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1000 Words: Wood does it all in Cubs win


(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty)

It’s all in a day’s work for Cubs All-Star Travis Wood (7-7, 2.79 ERA). The left-hander notched his 18th quality start of the season Sunday, pitching 7.0 innings and giving up only four hits and no earned runs, to lead the Cubs to a 2-1 victory over the Giants. He also went 2-for-3 at the plate to raise his batting average to .293 and blasted his third home run of the year. The Cubs finished their 10-game West Coast trip against the Rockies, Diamondbacks and Giants 6-4.

Minor League recap: 7/22/13


Edgar Gonzalez has had a successful stretch. (Photo by Stephen Green)

The lower levels were victorious, as Boise wrapped up its first half with a win and Mesa secured a one-run victory Monday. Iowa, Tennessee and Kane County all lost, and Daytona was rained out. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s action.

Iowa Cubs (49-54)

Iowa dropped a 9-2 decision to visiting New Orleans in a rain-shortened, seven-inning affair. The Cubs have lost four straight games.

  • SS Donnie Murphy (.264) extended his hitting streak to nine games with a third-inning solo home run. He’s hitting .300 (12-for-40) with two home runs and six RBI during the streak.
  • 1B Brad Nelson (.259) recorded his 22nd multihit game of the season, going 2-for-3 with a run scored and a double (16).
  • LF Edgar Gonzalez (.381) went 1-for-3 with a double (4) and an RBI (2). He’s hit safely in five of his last six games.

Tennessee Smokies (18-11)

Visiting Jacksonville used a three-run eighth inning to beat the Smokies 5-4.

  • 1B Justin Bour (.233) went 2-for-4 with a fourth-inning solo home run.
  • C Rafael Lopez (.229) was 2-for-4 with a double (18) and a season-high three RBI (27).
  • LF/RF Rubi Silva (.278) went 2-for-4 with a run scored, extending his hitting streak to eight games. He’s hitting .313 (10-for-32) during the streak.
  • RHP Kyle Hendricks received a no-decision despite allowing no earned runs in seven innings. The All-Star owns a 0.60 ERA (2 ER/30.0 IP) with 26 strikeouts in his last five starts.

Kane County Cougars (7-22)

Kane County had its two-game winning streak snapped with a 5-2 loss to Lansing.

  • LF Reggie Golden (.240) homered for the second straight game, going 1-for-4 with the clout and two RBI (13).
  • 1B Dan Vogelbach (.293) extended his hitting streak to nine games, going 1-for-3 with two walks. He’s hitting .500 (16-for-32) during the streak.
  • DH Rock Shoulders (.248) doubled for the second straight game, going 1-for-5 with his 17th two-bagger.
  • RHP Justin Amlung (4.88) and RHP Stephen Perakslis (3.45) each tossed a scoreless inning of relief.

Boise Hawks (21-17)

Boise wrapped up the first half of the season, recording its second straight three-hit shutout to beat visiting Everett 10-0. The Hawks have won nine of their last 10 games.

  • 1B Jacob Rogers (.287) went 2-for-5 with a double (5), a home run and one RBI (25).
  • 2B Dan Lockhart (.310) and DH Lance Rymel (.324) recorded two hits apiece while driving in a run.
  • C Cael Brockmeyer (.352) recorded his fourth multihit effort in his last five games, going 2-for-4 with two runs scored and one RBI (8).
  • 3B Jordan Hankins (.247) went 2-for-5 with a run scored, a double (3) and one RBI (4).
  • LHP Sam Wilson (1-0, 0.00) earned his first professional win, tossing two scoreless innings of relief while striking out four.

Mesa Cubs (12-13)

Mesa got past the visiting AZL Royals with a 2-1 victory.

  • CF David DeJesus (.375) went 2-for-4 with two runs scored, a double (2) and one stolen base (1) in the third game of his rehabilitation assignment.
  • 3B Kris Bryant (.167) recorded his first professional hit and RBI, going 1-for-3 with a double (1) and two RBI (2). He has since been promoted to Boise.
  • RHP Josh Davis (2-0, 0.00) tossed 1.2 scoreless innings of relief, earning his second win of the season.
  • RHP Trevor Graham (1.50) recorded the final six outs to convert his first save.

1000 Words: Lake is making it look easy


Outfielder Junior Lake hit his first career home run Monday night. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Since his July 19 call-up, outfielder Junior Lake has fit right into the Cubs’ offense. Though it’s an extremely small sample size, the 23-year-old has a .529/.556/.765 (AVG/OBP/SLG) slash line in 18 plate appearances. He picked up his first career home run Monday night in a 4-2 win over Arizona.

After spending the majority of his minor league career at either shortstop or third base, Lake has been in center field for all four of his major league games—his first four starts at the position since signing with the organization in 2007.

1000 Words: An Evening—and Early Morning—with Pearl Jam


(Photo by Stephen Green)

A thunderstorm rolled through Chicago Friday night, delaying the Pearl Jam concert at Wrigley Field for a few hours. But when the storms passed, Eddie Vedder and Co. got back on stage and played well into the night, wrapping up festivities at around 2 a.m.

Cubs making waves in the Caribbean with new Dominican facility

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The following is a feature from the July issue of Vine Line.

Though the Cubs have made strides on the field in 2013 behind some outstanding starting pitching and veteran acquisitions like Nate Schierholtz, it seems like this season has been all about facilities, buildings and permits. No matter what is happening between the white lines, the majority of the recent press has gone to the restoration of Wrigley Field and the accompanying community development adjacent to the venerated ballpark.

In fact, the chorus surrounding the Friendly Confines’ rather unfriendly debate has nearly drowned out the other significant progress the organization has been making on the facilities front—namely, the impressive new Spring Training complex in Mesa, Ariz., which will be ready for the 2014 spring slate, and the multimillion-dollar training academy in the Dominican Republic that celebrated its grand opening on May 20.

The new Dominican complex is part of an effort to improve and professionalize all aspects of the Cubs system to ensure the team has the resources to compete at every level and bring a championship-caliber team to Chicago.

“Think about where we’ll be in a couple of years,” said Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts. “The organization is going in the right direction; we’ll get [Wrigley Field] fixed; we’ll have the best Spring Training facility, the best Dominican facility. We’ll have the infrastructure to be one of those consistently great teams.”

With new collective bargaining restrictions limiting how teams can build through the draft, it’s becoming more important to make inroads into the international market. And a great deal of major league talent comes out of Latin America. Though the Dominican might be nearly 2,000 miles away from Wrigley Field’s doorstep, the new facility—located in La Gina, just outside of Santo Domingo—is a major component to building the kind of lasting success the Cubs brass has repeatedly talked about.

“We’re in such a competitive industry, and the great organizations throughout baseball history have built a strong foundation for sustained success starting with their minor leagues up through the majors,” said President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein. “To become the organization we aspire to be and win multiple World Series titles, we have to build a foundation that can last—a solid infrastructure that puts our ballclub in a competitive position year in and year out.”

The Dominican Republic has always been a hotbed of major league talent. Of the 856 players on the 30 big league rosters, the disabled list and the restricted list at the outset of the 2013 season, 89 came from the Dominican. That makes the Caribbean nation the best-represented country outside of the U.S., which claims 615 players. In 2013, the Dominican also became the first undefeated team to claim the World Baseball Classic title, behind major league stars such as Edinson Volquez, Hanley Ramirez, Robinson Cano and Wandy Rodriguez.

The Cubs currently have eight players on their 40-man active roster who hail from the Dominican, including Welington Castillo, Starlin Castro, Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Villanueva. This glut of Dominican talent is why every big league team is looking to improve its scouting and player development in the area.

“The competition for scouting talent in the Dominican Republic is high,” Ricketts said. “With the most major league players per capita here, it was no surprise all 30 baseball organizations run facilities in the country. We quickly realized that we had frontline talent here in the Dominican and needed a world-class facility to develop these players in order to achieve our goal of winning a World Series.”

The Cubs’ new Dominican complex spans 50 acres, making it the largest such academy in the country. It will be open year-round, complete with baseball fields, training facilities, and housing for minor league players during the season as well as major league players in the offseason. The goal is to serve athletes from across Central and South America, including Venezuela, Panama, Colombia, Brazil, Nicaragua, Aruba, Curaçao and Mexico, in addition to the Dominican Republic.

The new complex, which has a comfortable on-site dormitory that can house up to 80 players and eight staff members, strives to give young players every resource to succeed. It features three fields, including one with artificial turf, four covered batting cages, eight bullpens, a weight room, a cafeteria and kitchen, two locker rooms, two meeting rooms, a large classroom that can be converted into four smaller classrooms, a theater and a video room.

“If you’re going to search for the best of the best, you want to give them everything they need and create the right kind of atmosphere and environment,” Epstein said. “We know our players and staff are putting in an enormous amount of work, and providing quality facilities is just as important as teaching the fundamentals of baseball.”

But the academy is about more than just churning out quality baseball players; it’s also about nurturing quality people. The Cubs are putting an emphasis on education, health and nutrition throughout their organization. To that end, the facility will also serve as an educational center equipped with classrooms and staff to teach English and Spanish, and players will be able to earn their GED high school equivalency.

The opening ceremony for the new Dominican facility drew a pedigreed crowd, including the Ricketts family; President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein and other members of the Cubs front office; Dominican President Danilo Medina; Hato Viejo Mayor Reynoso Hichez Telleria; and former Cubs players and Dominican natives Moises Alou, Amaury Telemaco, George Bell and Henry Rodriguez.

“I think the fans really do understand that what we’re trying to do is build an organization that has a strong foundation and is going to be consistently successful at some point,” Ricketts said. “Hopefully soon, but the point is not to take shortcuts, but to do things the right way.”

—Gary Cohen

1000 Words: Travis Wood, All-Star


(Photo by Stephen Green)

Left-handed starter Travis Wood will represent the Cubs in the 2013 All-Star Game Tuesday night. Even though Wood threw on Sunday, Cubs manager Dale Sveum said the 26-year-old is available to pitch tonight at NL manager Bruce Bochy’s discretion.

Wood, who has a 6-6 record this year, has quickly emerged as one of baseball’s toughest left-handers. He’s compiled a 2.79 ERA with a 1.04 WHIP—both good for top 10 in the NL—and a league-best 17 quality starts over 122.2 innings pitched. It’s Wood’s first All-Star selection.

1000 Words: Sveum and Stanley


(Photo by Stephen Green)

As part of the first pitch ceremonies on Sunday, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville brought the Stanley Cup to Wrigley Field, where players and coaches—like manager Dale Sveum—snapped photos of the championship hardware.

1000 Words: Happy Fourth of July!


(Photo by Stephen Green)

Wishing you and your family a happy Fourth of July from Vine Line and the Chicago Cubs.

1000 Words: Time stands still


(Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

With the Cubs sporting the 1909 throwback uniforms on Saturday, DH Alfonso Soriano ripped an 11th-inning, two-run homer to give the North Siders a 5-3 win over the Mariners. The Cubs took two of three over the weekend in the organization’s third-ever series in Seattle. They open a three-game set in Oakland Tuesday night.

1000 Words: Happy anniversary, Anthony Rizzo


(Photo by Stephen Green)

One year ago today, first baseman Anthony Rizzo made his Cubs debut in a 5-3 victory against the New York Mets at Wrigley Field. The then-22-year-old got off to an auspicious start, going 2-for-4 with a double and the go-ahead RBI. In 161 games for the Cubs, Rizzo has hit .270/.341/.466 (AVG/OBP/SLG) with 27 home runs and 92 RBI. In May, the team locked up the cornerstone player with a seven-year, $41 million contract that includes two option years.


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