Joe Maddon announced Willson Contreras will catch Jon Lester on Saturday in the middle game of the series in Pittsburgh. The Cubs placed David Ross on the 7-day concussion DL before Wednesday’s game and he will not be available until after the All-Star break.
With Ross set to retire after the Cubs’ season ends, Contreras will have to be paired with Lester next year and beyond. Lester’s throwing issues requires a team to have a strong throwing catcher behind the plate that can help control the opposition’s running game.
According to the Tribune, Contreras caught Lester’s bullpen Wednesday and will work with David Ross on the game plan for Saturday.
The Cubs may have their leadoff man back right after the All-Star break. Joe Maddon said Wednesday Dexter Fowler will be ready to return after the break.
Dexter Fowler worked on the field before Wednesday’s game. Fowler told the beat writers he “felt fine running bases.” Fowler did not know if he would be able to come off the DL for the series with the Pirates. But from all indications, Fowler will probably not play again before the break.
According to ESPN Chicago, the Cubs would like for Fowler to play a couple of minor league rehab games this weekend, play in the All-Star Game and come off the DL for the first game back from the break (July 15).
The next couple of days will determine if Fowler will play in the All-Star Game. Fowler will need rehab games before he is activated. And according to a report from Carrie Muskat, “the Cubs want to see him play in some minor league games before saying whether he’ll participate in Tuesday’s All-Star Game.”
Joe Maddon said, “He wants to play in the All-Star Game. Don’t anybody fault him for that. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Who knows if it will happen again. I’m all for it. The overriding concern is that he plays for us the rest of the year and he helps us get to our goal.”
The Cubs have struggled since Fowler went on the disabled list. As Maddon tells him before every at-bat, “As you go, we go.” The Cubs have not done much and have been a different team offensively since he’s been out.
Schwarber provided an update on his rehab and addressed the trade rumors. Schwarber said his range of motion is back and he is working on strengthening his leg. As for the trade rumors, Schwarber was glad to hear Theo Epstein say publicly he would not be going anywhere.
“I love this organization. I love this team. I want to stay here, but obviously things are out of my control. Since he did say that, I did take that to heart. It means a lot.”
- Report from ESPN Chicago
- Report from Comcast SportsNet
- Report from The Sun-Times
- Report from The Tribune
- Report from Bruce Levine
Cubs-Pirates Series and Probable Starters
The Cubs woke up Thursday morning with a new team in their rearview mirror. The Pirates topped the Cardinals on Wednesday night and moved into second place in the NL Central, 8 ½ game behind the Cubs.
NL Central: Cubs (52-32), Pirates (44-41), Cardinals (43-41)
The Pirates have an extremely favorable schedule after the break and an infusion of young talent that will keep them in the hunt for a spot in the post-season tournament, if not the division race for the remainder of the season. Plus, Gerrit Cole is close to returning. Those that discounted the Pirates should rethink their position.
Clint Hurdle should manage this weekend’s series against the Cubs like it is the playoffs.
The Pirates are calling up Tyler Glasnow to make his debut Thursday in the finale with the Cardinals. The Cubs will miss him this weekend.
The Cubs and Pirates posted the starting pitchers for the weekend series:
- Friday, July 8 (6:05pm CDT) – RHP Jake Arrieta vs. LHP Francisco Liriano
- Saturday, July 9 (6:15pm CDT) – LHP Jon Lester vs. RHP Chad Kuhl
- Sunday, July 10 (12:35pm CDT) – RHP John Lackey vs. LHP Jon Niese
Cubs-Mets Series – July 19 at Wrigley Field
The Cubs announced Wednesday that the Tuesday, July 19 game versus the Mets at Wrigley Field will begin at 6:05pm CDT to accommodate a national broadcast by ESPN.
The game will be seen locally on Comcast SportsNet Chicago and will be blacked out on ESPN in the Chicago market.
The game was originally slated to begin at 7:05pm CDT.
News, Notes and Rumors
• Joe Maddon won’t connect all the ‘negative dots’ around the Cubs according to a report from Comcast SportsNet.
• Joe Sheehan pointed out the 1984 Tigers followed a 35-5 start to the season with a 22-23 stretch.
• According to ESPN Chicago, all the Cubs woes lead back to the bullpen. The Cubs are 8-7 in the last 15 games in which they’ve had a lead compared to 44-5 in the first 49 games. The Cubs are not the only division leader having bullpen issues. The Giants have been charged with 17 blown saves.
• Thursday is day 21 of 24 in a row without a day off for the Cubs. This is the first time the Cubs have played 24 games in 24 days since Sept. 10-Oct. 3, 2004.
• Adam Warren did his job, according to the Sun-Times, but the Cubs lost for the 12th time in 17 games.
• Tom Verducci reported Cubs’ shifting strategy leading to rare success and could be a game-changer. This is a must-read about the Cubs’ defense and shifting.
• Even All-Star selections come with critics for the Cubs according to the Sun-Times.
• Carrie Muskat reported that Ben Zobrist is thankful for the fans, the folks in Eureka and his church for getting him to the All-Star Game.
• Buster Olney explained why Noah Syndergaard should start for the National League in the All-Star Game.
• Theo Epstein still owns the Red Sox, who can’t quite figure out who they are according to Eric Wilbur.
• Addison Russell was 5-for-13 with three home runs and a double in the three games against the Reds. The Sun-Times pointed out that Russell is on pace for 21 home runs and 95 RBI.
• Miguel Montero’s throwing issues have not gotten any better. Miguel Montero allowed four more stolen bases Wednesday. Montero did throw out Jay Bruce in the ninth inning as he tried to steal second base.
• The Mets placed RHP Matt Harvey on the 15-day DL due to discomfort in his right shoulder.
• The Marlins designated LHP Eric Jokisch for assignment to make room on the roster for Don Kelly. The Marlins called up Kelly when Justin Bour had to be placed on the DL with a right ankle sprain.
• Former Cubs’ farmhand, RHP Tayler Scott signed a minor league contract with the Brewers and was assigned to Double-A Biloxi.
• According to Peter Gammons, the Marlins and Red Sox (Frank Wren) watched Jake Odorizzi pitch. Add the Marlins and Red Sox to the list of teams that already included the Rangers that are interested in Odorizzi.
• Arodys Vizcaino lost another lead in the ninth inning. David O’Brien reported on Vizcaino’s latest blown save. Vizcaino is 1-4 in 38 games for the Braves this season with a 2.75 ERA and 1.44 WHIP. Vizcaino is 10-for-13 in save opportunities. In 36 innings this season, Vizcaino has allowed 15 runs, 11 earned, on 31 hits with 21 walks and 47 strikeouts.
• Greg Maddux has joined the staff at UNLV as a volunteer assistant coach.
This Day in Cubstory
2015 – The Cubs swept a doubleheader at Wrigley for the first time since 2003. The Cubs beat the Redbirds 7-4 and 5-3.
2013 – Cubs released Shawn Camp
2011 – The Cubs came back from an 8-0 deficit and beat the Nationals in Washington 10-9. The Cubs handed the Nationals its largest blown lead in franchise history (Nationals/Expos).
2005 – Cubs signed Alberto Cabrera as an amateur free agent
2001 – Cubs signed free agent Delino DeShields
1999 – Rockies traded a PTBNL to the Cubs for John Cotton and Kevin Rawitzer. The Rockies sent Tarrik Brock to the Cubs on July 7 to complete the deal
1995 – The Mariners claimed Kevin Roberson off waivers from the Cubs
1992 – Cubs traded Ced Landrum to the Brewers for Jeff Kunkel
1987 – Andre Dawson hit a homer in the first inning off Eric Show. Show hit Dawson with a pitch in the third inning, the benches cleared and both players were ejected from the game in one of the most memorable brawls in Wrigley Field history. Dawson received 22 stitches and Greg Maddux was ejected from the game in the fourth inning when he plunked Benito Santiago.
1977 – Rick Reuschel shutout the Cardinals and ran his record to 12-2. Reuschel had allowed only one run, a solo homer, since June 1
1968 – Phil Regan, the Vulture, picked up two wins in relief for the second time that season. The Cubs beat the Pirates 5-4 and 4-3. Regan won two games against the Dodgers on April 21. Regan is the only pitcher to win a pair of games twice on the same day in the same season.
1936 – Augie Galen, Billy Herman, Gabby Harnett and Frank Demaree collected five of the National League’s nine hits in the Senior Circuit’s first All-Star victory, a 4-3 win over the American League at Graves Field. Hartnett drove in a run with a triple and Galen hit a foul-pole homer. The AL won the first three Midsummer Classics
1927 – Charlie Root pitched a one-hitter and beat the Pirates. Cubs took over first place and Root, in his second season, led the National League with 26 wins in 309 innings pitched.
1925 – The seventh place Cubs replaced manager Bill Killefer with Rabbit Maranville
1917 – Pirates purchased Harry Wolfe from the Cubs
1909 – Billy Herman, born
1886 – Cap Anson belted a double and a homer and Ed Williamson hit a triple and a home run in a Cubs 21-9 victory over the Giants at West Side Park. The game was called because of darkness after eight innings.