Prior to the Cubs’ home opener, starter Edwin Jackson probably could have learned a thing or two from the man taking the mound before him. Hall of Fame pitcher Fergie Jenkins was on hand, along with fellow Hall of Famer and former teammate Billy Williams, to throw out the first pitch of the season at Wrigley Field. Arguably the best Cubs pitcher of all time, Jenkins tallied six consecutive 20-win seasons for the North Siders and won 284 games in his 19-year career. He talked to Vine Line about the enduring allure of Wrigley Field and getting back on the mound for the first pitch of the season.
To read the entire article, pick up the May issue of Vine Line.
Infielder Brent Lillibridge has hit safely in seven of eight games in Iowa. (Photo by Stephen Green)
Iowa, Daytona and Kane County all earned victories while Tennessee had the day off Monday. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s action:
Iowa Cubs (9-15)
Iowa recorded six extra-base hits in a 7-2 victory over visiting Round Rock.
- RHP Guillermo Moscoso (1-0) started and pitched five innings, surrendering one earned run on three hits and striking out six for the win.
- CF Brian Bogusevic (.420) extended his hitting streak to 11 games, going 3-for-4 with two runs scored, two doubles (7), a triple (1) and one RBI (10). He’s hitting .475 (19-for-40) during the streak.
- 1B Brad Nelson (.244) reached base four times, going 2-for-2 with two walks, two runs, a homer and two RBI (19).
- LF Brent Lillibridge (.419) went 2-for-4 with two runs scored, a home run and one RBI (4). He has hit safely in seven of his first eight games with Iowa.
- 3B Ian Stewart (.100) went 0-for-4 in the 12th game of his rehabilitation assignment.
- RHP Casey Coleman (3.38) and RHP Rafael Dolis (3.52) each tossed a scoreless inning of relief. Dolis is holding left-handed hitters to a .118 batting average (2-for-17).
Daytona Cubs (13-12)
Daytona used a five-run seventh inning to rout visiting Palm Beach, 11-4. The D-Cubs have won three in a row and five of their last six games.
- RHP Zach Cates (3-2) didn’t surrender a hit in six innings, striking out seven and walking three. He has not allowed a run in his last 12.1 innings.
- CF Zeke DeVoss (.244) recorded his fifth multi-hit game of the campaign, going 2-for-3 with a walk, three runs scored, a double (3) and one RBI (13).
- SS Javier Baez (.262), the reigning FSL Player of the Week, extended his hitting streak to a season-high six games, going 1-for-5 with a run scored, a double (7) and two RBI (17).
- 3B Ben Carhart (.300) registered his fifth multi-RBI game of the season, going 2-for-4 with a run scored, a double (8) and two RBI (13).
Kane County Cougars (9-13)
Kane County scored nine runs in the final three innings, defeating Lake County 13-9. The two teams combined for 22 runs, 32 hits and 13 extra-base hits.
- 1B Dan Vogelbach (.315) homered for the third-straight game, going 4-for-6 with the home run (5) and two RBI (14).
- RF Pin-Chieh Chen (.242) went 4-for-6 with a run scored, a double (2) and three RBI (6).
- LF Rock Shoulders (.370) and SS Wes Darvill (.375) each scored three runs while adding two hits apiece.
- C Yaniel Cabezas (.545) recorded his second straight, three-hit game, going 3-for-6 with two RBI (3).
- DH Willson Contreras (.326) went 2-for-4 with a walk, three runs scored, a home run and one RBI (10).
- RHP Justin Amlung (3-0, 4.76) earned the win, tossing 3.0 innings of one-run relief.
(Photo by Stephen Green)
When Nate Schierholtz pulled on a Phillies uniform in mid-2012, it was the first time in his career he played for an organization other than the Giants. The third baseman turned outfielder appeared mostly as a pinch-hitter or late-inning defensive replacement in San Francisco before earning some regular playing time in 2010 and 2011. The 29-year-old veteran, who has six seasons and a World Series ring under his belt, came to Chicago in hopes of finding a more regular role in Wrigley Field’s right-field corner. If he keeps up his current pace, he should be just fine. In 23 games with the Cubs, Schierholtz has hit .284/.338/.527 (AVG/OBP/SLG) and played stellar defense. For the May issue of Vine Line, we talked to the first-year Cub about what it was like leaving the Giants, how he spends his free time and winning the big one.
GIANT CHANGE It was a little bit of a shock putting on a new uniform for the ﬁrst time [after getting traded from the Giants to the Phillies last season]. But after that, it’s still the same game, and you make new friends and settle in. I feel more comfortable this year than I did when I was traded last year. It’s a different situation, and I have a better plan than in the past. I’m looking forward to getting a better opportunity.
COMING TO CHICAGO It started with talking to Dale [Sveum] about my situation and the opportunity to play more than I have in the past. There were a lot of factors that went into it. I loved coming to Chicago. It was always a city I looked forward to coming to. I loved playing at Wrigley. There’s a lot of history behind it, and I know [the Cubs] have great fans. I just couldn’t say no.
TEAM MORALE [Sveum] basically told me the Cubs are turning things around. [He said] they had a lot of good starting pitchers, and it sounded like they were as motivated as ever to win. That’s what makes baseball fun, so I wanted to come here and help the team win.
GAME ON During the offseason, I have a lot of hobbies—ﬁshing, hiking, a lot of outdoors stuff. I also like to work on cars. But during the season, I spend most of my time with my wife. She’s kind of a video gamer, so sometimes we play video games, and we like going to movies. She actually beats me, so I probably have to spend a little bit of my spare time practicing.
IN IT TO WIN IT Winning the World Series gave me a lot of experience in high-pressure situations. Once you get there, you realize how hard and special it is to be there. What I took away was a need to get back. Even in the playoffs, the atmosphere is so different, and it’s so much fun. That’s why we play the game. Once you are there, it’s something you are dying to get back to.
To read the complete interview with Schierholtz, pick up the May issue of Vine Line, featuring the Cubs core, available now at select Jewel-Osco, Walgreens, Meijer, Barnes & Noble, and other Chicago-area retailers. Or subscribe to Vine Line today.
(Photo by Stephen Green)
The first two weeks of the season were a struggle for the Cubs relief corps. Despite strong efforts from one of the NL’s best rotations in the club’s first 12 games, the bullpen blew four save opportunities, compiled a 5.82 ERA and repeatedly failed to secure victories in winnable games.
But the ‘pen’s performance in the last two weeks is making those early-season woes look like a thing of the past. In the last 13 games, the relievers have compiled a 1.85 ERA, third in the NL during that stretch. Though they still walk too many hitters (9.5 walk percentage, second highest in NL since April 16), the bullpen has found a way to get out of jams, leaving an NL-best 92.4 percent of runners on base.
The Cubs have been in every game this season—all but three have been decided by three runs or fewer and none by more than four—which means a strong bullpen is often the difference between winning and losing. What the team looks to have gained in recent weeks is a “give me the-ball” type finisher. Though manager Dale Sveum has not named a closer and prefers a bullpen-by-committee approach, the North Siders acquired veteran late-innings reliever Kevin Gregg, who was released by the Dodgers at the end of Spring Training. Since making his debut on April 19, Gregg has been lights out, surrendering no earned runs in his first six appearances and racking up four saves.
Despite Opening Day closer Carlos Marmol’s early failures, surrendering five earned runs in his first 1.2 innings pitched, he hasn’t given up a run since April 6. He has still walked eight batters in those nine innings, but he’s managed to miss a lot of bats in that time too, striking out nine.
The most consistent relief pitcher all season has been southpaw James Russell. The 26-year-old has leaned heavily on his 80 mph slider, throwing it 45 percent of the time, while mixing in a fastball and change-up. So far this season, his strikeout totals have improved dramatically. He’s now fanning 10.6 batters per nine, three K/9 better than last season. In 11 innings, he’s walked just one batter and hasn’t given up an earned run. He’s been so effective that his 0.6 wins above replacement (according to fangraphs.com) is tied for the best among relief pitchers in baseball.
To round things out, Shawn Camp looks like he might have rediscovered his 2012 form after struggling early, and waiver pickup Kameron Loe has been reliable in his five innings since being claimed off waivers from Seattle. Though the relievers’ .269 BABIP (batting average on balls in play) might indicate they’re pitching a little above their ability (an average BABIP is around .300), a solid effort from these pitchers all season long could make a big difference in 2013.
In eight games, RHP Blake Parker has held right-handed hitters to a .059 average. (Photo by Stephen Green)
Daytona captured a win in a rain-shortened game Monday while Iowa fell short despite an offensive outburst. Tennessee walked away from its doubleheader with a win and a loss, but Kane County struggled to collect a victory in its back-to-back matchup. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s action:
Iowa Cubs (8-15)
Iowa dropped a 10-9 decision to visiting Round Rock even though eight different I-Cubs collected a hit. The two teams combined for 19 runs, 24 hits and four home runs.
- CF Brian Bogusevic (.403) extended his hitting streak to 10 games, going 1-for-5 with a RBI (9). He’s hitting .444 (16-for-36) during that stretch.
- 1B Brad Nelson (.224) went 4-for-5 with two runs scored, two doubles (3) and three RBI (17). The four hits and three RBI marked season highs.
- DH Brett Jackson (.233) homered for the second-consecutive game, going 1-for-4 with a walk, the home run and two RBI (9). Jackson did not homer in his first 16 games prior to April 28′s blast.
- SS Logan Watkins (.263) recorded his third-straight, multi-hit game, going 2-for-4 with a walk, a run scored and a RBI (5).
- RF Ryan Sweeney (.377) reached base three times, going 2-for-4 with a walk and two runs scored. He is hitting .396 (19-for-48) against right-handed pitchers.
- 3B Ian Stewart (.111) went 1-for-4 with a walk in the 11th game of his rehabilitation assignment.
- RHP Blake Parker (2.70) worked a scoreless ninth frame. He’s holding right-handed hitters to a .059 batting average (1-for-17) through eight appearances.
Tennessee Smokies (14-10)
Game 1: Tennessee managed just two hits in a 3-0 loss vs. Pensacola in the first game of a doubleheader.
- CF Matt Szczur (.294) went 1-for-3, extending his hitting streak to 10 games. He’s hitting .324 (12-for-37) with a home run and five RBI during the streak.
- 2B Ronald Torreyes (.333) went 1-for-3 with a stolen base (1).
- RHP Frank Batista (0.90 ERA) and RHP Tony Zych (3.09) each tossed a scoreless inning of relief. Batista is holding right-handed hitters to a .143 batting average (3-for-21) while Zych is limiting righties to a .185 mark (5-for-27).
Game 2: Tennessee’s Jae-Hoon Ha hit a pinch-hit, walk-off, three-run home run to beat Pensacola 3-0 in the nightcap.
- PH Ha (.313) recorded a season-high three RBI (13) with the walk-off blast. The clout snapped a 23-game homerless drought.
- RHP Kyle Hendricks (3.12) received a no-decision despite tossing 6.0-scoreless innings. He owns a 0.69 ERA (1 ER/13.0 IP) in his last two starts.
- RHP Marcus Hatley (1-0, 2.79) fired a scoreless inning of relief while striking out two, earning his first win of the season.
Daytona Cubs (12-12)
Daytona earned a 2-1, rain-shortened victory over visiting Palm Beach. The game was called in the eighth inning due to heavy rain.
- DH Dustin Geiger (.314) extended his hitting streak to five games, going 1-for-2 with a walk, a home run and one RBI (22).
- LF John Andreoli (.322) went 1-for-4 with one RBI (11). He’s reached base safely in 10 straight games.
- 3B Ben Carhart (.291) went 1-for-3 with a double (7). He is hitting .385 (10-for-26) with runners in scoring position.
- RHP Yeiper Castillo (3.86) struck out a season-high eight batters. He’s allowed just three hits and no runs in his last five outings (9.0 IP).
- LHP Hunter Cervenka (1-0, 2.31) earned his first win of the season, allowing one run on one hit while striking out four in two innings of relief.
- SS Javier Baez was named Florida State League Player of the Week for the week of April 22-28. He batted .435 (10-for-23) with two home runs and three doubles while slugging .826.
Kane County Cougars (8-13)
Game 1: Kane County surrendered five runs in the bottom of the seventh inning, falling 7-6 to Lake County in the first game of a doubleheader.
- 1B Daniel Vogelbach (.288) clubbed his third homer of the season, going 1-for-4 with the clout and two RBI (11).
- DH Rock Shoulders (.384) blasted his team-leading fifth home run of the campaign. He finished 1-for-3 with the bomb and two RBI (15).
- C Willson Contreras (.310) recorded his fourth multi-hit game of the campaign, going 2-for-3 with two runs scored and a stolen base (2).
Game 2: Lake County completed the doubleheader sweep of the Cougars with a 4-2 victory.
- 1B Daniel Vogelbach (.289) went 1-for-3 with one RBI (12) while hitting his second home run of the day.
- CF Oliver Zapata (.250) went 1-for-1 with a walk and one stolen base (5).
- RHP Steve Perakslis (7.59) hurled a scoreless inning of relief. Lead-off hitters are just 1-for-10 (.100) against him.
(Photo by Stephen Green)
When you saw the Cubs’ new “Committed” marketing campaign, did you think, “They should be talking about me?” Now’s your chance to tell your story.
The Chicago Cubs and Schafer Condon Carter (SCC) are inviting fans to share their personal tales of commitment in the “Everyone Has A Story” online campaign. Fans can upload their stories in video format or as a photo and essay pairing at www.cubs.com/story, and submissions will be featured in a season-long online gallery.
“Chicago Cubs fans are some of the most passionate fans in all of sports, and we hear their amazing stories every day,” said Alison Miller, senior director of marketing for the Cubs. “This campaign allows these fans to share their stories with each other and be recognized by the team for their unrivaled commitment.”
The “Committed” campaign, which launched in early March, features advertisements that tell authentic stories from true Cubs fans, including Jeff and Jessi Galbraith, a couple from Indianapolis who got engaged at Wrigley Field; Adam Weiler of Chicago, who triumphed over his wife’s efforts to raise their son as a Brewers fan; Rob Mansfield, Rick Urena and Ben Winge, three best friends who love starting chants and claim they have single-handedly helped the team win a game; and David Eagan, a South Side security guard who proudly sports a tattoo of a Cubs logo and Ron Santo’s signature on the back of his head.
Last month, the Cubs and Chicago Cubs Charities held their annual Bricks and Ivy Ball at Navy Pier’s Grand Ballroom. Now in its third year, the event has become one of the key fundraisers for Chicago Cubs Charities. It helps support numerous organizations and programs targeting youth sports access and improvements in health, fitness and education for those at risk.
More than 840 guests helped raise $1.2 million at the Ball to benefit Chicago Cubs Charities, thanks to the generosity of Cubs owners, managers, players, front office associates and fans. As the program began, Chairman Tom Ricketts addressed the Cubs’ commitment to supporting Chicago’s children through community outreach and charitable programming.
“Our goal is to make life better for the youth and families of Chicago by doing our part to improve health, fitness and educational opportunities for those at risk,” Ricketts said. “Whether it’s a hospital visit, holiday toy drive, serving lunch at a USO or Thanksgiving dinner to homeless teens, our team is there donating their time and resources.”
During the evening, Chicago Cubs Charities introduced a video featuring some All-Star youth who have benefited from grants, including Cubs Care grants, a McCormick Foundation Fund. The video also featured Cubs players Darwin Barney, David DeJesus, Anthony Rizzo and Jeff Samardzija.
If you didn’t get a chance to attend the Bricks and Ivy Ball, you can check out the video here. Special thanks to the charities, Cubs players and Len Kasper for helping make this possible.
Former Cub Andrew Cashner will throw Wednesday for the Padres. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
While the Giants are busy winning World Series titles and the Dodgers continue to take on huge payroll to try to keep pace, their “small market” neighbors to the south have quietly assembled a team many think has the potential to surprise in the NL West. Manager Bud Black already turned a few heads last season, squeezing 76 wins out of a group many expected to finish at the bottom of the division. But through the first month of the season, the pieces haven’t quite clicked, as the team sits at 9-15 heading into the Cubs series. On the plus side, it helps that the Padres have developed a true superstar in switch-hitting third baseman Chase Headley, who opened the season on the DL with a thumb injury. Headley hit a career-high 33 home runs last year (after a previous career high of 12 in 2009) and drove in a league-leading 115 men. He’s gotten off to a slow start this year, but he has played in only 10 games. With the Friars moving in the fences at Petco Park this season, Headley could be a dark-horse MVP candidate.
HITTING: 3.6 RS/G 12th in NL
The shorter fences at Petco won’t help just Headley. Former White Sox slugger Carlos Quentin managed to slug .504 in a half season after coming back from knee surgery last year. Despite that lost time, he also achieved the rare feat of leading different leagues in hit by pitches in consecutive years. The Padres have high hopes that first baseman Yonder Alonso will blossom into a power source as a sophomore after ripping 39 doubles as a rookie. Black runs an aggressive offense, platooning to advantage, getting runners on base and then moving them to keep defenses guessing. Shortstop Everth Cabrera led the NL with 44 steals (against just four times caught stealing) in 2012, spearheading an efficient running game that generated 155 swiped bags. Add in the potential for a power boost in their previously pitcher-friendly home park, and it’s a lineup that should be better than their 3.6 runs a game might indicate.
PITCHING: 4.6 RA/G 13th in NL
The problem with the Padres’ pitching staff is simple: Some of the team’s best starters opened the season on the disabled list. Of course, not having to face Cory Luebke early in the season works to the Cubs’ advantage. In the meantime, San Diego will rely on some starters that should be very familiar to Chicago fans—ex-White Sox southpaw Clayton Richard and ex-Cub Andrew Cashner. They will also run out inconsistent Cincinnati import Edinson Volquez. One thing to watch for is Black’s deft touch with the bullpen, where his best weapon is the rubber-armed Luke Gregerson, who has become one of the best set-up men in baseball. Also keep an eye on Dale Thayer and lefty Joe Thatcher in situational matchups and tight spots.
Brent Lillibridge finished a triple shy of the cycle Sunday with the I-Cubs. (Photo by Stephen Green)
Iowa and Daytona both captured a win Sunday, while rain kept Tennessee and Kane County from taking the field. One of the Smokies’ doubleheader games scheduled for Sunday will now be made up as part of a day-night doubleheader Monday; the other game will not be rescheduled. The Cougars’ game, which marks their eighth postponement this season, will also be played as part of a doubleheader Monday. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s action:
Iowa Cubs (8-14)
Iowa collected 13 hits, including four home runs, beating host Omaha, 10-6.
- CF Brian Bogusevic (.417) extended his hitting streak to nine games, going 3-for-4 with a walk, a home run and three RBI (8). He’s hitting .484 (15-for-31) during the streak.
- DH Brett Jackson (.232) blasted his first home run of the season, a two-run shot in the second inning. He finished 1-for-5 with a walk, the home run and a season-high three RBI (7).
- 1B Brent Lillibridge (.455) finished a triple shy of the cycle, going 3-for-4 with a walk, two runs scored, a double (2), a home run and one RBI (3).
- 3B Ian Stewart (.094) went 0-for-2 with three walks, two runs scored and one RBI (4) in the 10th game of his rehabilitation assignment.
- RF Ryan Sweeney (.369) belted his team-leading sixth homer, going 1-for-4 with a walk, the home run and two RBI (16).
Daytona Cubs (11-12)
Daytona hitters walked eight times and stole four bases in a 7-4 victory over visiting Palm Beach.
- SS Javier Baez (.263) recorded his team-leading fifth longball of the season, going 2-for-4 with the home run and two RBI (15). He has hit safely in five of his last six contests.
- 3B Ben Carhart (.289) recorded his third three-hit game of the campaign, going 3-for-4 with a season-high three RBI (11). The 2012 draftee is hitting .385 (10-for-26) with runners in scoring position.
- 2B Tim Saunders (.216) registered his third multi-hit game of the year, going 2-for-5 with two runs scored, a RBI (5) and two stolen bases (7).
- RHP P.J. Francescon earned his second win, recording his first quality start of the campaign. The righty has a 2.45 ERA (3 ER/11.0 IP) over his last two starts.
Alberto Cabrera gave up a season-low three hits during the Smokies’ Friday win. (Photo by Stephen Green)
While Iowa lost on Friday and Saturday, Daytona and Kane County split their Friday and Saturday games. Tennessee’s Saturday matchup was rained out after their Friday win solidified back-to-back victories. Here are some highlights from this weekend’s action:
Iowa Cubs (7-14)
The I-Cubs scored two runs in the ninth inning to send Friday’s game to extra innings, but Omaha notched off a walk-off victory in the tenth to win 5-4. On Saturday, Omaha used a six-run first inning to rout Iowa 13-2.
- RF Ryan Sweeney (.404) extended his hitting streak to 12 games (.391/18-for-46) Friday, with a two-run homer in the fourth inning. He went 2-for-5 with a run and two RBI (14).
- 1B Brad Nelson (.194) hit a pinch-hit, two-run homer in the ninth inning of Friday’s game to tie it up for extra-innings.
- 2B-CF Logan Watkins (.243) recorded two of Iowa’s five hits in their Saturday loss. He went 2-for-4 with a run scored, a triple (2) and one RBI (4).
- CF Brian Bogusevic (.397) extended his hitting streak to eight games Saturday, going 1-for-2 with a walk and a stolen base (5). He’s hitting .444 (12-for-27) during the streak.
Tennessee Smokies (13-9)
Tennessee won its second-consecutive game over visiting Pensacola 5-3 Friday, but was unable to take the field Saturday due to rain. The postponed game was rescheduled for Sunday as part of a day-night doubleheader.
- LF Rubi Silva (.303) went 2-for-4 with a triple (2), homer, a run scored, and three RBI (13).
- RF Jae-Hoon Ha (.312) walked and singled twice in four plate appearances, scoring three runs.
- RHP Alberto Cabrera allowed a season-low three hits in his 6.0 innings of work.
- RHP Trey McNutt (1.1 IP, H, K) recorded his second save of the season.
Daytona Cubs (10-12)
Daytona overcame three errors to defeat Lakeland 7-3 for their second straight victory Friday. Their short string of success ended Saturday in a 5-1 loss in the last matchup of their three-game set.
- 3B Dustin Geiger (.300) went 2-for-4 with three RBI (21) Friday. Geiger leads the team and ranks third in the Southern League in RBI.
- RHP Ben Wells allowed a season-best one hit in 5.2 innings during Friday’s game, but also walked a season-high five batters.
- CF John Andreoli (.329) recorded his seventh multi-hit game of the season Saturday, going 2-for-4 with a RBI (10).
- 1B Ben Carhart (.266) went 2-for-4 with a double (6) in Saturday’s loss. The 2012 draftee is hitting .400 (6-for-15) against left-handed pitchers this season.
- LHP Sheldon McDonald (4.22) and RHP Eduardo Figueroa (2.84) combined to toss 3.0 scoreless innings of relief Saturday. Figueroa is holding left-handed hitters to a .167 batting average (3-for-18).
Kane County Cougars (8-11)
Kane County led 5-1 heading into the bottom of the ninth Friday but surrendered four runs to tie the game, and then lost 6-5 in 10 innings to Fort Wayne. On Saturday, the Cougars scored three runs in the eighth inning to rally and earn a 5-3 win.
- C Yaniel Cabezas (.600) went 3-for-4 with a run scored and RBI (1) in his first start of the season for Kane County on Friday.
- LF Rock Shoulders (.403) walked, singled, and scored a run in four plate appearances. He leads the team in runs scored with 14, and recorded a hit in 16 of 18 games after Friday’s matchup.
- LHP Jeffry Antigua (2.1 IP, 2 H, 3 K) took the field Friday and lowered his ERA to 0.73 (1 ER/21.1 IP) in five games to start the season.
- CF Oliver Zapata (.246) extended his hitting streak to six games Saturday, going 1-for-3 with a walk, two runs scored and his team-leading third triple of the season.
- 2B Gioskar Amaya (.250) went 1-for-4 in Saturday’s win with a run scored, a RBI (3) and one stolen base (3). He’s hitting .290 (9-for-31) during his seven-game hitting streak.
- LHP Brian Smith (1-1, 4.09) allowed one run on three hits in a season-high 3.0 innings of relief to pick up his first win of the campaign Saturday. The southpaw is holding opponents to a .190 batting average (4-for-21) with runners in scoring position.