The Cubs started the six-game homestand on a positive note Thursday with a 6-3 win over the Reds. The bleachers looked great and Dexter Fowler was the first player to hit a homer into the new right field bleachers. While the offense outhit the poor start from Tsuyoshi Wada, the bullpen ended up being the difference Thursday.
Travis Wood and four relievers kept the Reds off the board for six innings. And Hector Rondon was sharp in the ninth as Joe Maddon kept Jason Motte hot in the pen, just in case.
The front office is exploring ways to give Joe Maddon more options for the bullpen. There is legitimate interest in Jonathan Papelbon and the Cubs signed veteran reliever Rafael Soriano to a minor league deal earlier this week.
Maddon provided an update on Rafael Soriano in his pre-game discussion with the beat writers Thursday. And Maddon said it will “most likely be after the All-Star break” before Soriano is ready to join the Cubs’ bullpen.
Reports indicated Maddon said there is not a timetable for Soriano to join the big league team. He is throwing at the Cubs’ Dominican Academy. Bruce Levine reported that Soriano is having Visa issues, which is the first step to getting him into the States and to the Cubs’ facility in Mesa.
Joe Maddon said after Soriano signted that he anticipated him being in the Dominican for at least another week. The Cubs do not appear to be concerned with the timing on Soriano.
If Maddon is correct and it will be five weeks before Rafael Soriano could be ready to pitch in the big leagues again, it makes sense that the front office is not done searching for proven options for the backend of the bullpen.
For the second time in as many starts, Tsuyoshi Wada did not complete four innings. Wada was pulled in the fourth after serving up a home run to the only batter he faced in the inning. Wada has allowed eight runs, all earned, on 13 hits with four walks in his last two starts (10.80 ERA, 2.55 WHIP). Wada has five strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings.
Joe Maddon said after Thursday’s game that he is not thinking about making a change and has no thoughts of taking Wada out of his starting rotation.
Maddon said Wada needs to “become more assertive like he was earlier.” Maddon explained to the beat writers, “The first couple of game I saw him pitch, I use the word assertive … aggressive, confident, trusting his stuff, and I’m seeing him trying to be too complicated. Let’s simplify this whole thing; trust your good stuff.”
Miguel Montero pointed out Wada is trying to make perfect pitches.
Tsuyoshi Wada was asked if he was worried about being replaced in the rotation. He told the beat writers, “It’s not my decision. If you look at the results, it could be happening.”
Joe Maddon plans to talk to Wada as soon as Friday. He thinks Wada needs to make more of a mental adjustment than a physical one.
Cubs-Marlins, July 5
The Cubs announced Thursday the game with the Marlins on July 5 at Wrigley Field will start at 1:20pm CDT. The Cubs did not have a start time scheduled for the Sunday after the 4th of July before Thursday.
Comcast SportsNet will carry the game.
RHP Pierce Johnson returned to the Smokies Thursday and had a good outing. Johnson completed three shutout innings. The right hander gave up three hits and a walk with two strikeouts. Johnson threw 54 pitches, 32 for strikes.
Reports from the park on Johnson were positive in his first start of the disabled list.
News, Notes and Rumors
• Joe Maddon was asked about the progress of RHP Neil Ramirez prior to Thursday’s game. Maddon did not have an update and told the beat writers he “has not heard one word on him.”
• The Cubs anticipate a full bleachers being an impact according to a report from the Sun-Times.
• The Cubs think their resiliency could pay off in playoff race according to a report from Comcast SportsNet.
• The I-Cubs placed LHP Eric Jokisch on the DL prior to Thursday’s rainout. Jokisch is 3-3 in nine starts for Iowa with a 4.40 ERA and a 1.60 WHIP. Jokisch has allowed 26 runs, 21 earned, on 51 hits with 18 walks and 26 strikeouts in 43 innings.
• Reds’ RHP Michael Lorenzen became the first pitcher to hit a two-run, or more, triple against the Cubs since Mike Hampton in 2003.
• According to Jon Heyman, the Mets do not see Aramis Ramirez as a fit at this point. The Metropolitans are hoping to get David Wright back at some point. And Sandy Alderson would rather trade for a player that can move to another position when Wright returns. The Mets’ GM called the “trade market narrow” and told the media “teams are not looking to dump players.”
• LHP Phil Coke was added to the Blue Jays 40-man roster and called up Thursday from Triple-A Buffalo.
• Jesse Rogers answered a few Twitter questions on ESPN Chicago.
• Javier Baez is leading the fan vote among PCL shortstops for the Triple-A All-Star Game.
This Day In Cubstory
2014 – Cubs signed free agent Yorvit Torrealba
2008 – Cubs signed free agent Ben Broussard
1989 – Dallas Beeler, born
1981 – Cubs trade Rick Reuschel to the Yankees for Doug Bird and $400,000. The Cubs received Mike Griffin from the Yankees to compete the trade
1967 – Cubs traded Bob Hendley to the Mets for Rob Gardner and a PTBNL. The Mets sent John Stephenson to the Cubs on June 17 to complete the trade
1955 – Harry Chiti, Randy Jackson and Dee Fondy homered as the Cubs beat Don Newcombe and the Dodgers 9-5 in the first of two (doubleheader) at Ebbets Field. The Cubs pulled off a triple play in the seventh inning of the second game, third baseman Jackson to catcher Chiti to first baseman Fondy and back to Chiti, but the Cubs lost 6-2 in game two.
1955 – Cubs purchased Owen Friend from the Red Sox
1953 – Cubs traded Fred Baczewski and Bob Kelly to the Reds for Bubba Church
1949 – Frankie Frisch named Cubs manager, replaced Charlie Grimm
1935 – After receiving a clubhouse “tongue-lashing” from skipper Charlie Grimm, who imposed a ban on poker games), the Cubs beat the Phillies 15-0 behind Larry French in Philadelphia. Phil Cavarretta recorded a single, a double, a home run and four RBI while Chuck Klein hit a three-run homer.
1923 – Hack Miller drove in seven runs with two homers and a single as the Cubs beat the Braves 12-11 at Wrigley Field. Miller hit a Grand Slam in the fifth that tied the game at seven and his two-run homer in the six gave the Cubs a temporary lead.
This Day In Baseball History
1839 – Due to an erroneous eye-witness account, Abner Doubleday is given credit for establishing the first baseball game is played in America. The Hall of Fame, which opens a century later in Cooperstown, celebrates the origin of our National Pastime in this small upstate New York town although it is doubtful the West Point cadet was ever there or ever watched a baseball game.
1939 – The Baseball Hall of Fame was dedicated in Cooperstown, NY.
1981 – Major League Baseball experienced its first in-season work stoppage. The 50-day strike ended on July 31.
1997 – The first Interleague game was played between the Giants and Rangers in Texas. The Rangers beat the Giants 4-3 and the former Cubs slugger, Glenallen Hill became the first designated hitter used by a National League team in a regular season game