Sunday brunch blog: A day of rest (and another roster move)
It’s an old-fashioned “Sunday lineup” today for the Cubs, who try to avert a four-game sweep at the hands of the Dodgers. Getting a rest today are Starlin Castro, Darwin Barney and Welington Castillo. The Cubs made another roster move today, putting platoon third baseman Luis Valbuena on the 15-day disabled list with a right-oblique strain. As I speculated on Twitter yesterday, @BruceMiles2112, the Cubs have recalled infielder Logan Watkins from Class AAA Iowa.
Watkins will start at second base today, teaming with former Iowa double-play partner Donnie Murphy, who gets the start at shortstop after he was called up Saturday. The Cubs will go like this:
“Four or five days ago, I planned to give Barney the day anyway because of the day off,” said manager Dale Sveum, referring to Monday’s off-day in the schedule ahead of the trip to Philadelphia and St. Louis. “That way, he gets two, as well as Welly (Castillo) and two days off for guys who have been playing every single day as well as Castro. It just kind of fell into place today anyway. Obviously, we’re not doing much offensively anyway, so let guys kick back and get a blow.”
As far as Valbuena, Sveum said he injured himself 4-5 days ago and felt it again during a pinch-hitting appearance.
Watkins, 23, had a line of 243/.333/.379 with 18 doubles, 7 triples, 8 home runs and 26 RBI. He walked 52 times and struck out 98. A 21st-round draft pick in 2008, Watkins was the Cubs’ 2012 minor-league player of the year after he went .281/.383/.422 at Class AA Tennessee.
“He’s kind of a little exciting player that can run and bunt, and obviously, a left-handed hitter,” Sveum said. “He can actually drive the ball and do some things. He’s always got on base. I’m anxious to see him play up here.”
Watkins said he was not happy with his season at Iowa.
“Kind of a rough year for me,” he said. “I felt like I could have been playing a little bit better. I’m excited to be here. Play hard every day. Hopefully, I can stay here a little while. I just grind. I see a lot of pitches. I find my way on base. I force errors, just running hard down the line, just doing a bunch of different things.”
The Dodgers are bringing right-hander Stephen Fife off the disabled list to start today instead of Zack Greinke, who will go in St. Louis tomorrow. Also, Yasiel Puig is not in the lineup today after he suffered a left-thumb contusion yesterday while making a diving catch. He’s available today, most likely as a pinch runner or defensive replacement.
The Cubs will alter their rotation a bit this week to keep Jeff Samardzija and Travis Wood on their regular days and split up lefties Wood and Chris Rusin. Edwin Jackson, Wood and Samardzija will work the three games in Philly beginning Tuesday, with Rusin opening Friday in St. Louis followed by Carlos Villanueva.
From the game notes: Junior Lake has 25 hits in his first 17 career games. Since 1921, that’s the second most for any Cub in his first 17 games to begin a career, trailing only Mandy Brooks, who had 28 hits in his first 17 (and first 18) career games. The only other Cub since 1921 to reach 25 hits in his first 18 career games was Billy Herman in 1931.
Class AAA Iowa dropped its ninth straight Saturday, 5-0 at Tacoma. The I-Cubs have dropped 12 straight on the road. Brooks Raley took the loss, working 5 innings and giving up 8 hits and 4 runs, 2 earned. He is 6-8 with a 4.65 ERA at Iowa. Luis Flores had Iowa’s lone multihit game, going 2-for-3.
Class AA Tennessee lost 4-3 to Jacksonville. Dae-Eun Rhee fell to 3-1 with a 2.93 ERA as he worked 5.1 innings, giving up 4 hits and 4 runs. Javier Baez was 2-for-4 with a walk and a double. Rubi Silva doubled, as he has hit safely in 17 of 18.
Daytona (A) had its game with Bradenton postponed because of unplayable field conditions. They’ll play two today, with rehabbing Cubs righty Scott Baker starting in Game 1, with Pierce Johnson going in Game 2.
The Kane County Cougars (A) beat Clinton 6-1 for their fourth win in five games. The Cougars got hoers from Giuseppe Papaccio, Marco Hernandez and Willson Contreras. Starling Peralta got the win, going 5 innings of 5-hit shutoutball.
Boise (A) split a pair with Everett, winning 4-0 and losing 3-1. Dillon Maples ran his record to 3-0 with a 1.00 ERA by going 5 innings of 2-hit shutout ball. Kris Bryant was 1-for-2 with a walk, a run and an RBI. In the second game, Michael Wagner worked only 2.2 innings, giving up 4 hits and 3 runs, 1 earned. Bryant, who was the DH, extended a hit streak to nine games with a fourth-inning solo homer. Bryant is 10-for-31 (.323) with 3 homers and 9 RBI during the streak.
Mesa (Rookie) had the day off. Rob Zastryzny starts today against the Athletics.