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Cubs Minor League Report: 4/18/16

Tennessee pitching dominated, Myrtle Beach kept its win streak alive, and South Bend capitalized on a big inning Monday. Meanwhile, wet grounds postponed Iowa’s game at Round Rock. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s Cubs minor-league action.

Tennessee Smokies (5-7)
Southern League (Double-A)
T-Third Place (-2.5)

The Smokies allowed just three hits in a 4-0 blanking of visiting Montgomery.

  • RHP Paul Blackburn (0.50 ERA) picked up the win, giving up just two hits in seven innings and striking out three. He has not allowed a run in his last two starts (13 IP).
  • SS Carlos Penalver (.211) recorded his second straight multi-hit game, going 2 for 3 with a double (1), a walk and three RBI (7). He has five RBI in the last two games.
  • DH Mark Zagunis (.250) reached base three times, going 1 for 2 with two walks and a stolen base (1).
  • 2B Chesny Young (.256) went 1 for 3 with two walks and two stolen bases (3).

Myrtle Beach Pelicans (6-6)
Carolina League (High-A)
T-Second Place (-2.0)

Myrtle Beach won its third straight game, topping host Winston-Salem, 6-4.

  • LHP Tommy Thorpe (4.35 ERA) gave up one earned run in 5.1 innings, striking out two for the win.
  • 2B Ian Happ (.313) went 4 for 5 with two homers, four RBI and a stolen base (3). He is 6 for 8 with four runs scored in his last two games.
  • 3B Jason Vosler (.325) extended his hitting streak to seven games (11 for 26), going 1 for 3 with a walk and an RBI (6). He has reached base in all 12 games this season.
  • CF Rashad Crawford (.333) recorded his second straight multi-hit game, going 2 for 3 with a triple (2) and a run scored.
  • RHP Dave Berg (2 IP, 1 SO) collected his second save, tossing two scoreless innings. He has not allowed a run in 6.1 innings this season.

South Bend Cubs (6-5)
Midwest League (Single-A)
T-Fourth Place (-1.5)

South Bend scored six runs in the fourth inning and cruised to a 9-3 victory over visiting Bowling Green.

  • LHP Carson Sands (3.60 ERA) gave up two earned runs in five innings in the win. He struck out two.
  • RF Daniel Spingola (.357) went 3 for 5 with a run scored and two stolen bases (2). He has hit safely in six of seven games this season.
  • C P.J. Higgins (.250) went 2 for 5 with a double (3), a run scored and two RBI (5).
  • 3B Andrew Ely (.212) added a multi-hit effort, going 2 for 4 with a run scored.
  • DH Matt Rose (.111) connected on a two-run homer in the fourth inning, his first of the season. He went 1 for 4.
  • All nine starters either scored a run or drove in a run.

Cubs Lineup: 4/18/16 vs. Cardinals

Cubs at Cardinals — Busch Stadium
First Pitch: 7:09 CST
Cubs Starter: John Lackey, RHP (2-0, 5.68 ERA)
Cardinals Starter: Mike Leake, RHP (0-1, 6.97 ERA)
TV: ESPN, WPWR; Radio: 670 The Score

1. Dexter Fowler, CF
2. Jason Heyward, RF
3. Ben Zobrist, 2B
4. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
5. Kris Bryant, 3B
6. Miguel Montero, C
7. Jorge Soler, LF
8. Addison Russell, SS
9. John Lackey, P

Cubs Minor League Report: 4/17/16

Both Myrtle Beach and South Bend were victorious in one-run games, but Tennessee gave up the lead late in a losing effort Sunday. Iowa was rained out. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s minor-league action.

Tennessee Smokies (4-7)
Southern League (Double-A)
T-Fourth Place (-2.5)

The Smokies allowed two runs in the top of the ninth, falling at home to Montgomery, 5-3.

  • SS Carlos Penalver (.171) went 2 for 4 with two RBI (4).
  • 1B Victor Caratini (.194) added a multi-hit effort, going 2 for 4 with a double (2), a run scored and a walk.
  • LHP Gerardo Concepcion (2 IP, 1 H, 1 SO) tossed two scoreless innings of relief. He’s yet to allow a run in three outings (7 IP).

Myrtle Beach Pelicans (5-6)
Carolina League (High-A)
Third Place (-2.5)

Myrtle Beach collected 11 hits in a 4-3 win over host Carolina.

  • RHP Jake Stinnett (3.27 ERA) gave up two earned runs in six innings, striking out four for the win.
  • 3B Jason Vosler (.324) extended his hitting streak to six games (10 for 23), going 3 for 5 with two RBI (5). He has reached base in all 11 games this season.
  • 2B Ian Happ (.256) went 2 for 3 with a season-high two runs scored, two walks and a stolen base (2).
  • DH Rashad Crawford (.308) and 1B Yasiel Balaguert (.267) also recorded two-hit games.
  • RHP Jose Rosario (2 IP, 1 H, 2 SO) and RHP James Farris (1 IP, 3 SO) closed out the game with three scoreless innings.

South Bend Cubs (5-5)
Midwest League (Single-A)
T-Fourth Place (-2.5)

South Bend evened up its record at 5-5 with a 5-4 victory over Fort Wayne, snapping a three-game skid.

  • RF Eloy Jimenez (.250) went 2 for 4 with a double (2), two runs scored and an RBI (4).
  • CF Donnie Dewees (.421) added two doubles (4), going 2 for 3 with a walk and a run scored. He has seven multi-hit efforts in 10 games this season.
  • 1B Tyler Alamo (.400) went 1 for 4. He has hit safely in all four games he has played in this season (6-for-15).

Cubs Minor League Report: 4/14/16

Iowa was the only victorious Cubs affiliate on Thursday, as Tennessee, Myrtle Beach and South Bend were all on the losing side for a variety of reasons. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s minor-league Cubs action.

Iowa Cubs (3-5)
Pacific Coast League (Triple-A)
Fourth Place (-2.0 games back)

Iowa defeated New Orleans, 4-2, to claim the four-game set, three games to one.

  • LF Javier Baez (.267) went 2 for 4 with a run scored and a stolen base in his fourth rehab appearance. He finished his stint 4 for 15 with a solo homer, three runs scored and a stolen base in his four games.
  • 1B Dan Vogelbach (.407) collected his third multi-hit game, going 2 for 4 with a run and an RBI (6).
  • CF Albert Almora (.286) and SS Kristopher Negron (.400) each added two hits.
  • RHP Brandon Gomes (2 IP, 2 BB, 4 SO) collected his first win, tossing two scoreless frames.

Tennessee Smokies (3-5)
Southern League (Double-A)
T-Third Place (-1.5)

Tennessee surrendered five unanswered runs, falling 5-3 at Birmingham.

  • RHP Brad Markey (1.80 ERA) surrendered two earned runs in five innings of work, striking out one in the no-decision.
  • LF Mark Zagunis (.316) went 1 for 3 with two runs scored and a walk.
  • 1B David Freitas (.444) went 1 for 4 with two RBI (2).
  • 3B Jeimer Candelario recorded the Smokies’ lone extra-base hit with a double.

Myrtle Beach Pelicans (3-5)
Carolina League (High-A)
T-Third Place (-2.0)

The Pelicans committed three errors in a 3-2 setback at Carolina.

  • DH Jason Vosler (.240) went 2 for 4 with a double (2), a triple (1), a run scored and an RBI (3).
  • RF Jeffrey Baez (.280) finished 2 for 4 with a double (2), an RBI (1) and a stolen base (5).
  • 3B David Bote (.308) reached three times, going 1 for 2 with two walks.
  • RHP Daury Torrez (1.1 IP, 2 SO) struck out two in 1.1 perfect innings of relief.

South Bend Cubs (4-3)
Midwest League (Single-A)
Fourth Place (-1.5)

South Bend allowed eight runs in the first two innings, dropping a 10-2 decision at Fort Wayne.

  • CF Donnie Dewees (.464) recorded his fifth straight multi-hit game, going 2 for 3 with two triples (4), two runs scored and a walk. He has batted .550 (11-for-20) in the last five games.
  • C Tyler Alamo (.455) added a multi-hit effort, going 2 for 3. He has hit safely in all three games he has played in.
  • RHP Scott Effross (3 IP, 3 H, ER, 2 SO) allowed one run in three innings of relief.

Cubs Lineup: 4/15/16 vs. Rockies

Cubs vs. Rockies — Wrigley Field
First Pitch: 1:20 CST
Cubs Starter: Kyle Hendricks, RHP (1-0, 2.70 ERA)
Rockies Starter: Chad Bettis, RHP (1-0, 4.38 ERA)
TV: CSN Chicago, MLB Network; Radio: 670 The Score

1. Dexter Fowler, CF
2. Jason Heyward, RF
3. Ben Zobrist, 2B
4. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
5. Kris Bryant, 3B
6. Jorge Soler, LF
7. Miguel Montero, C
8. Addison Russell, SS
9. Kyle Hendricks, P

Cubs Lineup: 4/14/16 vs. Reds

Cubs vs. Reds — Wrigley Field
First Pitch: 7:05 CST
Cubs Starter: Jason Hammel, RHP
Reds Starter: Raisel Iglesias, RHP
TV: CSN Chicago; Radio: 670 The Score

1. Dexter Fowler, CF
2. Jason Heyward, RF
3. Ben Zobrist, 2B
4. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
5. Kris Bryant, LF
6. Tommy La Stella, 3B
7. Miguel Montero, C
8. Addison Russell, SS
9. Jason Hammel, P

Cubs Minor League Report: 4/13/16

Offenses carried Iowa and Tennessee, while South Bend continued on its winning ways Wednesday. Myrtle Beach came up short, allowing two runs in the ninth. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s minor league action.

Iowa Cubs (2-5)
Pacific Coast League (Triple-A)
Fourth Place (-3.0 games back)

Iowa tallied 13 hits in a 9-5 victory over New Orleans.

  • RHP Stephen Fife (4.91 ERA) tossed 4.1 scoreless innings, giving up two hits while striking out one.
  • SS Javier Baez went 1 for 4 with a run scored in his third rehab appearance. He has gone 2 for 11 with a solo homer in his first three games.
  • 3B Logan Watkins (.278) finished 4 for 4 with a double (1), a run scored, three RBI (3) and a stolen base (1).
  • CF Juan Perez (.267) went 3 for 3 with two doubles (2), one run scored and three RBI (4).
  • LF Albert Almora (.222) reached base twice, going 1 for 3 with a walk and three runs scored.
  • 2B Arismendy Alcantara (.250) went 1 for 4 with a walk and a solo homer, his first of the season.

Tennessee Smokies (3-4)
Southern League (Double-A)
Third Place (-1.5)

Tennessee scored three runs in the fourth and sixth innings, cruising to a 7-3 victory over Birmingham.

  • RHP Paul Blackburn (0.82 ERA) tossed six scoreless innings, striking out six while scattering four hits in the win. He has allowed one run in 11 innings to begin the season.
  • RF Bijan Rademacher (.529) went 3 for 5 with a three-run homer (2), two runs scored and four RBI (5). He has hit safely in all six games this season (9 for 17).
  • 3B Jeimer Candelario (.231) tallied his first multi-hit game of the season, going 3 for 4 with a walk and run scored.
  • 1B Taylor Davis (.333), LF Anthony Giansanti (.286) and SS Carlos Penalver (.174) all recorded two-hit games.

Myrtle Beach Pelicans (3-4)
Carolina League (High-A)
T-Second Place (-1.0)

Myrtle Beach allowed two runs in the ninth inning and lost 4-2 at home to Winston-Salem.

  • CF Rashad Crawford (.381) and DH Shawon Dunston Jr. (.294) each went 1 for 4 with a double, a walk and run scored.
  • 2B Ian Happ (.296) went 1 for 3 with a walk and an RBI (6).
  • RHP Jonathan Martinez (2.25 ERA) surrendered two earned runs in seven innings, striking out three. He has allowed three earned runs in 12 innings this season has allowed just four runs in his last 43 innings pitched, dating back to last season.

South Bend Cubs (4-2)
Midwest League (Single-A)
Third Place (-0.5)

South Bend won its fourth straight game, topping Bowling Green, 6-5.

  • LF Donnie Dewees (.440) recorded his fourth straight multi-hit game, going 3 for 4 with a double (2), a run scored and three RBI (6).
  • 2B Sutton Whiting (.500) finished 2-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI (1) in his first game with South Bend.
  • 1B Tyler Alamo (.375) went 2 for 3 with a run scored and RBI (2).
  • RHP Greyfer Eregua (1.1 IP, SO) picked up his first save of the season, retiring all four batters he faced.

Cubs Lineup: 4/13/16 vs. Reds

Cubs vs. Reds — Wrigley Field
First Pitch: 7:05 CST
Cubs Starter: John Lackey, RHP
Reds Starter: Alfredo Simon, RHP
TV: CSN+; Radio: 670 The Score

1. Dexter Fowler, CF
2. Jason Heyward, RF
3. Ben Zobrist, 2B
4. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
5. Kris Bryant, 3B
6. Miguel Montero, C
7. Jorge Soler, LF
8. Addison Russell, SS
9. John Lackey, P

From the Pages of Vine Line: John Lackey brings fire and intensity to the Cubs

Lackey(Photo by Christian Petersen)

From 2008-09, veteran pitcher John Lackey faced off against Jon Lester three times in close American League Division Series matchups between the Angels and Red Sox. Lester took two out of those three contests.

When you pit two intense, highly competitive pitchers against each other in the pressure-filled cauldron that is postseason baseball, it’s safe to say emotions can run high. To put it mildly, there was no love lost between the two hurlers.

“I’ll be the first one to tell you nobody in that dugout liked him,” Lester said of Lackey. “Just because of how competitive he is and all the emotions he has on the field.”

In 2010, Lackey and Lester suddenly found themselves together in the Red Sox rotation. Would the two bitter rivals be able to put that animosity behind them and function effectively as teammates?

“Easy,” Lackey said. “Once you get on the same team wearing the same colors, it’s time to go to work together.”

That’s certainly good news for Cubs fans, as Lackey spent last season with the division rival Cardinals before signing a two-year contract with the Cubs in December. As it turns out, Lackey and Lester did much more than tolerate each other in Boston; the two avowed country boys became close friends and are now nearly inseparable, on and off the baseball field. When Lackey found out he’d be facing Lester again in the National League Division Series last October, the two pitchers shrugged off any special meaning to the game. Their friendship meant more to them.

“When I was in Boston, we faced Lackey almost every year in the playoffs, and he was always an incredible competitor,” Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said. “We always admired him from afar. He’s one of those guys who takes the ball, and he wants to control that day when he pitches. That’s something that happens less and less in our game. That day for him is his. He brought that kind of fire to the field all the time, and we really admired that from afar in Boston.”

MOUND MENACE
This season, Cubs fans will get to see firsthand just how competitive Lackey truly is. Jason Heyward, who played with the pitcher last year in St. Louis, is extremely happy to have Lackey as a teammate again, especially because it means he won’t have to face him from the batter’s box.

“When he’s on the mound, he’s a bully,” Heyward said. “He wants you to swing the bat. It’s ‘You’re going to get a hit or I’m going to get you out, but let’s make this happen quickly.’ His stuff is just heavy. He’s got heavy stuff, but he has the kind of experience with that mindset. It’s a good combination for him to have success at this stage of his career.

“He’s a bulldog. He competes like no other when he’s on the mound. It’s fun to watch. He likes to work quick. Playing behind him, that helps you out. It’s somebody you want to play behind, and you appreciate what he does when he goes to the mound.”

This season, Cubs players will no doubt appreciate the simple fact that when Lackey goes to the mound, he’ll be doing it in Cubbie blue instead of Cardinal red. In three starts (21.2 innings) against the North Siders last season, he went 2-0 with a 1.25 ERA and 19 strikeouts versus only five walks. Rookie of the Year Kris Bryant logged two hits and five strikeouts in nine at-bats against Lackey in 2015. One of the first things Bryant told the right-hander was that he was glad he didn’t have to face him anymore.

“He’s a really good guy to have on your team,” Bryant said. “He doesn’t care what you think between the lines.”

One thing that surprised Bryant is how different Lackey is as a teammate versus the way he’s generally perceived from the opposing dugout. He may be fierce on the mound, but that doesn’t carry over into the clubhouse—at least not on non-pitching days.

“From the moment I met him, I was like, ‘This guy is awesome,’” Bryant said. “Obviously, you have opinions of players, and you hate facing certain guys. He was one of those guys for me. I struggled against him. I haven’t had many at-bats against him, but I struggled.”

As far as Lackey is concerned, he’s just fine with most big leaguers thinking he’s difficult. No pitcher wants to be a hitter’s favorite opponent.

“I don’t want a hitter to want to face me,” Lackey said. “Obviously, I compete on the field and I get after it, and I know how that can be perceived sometimes. I think people find out I’m a lot different than [they think] I am, which is fine. In between the lines, I don’t care what the other team thinks about me. I’m there to win.”

In 2016, the Cubs’ young hitters should learn a thing or two from the pitcher who schooled them last season. And don’t think they won’t ask him how he got them out.

“I told him that he dominated me,” Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo said. “I’m happy to play behind him, pick his brain, [find out] why he got me out so much.”

TEAM FIRST
Though Lackey spends most of his time on the mound scowling, he actually smiled and laughed his way through much of his first spring camp with the Cubs. Anyone looking for him could usually find him with Lester. The pair regularly challenged each other at wind sprints, talked over strategy or simply drove around in Lester’s camouflage-colored buggy.

“It’s Siamese almost,” said catcher David Ross of the pair. “They’re attached at the hip. It’s a good thing. They both are similar in how they go about their business. That’s how Jon is. He’s so serious, and you’ll see the same thing with Lackey. He wants to win.”

Lester laughed when told that Ross said the two pitchers were as close as conjoined twins.

“That’s how we were over [in Boston],” Lester said. “We did everything. It makes you accountable because you have somebody going, ‘C’mon, let’s go do this.’ You’re not by yourself trying to get yourself motivated.

“The biggest thing is accountability. You’re sitting here thinking, ‘I don’t want to do my running,’ but you’ve got somebody sitting here going, ‘C’mon let’s go.’ That’s the way we’ve always been. I think it makes each other better because it makes you accountable. Those days—we all have them—when you don’t feel like doing anything. Now you have somebody who will push you.”

Ryan Dempster had a little fun at Lackey and Lester’s expense during his talk show at the Cubs Convention in January. When the two friends were on stage together being interviewed, Dempster brought out some Popeye’s chicken, saying he likes to make Red Sox pitchers feel at home. When Lackey and Lester were in Boston, they created a media firestorm by reportedly drinking beer and eating chicken in the Fenway Park clubhouse during a few games. Lackey didn’t know what Dempster was up to, but he did laugh at the joke—and eat the chicken.

“It’s Dempster—he’s my guy,” Lackey said.

Though Cubs hitters are certainly happy to call Lackey a teammate, his arrival in Chicago may benefit Lester more than anyone. Several members of the coaching staff have already told Lackey what a good influence he’s been on the veteran lefty.

“He’s my boy,” Lackey said of Lester. “Our wives are good friends. Our kids are friends. We’ve been hanging out, having cookouts and that kind of stuff. It’s been a lot of fun.”

There’s also a burgeoning Texas connection on the staff. Jake Arrieta will soon be Lackey’s neighbor in Austin. The Arrietas are planning to build a new home there, just down the street from the Lackeys’. The former division foes even played golf together a few times this offseason.

“Everything you hear about the guy is just positive, especially from guys who have played with him,” Arrieta said. “Conversations with him are natural. He’s a funny guy, always upbeat, joking around. He’s a personality you want to surround yourself with. I was fortunate to get to know him this offseason and start that transition for spring and throughout the season. I know he has a real close relationship to Lester and Ryan Dempster. It just shows you what kind of guy he is.”

PLAYOFF PAYOFF
Despite a deep postseason run for the Cubs in 2015, the team still lacked some depth in the rotation. Not only does Lackey create an imposing front three with Arrieta and Lester, he is also one of the more playoff-tested pitchers of his generation. Between stints with the Angels, Red Sox and Cardinals, Lackey has gone to the postseason eight different times (15 series), pitched in 23 playoff games (20 starts) and gone 8-5 with a 3.11 ERA in 127.1 October innings.

Lackey was the pitcher the Angels and Red Sox wanted on the mound when it mattered most, and he delivered in those pressure-packed situations. He is the first starting pitcher in major-league history to win two World Series-clinching games with two different teams, doing so as a rookie with the Angels in 2002 and again with the Red Sox in 2013.

And Lackey has always had that mental toughness. When he was a 20-year-old minor-league pitcher in the Angels organization, his manager, Tom Kotchman, once went to the mound to take him out of a game. Lackey, being Lackey, refused to leave, so Kotchman simply went back to the dugout and let him continue pitching. When the Angels picked the big Texan to start Game 7 of the World Series, Kotchman knew he could handle it.

“He ain’t a normal rookie,” Kotchman said at the time.

The Cubs hope whatever it is that drives Lackey rubs off on the rest of the team. Manager Joe Maddon has known the pitcher since those early days with the Angels and said Lackey has mellowed a bit—on certain days, at least.

“Four out of five days, I’m pretty laid back and having a good time,” Lackey said. “When you only get 30-some times to help your team, I take it pretty dang serious and go get after it.”

So does he need that edge to stay among the game’s elite arms at 37 years old?

“I think it’s helped, for sure,” Lackey said. “It’s not going anywhere. It’s just there. It’s what it is.”

Ultimately, Lackey’s image is immaterial, so long as he takes care of business when he’s on the mound. And, to a man, the Cubs pitchers all agree he’ll be a perfect addition to the staff.

“We all want to do our job,” Lester said. “We all have different ways of going about things. Jake is kind of the stoic one and doesn’t show emotion and stands up there and chucks the ball. I get a little more emotional, and so does Lack. With Kyle [Hendricks], I don’t think I’ve ever seen Kyle do anything except keep his mouth shut and go pitch.

“Everybody harnesses their deal their own way. [Lackey] is a little more vocal and outgoing with his emotions on the mound. The other four days, he’s a big ol’ teddy bear and cares about his teammates and wants his teammates to do well.”

WINNING EDGE
When told people were surprised to see him smiling so much with the Cubs, Lackey, as if on cue, smiled.

“When I’m competing, I’m there to win,” he said. “I’m not there to be your friend and hang out. On the other days, I’ll be cool and hang out. I love having fun as much as anybody. When it’s my day, it’s time to work.”

Lester, who was standing nearby, quickly interrupted.

“Don’t lie to Carrie,” Lester said. “You’re a [jerk] all five days.”

Only good friends can tease each other that way.

“He’s a terrific guy,” Hoyer said of Lackey. “He’s a leader. All the players love him, and he takes his day seriously. When he’s on the mound, he’s incredibly intense, incredibly focused. We feel the edge he does bring is great for our team. An April 20 game that might be midweek, people will be on alert the day he pitches because he takes it so seriously. I think that’s important. It’s a long season, and the team that executes game in and game out and can bring that intensity every day [usually wins]. A lot of times, it isn’t the most talented team, but the team that comes to play night in and night out. There’s no question the day he pitches, the team comes to play. They know how seriously he takes it.”

Ross, who caught Lackey when the two were together with the Red Sox, has seen that game face up close.

“I don’t understand when people get upset when people are emotional in a negative way,” Ross said. “They’re all excited about the good emotions that come out of this game, but sometimes there are bad emotions. John is an emotional player, and he goes out there and really feels strongly like, ‘Today’s my day for the boys. I don’t get to help out the other days. This is my day, and I try to compete and help the guys win.’ He takes that very seriously. I appreciate that.”

Ultimately, all Lackey wants to do is win, and that’s exactly the kind of player the Cubs were looking to add to their rotation this offseason.

“He’ll be really good for all these guys,” Ross said. “The emotion you’ll see the day he pitches, he doesn’t care about anything else but winning. He’s the nicest guy ever, but on the day he pitches, he’s pretty locked in. He’s no nonsense.”

Of course, Lackey also likes to have a good time, and Maddon has seen that side of him too.

“Johnny is straight up and straightforward,” Maddon said. “He likes to giggle and have fun, but when it comes down to his craft, he gets very serious.”

While it might be hard to imagine the 6-foot-6, 230-pound pitcher giggling, all you have to do is mention his new daughter, Kenzi, who was born in December, or play a round of golf with him to hear his easy laugh and see his softer side.

“He’s as polar opposite as you could possibly be [on the golf course],” Arrieta said. “He hasn’t been playing that long. He’s out there having a good time and doesn’t care how he scores. He’s like, ‘Whatever. Let’s move on, keep playing.’ He’s just out there having a good time. It’s a nice change-up from the mindset we’re in at the field.”

So before Lackey’s starts, put on your cowboy hat, play some country music and add a little swagger to your step. This good old boy is going to bring everything he has to the mound every fifth day.

“When we signed Lackey in the offseason,” Maddon said, “I thought he was one of the top free-agent signs of the winter—specifically for us and what we’re doing.”

by Carrie Muskat, MLB.com

Cubs Minor League Report: 4/12/16

South Bend won in walk-off fashion for the second straight night, but Tennessee and Myrtle Beach both fell in one-run games on Tuesday. Iowa couldn’t hang on either. Here are some notes from yesterday’s minor league action.

Iowa Cubs (1-5)
Pacific Coast League (Triple-A)
Fourth Place (-4.0 games back)

Iowa fell for the fifth time in its first six games, dropping a 4-2 decision at home to New Orleans.

  • RHP Ryan Williams (7.88 ERA) gave up one earned run in 5 innings of work, striking out three in the no-decision.
  • LF Javier Baez went 0 for 4 in his second rehab appearance but recorded an outfield assist, throwing out a runner at home on a single. He played six innings in left field before moving to second base.
  • C Willson Contreras (.478) extended his season-opening hitting streak to six games (11 for 23), going 2 for 4 with a double (3) and a run scored.
  • SS Kristopher Negron (.381) went 1 for 3 with a solo homer (1) in the third inning. He’s 5 for 10 in his last three games.

Tennessee Smokies (2-4)
Southern League (Double-A)
T-Third Place (-2.5)

Tennessee surrendered a walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth, falling 5-4 at Birmingham.

  • 2B Ryan Dent (.333) collected his first three hits of the season, going 3 for 4 with a run scored.
  • CF Jacob Hannemann (.150) drove in two runs (2), going 1 for 4 with a walk and a double (1).
  • 1B Taylor Davis (.294) went 1 for 4 with a triple (1), a run scored and an RBI (3).
  • LHP Gerardo Concepcion (3 IP, BB, SO) tossed 3 scoreless innings of relief.

Myrtle Beach Pelicans (3-3)
Carolina League (High-A)
T-First Place (–)

Myrtle Beach fell 4-3 at home to Winston-Salem. The Pelicans allowed all four runs in the third inning.

  • CF Rashad Crawford (.412) finished a triple shy of the cycle, going 3 for 5 with a double (1), homer (1), two runs scored and one RBI (1). He has a four-game hitting streak to begin his season.
  • 2B Ian Happ (.292) also recorded a three-hit game, going 3 for 5 with a double (3) and two RBI (5).
  • RHP James Farris (3 IP, 4 SO) fanned four batters in 3 perfect innings.

South Bend Cubs (3-2)
Midwest League (Single-A)
Fourth Place (-0.5)

South Bend won in walk-off fashion for the second-straight day as Eddy Martinez was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 10th, lifting the Cubs to a 3-2 victory.

  • LHP Carson Sands (3.60 ERA) fanned four while giving up two earned runs in 5 innings.
  • LF Eloy Jimenez (.333) went 4 for 5 with a double (1), an RBI (3) and two stolen bases (2).
  • DH Donnie Dewees (.381) went 2 for 4 with a triple (2), a walk, two runs scored and a stolen base (2). It marked his third-straight multi-hit game.
  • LHP Kyle Twomey (2 IP, H, 2 SO) and RHP Casey Bloomquist (2 IP, 3 H, SO) each tossed 2 scoreless innings of relief.
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