(Photo by Jason Wise)
Albert Almora has always felt most comfortable when he’s on a baseball diamond. For the first time during the 2013 regular season, he’ll get that opportunity.
The Cubs’ 2012 first-round draft pick was transferred to Single-A Kane County on Wednesday after missing the first portion of the season with a broken hamate bone in his wrist. The sixth overall pick of last year’s draft entered the season as the organization’s second-best prospect and minor league baseball’s No. 33 overall prospect, according to Baseball America. The publication also lists Almora as the best hitter for average and the best defensive outfielder in the Cubs minor league system.
After signing with the Cubs in early July, he split time between the Arizona Rookie League and Short-Season Boise. In 33 combined games, the outfielder hit .321/.331/.464 (AVG/OBP/SLG) with 12 doubles in 140 at-bats.
Almora joins an impressive list of former first rounders to play for the Cougars including Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez and Joe Blanton.
(Photo by Stephen Green)
The Chicago Cubs today placed right-handed pitcher Shawn Camp on the 15-day disabled list with a right big toe sprain and recalled right-handed pitcher Rafael Dolis from Triple-A Iowa.
Dolis, 25, is 1-0 with one save and a 5.40 ERA in 12 relief appearances (11.2 IP) with Iowa this season. This is already the third time he’s been with the big club, as he was up for brief stints from April 13-15 and May 6-8. He has appeared in two big league games in 2013, giving up no earned runs in 1.2 innings pitched. Dolis, who made the Opening Day roster in 2012, and has seen action with the Cubs each of the last three seasons, going 2-4 with four saves and a 5.93 ERA in 37 career big league relief appearances.
Camp, 37, is 1-1 with a 7.56 ERA (14 ER/16.2 IP) in 20 relief appearances this season.
(Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
The Cubs claimed right-handed pitcher Eduardo Sanchez off waivers Tuesday afternoon. The 24-year-old spent parts of the last two seasons in the majors with the Cardinals, going a combined 3-2 with a 3.40 ERA and five saves over 45 innings. He’s fanned 48 batters and held opponents to a .166 OBA.
The reliever appeared in nine games for Triple-A Memphis this season, recording a 3.72 ERA with a save in 9.2 innings pitched.
Sanchez made his major league debut in 2011, going 3-1 with five saves and a 1.80 ERA. He jumped between St. Louis and the minors last year, going 0-1 with a 6.60 ERA.
Sanchez will be assigned to Triple-A Iowa.
(Photo by Stephen Green)
The Cubs team strength should get even stronger tonight in Pittsburgh. After a 10-month absence, right-hander Matt Garza will make his highly anticipated debut as the Cubs take on the division rival Pirates. To make room for him in the starting rotation, Carlos Villanueva has been moved to the bullpen.
Garza’s last start was on July 21, 2012, before a stress reaction in his right elbow shut him down for the season. He came into the spring healthy, but suffered a left lat strain in his first bullpen session in Mesa, Ariz, and has been on the DL all year. In his last start with Triple-A Iowa on May 16, he went six scoreless innings on 75 pitches, walking none and striking out six. Garza has said he hopes there will be no limitations on him in his first outing, but manager Dale Sveum will likely keep the veteran at 85-90 pitches.
In two seasons with the Cubs, Garza is 15-17 with a 3.52 ERA in 49 games (301.2 IP).
(Photo by Stephen Green)
The Cubs and Anthony Rizzo officially came to terms on a seven-year deal worth an estimated $41 million that includes club options for the 2020 and 2021 season and could total $73 million before it’s through. The contract covers the first baseman’s final two pre-arbitration seasons, his four arbitration-eligible years and at least his first season of free agency, with options to buy out years two and three.
The 23-year-old—who will be 30 when the original contract expires—has played just 124 games for the Cubs, accumulating a .283/.345/.485 (AVG/OBP/SLG) line with 24 homers, 25 doubles and 76 RBI. His home runs, hits (136) and OPS (.830) all rank second among NL first basemen since his call-up on June 26, 2012. His .995 fielding percentage is also second among first basemen.
Rizzo was originally selected by the Red Sox in the sixth round of the 2007 draft out of high school. He was limited to 21 minor league games in 2008 after being diagnosed with Limited Stage Classical Hodgkins Lymphoma in late April, but he returned a season later to lead all Red Sox minor leaguers with a .368 on-base percentage.
In December, 2010 he was traded to the Padres, along with four other players, for first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. He tore up the Triple-A ranks and was the No. 1 prospect in the Padres farm system when he was acquired by the Cubs on January 6, 2012 as part of a four-player trade that included RHP Andrew Cashner.
Through 37 games this season, Rizzo is hitting .280/.352/.538 with nine homers and 28 driven in. Though he struggled early, his average has climbed quickly, as he was hitting just .173 on April 25.
(Photo by Stephen Green)
The Chicago Cubs today activated right-handed pitcher Kyuji Fujikawa from the 15-day disabled list. In a corresponding move, right-handed pitcher Rafael Dolis was optioned to Triple-A Iowa.
Fujikawa, 32, landed on the disabled list on April 13 with a muscular strain of his right forearm. In two rehabilitation games between Triple-A Iowa and Double-A Tennessee, he tossed three scoreless innings of relief, allowing one hit, walking one and striking out two. He needed just 16 pitches to throw two scoreless innings in his final outing on May 8 against Double-A Birmingham.
In his first major league season with the Cubs, Fujikawa is 1-0 with two saves and a 12.46 ERA (6 ER/4.1 IP) in five relief appearances. He has held opponents scoreless in three outings, but allowed three runs apiece in his other two games.
Fujikawa pitched 12 seasons (2000, 2002-12) for the Hanshin Tigers of the Nippon Professional Baseball League, compiling a 42-25 record with 219 saves and a 1.77 ERA (136 ER/692.1 IP) in 562 appearances, all but 14 in relief. He signed a two-year deal with the Cubs this offseason, including a vesting/club option for a third season.
As manager Dale Sveum recently named Kevin Gregg the team’s closer, Fujikawa will likely assume eighth inning duties.
Dolis, 25, has not allowed an earned run in two relief appearances (1.2 IP) spanning two stints with the Cubs this season. He has posted no record, one save and a 3.52 ERA (3 ER/7.2 IP) in eight relief appearances with Iowa.
The Cubs selected outfielder Ryan Sweeney from Triple-A Iowa Monday. (Photo by Christopher Pasatieri/Getty)
They might only be minor league numbers, but Cubs fans should still be impressed with what outfielder Ryan Sweeney accomplished in the Pacific Coast League this season.
The 28-year-old outfielder spent the first month of 2013 ripping the cover off the ball to the tune of .337/.396/.627 (AVG/OBP/SLG). In 83 at-bats, the lefty had six home runs, 16 RBI and an OPS of 1.022, good for eighth in the league. Now he’ll get a chance to see if he can keep that up at the major league level, as the Cubs selected him today from Triple-A Iowa.
The Cedar Rapids, Iowa, native is a career .280 hitter (481-for-1,719) with 102 doubles, 12 triples, 14 home runs and 185 RBI in 535 games covering all or part of seven big league seasons with the White Sox (2006-07), Athletics (2008-11) and Red Sox (2012). He has a .338 on-base percentage and a .378 slugging percentage, good for a .715 OPS. Sweeney has spent time at all three outfield positions, and his .994 fielding percentage ranks third-best among all major league outfielders since the start of the 2006 season.
Sweeney’s best season came in 2009, when he hit .293/.348/.407 in 134 games for Oakland. He was originally drafted by the White Sox in the second round of the 2003 draft.
The Cubs also recalled right-handed reliever Rafael Dolis to help the struggling bullpen. This will be Dolis’ second call-up to the major league level this season. He also threw 1/3 of an inning on April 14. The 25-year-old was on the major league roster for most of 2012, recording a 6.39 ERA over 38 innings and fanning 24. He had a 3.52 ERA in 7.2 innings in Iowa this season.
To make room for the pair, reliever Kameron Loe was designated for assignment, while outfielder Dave Sappelt was optioned to Triple-A Iowa.
(Photo by Stephen Green)
A little rain wasn’t going to stop Matt Garza. With elbow and lat issues keeping the the 29-year-old out of action since July and rehab stints getting pushed back by rain and a dead arm, it’s been awhile since he’s taken the mound in a competitive atmosphere.
“I didn’t think there was anything that was going to stop me from going out there,” Garza said of his rainy Wednesday return with the Double-A Tennessee Smokies. “A long delay—I sat on a bike for a long time.”
Poor whether caused the game to be delayed for more than an hour and a half, and it was eventually called in the bottom of the fifth. But Garza had a successful, pain-free outing, going 2.2 innings (42 pitches), with one earned run on one hit and two walks. He was back at Wrigley Field on Thursday to check in with the major league squad before heading out to Iowa for his second rehab start on Monday.
“I was just glad to throw strikes, glad they were swinging. It’s a good sign,” Garza said. “I put the ball in the zone a lot, so that’s all I was looking for.”
The right-hander has been on the DL since July 21 of last season after aggravating his throwing elbow. Then early in the spring, he tweaked his lat, causing him to miss all of Spring Training. Manager Dale Sveum said the club would make some decisions about a potential return to the big league club after Garza’s third rehab start. Even though the ace can finally see the light at the end of a very long tunnel, he said his focus is solely on his Monday start.
“I’m just looking forward to [start] No. 2,” he said. “When I get to three, we’ll make those decisions. But right now, I’m just going to prep my body for No. 2, prep my mind for No. 2—going to go from there.”
Garza was 5-7 with a 3.91 ERA in 103.2 innings for the Cubs in 2012.
(Photo by Rob Tringall/Getty)
The Cubs claimed outfielder Julio Borbon off waivers from the Texas Rangers Friday. Infielder Alberto Gonzalez has been designated for assignment to clear room on the 40-man roster.
Borbon, 27, is a career .283 hitter (194-for-685) with 16 doubles, seven triples, seven home runs and 73 RBI in 216 games covering parts of four seasons with the Rangers. The left-hander also has 40 stolen bases and 101 runs scored. Borbon has seen most of his major league action in center field, where he has played 169 games, but he’s versatile enough to play any outfield spot.
The six-foot, 195-pound former first-round draft choice made his major league debut as a 23-year-old in 2009 and batted .312 (49-for-157) with 19 stolen bases and a .376 on-base percentage in 46 games with the Rangers. He played in a career-high 137 games with Texas in 2010, batting .276 (121-for-438) with 60 runs scored, 11 doubles, four triples and 15 stolen bases, before splitting the 2011 campaign between Texas and Triple-A Round Rock.
The Starkville, Miss., native spent the entire 2012 campaign with Round Rock, where he batted .304 (162-for-533) with 23 doubles, eight triples, 10 home runs, 78 runs scored and 20 stolen bases in 133 games. In 2013, he hit .317 (19-for-60) in 32 games with the Rangers during Spring Training and was hitless in one at-bat during the regular season before being designated for assignment on April 9.
Gonzalez batted .217 (5-for-23) in 11 games for the Cubs this season.
Kevin Gregg returns to the Cubs bullpen, where he was the club’s closer in 2009. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
The Cubs made a flurry of roster moves Tuesday afternoon. The North Siders brought Darwin Barney off the 15-day DL, and officially added relievers Kevin Gregg, Kameron Loe and infielder Cody Ransom to the major league fold.
Gold Glove second baseman Barney returns after lacerating his knee on the final weekend of Spring Training. During his three-game rehab stint at Triple-A Iowa, the 27-year-old went 5-for-10 with a double and four runs scored. Playing in 155 games at second base last season, Barney committed just two errors, including a stretch of 141 consecutive games without an error.
The 34-year-old Gregg has spent much of the last 10 years in the majors, including a stint as the Cubs’ closer in 2009. The right-hander has a career 4.13 ERA and 144 saves, including five straight seasons of 22 or more saves from 2007-11. Gregg was in Dodgers camp for Spring Training before being released on April 3. He has previously spent time with the Angels (2003-06), Marlins (2007-08), Blue Jays (2010) and Orioles (2011-12).
The Cubs claimed the 31-year-old Loe off waivers from Seattle on Sunday. The nine-year major league veteran moved into a full-time relief role in 2008. The right-hander has a career 4.44 ERA and owns a 33-41 overall record. He’s previously played with Texas (2004-2008), Milwaukee (2010-2012) and Seattle (2013).
The Cubs also claimed infielder Cody Ransom off waivers from the Padres. The 37-year-old has spent 11 seasons in the majors with the Giants (2001-04), Astros (2007), Yankees (2008-09), Phillies (2010), Diamondbacks (2011-12), Brewers (2012) and Padres (2013). His finest season came last year, when he hit .220 with 14 doubles and 11 home runs in 90 games. He is a career .215 hitter with 21 homers and 85 RBI.
To make room on the 25-man roster, the Cubs designated infielder Brent Lillibridge and reliever Hisanori Takahashi for assignment and optioned reliever Rafael Dolis to Triple-A Iowa.
Lillibridge hit .042 with one hit in 24 at-bats this season, while Takakashi had a 6.00 ERA (2 ER, 3 IP). Dolis held the Giants scoreless in his lone relief appearance this weekend.