Cubs

Changes of scenery for Coleman and Silva

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Changes of scenery for Coleman and Silva

Saturday, April 9, 2011Posted: 7:55 p.m. Updated: 10:50 p.m.

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

MILWAUKEE Casey Coleman shipped all his stuff to Iowa, but he never made it to Des Moines. He flew from Arizona to Texas and the beginning of what he thought would be his Triple-A season.

Things havent gone according to plan with the Cubs rotation, except for this: Coleman was always viewed as the ideal insurance policy, a low-maintenance pitcher who isnt afraid of the bright lights and feels like he belongs here.

Its just that no one thought the 23-year-old right-hander would be recalled this quick. Either way, Coleman will be facing Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder and the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday, instead of the Round Rock Express.

If Carlos Silva hadnt ripped the entire Cubs organization, he might have been there on Saturday, standing in front of his locker in the Miller Park clubhouse and saying something ridiculous.

If Silvas going to prove the Cubs wrong, it will reportedly start on a minor-league deal with the New York Yankees.

Silva trusted Larry Rothschild, the pitching coach who left Chicago to take the same job in New York. The Yankees have been taking on all kinds of projects Bartolo Colon, Freddy Garcia, Mark Prior and, now, Silva.

But with Randy Wells (forearm) and Andrew Cashner (rotator cuff) on the disabled list, Silva almost certainly would have received another chance by next week. That is, if he had accepted a Triple-A assignment and hadnt dared the Cubs to release and pay him close to 11.5 million to go away.

Instead this is an opportunity for Coleman, who certainly understands the business. Hes a third-generation big-league pitcher and his fathers a pitching coach in the Detroit Tigers system.

The Cubs love his makeup and poise and Coleman rewarded their faith by going 4-2 with a 3.33 ERA in eight starts late last season.

(That) made all the difference in the world for me, Coleman said. I was much more comfortable in spring training.

The Cubs dont know when Wells and Cashner will be healthy enough to rejoin the rotation, and at this point they dont have many viable options beyond Coleman. So this doesnt feel like an audition, though Coleman isnt taking anything for granted.

You never know, Coleman said. If you had asked me how soon I would have been up here, I never would have imagined it this quick. So you just got to take it day-by-day, start-by-start and help this team win games and hopefully it lasts a lot longer than you think.

Coleman knows thats how Wells got his foot in the door. Wells was supposed to have a temp job when he got called up in May 2009, but wound up making 59 starts from there through the end of last season.

Coleman is 6-foot and weighs 185 pounds. He has only 57 innings on his major-league resume. But he inspires a lot of confidence in the clubhouse.

He won his first game in the majors on Aug. 23 last year in Washington. That was also Mike Quades first game as a big-league manager. Quade kept a few pieces of memorabilia from that night, and Colemans name is all over it.

Coleman already made a lasting impression. Now its time to unpack and settle in for what he hopes will be a long-term assignment.

It was tough to send him out because he did such a good job for us last year, Quade said. But we sent him out for exactly this reason. (Hes) the perfect fit.
Etc.

Starlin Castros view was partially blocked when Carlos Gomez stole second in the eighth inning of Saturdays 6-0 loss. The ball grazed his glove and hit Castro right in the jaw. The shortstop was shaken up but says hell be ready to play on Sunday. Jeff Samardzija walked four batters on Saturday night, bringing his total to eight in three innings this season. The Cubs havent stolen a base through the seasons first eight games, the first time thats happened since 1964.

PatrickMooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. FollowPatrick on Twitter @CSNMooneyfor up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

Podcast: Albert Almora Jr. dishes on his role and the Cubs’ unsung hero that keeps things loose behind the scenes

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USA TODAY

Podcast: Albert Almora Jr. dishes on his role and the Cubs’ unsung hero that keeps things loose behind the scenes

Albert Almora Jr. joins Kelly Crull on the Cubs Talk Podcast to weigh in on a variety of topics, including his budding bromance with rumored Cubs target Manny Machado, his expanded role and how he spends his time off away from the ballpark.

Plus, Almora has a surprise pick for the organization’s unsung hero, stating the Cubs would’ve never won the World Series without this guy.

Listen to the full Cubs Talk Podcast right here:

How Ian Happ got his groove back at the plate

How Ian Happ got his groove back at the plate

There's a legit case to be made that Ian Happ has been the Cubs' second-best hitter in 2018.

Yes, really.

Happ ranks second on the Cubs in OPS (.895), behind only Kris Bryant (.995) among regulars, though a recent hot streak has buoyed that overall bottom line for Happ.

Still, it's been a pretty incredible hot streak and it's propelled Happ back to where he began the season — at the top of the Cubs order. 

Happ has walked 10 times in the last 6 games and hammered out 3 homers in that span, including one on top of the Schwarboard in right field as a pinch-hitter Tuesday night.

Even more jaw-dropping: He's only struck out 5 times in the last 9 games after a dreadful start to the season in that regard.

"It was just a matter of time until things clicked a little bit," Happ said. "That's why we play 162 games and it's a game of adjustments. At the end of the day, it all evens out.

"Look at the back of Tony [Rizzo's] baseball card — it's the same thing every single year. That's how this thing goes. You're gonna have your ups and your downs and I'm just trying to be as consistent as I can. If I can level it out a little bit and be more consistent over a period of time, that'll be better for our team."

So yes, Happ is on the upswing right now and he'll inevitably have more slumps where he strikes out too much and looks lost at the plate.

Such is life for a 23-year-old who is still a week away from his 162nd career MLB game.

The league had adjusted to Happ and he had to adjust back, which he'd been working hard doing behind the scenes.

"I just try to get him to primarily slow things down," Joe Maddon said. "Try to get him back into left-center. And I did not want to heap a whole lot of at-bats on him. When you're not going good, if you heap too many at-bats on somebody, all of a sudden, that's really hard to dig out of that hole.

"So a lot of conversations — a lot of conversations — but nothing complicated. I like to go the simple side of things. I wanted him to try not to lift the ball intentionally, really organize his strike zone."

Maddon believes Happ had lost sight of his strike zone organization, chasing too many pitches out of the zone — particularly the high fastball.

Now, the Cubs manager sees Happ using his hands more and less of his arms in his swing, working a more precise, compact path to the ball.

The Happ experiment at leadoff was a disaster to begin the year — .186 AVG, .573 OPS and 22 strikeouts in 10 starts there — but all the same tools and rationale exist for why Maddon likes the switch-hitting utiliy player in that spot.

And that's why Happ was leading off Wednesday with both Ben Zobrist and Albert Almora Jr. getting the night off.

"We're gonna find out [if he can stick at leadoff]," Maddon said. "I just thought he's looked better. He's coming off a nice streak on the road trip. [Tuesday night], pinch-hitting. I know the home run's great and of course that's nice.

"But how he got to the pitch that he hit out, to me, was the important thing. Got the two strikes, took the two borderline pitches and then all of a sudden, [the pitcher] came in with a little bit more and he didn't miss it.

"That's the big thing about hitting well, too — when you see your pitch, you don't either take it or foul it off. You don't miss it. He didn't miss it."