The Cubs have started discussing how the roster will be built for Interleague games in American League parks. The Cubs have played only two Interleague games so far but have two in Detroit next week and five straight in Cleveland and Minneapolis in the third week of June (June 17-21).
And Javier Baez is reportedly part of the discussions between the coaching staff and front office.
Javier Baez went 1-for-4 with a RBI, two runs scored and a strikeout in Iowa’s 14-4 win over El Paso on Monday night. Baez is hitting .304/.382/.487 in 31 games with six doubles, five home runs, 10 walks and 33 strikeouts for a .869 OPS.
As much as the mainstream media wants for it to happen, Maddon said they have not talked about calling up Kyle Schwarber to be the team’s DH in American League parks.
Schwarber is not on the 40-man roster, which currently stands at 39 players, and promoting him for a couple of weeks in June would not fit with the way the front office has handled big league call-ups. If Schwarber makes his Major League debut this season it would not be until September.
Chris Denorfia is working his way back from a second hamstring injury. And Tommy La Stella does not appear to be close to a rehab assignment much less returning in time to help the Cubs next week.
Joe Maddon said they have not discussed a plan for Javier Baez to stay in the majors or go back to Iowa if he is recalled once the team is through the stretch of Interleague games.
Joe Maddon finally moved Starlin Castro out of the clean-up spot in his lineup Monday. Castro hit sixth behind Miguel Montero and Jorge Soler hit fourth. Soler plated Kris Bryant in the first inning with the Cubs second run on a groundout to second base.
Maddon said he moved Castro down to just take a little pressure off. Maddon thinks Castro is trying too hard while Soler was moved up because he is “ascending a bit.”
Starlin Castro went 1-for-4 with a home run, his first longball since May 8. Castro made an excellent catch on a ball hit by Dee Gordon to end the fifth. But he committed another error on a routine play in the seventh inning.
Maddon addressed Castro’s error after the game.
“Even though he’s has been in the league many years, he still has ways to grow defensively. And he’s going to grow. We’re going to help him grow. But I’ll stand by this guy. I think he’s awesome. By the end of this season you’re going to see him making all of those plays.”
For Castro defensively, it’s all about approach and technique. Maddon pointed out that he is not being aggressive enough on routine plays. Castro is letting the ball play him. Maddon said they have talked to Castro about coming and getting the ball ad nauseam.
Joe Maddon, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have been consistent in the fact Starlin Castro is the Cubs’ shortstop this season. And Maddon’s comments Monday night reinforced his belief in Castro.
Manny Ramirez is with the Cubs in Miami. Ramirez talked to the beat writers prior to Monday’s game.
Ramirez joked with Starlin Castro that it was okay to hit a double. And of course, Ramirez was poking fun at Castro for a rough month of May in which he batted only .221/.264/.274 with three doubles and a home run. Castro had only seven extra basehits (four doubles and three home runs) over the first two months of the season.
Ramirez pointed out to ESPN Chicago that Castro is “in a mechanical funk as much as a mental one” at the plate. Castro is being pitched middle-away and he opens to quick according to Ramirez.
According to the report from ESPN Chicago, Ramirez is not overstepping his bounds. When he sees something the players could do to improve, he tells John Mallee and Eric Hinske.
Ramirez stays in communication with Jorge Soler and many of the Cubs young players according to the Tribune. Ramirez thinks Soler can learn a lot from watching Kris Bryant. Ramirez pointed out that Bryant has a plan, even in batting practice.
Manny Ramirez is enjoying being a coach/consultant, but would like to play Winter Ball in the Dominican again so he is not ready to say he is retired.
Kevin Encarnacion was making a lot of noise in the system prior to the car wreck in the Dominican that nearly cost him his life, much less his baseball career. Encarnacion batted a combined .319/.399/.504 for Short-Season Boise and Low-A Kane County in 2013 with 11 doubles, two triples and nine home runs for a .904 OPS.
Encarnacion was recently assigned to Low-A South Bend and Monday night he hit his first home run since 2013 … and it was described as a bomb to deep left center that traveled 410 feet.
In five games with South Bend, Kevin Encarnacion is 4-for-14 with a triple and a home run with two RBI.
For as much as he went through last year, it is great that he is back on a baseball field doing what he enjoys.
The Cubs moved RHP Corey Black from the Smokies’ starting rotation to the bullpen … a move that Black confirmed on his twitter account. This should be seen as a positive for the Cubs and one that could pay dividends this season for the big league team.
Corey Black has good stuff and a big arm. Black has been viewed as a reliever for a while and many think he has what it takes to be a closer in the majors. Black was in big league camp this past spring, and unfortunately made headlines for the wrong reason. But Joe Maddon, Chris Bosio and the Major League coaching staff were able to work with him.
Black posted a 2-2 record in nine starts with a 3.09 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP this season. In 46 2/3 innings, Black gave up 31 hits with 19 walks and 53 strikeouts.
It would appear moving Corey Black to the pen, as was expected at the beginning of the year, could put him in the mix for a call-up at some point after the All-Star break if he can show he can throw enough strikes. A promotion to Iowa should be on the horizon for the 23-year old right hander.
News, Notes and Rumors
• In 175 2/3 innings with the Cubs over the past two seasons, Jason Hammel has struck out 173 batters with 30 walks. Hammel time is now for the Cubs and their other big free agent pitcher according to the Sun-Times.
• Matt Szczur went yard again Monday night, a three-run homer in the third inning. Szczur was 1-for-5 and is now batting .330/.378/.545 in 24 games for Triple-A Iowa. Szczur has three doubles, two triples and four home runs for a .923 OPS on his Triple-A stat line so far this season.
• Over the last 20 games, the Cubs starting staff has a 2.55 ERA and a 1.018 WHIP in 130 2/3 innings with 135 strikeouts and 27 walks.
• The Washington Post explored the hidden value of David Ross.
• From Christopher Kamka: Most home runs by players that spent or have been with the Cubs throughout his career … Ernie Banks (512), Stan Hack (57) and Starlin Castro (55).
• According to a report from Comcast SportsNet, two months into the season the Cubs are looking like buyers and contenders.
• INF/OF Arismendy Alcantara hit his fifth triple of the season Monday night and is now tied for the league lead in three-baggers. Alcantara was 2-for-5 on Monday night with a triple, two runs scored and three strikeouts. Alcantara has a .267/.331/.500 slash line in 38 games with four doubles, five triples and seven home runs for a .831 OPS.
• According to Mark Grote, Joe Maddon does not like the word ‘development.’
• Ken Rosenthal reported the outlook for 2015-16 free agent pitchers could be dimming.
And last, but not least, the Rangers announced Monday that 3B Joey Gallo was being called up to fill in for Adrian Beltre while he is on the disabled list. Joey Gallo is going to hit some mammoth home runs while he is in The Show for the next couple of weeks. The Rangers plan to send Gallo to Triple-A, where he was set to report Monday prior to the Beltre injury, once Beltre is back in the lineup. With Gallo in the majors, the Vegas connection of Kris Bryant, Bryce Harper and Joey Gallo are going to be providing a lot of highlights for MLB Network and ESPN.
This Day In Cubstory
2006 – Cubs released Adam Greenberg
2001 – Cubs beat the Brewers 10-4 and extended their winning streak to 12 games, the longest winning streak for the Cubs since 1936 when the team won 15 in a row. The Cubs lost the next day.
2000 – Rick Aguilera notched his 300th save in the Cubs 2-0 win over the Tigers in Detroit’s first trip back to Wrigley Field since the ’45 World Series
1998 – Cubs selected Corey Patterson with the third overall pick (first round) in the draft
1998 – Cubs selected David Kelton in the second round of the draft
1998 – Cubs selected Wil Ohman in the eighth round of the draft
1998 – Cubs selected Eric Hinske in the 17th round of the draft
1994 – Cubs selected Kyle Farnsworth in the 47th round of the draft
1989 – Kenny Socorro, born
1987 – Cubs selected Mike Harkey with the fourth overall pick (first round) in the draft
1987 – Cubs selected Alex Arias in the third round of the draft
1987 – Cubs selected Frank Castillo in the sixth round of the draft
1987 – Cubs selected Jeff Cirillo in the 37th round of the draft
1986 – Cubs selected Derrick May with the ninth overall pick (first round) of the draft
1986 – Cubs selected Joe Girardi in the fifth round of the draft
1986 – Cubs selected Jim Bullinger in the ninth round of the draft
1986 – Cubs selected Rick Wilkins in the 23rd round of the draft
1973 – Neifi Perez, born
1972 – White Sox purchased Phil Regan from the Cubs
1964 – Billy Williams, Ron Santo and Billy Cowan homered in the fourth inning of a 6-2 win over the Cardinals at Wrigley Field
1964 – Cubs traded Glen Hobbie to the Cardinals for Lew Burdette
1961 – Ernie Banks tied a Major League record with three run scoring sacrifice flies in a single game. Cubs beat the Reds 7-6.
1957 – Moe Drabowsky set a NL record for the most hit batsmen in a single game. Drabowsky plunked four in a Cubs 4-3 loss at Crosley Field
1949 – At the age of 40, Dutch Leonard became the oldest Cubs pitcher to throw a complete game shutout. Leonard blanked the Giants 3-0 and allowed three hits at the Polo Grounds.
1938 – Gene Michael, born
1906 – Cubs acquired Orval Overall and $2,000 from the Reds for Bob Wicker