Sunday brunch blog: Call-ups, Castro, the minors
The Cubs opened their September call-up season by activating outfielder Ryan Sweeney off the 60-day disabled list and third baseman Luis Valbuena off the 15-day DL. They also recalled reliever Alberto Cabrera from Class AAA Iowa.
Sweeney was not on the 40-man roster, so the Cubs designated reliever Eduardo Sanchez for assignment. He has been at Iowa. Sweeney is in today’s starting lineup against the Phillies’ Kyle Kendrick, with Brian Bogusevic in left and Nate Schierholtz in right.
Manager Dale Sveum said he would go with matchups at third base. Valbuena and Donnie Murphy are likely to share the starts. Murphy is in today’s lineup. In the outfield, Sveum said Schierholtz would continue to start in right field against right-handed pitchers.
“The outfield will probably be a little bit of a rotation through the last month, with (Junior) Lake, Sweeney, Bogusevic. Schierholtz will probably play most of the time, especially against righties. The other guys will kind of rotate. You give them an opportunity to do their thing with Lake, Bogusevic and Sweeney.”
Schierholtz is hitting .209 with 1 homer against left-handed pitching. Against righties, though, he’s at .274 with 19 homers. His overall line is .266/.319/.507. He is arbitration-eligible for next year.
It’s a different kind of September, with no real prospects getting a look-see other than Cabrera, who pitched in 25 games for the Cubs last year. Last year, the Cubs gave late-season shots to third baseman Josh Vitters and outfielder Brett Jackson, and neither performed well. Injuries have derailed their seasons this year.
If you caught our “take” in today’s paper, we talked with Starlin Castro yesterday about his approach at the plate. He said he wanted to “be me,” which seems to translate into going back to being more of an aggressive hitter. Castro entered this weekend with just 2 extra-base hits, both doubles. On Friday, he hit a pair of doubles against the Phillies. Yesterday, he doubled and hit a home run, which proved to be the game winner.
We talked with Dale Sveum this morning about Castro and his approach.
“There’s been a lot things about seeing more pitches and walking more and on-base percentage,” Sveum said.” You bring a lot of things. We talked probably 20 times this year about this whole subject. It’s one of those things, as much as anything, is why I got him back in the leadoff spot, the one spot where he’s most comfortable and had the most success at. So far, he’s been driving the ball better and swinging the ball better in that spot.
“The learning experience of a lot of this is just the adversity of struggling and understanding the adjustments that pitchers make. Obviously, there are hitters out there who don’t need a lot of thought process and stuff. They’re cutting-and-slashers. Whether they’ll be that their whole career or if they’ll adjust to being something else … sometimes you adjust from that, it just doesn’t work.”
From the game notes: The Cubs bullpen yesterday tossed 4 scoreless innings, marking the sixth time this year Cubs relievers have thrown 4 scoreless in a game. The Cubs bullpen has an ERA of 2.86 over the last seven games … Pedro Strop threw a scoreless inning yesterday and has recorded scoreless outings in 23 of 25 games since coming to the Cubs from Baltimore in the Scott Feldman trade July 2. He has held opponents to a .154 batting average while striking out 27 and walking nine.
Javier Baez continues to tear it up at Class AA Tennessee. He hit his 19th home run in Saturday’s 4-3 victory over Chattanooga. Baez was 2-for-5, and the home run came in the first inning with a man on. He batted .357 (41-for-115) with 11 doubles, 8 homers and 30 RBI in 29 August games. Christian Villanueva hit his 18th homer Saturday. Nick Struck got the win, working 5 innings and giving up 3 hits and 3 runs. He’s 1-2 with a 3.95 ERA. Matt Szczur, Arismendy Alcantara and John Andreoli each had 2 hits.
Class AAA Iowa fell 7-2 at Nasvhille. Yoanner Negrin took the loss, pitching 1.2 innings and giving up 4 hits and 2 runs. He is 4-7 with a 4.17 ERA. Dave Sappelt went 2-for-4, and Jae-Hoon Ha was 2-for-3.
Class A Daytona had its 10-game winning streak snapped with a 5-1 loss at Brevard County. Yao-Lin Wang got no decision as he worked 3 innings and gave up 2 hits and no runs. Wes Darvill was 3-for-4 and local guy Elliot Soto was 2-for-2 with a double.
The Kane County Cougars (A) lost their third straight, 9-0 to Peoria. James Pugliese suffered the loss, going 3 innings and giving up 6 hits and 5 runs. He is 0-2 with a 7.71 ERA. Ryan Sweeney was 1-for-4 in his final rehab game. Luis Valbuena was 1-for-3 with a walk in his final rehab tune-up.
Boise (A) was on the losing end of a 5-0 no-hitter at the hands of Hillsboro’s Kyle Schepel, who tossed the first 9-inning complete-game no-hitter in team history. Schepel had a 7-inning no-hitter earlier this year. For Boise, Dillon Maples took the loss, working 5 innings and giving up 6 hits and 4 runs, 2 earned. He is 5-2 with a 2.14 ERA.
Boise still looks good for the playoffs in the Northwest League. According to the Idaho Statesman: “Salem-Keizer, the first-half winner, sits atop the Northwest League’s South Division heading into Sunday’s games. If Salem-Keizer clinches the second-half title, Boise would get into the postseason based on a better overall record than Hillsboro. The Hawks are 41-33, and the Hops are 32-42.”