The Cubs made it four wins in a row with Saturday’s victory over the Brewers. And while they gained ground Saturday on the Pirates and Cardinals, the Cubs stayed a game behind the Giants for the second NL Wild Card. The Giants completed the comeback and beat Cole Hamels and the Rangers.
If the Cubs are able to complete the sweep Sunday in Milwaukee, Joe Maddon’s team will climb to 10 games over .500 for the first time this season.
CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury was the first to report the Cubs interest in veteran second baseman Chase Utley as the deadline approached Friday. And while it was looked over at the time despite Jesse Rogers confirming Salisbury’s report, Jerry Crasnick and Gordon Wittenmyer reported Saturday that the Cubs have discussed putting in a waiver claim on Chase Utley.
According to the report from the Sun-Times, not only would Chase Utley have to waive his no-trade rights but the Phillies would have to include some of the $5 million still owed to Utley.
The veteran infielder is expected to begin a rehab assignment soon. Teams interested in trying to work out a deal for Utley will be able to see if he is fully recovered from the ankle injury that landed him on the DL in June. The Angels and Yankees have also been connected to Utley in recent days.
After a productive 2014 season in which he was an All-Star and batted .270/.339/.407 with 36 doubles, six triples, 11 home runs and a .746 OPS in 155 games, Utley played in only 65 games before placing himself on the disabled list. Utley had a .179/.257/.275 slash line with seven doubles, a triple and four home runs.
Chase Utley is on the last guaranteed year of the extension he signed in August 2013. The contract includes three vesting options (2016-18) that would pay him $15 million per season if he has 500 plate appearances the prior year. There is a $2 million buyout on the 2016 option. Utley made 249 plate appearances in 65 games this season.
It is unclear how Chase Utley would fit with the Cubs.
Joe Maddon fielded questions about Javier Baez prior to Saturday’s game. And without giving a timetable, Maddon said that Baez would be helping the big league team soon.
Baez lined up at shortstop again Saturday night and he had a big night at the plate. Baez went 3-for-6 with a double, five RBI, two runs scored and three strikeouts.
Javier Baez is 7-for-23 with three doubles, two home runs, three stolen bases, two walks and 10 strikeouts in the five games since returning from the disabled list.
Miguel Montero and Kyle Schwarber
Miguel Montero is set to begin a rehab assignment Sunday with Double-A Tennessee. Montero agreed to play a few minor league games before he is activated from the DL. The Cubs have not said how long Montero is expected to play for the Smokies.
Based on his comments, Montero did not think a rehab assignment was necessary. He was ready to be activated and get back on the field.
When Montero comes off the DL, Kyle Schwarber will not be sent down. Joe Maddon was asked about the possibility of Schwarber being optioned out when Montero returned. And Maddon made it clear to the beat writers he will be staying with the big league team.
Maddon said, “You want his bat in the lineup. He’s done a nice job behind the plate.”
With Schwarber being able to play left field, plus working out at first base, Maddon has options to keep him in the lineup once Montero returns.
Cubs Starting Rotation
The Cubs will officially recall LHP Clayton Richard from Triple-A Iowa to start Sunday. Richard has been in Milwaukee preparing for his start. The Cubs’ plan for Richard beyond Sunday is unclear at this point.
Dan Haren was added to the 25-man roster and was in the dugout Saturday night. Haren is set to make his Cubs’ debut Wednesday in Pittsburgh.
Joe Maddon will send Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta and Dan Haren to the hill for the three games in Pittsburgh.
Unless changes are made Jason Hammel, Kyle Hendricks, Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta will start the four games against the Giants at Wrigley (Aug. 6-9).
Tsuyoshi Wada started Saturday for the I-Cubs as he continued his rehab assignment that started on July 6 with Double-A Tennessee. Wada was transferred to Iowa on July 11.
Wada’s line from Saturday does not look good. But the I-Cubs were in Colorado Springs playing the Sky Sox and Security Service Field is not pitcher-friendly. Wada was charged with five runs on nine hits with two walks and four strikeouts in six innings. Wada made 87 pitches, 60 for strikes, in Iowa’s 13-8 victory.
The Cubs have a decision to make with Tsuyoshi Wada. By rule, pitchers can be on a single rehab assignment for 30 days and his current rehab assignment expires Tuesday.
Tommy La Stella
Tommy La Stella had a small setback in his rehab from an oblique strain that has kept him on the DL for the majority of the season. After soreness in the same area limited him to only one game, he is expected back in the Smokies’ starting lineup Sunday.
News and Notes
• OF/1B Mike Baxter cleared waivers and was assigned to Triple-A Iowa.
• Tommy Hunter created quite the buzz with his 99 mph fastball and picked up a save on three pitches. His new teammates were still talking about his Cubs’ debut after the game according to ESPN Chicago.
• Tommy Hunter is happy to be with the Cubs and close to home according to ESPN Chicago. Hunter is from Indianapolis and his mother is dealing with health issues.
• Theo Epstein is confident the young Cubs hitters will turn things around according to the Tribune.
• The Tribune reported the Cubs were happy to give up little to gain Dan Haren and Tommy Hunter.
• According to the Sun-Times, Anthony Rizzo embraces the dog days as he powers the Cubs into August. Rizzo is the first Cub to hit home runs in four straight games since Sammy Sosa hit longballs in five straight game in 1998.
• Comcast SportsNet reported the Cubs will feel the energy from a playoff push.
This Day In Cubstory
2011 – Cubs hit six home runs in an 11-6 victory over the Pirates in Pittsburgh. Alfonso Soriano (2), Aramis Ramirez, Geovany Soto, Marlon Byrd and Tyler Colvin hit the dingers.
2003 – Cubs signed free agent Rudy Seanez
2003 – Cubs released Lenny Harris
1988 – Brett Jackson, born
1982 – Cubs traded Bill Caudill and Jay Howell to the Yankees for Pat Tabler
1978 – Matt Guerrier, born
1955 – Ernie Banks hit his fourth grand slam of the season in a 12-4 victory over the Pirates at Wrigley Field
1950 – Andy Pafko hit three home runs and drove in five runs in the second game of a doubleheader at the Polo Grounds. The Cubs lost both games, 11-1 and 8-6
1932 – Bill Veeck Sr. announced Charlie Grimm as the replacement for Rogers Hornsby. ‘Jolly Cholly’ led the Cubs to 20 wins in the next 25 games as the Cubs’ player-manager and to the National League pennant.
1911 – A Jimmy Archer homer in the bottom of the 10th and gave the Cubs a 1-0 victory over the Dodgers at West Side Grounds. King Cole pitched a two-hitter for the Cubs.