Sunday brunch blog: Castro, Szczur and Baez
The Cubs will finish with the Astros today before heading out on a road trip that will take them to Milwaukee, Seattle and Oakland. If the Cubs can win today, it will give them their first series victory at home since they took both games from the White Sox May 29-30. The Cubs are 0-3 in their last three home series after going 3-1-1 in five series at Wrigley from May 6-30.
Among the early workers today was Starlin Castro, who was taking grounders at short.
“There’s a lot of things with his defense that need to get better,” said manager Dale Sveum.” Today, he was working on his backhand, just trying to get more stable and have a base when you throw the ball and not be so off-balance. And understand the different things you have to have in your toolbox on your backhand. There are all kinds of different backhands, according to the runner, slow, fast, medium grounders.”
Castro made another error yesterday, giving him a team-high 12 for the season. His hitting line is pretty ugly, too. He’s at .231/.265/.322 with 3 homers, 24 RBI, 11 walks and 60 strikeouts. In June, Castro’s line is .138/.179/.200 for an OPS of .379. He’s 11-for-80 this month with 5 doubles, 3 RBI, 2 walks and 21 strikeouts. I asked Sveum how Castro is holding up mentally as far as Sveum can see.
“So far. I don’t see him really going off the deep end or going to hang himself or anything like that,” Dale said. “But these are things, like I said, that everybody goes through. It’s part of the adversity that goes along with playing in the major leagues or any major sport. It’s ups and downs, and some guys have peaks and valleys, and some guys, it’s a level playing field all the time. For the most part, you’re going to go through this kind of thing sometime in your career.
“People can go 25, 30, 35 years old without maybe having any adversity in your life at all. See what kind of man you are when you have to deal with adversity. That’s part of the gig, and everybody has to go through it. Nobody said life was easy.”
Sveum said the Cubs likely will address their imbalanced roster before Tuesday’s series opener at Miller Park. They’re carrying 13 pitchers, a much-too-unwieldy number. Finding a call-up won’t be easy. Steve Clevenger has suffered a setback in his rehab of an oblique injury. He’ll rest a couple days at Class AAA Iowa and then resume the rehab. Josh Vitters and Brett Jackson are banged up. The Cubs could bring up infielder-outfielder Junior Lake, who is at Iowa. He’s on the 40-man roster whereas Brian Bogusevic is not. Bogusevic, a nonroster invitee to spring training, is having a good year at Iowa. He has a line of .329/.429/.528 with 10 homers and 32 RBI. Lake has played in 19 games for Iowa and has a line of .389/.423/.556 with 2 homers and 11 RBI on 28-for-72 hitting.
In the upcoming series at Milwaukee, the Cubs will send Edwin Jackson, Scott Feldman and Matt Garza against Kyle Lohse, Yovani Gallardo and Wily Peralta, respectively.
Since we feed you well on the Sunday brunch blog, we also had a chance to talk with Dale about last night’s Game 5 victory for the Blackhawks over Boston in the Stanley Cup Final. The Hawks lead the series 3-2 heading back to Boston tomorrow.
“That was an unbelievable game,” Dale said. “Hopefully, those guys are all right. There were some beatdowns going on in that game. Luckily, we came out on top.
“It’s two different teams. To walk out every night and it’s 55 hits to 15 is not where you want to end the game. But that’s the difference in the two teams. They have to deal with the Blackhawks’ speed and athleticism. It comes into scoring goals, too.”
Old buddy David Kaplan from Comcast asked Dale if he’d like to be a hockey player.
“I always say if I come back in a second life it would be a hockey player,” Dale said. “I think it’s just such a true sport that you can’t do anything but play hard the whole game. It’s OK to be physical. It’s just a great sport, to do that kind of stuff on ice and skates with a stick in your hands, I think it’s the purest form of athletes there are.”
Class AAA Iowa had its four-game winning streak snapped at Memphis as the Cubs lost 6-2. Chris Rusin took the loss as he worked 6 innings and gave up 7 hits and 6 runs. Rusin is 6-7 with a 3.41 ERA. The aforementioned Brian Bogusevic went 2-for-3 with a walk and a triple. He scored twice and stole a base. Brad Nelson was 2-for-4 with a double.
Class AA Tennessee led 7-1 in the sixth, but allowed 9 runs in the final three innings and lost 11-8 to Chattanooga. A.J. Morris started and went 5 innings, giving up 3 hits and 3 runs. He got no decision. Local guy Tony Zych suffered a loss and a blown save as he gave up 3 hits and 3 runs in two-thirds of an inning. Matt Szczur was 4-for-5 with a double, 3 RBI and a stolen base. Szczur is at .298/.369/.393 with 16 doubles, 2 triples, 2 homers and 33 RBI. He has 28 walks and 45 strikeouts.
The Smokies’ web site has a video feature on Szczur:
Class A Daytona beat Dunedin 2-1. Zach Cates got the win, going 6.2 innings and giving up 5 hits and 1 run. He’s 7-6 with a 4.18 ERA. Javier Baez hit his 16th homer, a drive off rehabbing major-leaguer Kyle Drabek.
“It doesn't matter who is on the mound – he has to throw strikes,” Baez told Sean Kernan of the Daytona Beach News-Journal. “He's got the ball and I have the bat. He's going to try to pitch to you. Major-league pitchers are going to throw strikes and throw the ball over the plate. You're going to get something to hit.”
Seven of his last 9 hits have been home runs.
“I've been seeing the ball pretty good and making contact pretty good, driving the ball into the air,” he told the paper. “I've been trying to get my hands lower and going straight to the ball.”
The Kane County Cougars (A) lost 6-5 to Quad Cities in 11 innings. Lefty Michael Heesch got no decision, working 6 shutout innings and giving up 6 hits while walking none and striking out six. His ERA is 3.73 and he has pitched at least 6 innings in 6 straight starts. Albert Almora hit his second homer. Rock Shoulder hit his 14th.
Boise (A) got swept by Spokane in a doubleheader, 3-2 and 4-3. Loiger Padron took the loss in Game 1, working 4 innings and giving up 5 hits and 3 runs. Orbandy Rodriguez lost the nightcap, working 3 innings and giving up 6 hits and 4 runs. Shawon Dunston Jr. hit his first homer.
Mesa (Rookie) committed 3 errors in a 7-5, 10-inning loss to the Diamondbacks. Alexander Santana pitched 4.2 innings, giving up 3 hits and 3 runs.