The Cubs finished the first month of the season with a 12-8 record and showed steady improvement throughout April.
The team ended April with the third best on-base percentage (.329) in the National League behind the Dodgers (.345) and Cardinals (.331) … and fourth in the Senior Circuit in walks (71) seven behind the league leading Dodgers (78). The Cubs finished in the top 10 in batting average (.251), slugging percentage (.380) and OPS (.709).
Several of the players are among the league leaders in on-base percentage, with Anthony Rizzo (.478) leading the way. Rizzo is second in the NL in OBP behind Matt Holliday (.500). Kris Bryant (.455), Dexter Fowler (.372) and Starlin Castro (.349) also rank toward the top in the National League in on-base percentage.
And according to ESPN Chicago, the Cubs rank first in the NL in pitches per plate appearance (3.91).
The Cubs made starting pitchers work over the course of the first month of the season. As the weather warms up, it will be interesting to see if the approach stays the same or if the players will become more aggressive on hitter friendly days.
Justin Grimm and Neil Ramirez
Two main pieces of the bullpen are working their way back to the Cubs.
RHP Justin Grimm threw another bullpen session Tuesday and is expected to pitch in either an extended Spring Training game or a simulated game by this weekend as he works to put a forearm issue behind him.
RHP Neil Ramirez is at the Cubs’ facility in Mesa rehabbing a shoulder injury that landed him on the DL. Ramirez has not thrown off a mound but he is playing catch. According to the Tribune, Ramirez’s shoulder has “responded well.”
Other than Grimm being ahead of Ramirez in the rehab process, the Cubs have not said when either reliever may be able to return.
LHP Tsuyoshi Wada was at Wrigley Field on Wednesday and threw a bullpen for Chris Bosio. Wada is currently on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Iowa. The Cubs wanted to check Wada’s progress and mechanics as he works his way back from a mild left groin strain. Wada missed a majority of Spring Training with hamstring and groin injuries.
In three starts with Iowa, Wada is 0-2 with a 5.40 ERA and a 1.93 WHIP. Wada has allowed 10 runs, nine earned, on 22 hits with one walk and 12 strikeouts in 15 innings.
Tsuyoshi Wada will continue his rehab with Iowa. Wada was sent to Triple-A Iowa on a rehab assignment on April 17.
Tommy La Stella
INF Tommy La Stella was a big part of the Cubs plans coming out of Spring Training. But after just two games, La Stella was placed on the DL with right rib cage inflammation April 14, retroactive to April 9. La Stella wasn’t expected to miss more than the two required weeks on the DL. La Stella still hasn’t swung a bat but he has been able to throw.
The Cubs have not provided a timeframe on when Tommy La Stella could return from the disabled list.
Jed Hoyer addressed the announcement prior to Wednesday’s game and told the beat writers he was not caught off guard by the verdict “because there was no wrongdoing.” The front office maintained from the beginning of the investigation the Cubs did not tamper with Joe Maddon and would fully cooperate in the investigation.
The Cubs turned over computers and cell phones to Major League Baseball to assist in the investigation.
Marc Topkin asked Stu Sternberg about MLB’s ruling. Sternberg told the Tampa Bay Times, “We make our decisions based on the facts at hand and the process we trust. We can never be certain of the outcomes.”
The Rays pushed Major League Baseball to investigate the Cubs after the team hired Joe Maddon and signed him to a five-year, $25 million contract.
Joe Maddon did not understand “why it had to take so long” but the Cubs’ skipper is “glad that’s in the rearview mirror.” Maddon has stayed in contact “with a lot of Rays guys” and there are “obviously zero hard feelings.”
News, Notes and Rumors
• Joe Maddon made sure “to stop and sign every autograph” on his way in to Wrigley on Wednesday. The Orioles and White Sox played in an empty stadium Wednesday and it really pointed out to Maddon how much the fans mean to the game.
• Joel Sherman posted three reasons why the chase for Cole Hamels and other big names will begin soon.
• Tom Ricketts issued an apology for the derogatory term referring to Italian Americans he used during an interview on Intentional Talk (MLB Network).
• Several Cubs do not want to see the NL adopt the designated hitter. Many of the players are fine with the two leagues playing under different rules according to a report from ESPN Chicago. Theo Epstein refused to comment on the subject. Epstein, as the report states, has all but said in the past he would like to the National League to adopt the DH.
And last, but not least, ESPN Chicago found out the story behind the Cubs rubbing their heads after a big hit. According to the report, Starlin Castro is responsible for the new team signal. Jonathan Herrera explained, “We were talking one day and we said something funny and he [Castro] just rubbed his head real fast.” Herrera asked Castro why he did that so when Herrera got on base later that day he rubbed his head and it has caught on with the rest of the team.
This Day In Cubstory
2002 – Cubs released Winston Abreu
1990 – Cubs traded Frank Campos to the White Sox for Bill Long
1970 – Billy Williams played in his 1000th consecutive game. But the Cubs lost 9-2 to the Braves in Atlanta. Williams became the first National Leaguer to play in 1000 consecutive games. Williams played for a record 1,117 straight games before taking a day off. Williams’ record would be broken by Steve Garvey.
1962 – Cubs traded Bob Buhl to the Milwaukee Braves for Jack Curtis
1954 – Cubs purchased Steve Bilko from the Cardinals for $12,500
1954 – Joe Strain, born
1928 – Cubs purchased Danny Murphy from the Tigers
1907 – Jumbo Brown, born
1904 – Tony Murray, born
1899 – A paid crowd of 27,489, the largest in baseball history up to that time, packed into West Side Grounds to watch the Chicago National League Ball Club beat the St. Louis National League Ball Club (Cardinals) 4-0. Johnny Callahan pitched a 12-hit shutout.
1887 – In front of close to 10,000 at Recreation Park, the Alleghenys played their first game in the National League and beat the defending National League Champions, the Chicago White Stockings 6-2. The Alleghenys will be called the Pirates by 1891.
1852 – Charley Jones, born