Results tagged ‘ Aaron Miles ’

A return to health

1000 WORDS LOGO.jpg   Cubs right-hander Rich Harden made his return to the mound yesterday after coming off the disabled list earlier in the day. Harden pitched well, despite taking the tough-luck 2-0 loss, giving up just the two runs on five hits and two walks while striking out nine.

Below are a couple of shots taken by one of our auxiliary photographers, Chris Bernacchi.

HArden twins2.JPG

Miles Twins2.JPGInfielder Aaron Miles also returned on Wednesday from the disabled list, his shoulder looking better and stronger, he said.

–Mike Huang

Iowa-Chicago shuttle

There were three new faces in the clubhouse today, as general manager Jim Hendry recalled slugger Jake Fox and selected the contracts of infielder Andres Blanco and left-hander Jason Waddell. Lefty Neal Cotts and infielder Bobby Scales were optioned to Iowa, while Aaron Miles was placed on the 15-day DL.

Some Triple-A numbers for you:

Fox: .423 AVG/.503 OBP/.886 SLG with 17 homers and 50 RBIs in 40 games

Blanco: .314/.349/.451 with nine doubles in 43 games

Waddell: 5.51 ERA with 17 hits, one home run, seven walks and 12 strikeouts in 16.2 innings

Those of you following along with Vine Line’s minor-league notebooks will know that Blanco has a great glove and has done well to improve his bat tremendously since joining the Cubs organization. Fox can mash, especially fastballs, and has adjusted his hitting approach since his major-league debut with the 2007 Cubs.

Finishing off the Pirates

Soriano, LF
Theriot, SS
Bradley, RF
Lee, 1B
Johnson, CF
Soto, C
Freel, 3B
Blanco, 2B
Zambrano, RHP

Left-hander Zach Duke (5-4, 2.77 ERA) closes out the series for the Pirates.

Time to start a winning streak.

Serendipity has its moments

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for INSIDE THE IVY LOGO.jpgThere are times when even the best laid plans don’t work out. Then there are times when serendipity serves as a savior.

While I won’t say finding this photo was something so dramatic like rescuing the April issue of Vine Line, but when you’re on deadline, there is a certain sweetness to finding the perfect photo, especially when that photo was impromptu and came together totally by luck.

In putting together our monthly Q&A with Lou Piniella, we always run a photo of something that Lou discussed to accompany the text. He spoke at length about two players in particular, Reed Johnson and Aaron Miles. He also discussed what the team needed to do to perhaps improve on 97 wins.

He said: “You don’t have to improve on 97 wins. You just have to figure out how to stay longer in the postseason. You know, 97 wins is a ton of wins–it was the second-best record in the big-leagues. And what we have to figure out is how to stay longer in the postseason, not how to play better in the regular season.”

97.jpgWell, as it turns out, during my first time at spring training (I leave for the second trip on the 21st–blog with me then!) staff photographer Steve Green and I just happened to be standing on Field 2 at Fitch Park when we heard the clacking of cleats pass behind us. It was Derrek Lee, Johnson and Miles. As the unpacked their gear to take BP, Steve and I continued to talk, when I saw Steve’s head turn.

Here is where having a veteran photographer like Steve is all the difference in the world. (Check out his 1000 Words entry today.)

“Hey, didn’t we win 97 games last year?”

“Yep. Why?”

“Well, look over there.” Steve pointed in the direction of the cage and standing waiting their turn while Lee took his cuts was Johnson and Miles standing next to each other just chatting, with their backs turned to us and their uniform numbers reading “97.” Steve’s camera already was clicking away, the players were oblivious.

“Steve, dude, you are awesome. That’s why you’re the best,” I said, jotting down the entire experience. We got the perfect photo without even trying.

And the funny thing is, if we’re going to win 97 games again, Reed Johnson and Aaron Miles are going to have plenty of say in that.

–Mike Huang

PS. And Vine Line passes on its condolences to Mr. Cub Ernie Banks who lost his mother earlier this week. Our hearts go out to you, No. 14.

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Reports from camp

INSIDE THE IVY LOGO.jpgEasy-going. That’s been the adjective used over and over again as front office employees have returned from spring training.

There’s no controversy, no strife, nothing but healthy competition. Most positions are settled on this team, and it is clear what spots — like closer, fifth starter, backup infielder and backup catcher — are up for grabs. There’s a lot of focus and clarity. And our newcomers are fitting in well.

Playing a part right away

It was great to hear in particular about the new players’ enthusiasm for the team’s charitable efforts. Spring training is a time when our community relations department gets a lot of work done. The staff takes over a room at the Cubs training complex for a few days and fills it with all sorts of items to be signed. Many of these will be donated to organizations; others might be auctioned off to benefit Cubs Care, a fund of the McCormick Foundation. There are a lot of good causes that benefit from our staff and players taking the time to get exclusive items signed and then finding worthy efforts for them. You can find one example at the Cubs’ official charity auction site, where a Ryan Dempster autographed pitching rubber is currently posted.

Bradley running ST.jpgAnd the new guys couldn’t have been more helpful. Milton Bradley was especially willing and said that “For the right cause, I’m always happy to sign.”

As the Cubs’ premier off-season signing, there’s a lot of focus on Bradley. Today I wrote a small article for the souvenir program about his growth as a person and a player, something he talked at length about when he first signed with the team back in January. I came away with a great impression of his personality after meeting him face to face, that he knows he can’t change any past incidents but that he also won’t let them hamper his competitiveness as a teammate.

“I’m going to go out there, play hard, give it everything I’ve got to try to win every day,” Bradley said. “I’m going to feed off [the fans’] energy, and hopefully, for the years to come, there’s going to be a lot of positives, a lot of highs, and a lot of wins.”

He also stressed that he learned from previous years where he tried to be a home run hitter. Now, he is always focused on getting on base, not whether to hit the ball in the gap or over the fence. “I’ll hit home runs, but they’re going to come naturally,” he said.

Looking up

Miles Sandberg series.jpgAnd one of the great things about the team’s chemistry has been the mentorship.

New Cubs infielder Aaron Miles has been seeking legend and minor-league manager Ryne Sandberg out as a mentor to improve his infield defense.

“Ryno was talking about how he pivots, how you make the turn at second base,” Cubs photographer Steve Green told me. “Really cool stuff like that. [Miles has] been seeking out a lot of people.”

At the Cubs Convention, I saw Miles talking at length with Ernie Banks, joking around and asking about Wrigley Field. You can tell that Miles really appreciates what the Cubs stand for — the history, the fans, the drive to win now. For a guy like that, imagine having these resources on call anytime you needed them!

— Sean Ahmed

Whatever comes his way

Thumbnail image for FIVE MINUTES LOGOBUFFALO GROVE, IL–While the entire roster of my family has been exposed to some accursed flu, I find myself OK with it. Not in the sense that I’m glad my wife and daughter are coughing and sneezing, but I’m just glad to be home after being in Arizona for all of last week.

Nice weather is nice, but home is home.

That said, with an inch of snow on the ground, I listened to the interviews I was able to do while in Mesa and they brought a warmth to my chest. One with Mike Fontenot was insightful. I like the guy Ron Santo calls “Little Babe Ruth” because for a guy of smaller stature, he’s got some pop. I remember asking Randy Bush a couple of years ago about Fontenot and Ryan Theriot when they were at LSU and Bush was the head coach of the University of New Orleans.

“Those two were a pain,” he recalled. “It was like they were on base all the time.”

A couple of months ago at the Cubs Convention, Vice President of Player Personnel Oneri Fleita responsed to a Cubs fan’s question pertaining to the trade of Mark DeRosa, “who’s to say we don’t have Dustin Pedroia sitting there in Mike Fontenot?”

9E8T1907.jpgWell, Fontenot will get his chance. During our In the Dugout Q&A, Lou Piniella said Miles would be the primary backup for Theriot at shortstop and both he and Fontenot could see as many as 350-400 at bats between second and any other positions they play. It doesn’t matter to Fontenot, however, because his favorite position is…on the field.

Vine Line
: What does the team need to do to get over the hump after two early postseason exits?

Mike Fontenot: I don’t know. We played so well in the regular seasons in the last two years. First things first is to win the division and get to the playoffs. But like everyone says, we just gotta get hot at the right time. The hottest team going into the playoffs usually wins.

VL: Were you guys tired at all by the end of the season? Did the media wear on you at all?

MF: Maybe there was a little bit, but I think going into the playoffs we felt pretty good. But that’s part of being in the big leagues, handling the media and our clubhouse is small. But I like playing at Wrigley and in Chicago, so for guys who’ve been there, it’s not some big burden. I feel relaxed wherever.
VL: A lot of people are picking you as possibly being the starter at second base. But Aaron Miles will also need at-bats, too. How do you see that playing out?

: Obviously every one wants to start. But when it comes down to it, as long as I am contributing every day in some way and the team’s winning, I’m happy. It’s a lot of fun to play on a team that’s winning games whether your starting or coming off the bench.

So bat [No.] 2, leadoff, whatever–it doesn’t matter to you?

MF: Bat 2, leadoff, pinch hit and get a knock, it doesn’t matter. As long as the team wins, I’m cool.

–Mike Huang

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Vine Line Exclusive: Held Hostage (a preview)

Editor’s Note:
Our usual format for Five Minutes with….is a little different for our first installment of 2009. Instead of spending five minutes with us, new Cubs second baseman Aaron Miles spent nearly two hours with us. He shared his harrowing tale of a life-changing night during spring training 2000, when he was held hostage in a Florida motel room with a 9mm pointed at his head. The following is an abbreviated version from an upcoming Vine Line Exclusive story

Vine Line
: So what exactly happened? 

Aaron Miles: I had gone out to dinner with my uncle who was visiting. I said I was tired

pphtooshoot3.jpgand was going to bed. There was a bar in the motel where you could go sing karaoke, so he said he’d go in there….I was lying in my bed reading when two guys with ski masks and guns walked into my room. I had left the door a little open and it was one of those open motels (second floor). I figured my roommate was out, so I left the door slightly ajar…

VL: Can you remember what was going through your mind at that time?

AM: My heart was beating out of my chest. They made me lie face first on the bed while they started taking my wallet and some clothes. All I kept thinking was “just take what you want and go.” At first I thought it was a joke, when they first came in….


VL: So when the police finally arrived, what happened?

AM: Well, one guy who was sort of the leader, jumped off the second floor, onto the parking lot and ran off just as the cops were coming. The guy who was behind me put the gun to my head and pulled me back into the room. All the while this was going on, my roommate and other teammates like Morgan Ensberg and Keith Ginter were hogtied in the room next door. But they had broken their ties and called 911. But before that, they called my room. When one of the robbers answered the phone one of my teammates asked: “Is this Miles?” The robber said I was in the bathroom. At that point they knew I was in trouble and they called 911. Problem was, it took a while for the call to go through. At the motel, so many guys were using the phones–remember in ’99 there were no cell phones yet–so all the lines were blocked.


VL: At this point, what is taking over? Instinct or fear?

AM: The cops were outside the door and the guy keeps telling me to open the curtains and look out the window. I could feel the barrel of the gun on the back of my head….I just felt something welling up inside me. I didn’t want to go out this way. I wanted to have some say, some control over the outcome of this situation. So I felt him momentarily move the gun to the right side of my head. That’s when I turned and quickly grabbed the barrel of the gun.

We must’ve wrestled for about 20 seconds. My right hand was holding the gun and his left hand was punching my mouth. I bit his arm twice. Then he bit me on the back. At one point I just sort of did a reverse squat thrust and we both went flying back against a wall. I think we both were surprised and we were kind of frozen, neither one of us wanting to give up. That’s when I started yelling to the cops at the top of my lungs….”Get in here!!!”


VL: The cops shot the robber while you both were still holding the gun?

AM: Yup. They got him six times, three in the right shoulder, twice in the upper chest and once in the mouth. Point blank. They told him to drop the gun so many times. But he just would not let go of the gun. And since I was sort of off to his left with the gun farthest away from me, his right side was exposed….I am convinced they did the right thing….The guy didn’t die. He was in critical condition for a while and eventually went back to jail.

VL: How did this experience change you?

AM: It made me understand that while baseball is important to me, the most important thing to me is family and things really are not life and death out on the field. I’ve said since then the 0-for-4s aren’t as bad and the 4-for-4s are that much sweeter….But it also was empowering in a way because I was able to stand up for myself and get out of that situation. I had a say in how that situation ended up. And I think I’m stronger for it.

–Mike Huang

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Back to baseball: Cubs sign Miles

Miles_Aaron-003.jpgWith most MLB teams on their winter break — between Christmas and New Year’s Day — and Wrigley Field being transformed into a frozen tundra, baseball news has been a bit slow around here for the past week. But general manager Jim Hendry and his staff have kept busy, today signing versatile infielder/outfielder Aaron Miles to a two-year contract.

Miles made an appearance at seven positions for the Cardinals last year — all but catcher and first baseman — and hit .317 (120-for-379) with 15 doubles, four homers and a .355 on-base percentage. As a switch-hitter, he also adds versatility to what was an entirely right-handed hitting infield last season.

“We expect Aaron to provide significant versatility and flexibility to our roster,” said Cubs General Manager Jim Hendry.  “He handles the bat well from both sides of the plate and is a skillful middle infielder who has added third base and all three outfield positions to his repertoire during the last few years.”