Cubs

Cubs beat Diamondbacks 14-6, Schwarber hurt in collision

Cubs beat Diamondbacks 14-6, Schwarber hurt in collision

PHOENIX (AP) — The Chicago Cubs have come out slugging this season and the hits kept coming Thursday night. Only a scary outfield collision marred the show.

Anthony Rizzo matched his career high with six RBIs and the Cubs beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 14-6.

Kyle Schwarber injured his left leg in the second inning when he collided with Dexter Fowler, a play that resulted in an inside-the-park home run for Arizona's Jean Segura.

Segura also started the game with a homer. He is the eighth player in major league history to lead off with a home run and hit an inside-the-park homer in the same game.

John Lackey (1-0) gave up six runs on eight hits over six innings in his Cubs debut, but got the win thanks to a five-run Chicago fourth inning. The Cubs opened the season with three straight road wins for the first time since 1988 and have scored 29 runs in the process.

"We played really well again tonight," Chicago manager Joe Maddon said. "We worked great at-bats. You look at the numbers and the hits but it's because the at-bats are being worked so well. We're not chasing out of the zone. We're making pitchers come over the plate, up and down the lineup and that's the beauty of the whole group right now."

[MORE: Relentless offense backs John Lackey as Cubs remained undefeated]

Rizzo had a three-run homer, two-run triple and RBI single. He had six RBIs in a game twice before, the last time on the same field on May 23, 2015.

The Diamondbacks were up 3-0, 4-2 and 6-4 but starter Rubby De La Rosa (0-1) couldn't hold the leads. The right-hander lasted just 3 1/3 innings, allowing seven runs and six hits.

With two outs in the second, Segura hit one to deep left-center, Schwarber converging on it on the run from left field and Fowler from center.

"It had bad things written all over it," Maddon said. "The guy hits the ball in the one spot that we can't cover. ... I'd just rather see the ball go over the fence right there. We'd have been fine."

The outfielders came together on the warning track, in front of the 413-foot sign, their legs tangled as the ball rolled away. Schwarber, the fourth overall pick in the 2014 draft and Chicago's backup catcher, stayed on the ground for several minutes before being helped to his feet and taken from the field in a cart.

The Cubs said X-rays were negative for any fracture but an MRI was scheduled for Friday. Schwarber said his knee and ankle were "tight and sore."

"Can't get mad about playing hard and getting hurt," he said. "Rather play hard and get hurt than play not hard and not get hurt."

Segura raced around the bases for the 11th inside-the-park homer in franchise history. It was the first inside-the-park home run in Segura's career and his second two-homer game.

Lackey, who signed a two-year, $32 million contract in the offseason, threw three scoreless innings after Arizona took a 6-4 lead in the third.

"I kept giving the lead back the first couple of innings, so it wasn't ideal," he said, "but then finally started mixing some things up and started to get a groove later on in the game. You definitely know with our offense you don't have to be perfect, but I'd like to be better than that."

Arizona pitchers walked 10 batters, one shy of the club record.

"For me as manager and our coaching staff it was embarrassing. That is the easiest way to put it," Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale said. "We made some gaffes on defense that we worked so hard in spring training and we are close enough to spring training were we shouldn't make those mistakes."

SEGURA'S HOMERS

The last player to hit a leadoff home run and later in the game an inside-the-park homer was Hanley Ramirez for the Florida Marlins against Cincinnati on Sept. 27, 2006.

Among the eight players who have done it was Casey Stengel for the Brooklyn Dodgers against the Boston Braves on May 1, 1913.

SHAKY STARTERS

In the first four games of the season, Arizona starters have some shaky numbers.

Zack Greinke, Shelby Miller, Patrick Corbin and De La Rosa combined to allow 24 runs — 23 earned — on 31 hits, including nine home runs, in 20 1-3 innings. That's a 10.18 ERA.

UP NEXT

The Cubs send right-hander Jason Hammel to the mound Friday night against Arizona left-hander Robbie Ray in the first start of the season for both.

Cubs executive Jason McLeod reportedly linked to Giants' GM opening

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USA TODAY

Cubs executive Jason McLeod reportedly linked to Giants' GM opening

Is this the offseason that Cubs executive Jason McLeod finally becomes an MLB general manager?

According to Bruce Levine, the Giants are reportedly interested in McLeod, the Cubs senior vice president of scouting and player development, for their vacant general manager position.

McLeod joined the Cubs' front office in 2011 alongside Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer. Before the Cubs, he spent six years in the Red Sox front office and two in the Padres' (with Hoyer, who was San Diego's general manager from 2010-2011). 

Of course, the Giants' reported interest in McLeod doesn't necessarily mean that he will interview for the job. However, it's worth noting that McLeod interviewed for the Twins' general manager job in 2016; he also withdrew his name from consideration for the Padres' general manager job in 2014. 

In addition to the Giants, McLeod's name has been linked to the Mets' general manager vacancy. This is more speculation, but the point is that it seems to be only a matter of time before McLeod is hired as general manager elsewhere.

For what it's worth, though, McLeod is under contract through 2021 and has previously said that he is grateful to be with the Cubs. 

“I’m exceptionally grateful,” McLeod said. “All of us are. Look at where we are at this moment in time with this team," McLeod said in 2016. "I can’t imagine a better environment, a better culture to work at in baseball.

"We’ve been together a long time. We’re friends. We’re good. We embrace the fact that we are good. And we challenge ourselves to be even better.”

Cubs have new hitting coach in Anthony Iapoce

Cubs have new hitting coach in Anthony Iapoce

The Cubs are heading into a new season with a different hitting coach for the second straight winter, but the most recent choice is a familiar face.

Anthony Iapoce is set to join Joe Maddon's coaching staff this week after serving in the same capacity with the Texas Rangers for the last three seasons. The Cubs confirmed the move Monday afternoon shortly after the news broke out of the Rangers camp.

The Cubs fired Chili Davis last week after just one season as the team's hitting coach.

Entering the final week of the season, the Rangers fired manager Jeff Banister, leaving Iapoce and the rest of the Texas coaching staff in limbo.

As such, Iapoce is rejoining the Cubs, where he served as a special assistant to the General Manager from 2013-15 focusing on player development, particularly in the hitting department throughout the minor leagues.

Iapoce has familiarity with a bunch of the current star offensive players on the Cubs, from Willson Contreras to Kris Bryant. 

Both Bryant and Contreras endured tough 2018 seasons at the plate, which was a huge reason for the Cubs' underperforming lineup. Bryant's issue was more related to a left shoulder injured suffered in mid-May while Contreras' offensive woes remain a major question mark after the young catcher looked to be emerging as a legitimate superstar entering the campaign.

Getting Contreras back to the hitter that put up 21 homers and 74 RBI in only 117 games in 2017 will be one of the main goals for Iapoce, so the history between the two could be a key.

With the Rangers, Iapoce oversaw an offense that ranked 7th, 9th and 14th in MLB in runs scored over the last three seasons. The decline in offensive production is obviously not a great sign, but the Rangers as a team have fallen off greatly since notching the top seed in the AL playoffs in 2016 with 95 wins only to lose 95 games in 2018, resulting in the change at manager.

Iapoce has worked with an offense backed by Adrian Beltre, Elvis Andrus, Shin-Soo Choo, Nomar Mazara and Joey Gallo the last few seasons.

Under Iapoce's tutelage, former top prospect Jurickson Profar shed any notion of a "bust" label and emerged as a budding star at age 25, collecting 61 extra-base hits with a .793 OPS in 2018.

When the Cubs let Davis go last week, they provided no update on assistant hitting coach Andy Haines, who just finished his first season in that role and is expected to remain with the team for 2019. The same offseason Iapoce left for the Rangers, Haines took over as the Cubs' minor league hitting instructor.