Cubs

Postponed: Garza gets the ball for doubleheader

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Postponed: Garza gets the ball for doubleheader

Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Posted: 3:38 p.m. Updated: 7:28 p.m.

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

The Cubs are already trying to patch things together with their pitching staff. On Wednesday they will have to account for at least 18 innings in an eight-hour window.

Thats the fallout from the decision to postpone Tuesdays game against the San Diego Padres due to steady rains and the chance of thunderstorms. They will play a day-night doubleheader on Wednesday at Wrigley Field.

Matt Garza will start it at 1:20 p.m. and be expected to work deep into the game. James Russell, the left-handed reliever, will start the second game at 6:05 and max out around 70 pitches before turning it over to the bullpen.

It will be, as manager Mike Quade likes to say, all hands on deck.

They were forced into a doubleheader because the Padres are not scheduled to return to Chicago again this season and will open a four-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday in San Diego.

Carlos Zambrano gave the Cubs eight shutout innings in Mondays 1-0 victory over the Padres. The Cubs are also off on Thursday, which should reduce the stress on their bullpen.

I really think were in the best shape we could be in to deal with this, Quade said. Well find out.

Outfielder Kosuke Fukudome is expected to be available for the doubleheader after his wife gave birth to a baby girl on Tuesday.

The story will be Garza (0-2, 6.27), who for all his struggles has received zero run support in his last two starts.

Im just going to control what I can control thats what I do with the ball, Garza said. Im just going to keep pitching (and) keep fighting.

The Cubs were drawn to Garza because he pitches aggressively and demands the ball. They would love to see him take control in Game 1.

Garza has struggled with pitch selection and location, giving up 13 runs on 27 hits in 18.2 innings. Hes also struck out 25 and thrown at least 106 pitches in each start. Hes shown signs of the player who went 34-31 with a 3.86 ERA across three seasons in the brutal American League East.

The Cubs are taking the long view with Garza. First baseman Carlos Pena who played with him in Tampa Bay knows that the pitcher wont back down.

In baseball, its sometimes so volatile, Pena said. I know the tide should turn for him and at the end of the year were going to be very happy with what Garza brought to the table.

Even though he would love to see some nice numbers, hes still just going to keep on working. And know that at the end hes one of those short bets. I would still invest in his stock.

Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

When Kyle Schwarber met new Cubs hitting coach Chili Davis: 'I don't suck'

When Kyle Schwarber met new Cubs hitting coach Chili Davis: 'I don't suck'

MESA, Ariz. — The first thing Kyle Schwarber told his new hitting coach?

"His first statement to me is, 'I don't suck.'"

The Cubs hired Chili Davis as the team's new hitting coach for myriad reasons. He's got a great track record from years working with the Boston Red Sox and Oakland Athletics, and that .274/.360/.451 slash line during an illustrious 19-year big league career certainly helps.

But Davis' main immediate task in his new gig will be to help several of the Cubs' key hitters prove Schwarber's assessment correct.

Schwarber had a much-publicized tough go of things in 2017. After he set the world on fire with his rookie campaign in 2015 and returned from what was supposed to be a season-ending knee injury in time to be one of the Cubs' World Series heroes in 2016, he hit just .211 last season, getting sent down to Triple-A Iowa for a stint in the middle of the season. Schwarber still hit 30 home runs, but his 2017 campaign was seen as a failure by a lot of people.

Enter Davis, who now counts Schwarber as one of his most important pupils.

"He's a worker," Davis said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago. "Schwarbs, he knows he's a good player. His first statement to me is, 'I don't suck.' He said last year was just a fluke year. He said, 'I've never failed in my life.' And he said, 'I'm going to get back to the player that I was.'

"I think he may have — and this is my thought, he didn't say this to me — I think it may have been, he had a big World Series, hit some homers, and I think he tried to focus on being more of a home run type guy as opposed to being a good hitter.

"His focus has changed. I had nothing to do with that, he came in here with that focus that he wants to be a good hitter first and let whatever happens happen. And he's worked on that. The main thing with Kyle is going to be is just maintaining focus."

The physically transformed Schwarber mentioned last week that he's established a good relationship with Davis, in no small part because Schwarber can relate to what Davis went through when he was a player. And to hear Davis tell it, it sounds like he's describing Schwarber's first three years as a big leaguer to a T.

"Telling him my story was important because it was similar," Davis said. "I was a catcher, got to big league camp, and I was thrown in the outfield. And I hated the outfield. ... But I took on the challenge. I made the adjustment, I had a nice first year, then my second year I started spiraling. I started spiraling down, and I remember one of my coaches saying, 'I'm going to have to throw you a parachute just so you can land softly.' I got sent down to Triple-A at the All-Star break for 15 days.

"When I got sent down, I was disappointed, but I was also really happy. I needed to get away from the big league pressure and kind of find myself again. I went home and refocused myself and thought to myself, 'I'm going to come back as Chili.' Because I tried to change, something changed about me the second year.

"And when I did that, I came back the next year and someone tried to change me and I said, 'Pump the breaks a little bit, let me fail my way, and then I'll come to you if I'm failing.' And they understood that, and I had a nice year, a big year and my career took off.

"I'm telling him, 'Hey, let last year go. It happened, it's in the past. Keep working hard, maintain your focus, and you'll be fine.'"

Getting Schwarber right isn't Davis' only task, of course. Despite the Cubs being one of the highest-scoring teams in baseball last season, they had plenty of guys go through subpar seasons. Jason Heyward still has yet to find his offensive game since coming to Chicago as a high-priced free agent. Ben Zobrist was bothered by a wrist injury last season and put up the worst numbers of his career. Addison Russell had trouble staying healthy, as well, and saw his numbers dip from what they were during the World Series season in 2016.

So Davis has plenty of charges to work with. But he likes what he's seen so far.

"They work," Davis said. "They come here to work. I had a group of guys in Boston that were the same last year, and it makes my job easier. They want to get better, they come out every day, they show up, they want to work. They're excited, and I'm excited to be around them.

And what have the Cubs found out about Davis? Just about everyone answers that question the same way: He likes to talk.

"I'm not going to stop talking," he said. "If I stop talking, something's wrong."

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Andre Dawson talks about his Cubs reunion

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Andre Dawson talks about his Cubs reunion

Carmen DeFalco (ESPN 1000) and Jordan Bernfield join Kap on the panel. Anthony Rizzo returns to the Cubs after an emotional weekend home while Tom Ricketts expects another World Series parade. Plus Hall of Famer Andre Dawson joins Kap to talk about his Cubs reunion and how the current crop unsigned free agents compares to his experiences with collusion.