Sveum added that Vitters has done nothing wrong defensively. Vitters again was out taking a lot of grounders today before and during batting practice. So far, Vitters' usage has looked like this since call-up a week ago:
Aug. 5: Pinch hit
Aug. 6: Start at third base
Aug. 7: Pinch hit
Aug. 8: Start at third
Aug. 9: Did not play
Aug. 10: Start at third base
Aug. 11: Pinch hit
When Vitters and Jackson came up, Sveum said he'd start Vitters mostly against left-handed pitching. But if Vitters does start all three games against Houston, he'll do so against three right-handers.
Starter Brooks Raley is one of three players from the 2009 draft to make the majors, the others being Jackson and DJ LeMahieu, now with the Rockies. The Cubs say the Cardinals are the only other team to have more players from the '09 draft to have seen major-league time: Joe Kelly, Matt Carpenter, Trevor Rosenthal and Matt Adams.
Random thought of the day: Ex-Cubs pitcher Jason Marquis tossed a 2-hit complete-game last night for the Padres, shutting out the Pirates 5-0. For his career, Marquis is 112-108 with a 4.58 ERA and a 1.43 WHIP. While with the Cubs in 2007 and 2008, he went 23-18 with a 4.57 ERA. I kind of liked ol' Jason while he was here. He could be a bit abrasive and a little touchy about things, but he took the ball, and as far as fifth starters go, he was a pretty good one.
From the game notes: Alfonso Soriano has 8 RBI in his last seven games and has a stolen base in three of his last five games. He has hit safely in 12 of his last 16 games ... Anthony Rizzo has seen 11 of his 24 RBI give the Cubs the lead; he is tied for third in the majors with 11 go-ahead RBI, starting June 26.
Couple of quick notes: Pitcher Casey Coleman left last night's start in Iowa early after experiencing soreness in the back of his shoulder. The Cubs have signed veteran reliever Seth McClung to a minor-league deal and assigned him to Iowa.
Class AAA Iowa's game last night was suspended after four innings because of rain. The game will resume today, and the regularly scheduled game will go seven innings.
Class AA Tennessee beat Huntsville 2-0. Dae-Eun Rhee started and got the win, working 6 innings and giving up 6 hits while walking none and striking out three. He is 8-6 with a 4.98 ERA. Matt Szczur extended a hit streak to six games, going 2-for-3 with a walk. Local boy Tony Zych struck out three in 2 innings. Another local guy, Brian Schlitter, got his fourth save.
Daytona (A) was rained out against Dunedin. Peoria (A) got a grand slam from Jorge Soler. It was Soler's first AB with the bases loaded for the Chiefs. He also walked in Peoria's 5-3 win at Beloit. Zach Cates worked 4.1 innings, giving up 6 hits and 3 runs.
From our talk with scouting and player-development boss Jason McLeod yesterday, he said this about Soler: "We don't have any big expectations of him this year, other than to get professionalized, learn his teammates, get assimilated to the country and baseball in the United States and so far he's handled that part of it very, very well. Now it's good to see him three weeks under his belt in front of fans."
Boise won its fourth straight, 4-1 over Salem-Keizer. Pierce Johnson started and worked 2 innings, giving up 4 hits and 1 run while walking none and striking out two. Dan Vogelbach did not homer, but he extended a hit streak to 11 games, going 1-for-4 with an RBI.
The big guy is proving popular among teammates.
"He's a great locker room guy," teammate Stephen Bruno told the Idaho Statesman. "He just rubs off on everybody, and we all get along. That's been great for our team."
"It was a like a light switch turned on when he walked in," manager Mark Johnson told the paper. "He's all about winning and he has a very infectious personality that carries throughout the clubhouse."
"I've been seeing the pitches really, really well," Vogelbach told the Statesman. "I've been picking up off-speed pitches and I've been seeing the fastball really well."
I guess so. At Boise, Vogelbach has a line of .373/.432/.806 with 8 homers and 21 RBI in 17 games. He had 7 homers in rookie ball in Arizona.
Asked yesterday if Vogelbach would stay at Boise, McLeod said: "It remains to be seen. If he continues on this pace, he might force the issue a little bit. He's already hit his way out of Mesa and in 10 games or so in Boise now he's doing the same thing there, so we're really proud of him."
Mesa beat the Angels 11-3, getting 11 hits. Anthony Prieto started and worked 3 innings, giving up 1 hit and 1 run while walking one and striking three. Albert Almora extended a hit streak to eight games, going 3-for-3 with an RBI. Trevor Gretzky was 2-for-4.