Results tagged ‘ Edmonds ’

Vine Line EXTRA: Jeff Samardzija

VL cover Sept 08 4C.jpgMany of our subscribers should be receiving the September issue of Vine Line this week, featuring Reed Johnson and Jim Edmonds as the cover story. As we were working on this issue, it became obvious that this centerfield tandem — a couple of castaways from the Blue Jays and Padres — is emblematic of what has made the Cubs so strong this year. They’ve starred on the offensive and defensive sides, offering a combination of pure talent, grit and experience.

Let’s open it up: What do you think Reed and Jim have brought to this team? How valuable have they been to this team as it sits 33 games over .500?

Also, in my “Leading Off” column this month, I chronicled Samardzija’s path to the majors, discussing his mixed track record in the minor leagues and the organization’s aggressive promotion of him all the way to Chicago. We’ve all seen his results as a reliever, a role in which he has been able to rely on his hard, sinking fastball and the splitter he reintroduced this year into his repertoire.

But I also learned a lot about how Samardzija enjoyed his first few weeks in the majors, when he developed his fastball and the value of his football experience to the baseball diamond. As a Vine Line blog exclusive, here’s Jeff Samardzija in his own words.

— Sean Ahmed

On his first few weeks in the majors: It’s been pretty wild. I’ve talked to a lot of people. Been all over the place. Had a lot of people come to the games. It’s been a lot of fun. And it’s kind of been how you want it to go.

On his family: Pretty much everyone lives in Northwest Indiana. Pretty much all my family and friends have been to a game. I wanted to get them up here as soon as possible, kind of show them around and then after that we’ll break it down so it won’t be such a big herd. [laughs]

On his two-seam fastball becoming his top pitch: I always had OK movement on my [fastball], so it was always an action pitch for me so I could get some groundouts, stuff like that. Probably my sophomore, junior year of college, it really took off as my go-to pitch. I think my arm got a little stronger, I started throwing a little harder, so it became a better pitch for me. And the more you throw it, the more comfortable you get with it — that’s kind of where we’re at with it right now. Especially after throwing it all of last season and most of this season, it’s pretty much finding its little niche. Feels good.


Not a Chicago lightweight

HOY Diaz.jpgChicago native and WBC lightweight champion boxer David Diaz is on the cover of today’s HOY newspaper wearing a Cubs jersey. He’s been sporting Cubby Blue in Las Vegas this week leading up to his pay-per-view fight tomorrow night with Manny Pacquiao.

Diaz threw out a first pitch at Wrigley Field earlier this month, and it’s great to see him give a shoutout to his hometown team before the “biggest fight of [his] life.”

By the way, the headline reads, “I am going to return with my belt.”

Happy Birthday

Daryle Ward turns 33 today, and Jim Edmonds is 38. The two are batting back-to-back in the batting order today against the White Sox.

I’ll be getting some pre-game interviews at U.S. Cellular Field tomorrow for an upcoming issue of Vine Line, so keep your eyes out for a blog tomorrow afternoon.

— Sean Ahmed

Shooting strikes

KW_KZ_Wood_plays_smile_sm.jpgKerry Wood announced his Fifth Annual Strike Zone Celebrity Bowling Tournament yesterday. Mark your calendars for 6 p.m. on Aug. 6 at the 10pin bowling lounge in downtown Chicago.

This is one of the team’s most popular charitable events, giving fans the opportunity to meet and even bowl with Cubs players as well as bid on one-of-a-kind items. Kerry Wood’s Strike Zone really is a labor of love for both Kerry and his wife, Sarah. In four years, the event has raised over $1.3 million, and this year it will benefit the Chicago Public Schools’ “Organic School Project.”

Some great moments from last year: The Wrigley Field dugout urinal was auctioned for more than $10,000 … Kerry played the guitar and Michael Wuertz sang Pink Floyd’s “Brick in the Wall” … Mark DeRosa (with a career-high score of 271) and Cliff Floyd (290) made for a competitive rivalry on the lanes.

Oppo Jim

Anyone noticed how much Jim Edmonds seems to love Wrigley Field’s left-center basket? All five of his home runs with the Cubs have been hit straightaway or to the opposite field. For reference, 51 percent of his 362 career home runs before this year went to the pull side (right or right-center).

This sort of shift tends to happen with age — Edmonds turns 38 on Friday — as batters’ hands slow down. But right now, it matters less how he’s getting it done and more that he’s batting .300 AVG/.352 OBP/.588 SLG in 27 games with Chicago.

UPDATE: After writing this blog, Edmonds hit another home run last night, just to the right of center. It was his fourth homer in as many games and sixth with the Cubs.

— Sean Ahmed

14.9 miles per hour

Ever wonder how fast a catcher can run? Last night, Geovany Soto answered that question, circling the bases in just 16.5 seconds on an inside-the-park home run:

View Soto’s home run

Doesn’t 14.9 mph sound pretty fast for a guy who has been crouching behind the plate for 41 of the team’s 45 games? That’s probably a conservative estimate, too, as I didn’t have a way to add distance for taking wide turns around the bases.

It’s a pretty impressive speed even compared to world-class paces in the 100-meter dash: American sprinter Maurice Green averaged 22.8 mph on June 16, 1999, with his then-record time of 9.79 seconds. Consider that Green got to start off racing blocks, run straight ahead and sprint at least 10 meters less than Geovany did.

Of course, Ryan Dempster was there to congratulate Geovany in the dugout by asking, “Do you need oxygen?”

Vintage Edmonds

Though skeptics doubt the range Jim Edmonds has left in centerfield, he apparently still does have an incredible ability to track a ball, particularly over the last half-second of its flight.

Last night, he broke straight back for a ball hit deep over his head, then readjusted at the last second to turn and catch the flyball on his glove side. Check out the video if you missed it:

Jim Edmonds’ brilliant play in center

That makes a trifecta for phenomenal plays by Cubs’ centerfielders this season: Reed Johnson made the full-extension, diving catch into the left-center wall, and Felix Pie perfectly timed a leaping catch to rob Ken Griffey Jr. of his 598th home run. You can find videos of both of those catches by searching “Reed Johnson” and “Felix Pie” on MLB Video through the links above.

— Sean Ahmed

Welcome, Jim Edmonds

As you’ve surely heard by now, the Cubs signed centerfielder Jim Edmonds last night after he cleared waivers. Though Edmonds will be paid the remainder of his $8 million 2008 contract by the Padres and Cardinals, the Cubs will only be responsible for the major-league minimum.

Manager Lou Piniella has put him in the No. 6 hole in the lineup today, with backups Ronny Cedeno and Henry Blanco taking the next two spots:

Edmonds headshot.jpg
Edmonds headshot.jpgSoriano, LF
Theriot, SS

Lee, 1B

Ramirez, 3B

Fukudome, RF

Edmonds, CF

Cedeno, 2B

Blanco, C

Dempster, RHP

Future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux (3-3, 3.60 ERA) takes the hill for San Diego.

Media notes

Some interesting facts: The Cubs bullpen went five games without allowing a run before Kerry Wood allowed one with two outs in the ninth last night. They had gone 19.0 scoreless innings, extending back to May 7 at Cincinnati. … Ryan Theriot went 2-for-4 last night with a walk to give him 18 multi-hit games this season, one behind major-league-leader Chipper Jones. … The Chicago lineup has averaged 5.9 runs per game this year, tops in the big leagues, and 7.0 at home.