Easter brunch blog: TV talk, Olt, Rizzo and the minors

Easter brunch blog: TV talk, Olt, Rizzo and the minors

Posted by Bruce on Sun, 04/20/2014 - 12:12

Happy Easter to all as we present another Sunday brunch blog. For those in the Chicago area, I can recommend some evening TV after you finish your Easter dinner. WGN-TV in Chicago will present “Wrigley 100: A Century Celebration” tonight at 7 Chicago time. WGN America will air the program on April 26, also at 7 Central.

WGN’s Bob Vorwald was kind enough to give me an advance copy, and I can tell you that some of the film and video highlights from over the years will stir memories. Full disclosure: I was interviewed for the program and appear in a few spots as does my Daily Herald colleague Barry Rozner, who was our beat writer from 1990-97. Despite our appearances, it’s still a great show!

But do tune in. From Kenny Holtzman’s no-hitter in 1969 to Ernie Banks’ 500th homer in 1970, all of the highlights of the ballpark’s history are hit. There also is some great film footage from Wrigley Field’s earlier days.

Today, the wind is blowing out slightly, and it’s a much warmer day at the ballpark. The Cubs and Carlos Villanueva will take on the Reds and homer Bailey, with each team having won a game in this series. The Cubs are trying to win their first series since taking two of three from the Reds last Sept. 9-11. From here, the Arizona Diamondbacks come to town for four and to help celebrate Wrigley Field’s 100th birthday, on Wednesday. Then it’s off to Milwaukee and Cincinnati for the Cubs.

First baseman Anthony Rizzo is in the lineup for the Cubs. He experienced some back spasms in yesterday’s game. Early this morning, Mike Olt was taking grounders at first base, but Rizzo gave the thumbs-up.

“Even last night, I think it was more precautionary,” said manager Rick Renteria. “He felt he would be fine this morning. He’s pretty aware of his body; most guys are. I think even yesterday, if we had been in a tight squeeze, he would have still stayed in there.”

The Cubs stack four left-handed hitters at the top of the lineup:

Bonifacio, CF
Sweeney, LF
Rizzo, 1B
Schierholtz, RF
Castro, SS
Olt, 3B
Castillo, C
Barney, C
Villanueva, P

It’s back-to-back starts for Olt, who started at third yesterday before moving to first when Rizzo came out of the game. Olt hit his third homer of the season in yesterdays 8-4 victory.

“We still want to see what he can do,” Renteria said. “I think it’s really important. I’ve been trying over time with all the guys to at least give them days where they go back to back, whether it’s against a lefty. I think it gives them a better view. I think it gets them a little more comfortable. The reality is, they’re going to face lefties and righties, both the left-handed hitters and the right-handed hitters. You’ve got to give them an opportunity to be able to use some games back to back to get them some kind of comfort.”

Out in Iowa, shortstop Javier Baez comes off the disabled list today to DH against Round Rock. Baez had been out a week with a left-ankle injury.

From the game notes: Rizzo, with a .414 on-base percentage, and Emilio Bonifacio, with a .403 mark, are one of just three N.L. qualifying teammates with OBPs above .400 this season. Rizzo and Bonifacio join Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman (.493) and Justin Upton (.419) and Colorado’s Troy Tulowitzki (.455) and Charlie Blackmon (.435). Luis Valbuena has posted a .400 OBP thus far, thanks in part to a team-leading 9 walks; he is 10 plate appearances shy of qualifying for the N.L. leader board.

Villanueva is the first Cubs pitcher to record a decision in each of his first 4 appearances to begin a season, with at least one game in a starting role and one game in relief, since Shawn Boskie in 1992. In ‘92, Boskie garnered a decision in each of his first 5 games, going 3-2 in 4 starts and 1 relief appearance.

MINOR-LEAGUE ROUNDUP

Class AAA Iowa fell 12-2 to Round Rock with Chris Rusin taking the loss. Rusin worked 6 innings, giving up 5 hits and 4 runs while walking one and striking out five. He is 0-3 with a 6.32 ERA. Against Round Rock, Rusin allowed 3 homers. Christian Villanueva doubled twice.

Class AA Tennessee dropped the opener of a five-game series to Birmingham 5-4. Matt Loosen got no decision, working 3.2 innings and giving up 3 hits and 3 runs while walking seven and striking out five. Jeff Lorick (1-1) gave up a 2-run double to the White Sox’ Gordon Beckham, who is on an injury rehab assignment. Jeudy Valdez was 2-for-4 for Tennessee with a double and 2 RBI.

Class A Daytona split a doubleheader with Tampa, losing 10-4 and winning 9-1. In Game 1, Yao-Lin Wang lasted just 1.1 innings, giving up 6 hits and 6 runs. He fell to 0-3 with an 8.59 ERA. In Game 2, Felix Pena got the win, working 6 innings of 3-hit, 1-run ball. He is 1-3 with a 1.38 ERA. Bijan Rademacher was 2-for-4 with his first home run and 3 RBI. He’s among the Florida State League leaders in average (.381), OBP (.469), slugging (.524) and OPS (.933). Albert Almora was 2-for-4.

Daytona is 3-13, with all three of its wins coming on Saturday nights.

“I guarantee you we didn't know that we had only won on Saturdays,” Rademacher told the Daytona Beach News-Journal. “We're just trying to battle and turn things around.”

“I'm really proud with the way we came back in the second game, especially with the way the first game went,” manager Dave Keller said. “I'm just glad we got a win.”

The Kane County Cougars (A) fell 3-2 to Dayton. Starting pitcher Duane Underwood worked 5 innings, giving up 3 hits and 1 unearned run. He walked one and struck out four. Underwood has an ERA of 1.13. Danny Lockhart was 3-for-4 with a double. Trey Martin was 2-for-3, also with a double.

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